The Drums - Rough Trade - 9/21

Categories: Last Night

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All photos Lindsey Rhoades
Better Than: Catching whiffs of patchouli-doused protestors at the Climate March.

After extensive touring in support of wildly successful sophomore record Portamento, it seemed as though the Drums were about to break up. Charismatic lead singer Jonny Pierce announced the impending release of his first solo album late last year, as did co-founding member Jacob Graham under the moniker Cascading Slopes. Everyone else, including the band's management, had parted ways. For an indie band with that much momentum, the radio silence said everything.

Pierce and Graham, it turns out, were more dedicated to keeping the Drums beating than they'd been willing to admit. They revealed that a third Drums album, Encyclopedia, would hit stores in September. NYC area fans had the chance to get their paws on the record a few days ahead of its release at the Williamsburg outpost of Rough Trade, and as though that weren't reward enough, the LP came with two wristbands to an in-store performance on Sunday afternoon.

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Sam Smith - United Palace Theatre - 9/18

Categories: Last Night
Better Than: Drunk dialing the person you're in love with.

United Palace Theatre is primarily a church that moonlights as a movie theatre and music venue. The entrance is devastatingly beautiful and overwhelming, making it the perfect host for Sam Smith's grandiose voice, earnest delivery and soulful tunes. In their red velvet seats, patrons clutched their hearts and raised their hands as if engaging in a new type of spiritual experience on a Thursday evening.

See also: Sam Smith SLAYED Saturday Night Live

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Ty Segall - Webster Hall - 9/18

Categories: Last Night

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All photos Lindsey Rhoades
Better Than: Taking a crowd-surfing class at NYU

Ty Segall has long been known as a musician capable of prolific output; in 2012 alone, he released three full-length LPs -- Hair, with White Fence; Slaughterhouse, with his touring band; and Twins, that year's solo effort. He followed that up by releasing 2013's Sleeper, as well as starting a whole new band, Fuzz, in which he primarily plays drums. With each project, Segall tends to tweak his approach ever so slightly, dabbling in black metal on one album, sprinkling in hints of psych on the next. With the August release of Manipulator, Segall hones his ability to layer more complex elements into his brand of punked-up, seething rock 'n' roll.

See also: The 50 Most NYC Albums Ever

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How to Dress Well - Irving Plaza - 9/17

Categories: Last Night

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All photos Jena Ardell
Better Than: Anything described as "PBR&B."

Going off his music alone, one might have assumed How to Dress Well's Tom Krell was another self-absorbed white dude with a decent falsetto and too many feelings.

Though he is indeed white, and has quite a few feelings, Krell was, to my surprise, an exceedingly gracious performer.

See also: The 50 Most NYC Albums Ever


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Chromeo - Central Park SummerStage - 9/12/14

Categories: Last Night

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All photos Sachyn Mital
Better Than: That very drunk slice of Buffalo chicken pizza you had last night.

Chromeo has crept into our consciousness more and more over the past few years. In 2007 the group released Fancy Footwork, their second studio album but their first one-two punch to our conception of what an alternative, electro-funk duo should and could be. Since then, their disco-driven sound has been enlivening festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival, Coachella, and Lollapalooza. Earlier in 2014, Dave 1 and P-Thugg released their most recent album, White Women, and the result has been twofold: They've created yet another album rich with daring musicality and lyrics, all while informally officiating their completely singular, and completely sexy, sound.

See also: Why EDM Is Thriving While Other Genres Are Sinking

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Spoon - Central Park SummerStage- 9/10/14

Categories: Last Night

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All photos Sachyn Mital
Spoon are no nonsense. It takes less than a minute for them to remind you of this. After walking out and jumping right into "Knock Knock Knock"--a standout from their new album They Want My Soul, one that seems to yield more surprises upon each listen--they reached the chorus. Frontman Britt Daniel bark-growled it in a way where, sure, the words were still kinda there, but they'd become percussive elements on their own. His movements were wire-y and jagged as always, his head bobbing like a machine stuttering into its own rhythm. The overall vibe he exuded could be summed up along the lines of "Yeah, let's get this started, goddamn it."

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Madison Square Garden - 9/10/14

Categories: Last Night

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All photos Jena Ardell
Better Than: Any other 63-year-old who has had the same hairstyle since 1976.

There's an old concert-going axiom that goes something like this: If you're seeing an older, more established act, you're going to have to endure a half-dozen (or more) songs from the album they're promoting in order to hear the crowd favorites. We've all had to do it. You want to hear Neil Young play "Cinnamon Girl"? You're first going to have to listen to eight tracks from his latest vanity project. You want to hear U2 crush another rendition of "One"? Not until you listen politely as they trot out the toothless collection of songs they just released. These new records are often ones we haven't heard, haven't bought, or haven't connected with on the same level that we have with the oldies. It's a tradeoff that's just about as old as rock 'n' roll: You wanna hear the hits? Fine. But you're gonna hear these new songs whether you like them or not.

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Karen O - McKittrick Hotel - 9/10/14

Categories: Last Night

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All photos Lindsey Rhoades
Better Than: Getting a note from a Secret Admirer

In June 2004, Karen Orzolek told SPIN magazine: "The only reason I wanted to be on a major label was for people to hear 'Maps'... I knew it would be huge from the moment we wrote it. I am a fuckin' sucker for love songs." Now, almost a decade later, Karen O has released a whole album of them. The decidedly lo-fi collection, aptly titled Crush Songs, was written and recorded around the time Show Your Bones brought her band Yeah Yeah Yeahs into an increasingly intense spotlight, when Orzolek says (in the hand-penned liner notes to the LP), she was afraid she'd never crush again.

In honor of Crush Songs finally seeing the light of day, Orzolek scheduled a series of intimate shows -- three at Sleep No More locale McKittrick Hotel and a final appearance at (le) Poisson Rouge this Friday. In the McKittrick's Manderley Bar, a pink and blue neon sign hung as a backdrop on the low stage, rechristening the place "Crush Palace," and when Karen O walked out in a shimmering gold and sheer black floor-length gown, it was hard not to be enamored.

See also: Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O Has Big Plans for the Group's Biggest Show

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Interpol - The Met - 9/2/14

Categories: Last Night

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All photos Sachyn Mital
Better Than: Being inebriated during mass at the Vatican.

Is Interpol art? I asked myself that very question as I watched Paul Banks -- a ridiculously handsome man, in a black suit and tie with slicked hair a la Don Draper ('cause that's how he rolls) -- perform inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and wondered if I was witnessing some kind of majestic piece of historic art come to life.

Over the top? Perhaps. But when you're inside this particular concert venue (which isn't typically a concert venue) where there are no sticky floors, harsh lighting, or grotesque bathrooms, but rather Egyptian artifacts that date back from the Paleolithic to the Roman period, it feels special. It's not every day a New York band performs inside a New York institution.

See also: How Interpol Took the Dirtiest Word in Rock 'n' Roll and Turned It on Its Head


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Arcade Fire - Barclays Center - 8/24/14

Categories: Last Night

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Credit: Emily Tan // See our slideshow of the concert
Better than: Listening to Reflektor.

There was a moment when Arcade Fire began where I was convinced I was seeing the wrong band. Opening with the title track of their newest album Reflektor, it was hard to see the earnest accordion-playing art kids from Montreal under the shiny suits, blinding lights and glam motifs. I've fallen a bit off the Arcade Fire bandwagon since the release of The Suburbs - to me, and I suspect, many others, they will always be the band that wrote Funeral. Though it's obvious that winning a Grammy, no matter how few people had heard of you at the time, is a big fucking deal, seeing proof of Arcade Fire's success on such a massive scale was still breathtaking. Win Butler is now an actual rock star, and his army of bandmates are rightly confident in their ability to keep the crowd cheering for two hours straight. This is the dream of Win and RĂ©gine, I guess.

See also: Arcade Fire Opens Its Brooklyn Weekend

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