Live: VH1 Brings Out The Divas At The Hammerstein Ballroom

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via VH1
VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul
Hammerstein Ballroom
Sunday, December 18

Better than: Whatever Ryan Seacrest is going to cook up for VH1 Soul.

Last night's VH1 Divas taping existed both as a performance and self-contained, 24-hours-out advertising opportunity for its broadcast. (Tonight at 9 ET!) TV tapings are always strange to experience first-hand, given the way they're designed for after-the-fact consumption; there are lots of long lulls in the action for the purposes of commercial breaking/set redesigning, and in "let's all get together and put on a show" scenarios like this one there are TelePrompTers with lyrics ready to assist the under-rehearsed. Despite the breaks and assists, though, this taping didn't have the hermetically sealed feeling of ones I attended during the pre-social-media era—people were encouraged to tweet and Foursquare check-in and let their pals on social media know what they were experiencing via corporately provided hashtag. In the 21st century, after all, all publicity is.

The night's bent toward soul meant that most of the acts on the bill had pipes and cred—Chaka Khan, Mavis Staples, Martha Reeves, and Wanda Jackson represented for the pre-music-video era, while the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Ledisi, Jill Scott, and Jennifer Hudson were among the new-schoolers. Jessie J's tireless, apparently unending promotional campaign also continued here; her new party trick involves her stuttering out words instead of singing them in toto, a tic that serves to both illuminate the bleatiness of her voice and make her seem even more malleable and annoying. She's the opposite of a diva, her jet-black-dyed artifice doing a miserable job of covering up the void within; I expect either a turn to Christian rock or the "mysterious" leak of a sex tape within the next 12 months.

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Live: The Creators Project Brings Florence, Justice, And Lots Of Art To DUMBO

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Benjamin Lozovsky
The Creators Project
October 15-16

Better than: A representative of the Intel Corporation laboriously explaining to me the superiority of their microprocessors.

If you're suspicious that The Creators Project is all just a way for the Vice Empire to class up its image beyond rape jokes and Intel to accrue precious youth-culture points... you're probably right. But it's worth pointing out that a lot of these light installations, video art projects and interactive whatchamallites the Project hosts online and off are legitimately mind-bending, and the increased exposure events like these afford has no doubt helped a few MFA holders justify some life decisions to their parents. Plus, they helped The Arcade Fire drop "interactive balloons" on people during their headlining set at Coachella, and that made for a delightful YouTube moment.

So we find ourselves at The Creators Project 2011, a gratis collection of technology-addled art, music, film and panels that took place around a few streets in Dumbo over the weekend. Corporately underwritten free shows can overcome their inherent, annoying overbranding if the music is worthwhile; anyone who doesn't believe this needs to put down No Logo for a minute. The weekend generally succeeded in that regard, even if it times largely felt like the work of a talent booker opening their PollstarPro account and saying "so who's available that weekend, anyway?" and then looking up the number for Florence + The Machine's people.


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This Weekend In New York: Florence Welch And A Perpetual Sweat Machine

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In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.

This past Saturday was Debbie's birthday, and what better way to spend one's birthday weekend than with punk rock, cheap beer, and a nice, intense, purifying shvitz? Why bother to go to Spa Castle when you could get the same experience at 285 Kent for a fraction of the price, and with a better soundtrack to boot?


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2010: The Year In Music Photos

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The year in music, circa 2010, started at the Cake Shop, with a shred-down to the New Year courtesy of Siren Festival MVP-to-be Marissa Paternoster and her band Screaming Females. After a tour through the NYE fetes of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, that night ended amidst a marathon show at Bushwick's Shea Stadium, right around the time the Blastoids' drummer poured paint on his kit and started splattering away.

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Florence + The Machine Are Playing a Free Show at the Apple Store Today, In Case You Missed Last Night's Terminal 5 Festivities

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This photo was taken last night, and therefore not on Halloween, though who could tell, really?
Well, if you thought the flowing white dress/rock harpist/crowd-jumping-in-unison thing was tough to pull off in the spacious, windy confines of Terminal 5, just way till she tries to do it under the neon lights of the Apple Store later today. Yup--for all those shut out of last night's festivities, aspiring Harry Potter actress Florence + The Machine is doing a free show in Soho at 4 p.m., though you can stop by and grab a wristband now, if you're so inclined. Practice clapping on beat, because last night, these people didn't:

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Live: Florence + The Machine Bring Their Drumsticks/Magic Wands To Terminal 5

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"OK, I might actually be a witch." Pics by Rob, more below.
Florence and the Machine
Terminal 5
Monday, November 1

Better Outfits Than: The costumes everyone else wears on Halloween.

I refuse to see any more Harry Potter movies unless Florence Welch joins the cast, traipsing around Hogwarts or whatever just as she does on Terminal 5's stage, wrapped in a flowing white dress with a long, elegant train that looks like a real pain in the ass to deal with in a rock-concert situation, but she handles it like a pro, twirling about and whacking a floor-tom with two drumsticks, thought she's more inclined to use them as straight-up magic wands, conducting the crowd to go wooooooo! on cue. Here, then, is the British, boisterous, booming-voiced, crimson-haired arena-goth siren you requested. She brought along a dude who plays the harp.

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Live: Florence and the Machine Feed on the Spotlight at Bowery Ballroom

Florence and the Machine
Bowery Ballroom
Tuesday, October 27

Toward the end of her first official New York City show, London's Florence Welch worked a little bit of Fever Ray's "If I Had a Heart" into the beginning of her tune "Blinding". While I have no doubt Welch's love of the enigmatic Swede Karin Dreijer Andersson is pure and true, the two singers approach spectacle from opposite angles. Andersson cloaks herself in effects and big cloaks; Welch needs to be seen and heard as clearly as possible at all times. Last night she wore what could pass for a tony ghost costume-- all waves of flowing white-- while her band were backgrounded in nothing but black. Her voice, as bellowing and soul-filled and elastic as it may be, was sometimes uncomfortably high in the mix. Welch feeds on the spotlight without apology, and this old-school approach is working for her thus far--her debut album Lungs, released in the UK last July, would have hit number one on the British charts if it weren't for sudden interest in another center-of-attention-type, Michael Jackson. And now, like any loyal subject with a speck of ambition, she's setting her gaze on America.

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