Parquet Courts + Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Greene Space - 4/9

Categories: Last Night

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Photos courtesy WNYC/Janice Yi
Pains of Being Pure at Heart's Drew Citron
Better Than: Listening to a live-in-the-studio gig on your computer

We weren't expecting a normal gig: This pronunciationally plosive pairing of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Parquet Courts was being staged at WNYC's The Greene Space -- a sumptuous, state of the art, acoustically stunning set with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall looking out onto Varick Street -- Wednesday night for an audience of around 150 people. The bands both have brand-new albums arriving in the next few weeks and would be showcasing all-new songs in the first show of the station's "Gigstock" series, co-presented by WNYC and the invaluable Oh My Rockness site, we'd been told would last around 90 minutes.

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Lady Gaga - Roseland Ballroom - 4/6/14

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Courtesy of 42 West & Getty Images
Gaga opening the second to last Roseland Ballroom show
Better Than: Anyone else closing out Roseland Ballroom's long and storied chapter in New York City.

With a stage hidden by a deep red curtain surrounded by oversized, large roses, it's clear Lady Gaga took her role as emcee for Roseland Ballroom's "10-day funeral," as she has called it, seriously. In front of a slightly more subdued crowd than expected in terms of dress (more casual concert-wear than Gaga costumage), Gaga entered from a door also shrouded in roses at house left, burlesque-teasing the audience with only a hand and leg before revealing herself completely. She posed and vamped before sitting at her first piano of the night, a less showy opening than one can be accustomed to experiencing at a pop concert. In a way, she was making it clear the set was less about her and more about the venue she was helping celebrate and close out.

See also: Does Roseland Ballroom's Demise End the Era of the Manhattan Megaclub?

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Lorde - Roseland Ballroom - 3/12/14

Categories: Last Night

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Photos: Santiago Felipe
Dear Lorde,

Did you ever imagine you would have a hard time holding people's attention? I mean, you aren't exactly an average pop star, and that burst in popularity in the last year must have freaked you out some. Of course, it also proves that your appeal isn't only to outsiders, but to all kinds of people. Pure Heroine has seen great success since September, and you sold out the soon-to-be-shuttered Roseland Ballroom three nights in a row. (How cool is that?)

See also: LIVE REVIEW: Lorde at Webster Hall, 9/30/13

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Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, New Order + More - Carnegie Hall - 3/11/14

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Photo by Loren Wohl. See more photos from last night.
Iggy Pop and New Order
Better Than: Possibly expected.

A benefit concert can be tricky business. There's a necessity to show earnestness when addressing the cause it benefits while an expectation for a fully-stocked and exciting line-up of performances and surprises exists. It can go horribly wrong or it can be an illuminating, moving and exciting night worthy of the cause it supports and the money shelled out by patrons to benefit said cause. At Carnegie Hall last night, where the 24th Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert took place, the evening quite certainly felt like the latter.

See also: How Not to Throw a Human Rights Benefit

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St. Vincent - Terminal 5 - 2/26/14

Categories: Last Night

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Photos Loren Wohl. See more St. Vincent at Terminal 5 photos.
Better Than: Normal human beings.

This is how St. Vincent's new live show begins: in lieu of walkout music, there's just darkness and reverberating sound boiling in the air above the crowds' heads, and then there's one of those ancient computerized voices that already sound like the aged sci-fi markers of a bygone era. "Greetings fellow analogue creatures," it begins. "Please refrain from capturing your experience tonight digitally. Thank you, St. Vincent." Last night's Terminal 5 show checked a lot of boxes: the beginning of the American leg of St. Vincent's Digital Witness tour, and a hometown show the day after the release of her new self-titled album. Fittingly, from that voice introducing the night onwards, much of St. Vincent's stage presence, flourishes, and banter seemed to originate from the same push and pull that defines the tension of St. Vincent.

See also: St. Vincent Has Crafted a Magnificent Mythology on Her Own Terms

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Justin Timberlake - Madison Square Garden - 2/20/2014

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Credit: C.S. Muncy. See all the photos from last night.
Better Than: Black Snake Moan.

The last time I saw Justin Timberlake live, he was still part of *NSYNC and filling stadiums with excited children and annoyed parents for the boy band's final tour. Since then, he's gotten married to someone who is not Britney Spears, pursued a film career, and with every album, embarked on a brand new level of musical maturity. It started with 2002's Justified, the rootsy R&B release that has become the template for successful male pop star maturation in the 12 years since its debut. He progressed with the even better FutureSex/LoveSounds in 2006 and has most recently added the massive, two part musical "comeback" of sorts, The 20/20 Experience.

At Madison Square Garden, part of some of the last dates of the second North American leg of his world tour, Justin Timberlake was in rare form. Comeback is an inappropriate way to describe this particular performer -- one with an already hefty canon of solo hits from four albums and two released within only the past year. With ease and charm, Timberlake makes the lengthy wait for new material and live performances seem like it was more than worth it all along.

See also: How To Properly Hoard *NSYNC Memorabilia

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Arctic Monkeys - Madison Square Garden - 2/8/14

Categories: Last Night

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Photos Robert Menzer
Arctic Monkeys
Better Than: Winning a 90-minute shopping spree at Brandy Melville

Saturday night English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys lead singer/guitarist Alex Turner walked onstage at a sold-out Madison Square Garden through fog and strobe lights with his usual slightly-Elvis inspired style quiff and faintly sparkly outfit. He and his Monkeys--Jamie Cook on second guitar, Nick O'Malley on bass, and Matt Helders on drums--kicked the show off with the popular single "Do I Wanna Know" under purple lights in front of a massive main structure name-checking their latest album, AM. What followed was a tight, 90-minute set of songs from it and the band's four other albums--Humbug, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, Suck it and See, and Favorite Worst Nightmare--a few requisite New York specific mentions and guitar solos in front of an audience of arm waving, air guitar playing, dance happy partiers.

See also: The Arctic Monkeys Also Remember The '90s

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Blood Orange - Webster Hall - 2/6/14

Categories: Last Night

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Photos Emily Tan
Dev Hynes. See all the photos from last night: Blood Orange at Webster Hall.

Better Than: Anything but sex.

Just before Blood Orange's sold-out show at Webster Hall, Devonté Hynes' girlfriend and collaborator Samantha Urbani tweeted "It's so sick that my boyfriend is literally the coolest person in the world." Technically that distinction still belongs to Prince, but last night Hynes was certainly the coolest dude in the East Village.

See also: Celebrating the Release of Blood Orange's "Cupid Deluxe"

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How Not to Throw a Human Rights Benefit

Categories: Last Night

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Photos C.S. Muncy
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot. More photos: Pussy Riot at the Barclays Center photos

It's true, that old adage about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions. Sometimes, there's a seed of a great idea, one that involves a number of powerful celebrities with household names combining the behemoths of their popularity for a noble cause. It blossoms, budding with it an awareness that leaves everyone involved with a fuller head and a determined heart. And sometimes, that road winds and winds around nearly five hours of blitzed sets from some of the biggest names in rock and pop, and it deposits you somewhere under the neon coils of the Flaming Lips' stage setup as the crew rushes to piece it together while Wayne Coyne is flapping his tinsel wings above them and Yoko Ono is wandering around the stage like a grandmother who's been kicked out of the kitchen on Thanksgiving.

See also: Madonna Fan Art You Really Must Own

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Kim Gordon - MoMA PS1 - 2/2/14

Categories: Last Night

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Photo: Kai Flanders
Better Than: Listening to your drunk coworkers debate which Superbowl commercials disappointed them.

When Mike Kelley, 57, was found dead of an apparent suicide in the bathtub of his Los Angeles home in 2012, the art world lost an unmistakable, atypical voice. A massive retrospective of the Kelley's work--a collision of raw sexuality, putrid decay, and reference points to the broad spectrum of American culture that has influenced a legion of artists like Harmony Korine--has occupied the entire space at MoMA PS1 since October. Sunday afternoon, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and German artist Jutta Koether wished the exhibition goodbye with a performance that was part memento, part experiment, part public eulogy.

See also: ?uestlove, Andrew W.K., Kim Gordon + More - Masonic Temple - 5/1/13

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