Meb Byrne

Archive for the ‘concert’ Category

La Roux

In album, british, concert, music, nyc, performance on November 20, 2010 at 9:55 am

La Roux, the British electro-pop group, performed its last concert of a two-year tour this week at New York City’s Terminal 5. The young band, while not without its minor flaws, revealed lots of potential for albums and tours to come.

Francis and the Lights, a duo with self-important hairdos, jump-started the show with no fanfare or introduction. Two young men, clad in black suits, drew on Ziggy Marley and Sting for their bass-heavy tunes. The lead singer was chronically ironic, cutting off his Kings-of-Leon-inspired vocals to perform a spastic dance break, a three-second drum solo, or shake a tambourine with dour hipsterness.

The second opening act, Far East Movement, is famous for their electro-hip hop single, Like A G6. The inexplicable yet catchy tune drew the likes of Snooki from MTV’s Jersey Shore, in the city to celebrate her birthday. The three rappers took the stage in skinny ties, skinny jeans and astronaut helmets lined with blue and red LED lights. The group’s explosive set and high-energy antics roiled the crowd into a slamming, jumping frenzy. Even Snooki waved along.

La Roux took the stage after a break that let the audience’s endorphins dip a bit too low. Two keyboard players and a drummer were snazzy in angular black and white suits. Elly Jackson, the lead singer and face of the group, swept onto the stage in a floor-length gold jacquard cloak and lots of silver jewelry, silhouetting her improbable hair against a flashing image of her golden disembodied head. Leaning close to the crowd, she rocked her way through the group’s eponymous album. Highlights included I’m Not Your Toy, Colorless Color, In For The Kill, Bulletproof, and a very good cover of the Rolling Stones’s Under My Thumb.

Elly’s strength is the audience’s adoration. Her fans were more excited to see her than to see her perform; at the end of each number, she stood stock still and the crowd went wild. Her somewhat flagging energy and awkwardly pained facial expressions betray her reported reluctance toward fame, which is a pity. When she really cuts loose, her tight, controlled movements, menacing grimaces and 80s-inspired footwork command tremendous power, amping up the show’s energy a hundred-fold. The sooner Elly realizes how fierce she is, the better.

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BlipFest

In concert, music, performance on December 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm

BlipFest, a three-day music show of video-game-themed chip music, is a fast-paced, high-energy event for dancing and jumping your cares away. Now in its fourth year, BlipFest is held in The Bell House in Brooklyn, a large space with high wooden ceilings and big brass chandeliers. A small stage is set up in the center of the room for the musical performers and their equipment, while images created for each performer are projected onto a screen behind the stage. The designs change continuously, and range from primitive computer graphics and pixelation to checkerboard patterns, bouncing rainbow circles to Twilight Zone spirals, depending on the artist.

I attended the first night of BlipFest with five gentlemen who know and love the show, and who were kind enough to give me the skinny on the scene. For example, I was informed that three types of people attend BlipFest: 

  • production people, who are into the chip-music-making process;
  • dance music people, who cluster toward the front of the stage; and
  • video game geeks, generally fatter than everyone else, but earnest in their attempts to dance. 

These categories are informative but not exhaustive; for example, I’m not sure where the person dressed as Santa Clause and wearing a welder’s mask would fit. (I’m not kidding.)

BlipFest’s musical artists come to New York from as far abroad as Seattle, Washington and Leon, France, and run the gamut in their musical styles. Early Thursday evening, Leeni wore a white bobbed wig and sang along with her tracks of menacing, circus-y music. In contrast, Albino Ghost Monkey paired his epilepsy-inducing flashing green-and-brown visuals with gabber music and danced with the crowd on the floor. The weirdest performer of the evening, Eat Rabbit, took the stage in a suit, tie and full-headed rabbit mask.

The best act of the evening was minusbaby, who dropped high-energy Afro-infused beats while flailing boys crowd-surfed. His geometric visuals, provided by Enso, were aesthetically simple, repetitive and powerful, and used 3-D glasses to enhance the experience with color. Best of all, minusbaby kept the music going with minimal breaks, which kept the crowd moving and the mosh pits moshing.

As good as minusbaby was Je Deviens DJ En Trois Jours. The French native rapped and snarled into his microphone, interjecting guttural roars into his hardcore heavy metal beats. The crowd got rough when he played, slamming with a frenzy, devil horns held high as white balloons bopped around the room. Unfortunately, Je Deviens DJ En Trois Jour’s equipment stalled at awkward moments, leading to the ire of the crowd.

Between sets, the lounge adjacent to the main concert space fills up with dancers seeking $6 draft beers and a seat on one of the many squishy leather couches. The bar’s atmosphere is very chill, and a good respite before reentering the main space to dance even more, or braving the cold Brooklyn streets heading home.

BlipFest runs Thursday, 12/17 through Saturday, 12/19 at the Bell House. Tickets are $15 at the door. A coat check is available for $2 per item. Come dressed to dance.