Category Archives: TVD New York City

TVD Live: Life of Agony at Starland Ballroom, 9/13

In 1993, the world of heavy metal was in flux. Grunge had entered the scene and helped give birth to the “alternative metal” genre, one that tended to be an amalgamation of various metal styles. One of the commercially less successful but critically lauded bands, both by press and fans, was Brooklyn, New York’s Life of Agony.

Their debut album, River Runs Red, and its follow-up, 1995’s Ugly, contained some of the most raw, emotional, and harrowing lyrical content, coexisting with thick, heavy riffs that spanned styles from hardcore to slower sludge metal. After calling it quits in 1999, the band has reunited a couple of times and drifted back apart again. The time felt right once once more, and there was no venue more appropriate than the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey for the occasion.

We arrived at the venue, said a few hellos, and after a few conversations, acquired a perfect spot at stage right. The show, which had sold out very quickly, was packed tight with fans eager to witness the reunion. We arrived right after opener Diablo Blvd finished, but the feedback I heard from people during and after the show was very positive.

A Pale Horse Named Death was up next. Led by Sal Abruscato on vocals and guitar, he was pulling double duty for the night, as he’s also the drummer for Life of Agony. One interesting dynamic about APHND is that in the band are two former drummers of gothic metal legends Type O Negative—Sal, and Johnny Kelly who took over on the drums in Type O when Sal left to join Life of Agony in 1993. Looking on in the crowd during the set was Type O guitarist Kenny Hickey—tonight was a night of multiple reunions.

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TVD Live: Jozef van Wissem and Woodsman at Baby’s All Right, 9/1

We happened to stop by Baby’s All Right Monday just to say hey to a friend who was tending the bar (we swear we go other places, but it is definitely becoming our favorite NYC venue right now). We knew a little something about Jozef van Wissem, mainly that he had scored the Jim Jarmusch film, Only Lovers Left Alive which we have both wanted to see but have not.

We had no designs on the evening, allowing us to relax into soundscape bliss. The main takeaway: Jozef van Wissem is INCREDIBLE. He masterfully plucked and picked this wild, double necked looking lute.

He played hypnotic rounds adding and subtracting notes gradually, shifting seamlessly in and out of various melodies and movements. It is reminiscent of the Indian system of playing music as broken down in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, a must read for the psychedelically inclined.

Towards the end of his performance he walked out into the crowd and played for each person, wanting each of us to hear and experience the true tone of his instrument. Bowing toward each of us, he honored his lute and perhaps us for sharing this moment with him. It was an intimate moment we felt quite lucky to have witnessed.

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TVD Live: Steve Gunn at Baby’s All Right, 8/22

PHOTOS: MAS HINO | We first heard of Steve Gunn when he opened for Kurt Vile at Bowery Ballroom, and we missed him. He could be seen playing on the side of the stage with Kurt Vile, but we really couldn’t hear him. We made the assumption that if you are playing guitar with Kurt Vile, then chances are you are probably pretty good at guitar.

Later that month we were record shopping at Academy Records, when it was on N 6th, and up on the wall with the staff picks was Time Off and it said, “Recommended if you like Gene Clark’s No Other.” And we do, very much so, and although it doesn’t have the volume of overdubs and sounds more like when Jimmy Page breaks out the acoustic, they were right on the money that us Gene fans would dig this record.

Sadly, his show last Friday at Baby’s All Right was the second time we have not been able to see Steve Gunn together. Last summer Alex was on tour when he played 285 Kent. It was right after an awesome Tiny Desk Concert performance and the release of Time Off, so we were certain it would be packed, sold-out even, but to my surprise there were 15 people in the room.

Gunn was absolutely amazing and everyone there was stunned in disbelief that so few people seemed aware of it. He was truly on another level that night, peaking in fact, and I’m so glad I was there. His show Friday was great as well, and he delivered all the goods—cyclical and melodic guitar riffs, mellow and sultry vocals, thoughtful somewhat vague lyrics that sink into my bones, songs that slowly build into epic jams that you find yourself lost in, and this time, a packed room. There was even a touch of myth in the murmurs, dudes attempting to explain Gunn’s past to their ladies.

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TVD Live: Jacco Gardner at Baby’s All Right, 8/16

I first heard Jacco Gardner in Oxford, Mississippi in the midst of a tour of the southern United States in 2013. I was checking out R.E.M. bootlegs, of which there was a vast selection, at a store called The End of All Music. On the store stereo was the record Cabinet of Curiosities by Jacco Gardner. They only had the one copy, and after some negotiation, Matt (one of my partners in rock) managed to score it.

We proceeded to drive all over America, and quite often this record was our soundtrack. Through rain, snow, desert heat, darkest night, and blurriest morning, Jacco always delivered.

In November of 2013, the men and I found ourselves in Manchester, England with a day off. We decided to go out and explore. Manchester is one of the classic music towns in the world, full of history and interesting people. We decided we should check out the place we were going to play the next night and seek refreshment. Once there, and successfully refreshed, we realized that Jacco was playing across the street that night. Great news indeed.

The show was glorious and intimate. It was sold out, but it could only hold 30 people at most. I remember being really struck by the back wall projections. I had forgotten how effective a vibey projection can be. How it can actually change the meaning of a song, and if not change it, then subliminally nudge your mind to listen with a different viewpoint. After the concert we met and chatted with Jacco and the rest of the group and generally made merry. I got the record for myself this time and counted down the days till we got home for Thanksgiving.

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TVD Kickstarts: CBGB Punk Photos by Godlis, 1976-1979: The Book

I’ve known David Godlis’ photographs longer than I’ve known him. If you’ve read any number of books or New York Times articles about CBGB and related subjects, chances are you know his work as well. I finally befriended him 6 or 7 years ago during one of my frequent periods of unemployment. He needed some help scanning proofsheets, and I was able and willing. Listening to a mix of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Howard Stern broadcasts, we got to know each other pretty well.

The one surprising thing I found out was that he had never had a book published. “I’m working on something…” “I’m talking to some publishers…” “I may do a Kickstarter campaign…” These were the various things he said keeping things somewhat close to the vest. Well, he’s finally launched his Kickstarter campaign, and the response has been astounding. He met his initial goal of $30,000 within five days! Of course, if you’re interested in a limited edition copy of the man’s timeless work, you should still donate.

Godlis was generous enough to spend a few minutes talking about the CBGB days with us.

What did you shoot prior to discovering CBGB, and how did you discover the club?

Prior to arriving in New York City in 1976, I was a “street photographer,” trying to shoot like Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander all rolled into one.

When I moved here from Boston and found some work, I began looking for a club or bar to hang out in that had music or a good jukebox. I guess all paths were leading to CBGB’s after I spied an issue of Punk magazine and saw the back of the Village Voice with those adverts for bands with odd interesting names – Blondie, Television, Ramones, Suicide. I had also seen a photo in Boston of Patti Smith and Bob Dylan in the summer of 1975. So, down to the Bowery I went and the rest is history.

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TVD Live: Paul Rodgers with the Royal Sessions band at Town Hall, 6/19

PHOTOS: EBRU YILDIZ | At a point in between songs during his New York performance of recent project and album release The Royal Sessions, Paul Rodgers remarked (half to himself, half to the packed house before him), “Isn’t this music cool? I love this music.”

This music, covers of classic blues and soul tunes such as “I Thank You,” “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” and show-stealer “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” was really, really cool. After all, the Sessions band, an assortment of top musicians from Memphis, gave us a tighter-than-tight horn section and an electric bongo player.

But the majority of the evening’s cool points most definitely went to Rodgers himself, because he made every move and every note look and sound easy, causing the average concert-going nerd to narrow his eyes, stroke his chin and think to himself, “Hmmm… so casual, smooth, easy—heck, anybody could sing these R&B standards and sound good, right?”

Wrong! Because only Paul Rodgers, singer of such rock classics as Bad Company’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and Free’s “All Right Now,” could make these standards sound so good. Indeed, it could be said that Rodgers’ Royal Sessions project created (cue megaphone amplification) “The PERFECT… STORM… OF SOUL.”

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TVD Live Shots: Foxy Shazam at the Bowery Ballroom, 5/30

I was introduced to Foxy Shazam’s music by a friend a few months ago. So when I heard they were coming to the Bowery Ballroom I figured I would go check out the live show.

I’ll let the photos do the talking.

And in case there’s any confusion, yes, that is Eric Nally eating a bundle of cigarettes…

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TVD Live Shots: Lee Fields at the Bowery Ballroom, 5/29

Last Thursday, Lee Fields and his sharp-as-a-tack backing band, The Expressions came back to the city to perform at the Bowery Ballroom in celebration of the release of their new record, Emma Jean.

Fields’ set included mostly songs from the new record—and let me tell you it sounds incredible. The “Little JB” is surely coming on strong this summer.

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TVD Live Shots: Built
to Spill at the Bowery Ballroom, 5/21

Last Wednesday, Built to Spill performed at the Bowery Ballroom, their last of 3 New York City shows.

Though static in stage presence, the Idaho five piece’s set was exciting as ever and especially filled with their guitar based jams for each song. For the encore, the band called the crowd up to join them for an on-stage dance party.

Each member slowly and secretly exited the stage, handing their instruments over to someone else, and only to be revealed when the show was over and the crowd on the stage cleared.

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Early Winters: In-Store with TVD at Village Music World, NYC

We find we like to grow with an act once we’ve become enamored. Tracks with a fragile beauty and hushed vocals that insinuate themselves into the subconscious beget pals over here.

From First Date to taking the band record shopping (a logical progression if there ever was one) we’ve become quite fond of Early Winters, the LA by way of Toronto by way of UK four piece. So, there we were last month in the Greenwich Village record shop Village Music World—aptly named—with band members Carina Rounds, Justin Rutledge, Dan Burns, and Zac Rae for a bit of a record rummage and in-store performance.

We caught the band before their headline appearance at Rockwood Music Hall and prior to a west coast jaunt with Afghan Whigs in support of Vanishing Act, their new full length release on store shelves this very moment.

And yes indeed, there’s vinyl.

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