Tove Lo Confessed Her Bad 'Habits' While Undressing the Highline Ballroom

Karen Gardiner for the Village Voice
Tove Lo at the Highline Ballroom
Tove Nilsson — better known as Tove Lo — started her music career penning hits for the likes of Girls Aloud and fellow Swedes Icona Pop. Given that history, it's hardly surprising that she knows how to craft a killer chorus. But what's really special about the tunes she has kept for herself is her refreshingly frank attitude when it comes to spilling her guts on record.

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Big Data's Live Set Makes For Mind-Blowing Commentary on Digital Obsession

Lindsey Rhoades for the Village Voice
Big Data at the Bowery Ballroom
Alan Wilkis does not seem dangerous. Bespectacled and bearded, he looks more like the hipster archetype known to inhabit his hometown of Brooklyn. Maybe even a little nerdy, like the paranoid tech guy that rambles on with warnings about NSA surveillance and net neutrality when he's supposed to be fixing a glitchy program. And in a way, Wilkis is that guy, except he's not in IT — he's the main brain behind Big Data, a synthpop project that uses technology itself to put a very danceable beat behind ideas about technological fatigue and disillusionment. Written with a clever perspective and a tongue-in-cheek tone, Big Data's debut album, 2.0, was released this week and features a slew of big-name contributors from Brooklyn's music scene and beyond. Propelled by Joywave collaboration "Dangerous," which hit No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Alternative Songs chart last August, Big Data kicked off their biggest tour yet with a sold-out show at Bowery Ballroom last night.

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Laura Marling Mesmerizes With the Live Debut of Short Movie at Warsaw

Karen Gardiner for the Village Voice
Laura Marling at Warsaw
On March 23, English folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling released her fifth album, the partially plugged-in and deeply American-inspired Short Movie. At a sold-out show at Brooklyn's Warsaw the same night, she displayed the more determined turn her music has taken on the new record.

Irish act Villagers, made up of Conor O'Brien and a harpist, opened with a quiet set of carefully crafted indie-folk songs with delicate melodies and dark lyricism.

Marling in turn took the stage and began with the restless "False Hope" from Short Movie, a song that tells of sleepless nights and crazed neighbors in a New York City apartment. The gritty guitar hook lays the foundation for her assured vocals singing lyrics that nevertheless still show traces of the awkwardness of growing into an identity, asking, "Is it still OK that I don't know how to be alone?"

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David Byrne Busts Out a Tux and the Best of Talking Heads for Star-Studded Tribute

Jason Speakman for the Village Voice
David Byrne takes the stage at Carnegie Hall for The Music of David Byrne & Talking Heads, 3/23/15.
One sympathizes with the task saddled onto the good folks running the benefit concert/career-spanning tribute to New York institution David Byrne. That job must have been, to invoke the old saw, the rough equivalent of herding cats. Nineteen separate acts? Each to perform a single number? I mean, Jesus.

Yes, one sympathizes, and one can understand and let slide the consequent aura of general slap-dashedness. Witness, for example, the emcee's efforts to tie the whole thing together, her disembodied locutions more than a little reminiscent of Troy McClure (You might remember this next singer-songwriter from such collaborations as...). And that was when she bothered to introduce the next-up at all! Or consider how, with a handful of exceptions, the stage-lighting stayed the same throughout, at a level about four turns of the dimmer-switch too far for a rock show, even during the abeyant silences between songs, when audience members were treated to the sight of big-name musicians wandering onstage, plugging distractedly in, flicking on amps, and, presumably, wondering where the hell the roadies were. You kinda got the sense that everyone signed on for this a long time ago, then forgot about it till maybe the weekend of. All of which is, to be fair, merely so much bitching. After all, evoking a small-town talent show ain't half bad when the talent you've got includes the Roots, Glen Hansard, Sharon Jones, and CeeLo. Oh, and Steve Earle and one-half of Sleigh Bells and Billy Goddamn Gibbons from ZZ Top.

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Swans Deafen Williamsburg and Reveal Plans for New Music

Categories: Last Night, Swans

Karen Gardiner for the Village Voice
Swans at the Music Hall of Williamsburg
Since their 2010 reboot, Swans have quickly become one of the most absorbing live acts touring today. And so it came to pass on March 22, not even a month since they last played in Brooklyn, that a near-capacity, generation-spanning crowd assembled in the Music Hall of Williamsburg with ears plugged and braced for what would prove to be something of a religious rite.

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Modest Mouse's Strangers to Ourselves Brings Out Isaac Brock's Best

Sachyn Mital for the Village Voice
Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse
Whenever championed indie rock outfit Modest Mouse releases a new record and heads out on the road, the same question inevitably comes up in one form or another: "How's Isaac Brock doing?"

The witty, volatile, and presumably intoxicated frontman has been no stranger to acting as he damn well pleases over the course of Mouse's twenty-plus-year career. He's the same man who pointedly broke down for a jerk audience member the specific reasons as to why he would never play "Free Bird." (End reason: "Life is too fucking short to play or hear 'Free Bird.' ")

But on March 18 at Webster Hall, at the first of two sold-out shows at the venue, Brock seemed unmistakably driven and punchy in his playing, stomping his way through his wary, cathartic music with a palpable sense of purpose.

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Riding Elliott Smith's Emotional Roller Coaster With Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield

Kari Devereaux for the Village Voice
Jessica Lea Mayfield, Paul DeFiglia, and Seth Avett play the music of Elliott Smith and more at Town Hall.
When you throw a party, people rarely congregate in the dining room, the living room, or whichever space you've designated as the destination for hanging out. Instead of amassing around the table where you put the booze and the cheese, they usually hover in the last place you want them: the kitchen. As you're getting things together, guests linger when they drop off the bottle of wine they brought with them, or they come in to ask where to throw their coats. They stick around without unbuttoning the wool. They tell you about what happened at work that day or about the crazy thing they saw on the subway on the way over or about the absurd thing so-and-so posted on Instagram. They hang from the folds of the doorway's molding by the fingertips, remembering that one thing they forgot they had to mention before trudging off to Social Siberia (a/k/a the Established Party Zone). Before you know it, your kitchen is crowded, the conversation reaches a pitch that drowns out the timer, and everyone's drinking out of coffee mugs while you ease into the evening. It doesn't matter where people want to spend time with you. Bourbon tastes the same in ceramic.

Last night, Seth Avett and Jessica Mayfield sang in a far less crowded kitchen — or more, depending on how you look at it — at Town Hall.

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Alabama Shakes Favor New Songs From Sound and Color at the Beacon

Kari Devereaux for the Village Voice
Alabama Shakes perform on March 11 during first of two consecutive shows at the Beacon Theatre.
"These boys behind me, there's the Alabama Shakes right there," singer and guitarist Brittany Howard noted as she gestured toward her bandmates at the end of the first of two sold-out performances at the Beacon Theatre. "That's my family."

It's a family the 25-year-old former mail carrier has spearheaded to serious acclaim, and one that was eager to show off its new jewels at the Beacon. Though their new album, Sound and Color, isn't out for another month (it's released April 21 on ATO Records), they didn't hold back on new songs and liberally sprinkled proven favorites from their 2012 debut, Boys and Girls, with mostly unfamiliar tunes. The show was bookended by two new tracks, the bluesy "Dunes" and gospel-soulful "Over My Head," slow and new being a considerable test for even the most passionate of fans. But dedicated the fans were, with most jumping up before the first note was played and some — notably, the two enraptured guys slow-dancing as best they could while trapped in their seats — clearly loving the quiet romance of the set.

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Of Montreal Break Out Sexy Abraham Lincoln and Glitter to Perform Aureate Gloom

Jason Speakman for the Village Voice
Kevin Barnes takes to the mic at Webster Hall with of Montreal.
Kevin Barnes's brainchild of Montreal is no stranger to reinvention. Over the course of thirteen albums, the Athens, Georgia, collective has experimented — rather successfully — with everything from twee pop to r&b funk to its latest rock-punk hybrid (Aureate Gloom, released earlier this month). The main consistency from release to release is Barnes's tendency toward the TMI: He digs deep, and weirdly, into the darkest corners of his psyche, to profound effect.

Also consistent has been of Montreal's penchant for the theatrical. Years and years of touring has yielded such sights as Barnes, mostly naked, riding a horse onstage at Roseland Ballroom; dancers being crucified; and too many wedding-dress costumes to count. Over-the-top has been the name of the game, which has produced some of the strangest — and most fun — show-going experiences of the past decade.

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Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts Keep Their Live Set Brief, Blasting, and Aloof

Photo by Christine Jordan
Scott Weiland
All cheekbones, skinny legs, and suavity, Scott Weiland took to the stage windmilling his trademark megaphone like Pete Townshend on guitar. Though he kicked off the show with Stone Temple Pilots' propulsive 1992 song "Crackerman," with a forthcoming solo album, Blaster, and a new-ish band, the hip-looking, strong-playing Wildabouts, Weiland made sure the order of the night was showcasing new tunes.

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