How the Growlers Sold Out a Week of Brooklyn Gigs with 'Beach Goth'

Photo: Taylor Bonin
The Growlers
Brooks Nielsen vividly remembers his band's first critic. A group of SoCal-raised beach rats, the Growlers were piecing together their self-released 2008 debut EP, Couples Vol. 1–4, when they got a major reality check. That it happened to come from one of their close friends' grandmothers, of all people, made it all the more biting.

"She was like, 'You're singing about the beach? People that don't live at the beach don't care about that!' " the frontman recalls years later with a laugh. It's no wonder the shaggy-haired, eccentric vocalist can do nothing but snicker at the long-ago memory. After six years touring the world, his self-described "beach goth" outfit is continually staking its claim as the band you should already know about. Case in point: The fivesome, which also includes guitarist Matt Taylor, bassist Anthony Braun Perry, multi-instrumentalist Kyle Straka, and drummer Scott Montoya, recently sold out an upcoming five-night run at Williamsburg's Baby's All Right. "Something we're doing is clearly working all over the place," Nielsen says. "I'm a happy boy."

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The Eight Best Concerts in New York this Week, 3/2/15

Categories: Listings, Live

Adam PW Smith
Yonatan Gat

For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

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Cannibal Ox Return With the Sharp Blade of the Ronin

Categories: Hip-Hop, Interview

Via Facebook
Cannibal Ox
Cannibal Ox were born out of a need for honesty. For MCs Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, the truth is steeped in both the good and bad, and they view their music as maintaining the equilibrium between the two. "We come from a place of knowing that if we understand balance, there's triumph within the fact that we understand and accept that life is not vacant, it's an exchange of many dynamics," says Vordul. "We are always grateful for the light that we gain."

In that honesty and in that light, Can Ox have cultivated an aesthetic that can only be described as gritty and cryptic, an ode to their musical authenticity. And also an ode to New York.

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Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth Prove It Feels Damn Good to 'Be Alive' at Webster Hall

Categories: Last Night, Metal

Jena Cumbo for the Village Voice
A fan awaits Cannibal Corpse's set amid the sold-out crowd at Webster Hall. Photos: Metal Reigns Over Webster Hall
Cannibal Corpse are one of the constants of the metal universe, a perfect example of artistic conservatism as a life path. Their music has remained essentially unchanged since their 1990 debut album, Eaten Back to Life: They play fast, aggressive death metal, but somehow manage to shoehorn just enough melody into their songs to make them memorable beyond a head-down blur of riffs and blast beats. They don't really have one representative album to recommend to newbies, though everything since 2006's Kill has been ridiculously impressive.

Behemoth, their partners on this tour, are a different story. They've evolved substantially since beginning as a black-metal band in the early Nineties, moving closer to death metal and getting more and more sonically and compositionally ambitious. Their most recent album, The Satanist, is their best by a long stretch. They've also got a better story: Frontman Nergal recently triumphed over leukemia, an experience that has clearly affected him. After the first song of their set at a sold-out Webster Hall, he asked the crowd, "How does it feel to be alive?"

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Alabama Shakes Bring New Tunes (and Rad Prince Earrings) to SNL

Alabama Shakes
The last time Alabama Shakes — the Athens, Alabama, powerhouse that transforms the most basic chord progressions into soulful epiphanies better than any Southern outfit out there — hit Studio 8H, the world wouldn't stop talking about two things: Brittany Howard's voice, and Brittany Howard's mouth. With 2012's Boys and Girls came the warmly received debut of the Shakes and "Hold On," the breakout single that had Howard reining in a long note with the skill and might of a rock 'n' roll rodeo cowgirl. "Hold On," easy to sing along with and easier to love, was the tune folks remembered from their several festival appearances in the following year, and also what they started with the first time they played Saturday Night Live, in February 2013. Howard roared, the studio fell all over themselves applauding her vocal prowess, and assholes across the internet cracked jokes at her expense because, yeah, she opens wide when she's letting loose with some serious sound.

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In Return to New York, Sleater-Kinney Prove They Are Still America's Best Rock Band

Jack Buehrer, the Village Voice
You could be forgiven for wondering if, when Sleater-Kinney announced their first tour in nine years, you had missed seeing the group in its prime. You needn't have. As it turns out, nearly a decade later, they're still in it.

The postpunk trio from the Pacific Northwest has no interest in cashing in on Nineties nostalgia. And since dropping No Cities to Love early this year and launching their first string of shows since 2006, they've reminded us that they're America's most indispensable rock band — and quite possibly the best live band on the planet.

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The Nine Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, 2/27/15

Brigitte Sire

For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

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Bobby Shmurda Says an NYPD Cop Told Him 'I Don't Want My Kids Listening to Your Music'

Bobby Shmurda
This morning, Ebro over at Hot 97 called up Ackquille Pollard — a/k/a Bobby Shmurda — who was incarcerated in the wake of a drug trafficking sting in Times Square on December 17. Shmurda is currently awaiting trial, and the young rapper, along with several members of Brooklyn's GS9 crew, faces charges for weapons possession, conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and a number of other offenses. Shmurda, who was being held at Rikers following the arraignment and placed under protective custody, has since been moved to the Manhattan Detention Complex, or the Tombs, along with fellow GS9 crew member Chad Marshall, a/k/a Rowdy Rebel. Shmurda's been outspoken about the proceedings following his arrest: In multiple interviews with Billboard, he called them "bullshit" and clarified that, no, he wasn't stabbed in jail; he also told the New York Times that he thought his label, Epic Records, would come for him and support him in his time of need, "but they never came." He's been able to keep the press abreast of how things are going on the inside — or at least he was, as Shmurda was cut off in the middle of his latest interview with Hot 97.

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Steve Earle and the Dukes Bring the Blues to Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios

John Peabody for the Village Voice
Steve Earle at Electric Lady Studios
WFUV (90.7 FM) treated a select group of Steve Earle fans to a super-intimate set February 25 at the historic Electric Lady Studios on West 8th Street. Earle, who said he came down with a cold shortly before the show, didn't show any signs of ailment whatsoever as he and his band the Dukes kicked through an hour-long set featuring songs from their new blues album, Terraplane.

Earle switched effortlessly from harmonica to mandolin to acoustic guitar and a wailing electric for the band's last songs of the night, which included a supreme version of "Hey Joe," an obvious ode to the original proprietor of the studio. Jimi Hendrix commissioned the psychedelic mural on the back wall, Earle told the crowd, though sadly he wouldn't live long enough to see it completed or record much in the studio. "He went to play Isle of Wight and never came back," he said wistfully.

As for how Earle liked playing in the space?

"It's got ghosts in it," Earle said. "But I'm not opposed to that."

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Julia Holter and Spektral Quartet Embrace the Surreal for Ecstatic Music Festival

Lindsey Rhoades for the Village Voice
Julia Holter and Spektral Quartet
With its current connotations, the term "festival" seems like a bit of a misnomer for Ecstatic Music. There are no midriffs; there is no molly; there is no dubstep DJ-du-jour. Its organizers provide an altogether different kind of ecstasy, doled out over three months of performances, most of them in decidedly academic settings rather than trampled, muddy fairgrounds. The idea, they say, is to "give true meaning to the notion of 'Ecstatic Music' as joyful and adventurous collaborations giving some of today's most compelling musicians the opportunity to work together in exciting new combinations," and, for five years now, they've been doing just that. From Deerhoof to DJ /rupture, from tUnE-yArDs to Saul Williams, EMF's curators have a way of identifying indie outliers and pairing them with contemporary classical avant-garde ensembles and composers that have included Rhys Chatham, William Basinski, and SO Percussion, among many, many more. For show-goers in search of the ever-elusive, one-of-a-kind live music experience, Ecstatic Music is a kind of heaven.

There are certainly artists whose off-kilter ethos works well with these unusual, inspired pairings. For Julia Holter, the Los Angeles–based art-pop chanteuse with three critically acclaimed solo records under her belt, collaboration comes easy: She made her EMF debut in 2013 with Laurel Halo and Daniel Wohl's TRANSIT ensemble. Returning to the Kaufman Music Center's Merkin Concert Hall last night, Holter was backed this time by Chicago's Spektral Quartet, an exuberant chamber ensemble with a penchant for quirky arrangements. Before Holter emerged from backstage, they performed a lively set that brilliantly bridged the gap between Mos Def and Stravinsky.

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