Concert Reviews

Shiny Toy Guns Bring Energetic Show to NYC

I don’t think I’ve witnessed a concert as versatile as Shiny Toy Guns performance last Thursday at Webster Hall. A blend of every musical genre you can possibly imagine — dance, rock, electronica, indie, even some Hip-Hop thrown into the mix — Shiny Toy Guns surely impressed all in attendance.

Their explosive sound is indisputable as the floor of Webster Hall shook continuously from the beginning to the very end of their performance. (So much so, that a few times I literally thought it may cave in.) In fact, their 13-song hour-long set didn’t seem long enough for die-hard fans as the show closed with continuous screams for a second encore.

Surrounded by fog and bright lights, the LA-based band started off with “Starts With One” from debut album, We Are Pilots. Their performance was stellar and the intensity never faltered. Shiny Toy Guns were spot on as they segued from electronic songs to more rock based tracks with keyboard accompaniment. Whatever they were playing, they did no wrong.

It’s hard to determine which song was the crowd favorite. While high energy dance track “Ricochet!” brought the hands in the air, “Le Disko” switched things up with its heavy bass and percussion elements. And I can’t forget to mention the sing along choruses encompassing hit single “Ghost Town” from most recent release, Season of Poison. With its soaring guitar and keyboard features throughout the track, “Ghost Town” had the crowd screaming for more.

Currently on tour with the All-American Rejects, Shiny Toy Guns were clearly in their element Thursday headlining Webster Hall. “It’s good to be back,” co-lead singer Chad Petree said. “We have a lot of pent up energy.”

And he wasn’t lying. Fellow co-lead singer, Sisely Treasure’s energy was contagious and her constant jumping around onstage only enticed the audience to do the same. Highlights included the band’s cover of Depeche Mode’s “Stripped” as well as last song of the night, “You Are the One.”

While they’ve been opening up for the All-American Rejects, there is no denying the need for Shiny Toy Guns to be headlining their own shows. Definitely a band I recommend catching live if you have a chance, as I would see them again if the opportunity arises.

For more on Shiny Toy Guns be sure to visit their Web site and MySpace where you can download a song for free!

Concert Reviews

Joshua Radin Pours His Heart Out in New York

Taking the stage to a swarm of screaming female fans, Joshua Radin played to a packed crowd at Webster Hall last Friday. Radin’s performance was nothing short of surprises as fellow singer-songwriters Ingrid Michaelson and Dar Williams accompanied him on two songs throughout the night. Playing nearly an hour set, fans left the venue with the hopes of seeing Radin again soon as he told the crowd he moved back to New York just four days prior.

“Hello New York! My name is Joshua Radin,” he told concertgoers after first song, “Free Of Me,” as if they didn’t already know his name. “It’s New York City and you never know what can happen,” he continued before Ingrid Michaelson took the stage to assist on “Sky.” Their voices blended beautifully together and the crowd was energized from the moment Michaelson entered the stage, drowning out the rest of Radin’s introduction.

While he has referred to his music’s genre as whisper rock, one might imagine it difficult to hear his soft voice at a concert venue, however this was not the case. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Radin’s vocals remained hushed and undeniably airy at times, but the audience hung on to every lyric sung during his set. Incredulously, on numbers such as “Winter” the room was so silent you could literally (please forgive the cliche) hear a pin drop. He told fans that “Winter” was the first song he had ever written while walking around New York nearly four years ago. Taking the stage alone on acoustic guitar the crowd gave Radin their complete attention as he ended the song to screams.

Radin often introduced each song with the story behind it. One such song was inspired by Bob Dylan’s autobiography. Radin said the one thing that stuck out from the book was advice Dylan was given when moving to New York and how he should lose all his envy and fear. “I wrote a song about it because I had so much envy and so much fear and the song is called, ‘No Envy, No Fear’.” The light percussion, guitar and string features blended impeccably well with Radin’s vocals right up to the fade out of the song.

Many of his songs are detailed accounts of former relationships or fantasies. Take “Vegetable Car,” a song he told the crowd was written about a girl he had never met while “One of Those Days” is a heartbreaker that surely melted most girls’ hearts in the room. Having trouble getting over a former girlfriend that used to tour with him, the lyrics include “Now a year has passed/Alone I stay inside and I await the rain/To wash away your face so I don’t have to hide/The sight of you is painful/So I crawl underneath my blanket where I can hide away/I know I can’t take it anymore/’Cause I see now it’s just one of those days.”

“I have two ex-girlfriends and two records. This one is about the second,” Radin said before introducing “You Got Growin’ Up To Do,” telling the audience that the song is about meeting the right person at the wrong time. Ecstatic to have one of his favorite singers, Patty Griffin, accompany him on the track on his album, Radin described it as “the coolest thing ever.” Singer Dar Williams then took the stage filling in for Griffin’s vocals.

The rest of the night showcased songs from Radin’s latest release, Simple Times as well as his previous album. Ending with a cover of his favorite song ever written and recorded, Sam Cooke’s soulful “Bring It On Home To Me,” Radin promised fans he’ll be back soon since New York is now his home. From the crowd’s response, I think they’ll be eagerly waiting.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to visit Joshua Radin on MySpace and catch a show when he’s in town! To listen to a stream of single, “I’d Rather Be With You” click here.

Photo credit: Wendy Hu

Concert Reviews

Lights Resolve Win Opening Slot On Rock Band Live Tour

Last week a few friends told me about MTV’s Battle of the Bands contest where five New York-based bands compete at Webster Hall, the winner opening up for the Rock Band Live Tour featuring Panic at the Disco, Dashboard Confessional, Plain White T’s and the Cab, when it hits the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey in November. I thought it’d be a cool contest to check out and when I realized Lights Resolve were playing I couldn’t be happier!

I originally met the LR guys back when they were on the Get A Life Tour with The Used, Straylight Run, Army of Me and Street Drum Corps. Since then, I’ve caught and covered a couple of their shows for my blog as well as MTV’s concert blog and interviewed all three LR members. The guys are the nicest, most down to earth people you’ll ever meet and deserve all the success that has come to them.

The show started at 8 p.m. as MTV’s Kim Stolz announced the guest judges — Ryan Ross of Panic at the Disco, Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional and rock writer James Montgomery from MTV News. Brendon Urie of Panic showed up late but shared his comments with each band. Each of the five bands took the stage for approximately 15 minutes, performing three songs. First up was Testing for Echo a five-piece Long Island-based band. A bit slow starting off, by their third song their energy emerged as the guitarists could be seen jumping around the stage.

The Canon Logic was up next and had strong stage presence. Quite possibly the most versatile act of the night, each song played sounded completely different than the previous. Whether it was the band unpredictably slowing down a song only to pick it right back up or their frontman suddenly dropping from his regular singing range to a deep tenor, The Canon Logic’s confidence exuded throughout their set.

Third band of the night was Kelsey and the Chaos. A bit reminiscent to Paramore, but much edgier, the musical accompaniment was strong, but overpowered Kelsey’s vocals. Kelsey and the Chaos definitely had the most energy of the night up to that point, but I couldn’t hear a word sung during the set.

Status Green had, no doubt, a fun set. When introduced, Stolz said their sound is inspired by music from the 1960s and when listening closely to their MySpace, you can hear this. Their ability to switch up their set between slower ballads to more upbeat, rockin’ songs is what makes them a great band. Despite not coming out the winner of the night, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear more from Status Green in the future as they had most in the crowd clapping along throughout their set.

Okay, you already know I am somewhat biased attending the show and rooting for Lights Resolve, so I’m just going to tell you this flat out before writing up my review of their performance. I know when studying journalism they teach us “objectivity,” but having seen the progression of Lights Resolve throughout many of their performances this year, I’ve become a fan and feel like a proud parent seeing how much their child has grown over the past few months. I know, silly. But Lights Resolve rocked Webster Hall and you don’t have to listen to my praise of them, their fans were singing along word for word and even those who didn’t come to see them were waving their hands in the air and clapping along.

Lights Resolve started off their set with “The Hills and Michael Jackson” — a catchy number that has their countless “whoa-ho’s” stuck in your head long after the song is over. “Lost and Jaded” was next up, a darker song but demonstrating that they can switch up the set and still stay interesting. For a three-piece band, Lights Resolve can hold their own. Poppy tune, “Another Five Days” ended the show and performances of the night to a venue of screams and applause.

After a long deliberation, all five bands and judges entered the stage to which Lights Resolve was declared the winner and opening act of the November 2 tour date. Chris Carrabba said they made his night while Ryan Ross said they “rocked harder than any other band” to which James Montgomery exclaimed, “Holy shit that was good, everything I like about rock.”

You can catch Lights Resolve opening up the Rock Band Live Tour November 2, in Newark, New Jersey, but if you can’t make that show be sure to check out their MySpace for more dates.

Special thanks to for the awesome pictures of Monday night’s show!

Concert Reviews

Sia Plays Sold-Out NYC Show

Webster Hall was packed with a sold-out crowd Saturday night, those in attendance anxiously awaiting for Australian singer/songwriter Sia to take the stage. And she did, shortly after 9 p.m., with the “Rocky” theme song blaring through the speakers. Sia and her band came out in bright, neon cartoon-character-type outfits for her first song of the evening, “Buttons.” She had the crowd singing and dancing along to the fun, up-tempo song, a hidden track on her latest album, Some People Have Real Problems.

(Check out her performance of “Buttons” on Jimmy Kimmel Live here for more of an idea.)

Sia is by far the most energetic singer I’ve ever seen in concert. In between songs she’d be dancing with so much energy, always with a bright smile on her face. Her concert was very interactive, whether she was asking the crowd if it needed anything, taking notes from fans with song requests or reading messages from fans on her message board while dedicating a song to them. She even traded her own scarf — one she bought in Chinatown, she told the audience — for a fan’s scarf.

Sia played a 90-minute set of 15 songs, mostly tracks off of her new album, as well as a few old fan favorites, such as “Broken Biscuit” and the infamous “Breathe Me” — her hit from the final episode of “Six Feet Under” that “totally resuscitated my dying career,” she told the audience.

I was blown away by Sia’s voice on many songs. “Lentil,” one of her more emotional songs, was powerful, with her voice building up into a crescendo in the middle of the song and then falling to a whisper by the end. On many numbers, audience members would break into screams after one of her more powerful chords.

What was interesting to me is that Sia’s songs are a bit more down-tempo than you would think a performer with her amount of energy would perform, possibly even falling into the category of easy listening. She told the crowd that her next album will be more poppy and performed a song from her “future album” titled “The Codependent,” which was definitely more upbeat and seemed more of Sia’s style.

Possibly one of her strongest songs of the night, Sia dedicated “You Have Been Loved,” to “all the losers in love.” She preceded the song by telling the audience of how she and a friend were calculating the statistics of all the single people in the world. “I’d like to assure you that there are 1.2 million people you can find a soul mate in and not to worry,” she told the crowd.

Although she couldn’t perform every song shouted out to her, she encouraged fans to write requests on her message board a week and a half before the show so the band can practice them. “I try to make dreams come true,” she joked.

Sia had many in attendance singing along to her choir-y song “Death by Chocolate” while the crowd favorite of the night seemed to be her vocally powerful song “Breathe Me,” as screams and claps from the audience could be heard well after she finished the song.

The night ended with an encore performance of “Somersault,” definitely a crowd pleaser. Sia preceded the song by telling the audience that she hated the idea of an encore. “I used to have a non-encore rule, but management told me I have to do it,” she joked.

Har Mar Superstar opened the night and definitely put on an interesting performance, as the singer stripped down to his underwear. Screams could be heard throughout Webster Hall, either of pure shock or excitement I’m not too sure. Lead singer, Har Mar, jumped into the crowd, dancing with some concertgoers throughout part of his set, definitely getting the crowd energized while a few concert-goers seemed a bit disturbed, screaming, “Put your clothes back on!”

Either way, the mix of Har Mar’s pop/club music livened up the audience, and as the house lights rose throughout the venue at the end of the night and concert-goers were ushered out the doors, they definitely could not forget Har Mar Superstar’s intriguing performance or the sheer energy and amazing vocals of Sia.