James Blake @ Terminal 5, NYC – 11/6/2013

Posted in Concerts, OurVinyl, Photography on November 11, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

from OurVinyl.com . . .

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It feels like just yesterday that James Blake was an artist on the verge of breaking out. His self-titled debut album was released in early 2011 and garnered him a lot of attention and critical praise. Relentless touring and continuous release of new material helped Blake maintain his momentum leading to the release of his follow up album, Overgrown, in early 2013. In Overgrown, Blake’s sound continued to evolve and expand, and with it his comfort and prowess in the studio grew as well. Just recently, this album was awarded the prestigious Mercury Prize which is awarded to the best album from the United Kingdom. At just 25 years young, James Blake has had quite the career so far, and those present at his live concert can attest to the fact that this is simply the beginning of it.

Wednesday night, James Blake played his first of two packed concerts at New York City’s Terminal 5. Blake is certainly no stranger to New York as he has made several trips across the pond, including his first ever U.S. gig shortly after the release of his debut album. He has since moved on from the smaller sized venues such as Music Hall of Williamsburg and Bowery Ballroom to the “cavernous hole,” as James described it that is Terminal 5. While his concerts may not be in the intimate settings that they were a few years ago, Blake’s ability to connect with the audience has more than made up for it. The 3,000 or so people in attendance were all transfixed on every sound that came from Blake.

Every time James Blake has graced a New York City stage, he has appeared more and more comfortable. He even made reference to the familiar faces he has seen from his previous shows in the area.  With just two other musicians joining him and a minimal set design, the large stage seemed somewhat empty, but the sound that emanated easily filled Terminal 5. The set started off with “I Never Learnt to Share” off of Blake’s self-titled debut. Starting very quietly with the refrain “My brother and my sister don’t speak to me, but I don’t blame them”,  the synthesizer continues to build up as a kick drum provides rhythm in sync with the pulsing lights. By the time this song reaches its crescendo, everybody in the room was engulfed in light, a stark contrast to the dim ambiance during the first few notes.

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“Life Round Here” was the second track that Blake and company would play. With the sound of the synthesizer swirling around the crowd, it was very clear how much Blake has elevated his live show. When at one of his concerts, the music has a way of engulfing the audience. During the quieter moments, such as “Our Love Comes Back” and Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and  Blake has complete control of the crowd as they watch on in silence. Meanwhile, some of the more exploratory songs, such as “Digital Lion,” “Voyeur,” and “CMYK” would turn the atmosphere into a frenzied dance party.

When crowd favorite “Limit to Your Love” was played, both of the aforementioned attributes were evident in the same song. This Feist cover, which was Blake’s breakout hit off of his debut album, greatly captures his musical range. His falsetto voice is at full force on this track, while at the same time a loop of the same vocals with digital effects can be heard under it. The song starts off as a gentle piano ballad, but builds in time you hear a booming bass reverberating and drawing you in even further.

“Retrograde” was another highlight of the evening. This track too begins slowly, with Blake providing a gentle hum for the first minute or so that continues to loop as the lyrics come in. Once the phrase “Suddenly I’m Hit” is sung in the second verse, a buzzing synthesizer note is played which persists for the entire verse until the humming once again overtakes it. A lot of the power in his music is derived from the simplicity. Many of his songs feature sparse lyrics and rely on looping certain phrases, but this use of repetition accompanied by basic rhythms help reinforce the songs and make them resonate within the heads of the listeners.

“The Wilhelm Scream” was another highlight of the evening and was used to close out the 90 minute set. When Blake and his two band members left the stage, the crowd was louder than they had been all evening, screaming for more. Fortunately, James Blake obliged and came out alone for the gospel-tinged “Measurements.” Everybody in the audience quickly became quiet once more as Blake continued to loop his vocals and create a choir composed of his own voice accompanied by nothing more than keyboard.

“The Wilhelm Scream” was another highlight of the evening and was used to close out the 90 minute set. When Blake and his two band members left the stage, the crowd was louder than they had been all evening, screaming for more. Fortunately, James Blake obliged and came out alone for the gospel-tinged “Measurements.” Everybody in the audience quickly became quiet once more as Blake continued to loop his vocals and create a choir composed of his own voice accompanied by nothing more than keyboard.

What James Blake has done since arriving in the music scene is nothing short of impressive. While the “cavernous hole” that is Terminal 5 may appear as a daunting space, the 25 year old Londoner, has had no trouble filling it. As his sound continues to grow, perhaps some of the venues he performs at will as well, but for now we can not doubt Blake’s comfort on this stage. He will be performing throughout North America for the remainder of November before embarking on a string of tour dates in Asia in 2014. Be sure to catch him when he plays nearby next. Below are some more images from Terminal 5 to get you excited. . .

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CMJ Music Marathon 2013 Recap

Posted in Events, Music, OurVinyl, Review on October 25, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

from OurVinyl.com . . . 

The leaves on the trees in New York City (yes, there are some trees in New York) are starting to change colors and fall to the ground which only means one thing – CMJ Music Marathon. For those of you not familiar with the CJ Music Marathon, it is 5 days packed with music. Over 1,400 performances take place in over 80 venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, many within a short distance of another. You will not find the same headliners from the summer festival circuit. Instead you will find many artists that you’ve never even heard of, along with others that are just beginning to emerge. Discovery of new music is the main goal of this marathon. Bands that have emerged during the CMJ Marathon in the past ten years include Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, Hot Chip, M.I.A., MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit, and Mumford & Sons. In the past three years alone you would have been able to see acts such as Avicii, Kendrick Lamar, Alabama Shakes, Gotye, Icona Pop, and Foxygen.

Those who endure this 5-day journey are often rewarded with stellar sets from artists giving it their all in turn for a shot at more exposure. A massive amount of media coverage is applied to this festival each year, and many other musicians and music insiders alike can be spotted at all of the venues. Additionally, this week serves as a perfect time for established acts to make appearances and this year was no different as both Pearl Jam and Arcade Fire announced rare gigs in front of their highly anticipated new albums.

With the sheer amount of live performances that are available to see in this one week, it is impossible for any single person to cover it all. All you can do is plan ahead, circle some of your favorite shows, and always have a backup plan! What follows below is my account from the 2013 CMJ Marathon . . .

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My marathon started at Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 2. This venue, which has two other performing spaces as well, is nestled in the middle of a thriving music scene in the Lower East Side and is the perfect jumping point to several other venues. It also helps that it is one of the more intimate and comfortable spaces that you can find in the city. The London based 5-piece Duologue was the first act that I caught in this venue. Like many of the acts that I would go on to see this week, I knew very little of this band beforehand. My first impression when they jumped into their set was that they sound like Radiohead circa early 2000’s. Lead singer Tom Digby-Bell’s falsetto is a dead ringer for Thom Yorke’s distinct vocals, and the choppy beats and overdrive backing it up solidifies the previous comparison. Even some of the songs themselves bear uncanny resemblance to Radiohead tracks; check out “Get Out While You Can,” which is a dead ringer for Amnesiac’s “I Might Be Wrong.”

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This comparison of course is all in high praise of Duologue, as they have complete mastery over these songs. There are a lot of different effects and sounds created to provide the complete atmosphere in each song and the entire band is hard at work with various petals and loops to establish their sound. A dramatic tension is constructed during their sets that keeps the level of intrigue high throughout the show. This is definitely a worthwhile band to check out and their live show does a great job of bringing these complex and moody songs to life.

My next stop of the night was the Bowery Ballroom, just a few blocks away who were hosting the Talkhouse Showcase. This showcase was headlined by Norwegian pop darling Sondre Lerche, and also featured performances from Luke Temple from Here We Go Magic, Teen, and Wet. I arrived for the very last song from Teen, a female foursome based in Brooklyn who produce a dreamy and laidback sound. Their set seemed like a good transition into Luke Temple’s which followed shortly after.

Luke Temple own sound doesn’t differ much from that of his band, Here We Go Magic, but the overall mood seems to be a little less spacey which actually helps some of the songs out greatly. There is a good pop sensibility to his own material and a very light hearted nature to it. Tracks like “Florida” definitely convey this feeling, as a bouncy bass line introduces the song. Despite the lyrics being a little less sunny than the mood, this song still finds an easy way to get inside of your head.

Luke Temple’s set certainly established a jovial mood at Bowery Ballroom, which was taken to further heights with Sondre Lerche. This was my first time seeing the Norwegian singer-songwriter, whom I had first become familiar with from his work producing the score of the movie Dan in Real Life in 2007. Lerche has enjoyed a decent level of success ever since the release of his debut album, Faces Down, which was hailed by Rolling Stone as one of the top 50 albums of 2002. His songwriting borrows from some of the best of the craft and the voice that he provides to his tracks makes them very easy to listen to and become immediately engaged.

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Sondre Lerche’s set from the Talkhouse Showcase was a great introduction to his music as he played selections spanning his entire career. Lerche seemed like one of the most genuinely likeable musicians and is completely at ease while on stage. Songs like “Hands Are Shaking” and “Two Way Monologue” display Lerche at his finest and leave you excited to see and hear more.

As mentioned above, one of the most important aspects of the CMJ Music Marathon is the ability to make last minute substitutions for events when necessary. Trying to fit everything into your schedule can be a difficult task but flexibility will ultimately be what allows you to last through the week. When I got an invitation earlier in the day for a press screening of Ben Stiller’s directorial film debut, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I figured that it would be a pleasant way to transition into the evening as well as a good way of resting my legs for a few hours.

I did not know anything about this movie prior to watching the trailer that came along with the invite. A good soundtrack and breathtaking visuals are typically enough to get me to sit through a movie, but I was very pleasantly surprised with what I saw. Based off of a 1939 short story from James Thurber, the movie follows Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) who is constantly dreaming up alternate scenarios and adventures in his head until a point where it is difficult to discern the differences between reality and imagination. Kristen Wiig fills in nicely as the romantic interest and the movie also features Adam Scott, Sean Penn, and several other notable actors. You’ll get the chance to see the movie this Christmas when it is released nationwide.

Following the movie, I decided to stay in the Chelsea neighborhood and check out the Ooh La La showcase at the Highline Ballroom. I arrived right in time for Lou Doillon, the French model, actress, and singer.  There was a huge French presence at this concert as she has amassed quite the following in her native country and many were singing along all throughout the set, despite all of the lyrics being in English. Her debut album, Places, was released this past Spring, and she performed several of these songs at the Highline Ballroom. She often times sung about personal experiences and took several opportunities to connect with the crowd. Her backing band created a very full sound to accompany her folksy style of singing. At times she evokes Patti Smith or Fiona Apple – despite having the looks of a model, her songs express a vulnerability which makes her very human stage.

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On Thursday night, I found myself back at the Bowery Ballroom for the Domino Records Showcase. This night was headlined by Real Estate, and featured sets from Jonathan Rado & the Gentlemen Jets, Hookworms, and Piano Movers. I arrived before Jonathan Rado and managed to get a spot directly in front of the stage for this performance. I had first been seen Rado perform on the very same stage at last year’s CMJ Marathon with his other band Foxygen, who were one of the biggest breakouts from that festival. Seeming as if they were lifted straight from the 60’s, Foxygen completely blew me away. The swagger that the frontman, Sam France possessed combined with the intricate songs and atmosphere created by Rado was one of the best surprises of the past year.

It is rather impressive that Rado has already released his own album of material in the same year that Foxygen’s debut was released. The intricacy that is present in Take the Kids Off of Broadway’s songs is can definitely be found in Rado’s Law and Order. When seeing Rado perform these live, it helps your understanding of what goes into each track. While Rado’s songs certainly hold up on their own, they lack that energy that is added from frontman Sam France in Foxygen. This statement mostly applies to their live show as it was much more sedate than one of those of Rado’s other band.

Following Jonathan Rado & the Gentlemen Jets was the headliner of the evening, Real Estate. The beachy band from nearby Ridgewood, New Jersey came onto the stage around 11 pm to a sold out Bowery Ballroom. Real Estate has two full LPs to date that have both been received very well by the indie mainstream. They were one of the more “high profile” acts to play the CMJ Marathon this year and their laid back tunes had everybody on the floor swaying in unison. The set opened with “Easy,” which is the title track off of their most recent album Days. “Easy” pretty much sums up this Real Estate in a nutshell. Their demeanor on stage is very casual and laid back. This of course matches their sound which is akin to lying on a beach with waves crashing in the distance.
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“It’s Real” and “Beach Comber” were other highlights from the set, which spanned all of Real Estate’s releases as well as material from their forthcoming album expected in early 2014. The overall live experience is much like the studio experience, but much more immersive. The looping guitars swirl around you in the live setting, making you yearn for summer days. With a new album on it’s way, you can expect to see Real Estate bringing the beach party on the road for some time to come.

When the weekend comes around for the CMJ Music Marathon you can always expect big things. With plenty of highly anticipated albums to be released in the final months of 2013, a few shows seemed to generate an unnatural amount of buzz. Although they weren’t under the CMJ Music Marathon umbrella, both Pearl Jam and Arcade Fire announced that they would be playing at separate venues in Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday night. Arcade Fire, under the pseudonym “The Reflektors” announced that they would be playing a “secret” show for around 2,000-3,000 people at a warehouse space in Brooklyn. Tickets for this concert went unnaturally fast although there seemed to be no shortage of available tickets on StubHub and Craigslist. These concerts were in anticipation of their forthcoming album, Reflektor, and the crowd was encouraged to come dressed in costume and formal attire.

Pearl Jam, on the other hand, had announced that they would be playing their first NYC area shows in 3 years a few months prior to the Barclays Center shows. These shows also sold out very quickly, and with their new album Lightning Bolt being released the same week, the timing couldn’t have been better. I was lucky enough to score tickets to the Friday night Pearl Jam concert at Barclays. This of course interfered some with seeing CMJ showcases, but I wasn’t going to relinquish my first opportunity to see a band that I’ve loved for over 20 years live.

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Having been to Barclays Center several times since it’s opening just over 13 months ago, I can easily say that this was the most crowded that I have ever seen it. With the entire 360 degrees of seating being utilized in addition, Barclays Center was definitely near it’s capacity. No openers were on the bill either giving Pearl Jam complete control of the arena for the evening. In complete darkness the members of PJ took to the stage, as the opening notes of the dark and moody new track, “Pendulum” began to ring. Frontman Eddie Vedder had complete command of the audience from the moment they stepped on stage. His grainy vocals combined with Mike McCready’s prowess on guitar completely captivate the audience. Pearl Jam quickly went from one of their newest tracks to a fan favorite from their debut album Ten with “Release.” Even with some of their quieter tracks, the noise level was cacophonous as thousands were gleefully singing along.

Having been around for over 20 years and releasing over 10 solid studio albums, Pearl Jam has established themselves as one of the greatest bands to come from the 90’s. They continued to pick songs spanning their deep catalogue as they went into “Elderly Woman Sitting Behind the Counter in a Small Town” from Vs. next. The energy in the arena never dipped below what it was from the outset of the evening. For a band to play over 30 songs in 3 hours and have the crowd in complete awe throughout speaks volumes about this band. Very few currently touring acts have the power to pull this off.

By the end of the evening, Pearl Jam had played 8 songs from their new album with highlights being “Infallible” and “Sirens.” The new songs were very well received in the live setting and even enhance the experience of going back to listen to Lightning Bolt. It’s amazing how this band continues to mature and evolve and Pearl Jam offers a stark contrast to the acts that performing at the CMJ Music Marathon.

What the CMJ Music Marathon gives you is emerging artists. Almost all music acts start small, this 5 day marathon provides them with a platform for exposure.

Live on Letterman feat. John Mayer & John Legend

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

from OurVinyl.com . . . 

There is a lot of music history that has taken place at the Ed Sullivan Theatre. Moments such as the Beatles first U.S. performance and the Doors controversial rendition of “Light My Fire” helped establish this building’s musical legacy. The sheer amount of talent that has graced the Ed Sullivan Show and the Late Show with David Letterman continue to build upon this rich heritage. With Live on Letterman,however, this theater’s legacy has moved into the digital age with full performances streamed to over 185 million fans to date. This concert series has  featured prominent artists such as Pearl Jam, Phoenix, Coldplay, Gorillaz, Depeche Mode, Adele, Foo Fighters, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones and many  more. OurVinyl has had the fortune to be at several of these concerts to capture the live experience and can attest to some of the magic that goes on inside of this building. What makes this series so special, however, is the ability to take these concerts with you and relive the experience. Not only is CBS Media  bringing these intimate performances directly to you, but with new interactive features the viewers can now toggle between multiple cameras, capture and share photos, and even choose the final song.

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Live on Letterman artists are typically of a high caliber and have established great reputations. In addition to these traits, however, these artists are often relevant to the current music scene as they are often there promoting new releases or other notable achievements. The artists that performed on Monday and Tuesday of this week certainly met this description. There are several other parallels that can be made when looking at John Mayerand John Legend, who both performed sets filled with new material from their upcoming releases. At 35 and 34 years young, these two Johns both broke out into the music scene in their early 20′s, each gaining Grammy nominations for Best New Artist following their debut releases in addition to averaging over two other Grammy nods each year for the following 10 years. Each are amongst the most talented musicians today at their respective instruments and each has continued to release quality music while still being able to evolve their sounds. John Mayer’s pop infused hits took on a new life when infused with blues, while John Legend has lent his talents to so many different type of songs ranging from R&B, hip-hop, and soul. This week, at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, these two artists continued to prove why are they are amongst the best at what they do.

John Mayer’s new CD, Paradise Valley, came out on August 20th, which was one day after his Live on Letterman performance. After spending much of the year off of the road following vocal surgery, a lot of his time went into the creation of this album which came out just 15 months after 2012′s Born and Raised. After over a year of recovery, Mayer seemed humbled while on stage, taking time introduce his new songs as well as clear his throat and chat with the crowd. But when he was back to the mic singing all certainly seemed just as good as it ever was. More importantly, his guitar chops are even more present an poignant. “Queen of California” was the first track that the band went into and a distinctly Western ambiance was established. With a slide guitar on stage for the entire set and several band members in poncho, it was difficult to recall that this was the same person who ruled the pop charts with “Your Body Is A Wonderland” for so long. Nobody in the audience seemed to mind and every song that was played was met with eager anticipation regardless of which album it came from.

The next track played was “Something Like Olivia,” which was also off of Born and Raised. Many were hearing these songs live for the first time, as Mayer did not have the chance to fully tour in support of his previous release. With two albums coming out in such a short span, this performance felt much different than if you had seen him years in the past. Also, Mayer seems more comfortable than ever with all his new material. “Paper Doll,” the first single off of Paradise Valley, gave Mayer ample opportunity to show off some of his guitar licks, which preside heavily over many of the new tracks. The deepest into his catalog that he would end up going was “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” off of 2006′sContinuum. This song especially took on a new life live, as it was stretched into a growing crescendo of guitars for the outro. One of the highlights of Mayer’s set came from the opening track of his latest release, “Wildfire.” With the entire audience clapping along, this jubilant shuffle is difficult to stay still to and is sure to be a fan favorite at future performances. Staff at the Ed Sullivan Theatre were handing out copies of Paradise Valley upon exiting the venue, and this is definitely one that continues to get better with each listen so do yourself a favor and treat your ears to it.

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Just 23 hours later at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, the crowd was treated to yet another fantastic performance from a different sort of Legend. With his new album, Love in the Future, set to be released on September 3rd, the Live on Letterman performance proved to be a good spot for John Legend to premier some his new songs. The drums pounded as Legend walked to the stage and went into one of his new tracks, “Made to Love,” a captivating track which features booming percussion which is joined by piano towards the conclusion of the song. Continuing with the suggestive tracks, “Tonight (the Best You’ve Ever Had)” was the  second song played. This track, from the 2012 movie Think Like a Man, had many people in the crowd trying to match the high notes that Legend was crooning. Thankfully Legend and his band overpowered the audience.

Unlike the previous night’s performer, Legend played tracks from his first release, with hit singles such as “I Used to Love U” and “Ordinary People” both being highlights of the set. Whether the crowd was dancing in the aisles or for the former or singing to every word for the latter song, John Legend completely mesmerized all of the spectators throughout the 45 minute set. There were certainly some more tender moments in some of the new tracks that Legend previewed as well, which were showcased in the latter half of the performance.

 

Viewers of Live on Letterman had apparently chosen for John Legend to close the set in style with “Green Light” off of 2008′s Evolver. Legend urged the crowd on for the chorus having them sing “I’m ready to go right now” repeatedly, even though many at the Ed Sullivan Theatre may have felt otherwise. This uptempo track closed out a solid set which spanned much of Legend’s so far illustrious career. His set certainly left us eager to hear more. Fortunately we don’t have to wait long for Love in the Future.

With the Live on Letterman series, fans are given the chance to experience these great performances first hand. This concert series continues to attract top artists from all genres and bring them right into your living room. It is in your interest to explore some of their past concerts as well as these two gems and become part of the Ed Sullivan Theatre’s rich musical history.

John Mayer photos courtesy of Heather Wines, CBS Photo

John Legend photos courtesy of Jeffrey Staab, CBS Photo

Written By Jesse Zryb

OurVinyl | Senior Writer & Photographer

A Review of Governors Ball 2013

Posted in Concerts, Events, New York City, OurVinyl, Photography on June 24, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

from OurVinyl.com . . .

As the public’s appetite for music festivals continues to grow, we are finding more of these music-based events popping up than ever before. Additionally, many established festivals have expanded both in size and duration, some even moving to two weekends in order to be able to accommodate as many people as possible. As this trend continues, an important question is raised – is bigger always better? 

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After two very successful summers of steady growth,Governors Ball took a massive leap this year when they expanded to a full 3 days of music, from 2 in 2012 and 1 in 2011. Not only did the festival increase in duration, but the size of the site on Randall’s Island, which is nestled in the East River between Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, increased significantly – now accommodating 4 main stages. To cap it off, Founders Entertainment booked one of the better lineups of the festival season, booking quality acts from top to bottom.

Somewhere in there however, the original spirit from which the festival was established became lost. Governors Ball had originally prided itself on the fact that it contained no over-lapping sets and that it was relatively easy to catch all of the acts that were present. After looking at the stellar lineup upon it’s initial release, fans who had previously attended Governors Ball had to be salivating at the chance to see all of these artists.

While the headliners listed in the lineup carry much appeal, the strength of this overall lineup comes from it’s depth. Looking at some of the top draws from previous years, many of these acts would likely be in the middle of the pack in the 2013 lineup. Additionally, genres were more balanced throughout the whole weekend this year whereas last year had two days with distinct feels with one day heavily represented by electronic acts such as Passion Pit, Duck Sauce and Chromeo and the second day featuring established indie rock acts like Beck, Modest Mouse, and Fiona Apple. There was a tangible difference in the crowds between both days last year, but looking at the 2013 lineup, each day contains a number of different music types with something for everybody.

Tickets sold for this year quicker than ever with many of the days selling out well in advance. The prospect of seeing all of these bands in the same weekend is pretty great and is ultimately the main draw of the festival. This year however, Governors Ball was much different than the previous two with a park site that was almost doubled and stages now featuring performances at the same time. Kings of Leon vs Pretty Lights. Guns n’ Roses vs Nas. Thievery Corporation vs Animal Collective. Kendrick Lamar vs Cut Copy. Grizzly Bear vs the Lumineers. The xx vs Bloc Party. Kanye West vs. the Avett Brothers. These were just some of the many conflicts that people would have to figure before setting out. Of course, these aren’t the worst problems in the world and typically there is no wrong answer, but these kind of decisions simply did not exist in years past.

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Another major difference from years past was the weather; Governors Ball has had pretty great fortune before 2013 with two perfect summer weekends in 2011 and 2012. As the week leading up to this year’s festival rolled on, it became a certainty that New York City would feel the wrath of Tropical Storm Andrea as the storm crept up the coast. Friday was one of the wettest days in recent history, continually dumping rain all over the tri-state area all throughout the day. As the day turned into the evening, the rain became even worse and was joined by heavy winds. Many people came late to the festival on Friday due to work or travel hoping to catch a glimpse of headliners such as Kings of Leon or Pretty Lights. Instead, what they found was that Randalls Island had turned into several gigantic lakes. It was impossible to avoid the murky water by the evening and several acts were cut short before finally canceling the final performances of the day. Disappointed fans streamed towards the exits all at once making it take longer than usual to leave the island and ultimately leaving a bad taste on the mouths of many. Founders Entertainment, the organizers of Governors Ball, quickly managed to do all in their power to make things right though. It was announced on Saturday morning that all Friday ticket holders would be admitted to the festival on Saturday and after shuffling much of the schedule, room was found for an early evening performance for Kings of Leon.

While it was a great relief to see the sun out Saturday morning, festival goers were soon to find out that they were not in the clear yet when it came to harsh conditions. The lakes that formed all over the site had now turned into muddy patches. Often times when you stepped your feet were in mud well over your ankles and it was a common site to find sandals and other loose shoes either buried in the mess or in trash cans. Traversing the site now understandably took much more effort and time than previous years when people flowed seamlessly from stage to stage. People tended to gather around and on the hard flooring that was laid down and fortunately there was a considerable amount of solid ground in front of the Governors Ball stage which hosted all of the headliners and several other major acts throughout the weekend.

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One of the first stand out acts that we were able to catch on the Governors Ball stage were the Divine Fits. This indie ‘supergroup,’ which consists of Spoon’s Britt Daniels, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner and Sam Brown from New Bomb Turks, released one of the most complete albums of 2012 in A Thing Called Divine Fits. A few new tracks were just released, and it’s great to see that the band is still going strong even while there is rumored activity for some of the bandmate’s other projects looming on the horizon. Their live show is just as tight as the album and each note and lyric has a tremendous amount of purpose. A crowd continued to amass around the stage as they played much of their original material both old and new as well as some choice covers such as Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky” and Frank Ocean’s “Lost.”

A few hours later on that same stage came Kings of Leon, rescheduled from the night before. To see a a headlining band such as KoL at 6:45 seemed a little out of place, but they seemed just as excited that they got to play as everybody else in the crowd. Other than apologizing for being “21 hours late”, as Caleb Followill quipped, there was very little banter as the band tried to fit as much into their 75 minute set as possible. They used this set as a chance to introduce several new tracks as well as playing tracks pretty evenly dispersed from their other albums. Towards the end of the set, the hits poured out one after another with “Use Somebody,” “Closer,” and “Sex on Fire” all played consecutively. With a new album on the horizon, the Kings of Leon were very glad to have had the chance to perform in front of the NYC crowd, even if it was a little sunnier than they expected it to be during their headlining set planned for the previous night.

The crowd that had gathered for the Kings of Leon swelled even more as the sun actually set. Guns N’ Roses began loading up on the main stage and they were certainly most happy that they did not have a daytime performance. Their entire set was filled with fireworks and explosions and was as 80′s rock and roll as you could imagine. When they were initially announced as the headliner for Saturday, many knew not what to think of the decision. Decades after their peak and with only one original member left in the band, many had tempered their expectations. Shortly into the set, however, Axl Rose asked the crowd “Do you know where you are?” and with that everybody in attendance went crazy.

It’s safe to say that Appetite for Destruction was released before a large chunk of the crowd was even born. For so many to be seeing these hits that they’ve been hearing their whole life was pretty phenomenal, and GNR proved why they are one of the most legendary rock bands of all time. Axl Rose commanded the entire crowd with his swagger and strut and was still able to hit all of the shrill screams and notes ever present in their catalog. All of the hits such were touched upon with a healthy dose of (relatively) new material from Chinese Democracy. A fireworks filled rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” was one of the standouts and perhaps a tribute to the Beatle who was playing nearby that night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. When Rose needed some rest from all his movement, he took to the piano for an extended intro to “November Rain” which displayed the versatility of the whole band. Their performance capped off a great day of music and certainly left people leaving on a much higher note than they had just 24 hours ago when the event was washed away.

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The muddy fields were still present on Sunday but it seems like people were much more aware of what they were getting into. You saw fewer sandals as people took Governors Ball as an opportunity to clear out their closets of a pair of sneakers that they no longer desire in the case that they didn’t own rain boots. With another stacked lineup throughout the entire day, the entire festival seemed packed all of Sunday. Gary Clark Jr. pleased the fans with a sunny set of blues while on the other side of the festival Yeasayer had people in an afternoon dancing frenzy.

The Lumineers, who exploded onto the music scene with their self-titled debut album a year ago, were a huge draw and helped mix up the genres present at Governors Ball even  more with some folk. Their hit single “Ho Hey” erupted into a giant sing a long that had everyone at the Honda Stage swaying along. On the opposite side of the field at the You’re Doing Great Stage, the xx were gearing up for their set during the last few hours of sunlight. The minimalist sounds from the trio on stage continued to sweep over the fields providing a haunting soundtrack to the sun setting behind us. At the same time, Bloc Party were commanding a muddy dance party as the final act in the Skyy Vodka Tent.

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The main draw for Sunday, and for many the entire weekend, was Kanye West. The controversial rapper, who is known almost as much for his antics and tabloid appearances as he is his music, recently announced that he has a new album (that came out June 18th), which is called Yeezus. He has also released a few new tracks and Governors Ball proved the perfect testing ground for his new sound. It also happened to be the perfect venue for him to celebrate his own birthday which was on Sunday as well.

His set opened up with pounding percussion and flashing lights for his new song “Black Skinhead.” As the title implies, the song is a very aggressive song featuring as much screaming as singing from West. Yeezy continued with new tracks, playing “New Slaves” in front of a gigantic screen zoomed in on his face in black and white. His style for the new songs is much different than previous albums, relying much more on rhythm and electronic beats and the vocals seem to come at you a lot harsher than previous albums. Barking dogs and images of hooded klansmen flashed by on the screen reinforcing the tones that are present in these tracks. Another new track had Kanye proclaiming “I am a God” over throbbing techno beats. Clearly, Kanye is not trying to shy away from the controversial. “Honestly, when I listen to the radio, I don’t wanna be there no more. I don’t give a fuck about outside opinions” he stated at one point Sunday night and after hearing some of the new tracks we could most certainly agree with him.

That’s not to say that Mr. West is completely avoiding the hits now. Popular tracks from all of his albums were touched upon, such as the recent “Mercy” off the GOOD Music compilation Cruel Summer, “Power” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, “Heartless” from 808s and Heartbreaks, and “Jesus Walks” from College Dropout. Many of these songs seemed to have adapted to some of the new styling present in Yeezus and were delivered with more powerful beats and shouting from Kanye as he breathes new life into his classics. West closed out his 100 minute set in a grand fashion performing “Stronger,” a rap remix of Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” an extended “Runaway,” and a reprise of “Black Skinhead.” As people flooded out of Randalls Island after his set, they certainly left eager to see what’s in store with this new album.

While the tropical rain and mud fields quickly come to mind when thinking of Governors Ball 2013, they are overshadowed by some spectacular performances from artists spanning all generations and genres. This festival took a tremendous leap this year in terms of scale as well as where it stands when compared to festivals across the country. You must give Governors Ball a lot of credit for being so ambitious, and hopefully it continues to evolve into a permanent institution in New York City. You can click here to view some more photos from the entire weekend.

Here’s to a sunny and mud-free Governors Ball in 2014!

Written By Jesse Zryb

Photos from Governors Ball 2013

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

from OurVinyl.com . . . 

A Review of the Great Googa Mooga 2013

Posted in Concerts, Events, Music, New York City, OurVinyl, Photography, Review on May 28, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

from OurVinyl.com . . . 

Last year, the first Great Googa Mooga touched down upon Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with the hope to establish a new tradition – an annual celebration of food and music in the grassy expanses of the Nethermeads and an escape from the bustling city beyond the trees. The two day festival was blessed with cloudless skies and summer-like temperatures months ahead of schedule in its first year. Throngs of people came out with voracious appetites, perhaps more than anyone could have imagined for the inaugural Googa Mooga. The demand for food and drink outweighed the supply and long lines became the norm throughout the weekend. If you got there early or simply had patience than you were treated to a smorgasbord of delights, however there was much negative backlash, much of it directed at the food ticketing process and the VIP amenities (or lack thereof). By the second day of the festival in 2012, many of the kinks had been worked out to some extent, and those in attendance were treated to a stellar lineup of music to go with their food, capped off by a headlining set by Hall and Oates that had people of all generations dancing along.

great googa mooga 2013 review

Superfly Presents, the organizers of Googa Mooga and the same folks that brought us Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, were listening closely to what people had to say about the first year and did their best to make amends by refunding over $1 million to everybody who purchased tickets to the VIP experience. They vowed to return bigger and better and last week we saw the 2013 vision of Googa Mooga come to life. In addition to the free tickets that were distributed via lottery system for Saturday and Sunday, tickets were now offered at a reasonable price for a Friday concert which included bigger music acts such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Flaming Lips, and the Darkness. Food vendors were much more prepared for the hungry hordes ready to be fed and all food vendors now accepted cash rather than the ticketing system from last year, ultimately keeping lines moving much quicker. With Friday off to a great start and many of the flaws from the previous year worked out, it seemed as if Googa Mooga was on it’s way to a great 2013 – at least until Mother Nature decided to weigh in. With a forecast that seemingly changed for the worse by the minute festival goers that were expecting some sun on Saturday instead had to endure some light rain and chillier than expected temperatures. Those who made it out to Prospect Park on Sunday must have been even more disappointed when the festival was prematurely closed before noon due to persistent rain and despite being a ‘Rain or Shine’ event.

While it is unfortunate that we were deprived of one day of Googa Mooga, we still had plenty of time to take it all in. We were there on Saturday, May 18th for a full day of food, drink, and fun. Those who made it early on were fortunate enough to catch Lee Fields & the Expressions who opened up on the Nethermead Stage at 11:3o am. The R&B music that drifted through the trees made it easy to find the festival site in the middle of Prospect Park as many continued to arrive. It was difficult to pull yourself away from the tunes and find your first meal of the day, fortunately many of the vendors were aligned on both sides of the main stage. Over 85 top restaurants were represented, each serving something special.

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There is no doubt about it, food is the main attraction at Googa Mooga. At no point was this more apparent than in the afternoon, when people first became acquainted with the festival site and found the restaurant stalls of their choice. A very helpful mobile app was released weeks before Googa Mooga allowing people to view all of the vendors as well as a description of their menu and prices. With so many New York staples as well as a few choice out of town selections such as L.A.’s Umami Burger and New Orleans’ Crawfish Monica it was important to familiarize yourself with the layout of the festival in order to make the best meal decisions possible. Having a few friends on hand to share with also made it much easier to spread yourself across the grounds.

great googa mooga 2013 review

Many came with blankets and claimed their spots on the great lawn early on. Walking through the fields you couldn’t help but stop and talk to strangers typically resulting in the questions “what is that?”, and “where did you get that?.” The other thing you couldn’t help but notice at this festival were the kids. Many young families could be spotted throughout the Googa Mooga. Unlike many other festivals, kids are encouraged here and there proved to be several diversions such as an arts and crafts area, lawn games, and even some fresh mud to play in. Throughout the afternoon, artists such as Sharon Von Etten and Father John Misty continued to provide music to please the crowd at the Nethermead Stage as a light rain continued to pass over.

great googa mooga 2013 review

On the opposite side of the festival grounds stood the Joe’s Pub Stage shuffled between appearances and talks with celebrated chefs and musical performances. This back area by Joe’s Pub included even more food vendors as well as a more intimate setting to gather around. A distinctly New Orleans feel fell upon Googa Mooga at 2:15. Jon Batiste & Stay Human took the stage at this stage and the Crescent City native mixed in a number of NOLA standards as well as other material to help create a very festive scene. People wouldn’t allow the rain to dampen their fun, and you could find umbrellas bobbing up and down throughout the set. Not long after this set started you could hear brass music coming from the nearby American Express Tent. Not only did this tent provide a dry shelter, but it also served as host to giveaways, food and drink demonstrations and performances. The Soul Rebels moved the New Orleans party to the tent when they took to the stage there. The tent had already been packed with people seeking refuge from the rain, after the 8 piece brass band came on you could feel the ground underneath you shaking in delight.

great googa mooga 2013 review

Another interesting feature from Googa Mooga this year was the Renaissance Fair which was tucked behind the Nethermeads Stage. After passing through a section of overgrown trees which provided a forest like backdrop it was as if you had stepped back in time 800 years. And they were playing Daft Punk. Dozens of people were outfitted in medieval clothing as DJ’s continued to create a unique party atmosphere complete with sword fights and guillotines. Being situated near meats on sticks certainly helped lend to the feeling as well.

Back on the Nethermead stage a crowd was gathering for Italian Superstar, Jovanotti. The singer/rapper had plenty of fans very excited and you can find many peoplesinging along in his native tongue. Even for those who couldn’t understand the meaning of the words coming from his mouth, there was much to enjoy as the music spanned all types of genres and styles. Jovanotti was followed by Brooklyn natives Matt & Kim who were clearly excited to be headlining the day’s festivities in front of the New York crowd. A tremendous amount of energy is poured into each one of their shows as they mix in all of their hits with other party songs such as “Better Off Alone” and “Let Me Clear My Throat.”

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If Saturday night were to have been the conclusion of the festival, we would have had mostly great things to say about Googa Mooga 2013. Unfortunately, a whole other day of festivities was scheduled for Sunday. Kool & the Gang, De La Soul, the Cults, members of LCD Soundsystem, and more were all slated to perform. Despite an even wetter forecast than previous days, plenty of people still showed up at the opening hours of the festival only to find that they were being held at the gates.

An announcement was made shortly after noon through Googa Mooga’s social media outlets saying that the decision had been made to cancel the remainder of the festival. It was clear to the people on the grounds at Prospect Park that many improvements had been made from the previous year. Unfortunately many people who were only attending on Sunday were unable to see them. While the weather is something that is completely out of the hands of any festival organizer, better means of communication could have been used; hopefully this will be another learning point for the future.

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Click here to view our photo-gallery from the Great Googa Mooga.

By Jesse Zryb

OurVinyl | Senior Writer & Photographer

Photos from the Great Googa Mooga 2013

Posted in Events, Music, New York City, OurVinyl, Photography on May 22, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

from OurVinyl.com . . . 

This past weekend, the Great Googa Mooga touched down in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn’t as kind as it was last year, bringing rain and clouds over the festival for Saturday and Sunday and ultimately causing Googa Mooga to come to an abrupt end after concerns were raised for the safety and well-being of fans as well as the Prospect Park grounds. We were there on Saturday to document the scene. Despite the wet conditions, people were able to fill their bellies with ease and while at it were able to enjoy the sounds of acts such as Matt & Kim, Red Baraat, Jovanotti, the Soul Rebels, Jon Batiste, Sharon Van Etten, and more.

You can check out some photos from Saturday, May 18th below and stay tuned for an in depth review coming soon . . .

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