Weezer, Sleigh Bells, Red Hot Chili Peppers 9/17/17

(i) lineup

1a. Weezer
2b. Sleigh Bells
3c. Red Hot Chili Peppers

(1a) (Weezer’s) setlist

  1. Hash Pipe
  2. My Name Is Jonas
  3. Pork and Beans
  4. Mexican Fender
  5. (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
  6. Perfect Situation
  7. Hey Ya! (Outkast cover)
  8. Thank God For Girls
  9. Beverly Hills
  10. Dope Nose / Back to the Shack / Keep Fishin’ / The Good Life / Surf Wax America
  11. Feels Like Summer
  12. Undone – The Sweater Song
  13. I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Mike Posner cover)
  14. Island in the Sun
  15. Say It Ain’t So

Encore:

  1. Buddy Holly

 

(1b) highlights

  • Weezer!!! I love those guys
  • getting to catch Weezer is always such a pleasure. Around first grade, I remember first discovering the band because my older brother loved them, and I’ve basically been a fan ever since.
  • practically a perfect setlist
  • can we talk about “Hey Ya”? it was fantastic
  • it was such a beautiful day and I won’t ever forget this set
  • being able to take photos at this show was AMAZING

(1c) lowlights

  • it was hot af and the crowd was full of older dudes who acted like they discovered Weezer in a basement back in 1992 – like chill.

(1d) overall thoughts

I never regret going to see Weezer. Their lives shows are full of so much joy and ease and encourage a sweet singalong vibe. I always have fun seeing the four guys onstage, playing old hits and newer tracks and having a great time. Rivers Cuomo – ever an enigmatic man – has so much fun onstage, sometimes I think despite the audience. He was dressed in red and chipper to be performing just as the sun was setting.

Despite the beginnings of fall just starting to take place, it was hot and still felt like summer. As if on cue with the day, the boys played their newest track, “Feels Like Summer.” The sun was shining, the shirt sleeves were short, and it was impossible not to sing along. My friends who know a couple of Weezer songs came along to the show and I was so happy to see them enjoying themselves too.

I know hardcore Weezer fans have a lot of thoughts and opinions on the band’s regular sets – and I understand it. But, to me, this was a perfect summer setlist. Easy breezy singalongs paired with a crowdsurfing man in an inflatable raft. What more could you ask for? Nothing.

Bottom line: I will always love Weezer and I will always remember this beautiful day. To me, Weezer is joy and this day will always remain joyful in my memory.

(2a) (Sleigh Bells’) setlist

  1. I Know Not to Count on You
  2. Unlimited Dark Paths
  3. Tell ‘Em
  4. It’s Just Us No
  5. Bitter Rivals
  6. Riot Rhythm
  7. Kids
  8. I Can Only Stare
  9. Comeback Kid
  10. Infinity Guitars
  11. Demons
  12. Crown on the Ground
  13. Rule Number One
  14. Throw Me Down the Stairs
  15. A/B Machines

(2b) highlights

  • this was my first time seeing Sleigh Bells and they are definitely fun
  • Alexis Krauss, the main face of the Brooklyn duo, is so cool and you can’t help but root for her
  • “Crown on the Ground” was super fun – I know that’s basic to say? but ah well

(2c) lowlights

  • it was hot and nighttime and we were tired – nothing bad to say about the show really

(2d) overall thoughts

It was the time of night when all of us were tired, lying down on the dirty concrete, and resting our eyes for a brief moment. Then Slight Bells took the stage. Their light show immediately awakened us and brought us to our feet as the crowd grew. The energy onstage was enough to make me wish I was up front and dancing in the pit.

Like many people, I first discovered Sleigh Bells through “Crown on the Ground” when it came out around the release of Sofia Coppola’s movie Bling Ring. And that song epitomizes a summer festival. You can’t help but sing along and get up and dance.

If anything, this performance made me want to catch Sleigh Bells again, at a smaller venue, in a bigger crowd, at another show and another time. Don’t miss them next time they’re in town.

Bottom line: We need more female-fronted cool af groups who know how to write a hit song and make people dance in a way that feels significant and meaningful. Because sometimes even an innocuous pop song can mean something during a summer show. We need Sleigh Bells.

(3a) (Red Hot Chili Peppers’) setlist

  1. Intro Jam
  2. Can’t Stop
  3. Dani California
  4. Scar Tissue
  5. Dark Necessities
  6. I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges cover)
  7. Right On Time
  8. Go Robot
  9. Californication
  10. What Is Soul? (Funkadelic cover)
  11. Aeroplane
  12. Don’t Forget Me
  13. Sick love
  14. Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)
  15. Under the Bridge
  16. By The Way

Encore:

  1. Goodbye Angels
  2. Give It Away

(3b) highlights

  • the Peppers! I’ve never seen these guys before and damn, they are truly professionals
  • damn they have some pretty fantastic hits – more than I feel like I remembered? and that’s always sign of a great band to me
  • their super sophisticated light show and circular screens looked awesome
  • RHCP may be older dudes but they’re still rock stars; Anthony Kiedis still has an amazing voice
  • hearing RHCP – a group that’s not even actually from California but I strongly associate with my childhood and teenage years – sing California songs out in Queens warmed my heart
  • “Can’t Stop” and “Scar Tissue” are California in the 90’s and early 2000’s fully embodied

(3c) lowlights

  • unsurprisingly, even joint and vape pen made an appearance during this set. am I 90 years old?

(3d) overall thoughts

Growing up in California, I always just heard the Red Hot chili Peppers around whether I liked it or not. They were on the radio, in stores, in movies, pouring out of cars, stereos, somehow always floating around. I never really thought about what a presence they had in my life until this show, standing out in that converted parking lot in Queens. It felt like hearing a bit of home.

Bottom line: Red Hot Chili Peppers are bonafide rock stars who wrote bonafide rock songs. And this show proved that.

M.I.A., Gorillaz, TV On The Radio 9/16/17

(i) lineup

1a. TV On The Radio
2b. Gorillaz
3c. M.I.A.

(1a) (TV On The Radio’s) setlist

  1. Young Liars
  2. Lazerray
  3. Golden Age
  4. Happy Idiot
  5. Could You
  6. Winter
  7. Wolf Like Me
  8. Trouble
  9. Province
  10. DLZ
  11. Staring at the Sun

(1b) highlights

  • even though I’ve seen TV on the Radio before, this was the first time I was really able to be in the front and engage with the band.
  • not too long ago, I feel like TV on the Radio was everyone’s indie darling for all time, but I really do think they’ve progressively become more underrated. we need more TV on the Radio.
  • how good is “Wolf Like Me”? it is so, so good.

(1c) lowlights

  • the sound wasn’t super fantastic – not sure who to blame for that.

(1d) overall thoughts

In a super-stripped down set, TV on the Radio took the stage just before sunset at the Meadows Music Festival. Tunde Adebimpe’s beautiful voice, on-stage energy, and ability to just get lost in himself ironically made me connect more to his performance than many other that day.

Bottom line: Everyone needs to see TV On The Radio if only because they’re cool as hell, don’t really care what you think about what they’re doing, and mostly just want to have fun in a disaffected punk way that manages to feel cool and not at all douchey.

(2a) (Gorillaz’s) setlist

  1. M1 A1
  2. Last Living Souls
  3. Saturnz Barz
  4. Tomorrow Comes Today
  5. Rhinestone Eyes
  6. Sleeping Powder
  7. On Melancholy Hill
  8. Busted and Blue
  9. El Manana
  10. Let Me Out (with Pusha T)
  11. Dirty Harry (with Bootie Brown)
  12. Strobelite (with Peven Everett)
  13. Andromeda (with D.R.A.M.)
  14. Sex Murder Party (with Jamie Principle)
  15. Garage Palace (with Little Simz)
  16. Feel Good Inc. (with De La Soul)
  17. We Got The Power (with Camille Bethomier and D.R.A.M.)

Encore:

  1. Stylo (with Mos Def and Peven Everett)
  2. Clint Eastwood (with Del the Funky Homosapien)

(2b) highlights

  • Gorillaz!!!!! literally how iconic are Gorillaz, I have no words
  • The last 7 or 8 songs were basically perfect. I’ll admit that we showed up late to this set and ONLY saw the last 7 or 8 songs in order to catch M.I.A., but hot damn, so much fun.
  • What is there to say about Damon Albarn that hasn’t already been said other than he’s cool ass dad who came out literally wearing sweats and a slightly baggy stripped street. I mean….perfection. What a guy.
  • there aren’t enough words to describe the feeling hearing “Feel Good Inc” and “Clint Eastwood” live. yeah, it’s basic af to reflect on those particular tracks but man, talk about songs that truly capture the perfectly unique moment that was my middle school experience. is that weird? it’s true.

(2c) lowlights

  • like I said, we only saw the last half of this set because someone who runs Meadows’ booking decided to double-book M.I.A. and Gorillaz despite the fact that they obviously have crossover audiences. lowkey that person should get a new job title.

(2d) overall thoughts

I feel like there’s truly no other group out in the world quite like Gorillaz. Damon Albarn – the man, the myth, the legend behind Blur – manages time and time again to not only take musical collaboration to another level, but still surprises me with every new release. Even though Humanz wasn’t a flawless record and not quite as strong as their previous work, you still can’t help but respect the boundaries they cross.

 

Bottom line: Gorillaz’s live performance takes things to the next level. With a combination of cool visuals, live collaborations that don’t touch any other any other group, and wide-ranging deep cuts and beloved singles, Gorillaz cannot be missed. True headliners to the core, I hope I won’t have to wait over a decade to see these guys again.

(3a) (M.I.A.’s) setlist

  1. Borders
  2. Go Off
  3. Pull Up The People
  4. Bamboo Banga
  5. Freedun
  6. 20 Dollar
  7. Bucky Done Gun
  8. Bring the Noize
  9. XR2
  10. Born Free

Encore:

  1. Galang
  2. Finally
  3. P.O.W.A.
  4. Ali R U OK?
  5. Bad Girls
  6. Fly Pirate
  7. Paper Planes

(3b) highlights

  • M.I.A!!!!!! Holy shit!!!! What a QUEEN.
  • there are probably only 4 or 5 people on the entirety on planet earth cooler than M.I.A. and two of them are Han Solo and Indiana Jones, which is not only just Harrison Ford but obviously men that don’t exist – so, what my midnight stupor is trying to say is that M.I.A. is fucking COOL. like, people don’t get it. she oozes perfection. she’s basically my Beyonce is what I’m saying.
  • did you know that M.I.A. is not only a mother but 42 years old. she’s 42. like. okay.
  • her outfit, stage set-up, and general energy were so badass, I couldn’t even handle it.
  • my soul transcended during “Paper Planes,” the end
  • I could write a 25-page thesis on why “Bad Girls” is the sexiest music video of all time. M.I.A. didn’t play the video or anything, but it’s almost impossible for me to disassociate it from the song itself, and goddamn it was so hot.
  • M.I.A. brought a dude up wearing some of her merch and thousands of people basically watched this guy twerk up a storm and it was incredible.
  • my best friend and roommate is also brown like Maya and this show was actually on her birthday and she’s worshipped her forever, so basically watching her watch the show was pretty incredible.
  • I feel like I took great photos during her set, which was awesome.

(3c) lowlights

  • she showed up a little late, which is fine because M.I.A. is a queen and I would wait for her until the end of the earth.

(3d) overall thoughts

There’s truly nothing I could say about M.I.A., her incredible vitality to not only brown culture, refugees, general musicianship and artistry, and women, that hasn’t already been said. So I won’t even try. All I can really say is that artists like M.I.A. matter for so many reasons. Maya Arulpragasam represents pretty much every aspect of minority culture from her gender, religion, age, culture, taste, citizenship, and countless others, and seeing her in her element perform for a crowd of thousands was legendary.

Bottom line: Getting to see M.I.A. wasn’t only one of the highlights of 2017, but a highlight of my adult life. Seeing such a strong, independent, fully realized woman, mother, and artist create and perform something so distinctly her was inspiring, uplifting, and truly earth-shattering for me.

Young The Giant, Cold War Kids, Joywave 9/13/17

I photographed and reviewed this show at The Pop Break, so here it is recreated below.

Pop Break Live: Young the Giant, Cold War Kids & Joywave at Central Park Summer Stage, New York City

There’s nothing like a triple-header at the Central Park SummerStage to close out the summer. On September 13th, Young The Giant played one of the last shows of the season, still supporting their 2016 record Home of the Strange, with fellow Southern Californians Cold War Kids and Rochester, New York-natives Joywave. This was the first official NYC stop for Cold War Kids and Joywave, each playing material from their newest albums LA Divine and Content, respectively.

Joywave opened the event in the early afternoon with a concise but energetic set led by singer Daniel Armbruster and his usual wry humor. Playing tracks off both the band’s smashing debut How Do You Feel Now? and their most recent effort Content, Joywave gave the crowd a reason to dance before the sun went down. Their most recent single “It’s A Trip!” fit right alongside their hit from two years ago, “Tongues.”

Setlist:

Now
It’s a Trip!
Little Lies You’re Told
Destruction
Doubt
Somebody New
Tongues

Cold War Kids, in usual form, brought soul and grace to the stage, opening with their classic, “All This Could Be Yours.” Singer Nathan Willett and bassist Matt Maust were in top form, playing Cold War Kids’ standards while still remaining fresh and on their toes. The lead single off their sixth studio album LA Divine, “Love Is Mystical” was a notable standout; the crowd was eager to join in and clap along with Willett’s tambourine. The highlight of the night, however, had to be the band’s sultry, jazzy, and sexy rendition of Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain” – an unusual cover that, by the end, sounded as if it was originally written for and by Cold War Kids.

Setlist:

All This Could Be Yours
Miracle Mile
Hang Me Up to Dry
Can We Hang On?
Love Is Mystical
Restless
Mexican Dogs
Love on the Brain (Rihanna cover)
Lost That Easy
So Tied Up
Cameras Always On
Hospital Beds
First
Something Is Not Right With Me

Young The Giant, the night’s headliners, wasted little time before immersing the SummerStage crowd into their album’s lead single and hot-topic conceit: America. Or, as the band brands it: “Amerika.” Singer Sameer Gadhia took the darkened stage backed by a track of famous American songs in pop culture, including Ray Charles’ “America The Beautiful,” Miley Cyrus’ “Party In The USA,” and Springsteen’s “Born In The USA.” With each “patriotic” song layering into each other and the bright, angular stage littered with flowers and modern geometric shapes, Young The Giant embodied true headliners. Their performance wasn’t keen on being nostalgic, but relevant and timely in the best way possible. Classic singalongs “Something To Believe In,” “Cough Syrup,” and the closer “My Body” left everyone in Central Park that night feeling like they had just witnessed something truly special. I can’t wait to see where Young The Giant goes next, because it’s only up from here.

Setlist:

Amerika
Something to Believe In
I Got
Anagram
Titus Was Born
Mr. Know‐It‐All
It’s About Time
Cough Syrup
Strings(acoustic)
Firelight (acoustic)
Nothing’s Over
Mind Over Matter
Repeat
Apartment
Home of the Strange

Encore:
Jungle Youth
Silvertongue
My Body

Depeche Mode 9/9/17

(a) setlist

  1. Going Backwards
  2. So Much Love
  3. Barrel of a Gun
  4. A Pain That I’m Use To (Jacques Lu Cont remix)
  5. Corrupt
  6. In Your Room
  7. World in My Eyes
  8. Cover Me
  9. A Question of Lust (acoustic)
  10. Home
  11. Poison Heart
  12. Where’s the Revolution
  13. Wrong
  14. Everything Counts
  15. Stripped
  16. Enjoy the Silence
  17. Never Let Me Down Again

Encore:

  1. Somebody
  2. Walking in My Shoes
  3. Heroes (David Bowie cover)
  4. I Feel You
  5. Personal Jesus

(b) highlights

  • Depeche!!! Mode!!!! YESSSSS!
  • this was one of the best show I’ve seen in such a long time, probably the best performance of the year. I’m still buzzing about it, and I’m writing about this over a month and a half later.
  • this setlist was out of control, so tight, so measured, so so damn good.
  • I’ve heard roughly a dozen covers of “Heroes” over the last two years since Bowie’s death and this was the best without a doubt. hands down.
  • “In Your Room,” “Wrong,” and “Everything Counts” were phenomenal; don’t even get me started on “Enjoy the Silence” and “Personal Jesus.”
  • the high-class visuals of this show were probably the best I’ve ever seen since New Order and U2; the use of the screens and runways was made for massive arenas yet totally made Madison Square Garden feel small and intimate.
  • the perfect classics fit so perfectly along Depeche Mode’s new music and that is definitely something I can say about legacy acts.
  • this show was so good that it made me raise my personal bar for what determines a great show and performance; if you’ve been around for over a decade, have money, and claim to prioritize the necessity of showmanship, then you better see Depeche Mode and see how they’ve perfected it.

(c) lowlights

  • nothing. not a single thing.

(d) overall thoughts

I’ve been a fan of Depeche Mode since high school when I first discovered them. Like U2, The Smiths, The Cure, and other 80’s bands that I deeply treasure, Depeche Mode have always been artists that felt untouchable and unreal to me. And after seeing them at Madison Square Garden at this show, David Gahan, Andy Fletcher, and Martin Gore feel even more godly.

I think the reason this show felt so legendary to me was because I was expecting something else. It would’ve been so insanely easy for Depeche Mode to stroll out, play a couple of classics, maybe throw in a few new cuts, and most people probably still would’ve had a good time. But that’s not at all what they did. They didn’t settle whatsoever. Gahan came out with more star-power energy than guys half his age. But that’s exactly the point of what made this show next level: not a single moment was half-assed.

Even though I was sitting at the clear back of the venue in pretty good seats, and I’ve definitely had better seats at Madison Square Garden, I’ve never seen a crowd with more energy. And I have seen massive groups perform there. Radiohead, U2, Blur, The Cure and Morrissey all had notable, high-energy crowds, but none of them could touch this. At one point, I couldn’t even hear Gahan singing “Everything Counts,” but thousands upon thousands voices all chanting together. I felt like the walls of MSG were going to fall off.

I feel like I could talk endlessly about Gahan’s energy as a frontman, Martin Gore’s strength as a both a singer and guitarist, Andy Fletcher’s consistent purity, hit after hit shocking the audience with their perfection, and the unbelievable visuals, but I would much rather tell you to see Depeche Mode and see them as soon as you can. You will only regret missing them.

Bottom line: Depeche Mode have no interest in resting on their laurels as musicians and performers, and that’s just one more reason they’re incredible artists. I won’t forget this show and have no problem saying it’s probably the best performance I saw this year. This is one of those shows I’ll be thinking about and remember for years and years to come.

DIIV 8/17/17

(a) setlist

  1. (Drunn)
  2. Past Lives
  3. Human
  4. When You Sleep (My Bloody Valentine cover)
  5. Healthy Moon
  6. Dopamine
  7. Judge (Alex G cover)
  8. Summertime (Girls cover) (with Tommy Gardner)
  9. Needle in the Hay (Elliott Smith cover)
  10. Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime (Beck cover)
  11. Sometime
  12. Hollow (Alex G cover)
  13. Earthboy
  14. How Long Have You Known?
  15. Loose Ends
  16. Under the Sun
  17. Home
  18. Wait (with Tommy Gardner)

(b) highlights

  • this is the first time I’ve seen DIIV and given their sound a chance, and it was so cool
  • the intimacy of this performance at Murmrr was mindblowing; it truly felt like I was invited to someone’s apartment for an intimate, private acoustic gig
  • the art and visual component of this show was so incredible that the moment the show ended, I immediately found the artist in the balcony who was manipulating the ink and paint that was being projected on the sheet behind the performance. it was amazing.
  • lead singer Zachary Cole Smith was such a compelling figure during the show, opening up about his sobriety, recovery, and self-awareness in performing. it was quite refreshing.

(c) lowlights

  • there was nothing I really disliked about the performance, other than maybe Murmrr is basically in the middle of nowhere Brooklyn

 

(d) overall thoughts

I ended up going to this show because a friend of mine is a huge DIIV fan. I really like walking into shows blind, especially when I’m with a friend who loves the artist. It makes me excited to experience the show through my friend’s eyes.

Without a doubt, the best part of this performance was the overwhelming intimacy of the space and sound. The acoustic softness partnered with the beautiful live art projecting on the stage made the overall stage design so unique and momentous. Layers of carpets, dimly-lit lamps, and a messy coffee table with personal items and trinkets created the perfect stage – as if the show was a living play.

When Zachary softly sang his personal songs – and even threw in a couple of favorites from songwriters Alex G and Elliott Smith – I felt like I could feel every emotion pour out of him. Every couple of songs, he would whisper into the mic, “God I’m so nervous” and it instantly endeared him to everyone. Despite the heavy subject matter of many of the lyrics, the band kept it light by joking together and bringing up that reality show staple Big Brother. It was hard not to smile that night.

Whoever’s idea it was to include a few artists up in the balcony, dripping and manipulating color and paint on screens and canvases that would reflect on a screen behind the stage – please know that you’re a genius. Every song felt like it had even more meaning and weight when it was coupled with swirling colors telling their own story.

Bottom line: DIIV is such a unique group of people willing to open up and bare their souls in a way that felt refreshing and off-the-cuff without the hint of calculation. The artistry of combining colorful visuals with a personalized stage design and acoustic takes on songs created a beautiful space and unforgettable night.

Andrew Bird 7/28/17

(a) setlist

  1. Hole in the Ocean Floor
  2. Fiery Crash
  3. A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
  4. Tenuousness
  5. Why?
  6. Capsized
  7. Truth Lies Low
  8. Roma Fade
  9. My Sister’s Tiny Hands
  10. Give It Away
  11. Orpheo
  12. Three White Horses
  13. Are You Serious
  14. Valleys of the Young
  15. Pulaski at Night
  16. Darkmatter

Encore:

  1. Caravan (Duke Ellington cover with Esperanza Spalding)
  2. Fake Palindromes
  3. Tables and Chairs

(b) highlights

  • Andrew Biiiiirrddddd, I love this man
  • I only stayed for the first couple of songs and was grateful to catch “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left” – one of my all-time favorite songs
  • the Prospect Park Bandshell is so beautiful and cool, I hope I can go back there for a show

(c) lowlights

  • I didn’t get to stay for the whole show, but I enjoyed the little bit I saw
  • this show was packkkkeddd. like too many people were filling the space, and it bummed me out that tickets were free, but that meant you had to sit behind dozens of rows of rich people who regularly give money to Prospect Park.

 

(d) overall thoughts

Andrew Bird is an artist I’ve loved for years and I was super psyched for this show. Even though several things went wrong and I couldn’t stay for the whole gig, I loved every moment I got to see.

The Prospect Park Bandshell is a huge and beautiful venue that I can’t believe I haven’t visited before. It was a warm Friday night and the grass was full of families, friends, and food, not to mention, sweet-sounding strings echoing in the night. Andrew Bird’s impeccable whistling, measured violin playing, and ethereal voice lifting through the crowd was enough to give me chills and remind me of all the reasons why I love him.

“A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left” and “Tenuousness” are some of my all-time favorite Andrew Bird songs and they sounded just as beautiful as I imagined they be. The stage was sparse, but thoughtful lighting, and a giant, rotating gramophone beside Andrew set the scene well. I’m disappointed to have missed “Darkmatter” and “Fake Palindromes” – other favorite tracks of mine – but I’m eager to check out Andrew again in a more traditional theatre setting.

 

Bottom line: Andrew Bird is nothing short of an artist. The subtlety of his art through strings, voice, and whistling deserves an appropriate stage and I look forward to one day seeing him on one.

Muse 7/24/17

(a) setlist

  1. Dig Down
  2. Psycho
  3. Interlude
  4. Hysteria
  5. Map of the Problematique
  6. Bliss
  7. The 2nd Law: Isolated System
  8. The Handler
  9. Supermassive Black Hole
  10. New Kind Of Kick (The Cramps cover)
  11. Madness
  12. Undisclosed Desires
  13. Starlight
  14. Time Is Running Out
  15. Mercy

Encore:

  1. Uprising
  2. Knights of Cydonia

 

(b) highlights

  • this was my first time officially shooting a show for a real publication!!! and it was shooting MUUUUSSSEEE. literal dream come true. (you can check out some of my shots at The Pop Break – I have more below here, as well.)
  • this show was for the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City, which is cool af; Muse always knows what’s up
  • setlist was fire – into all the songs here, don’t care what haters say
  • Map of the Problematique!!!!
  • for real, getting to shoot this – even though it was a complex layout – was exciting and thrilling and scary and freaking awesome

(c) lowlights

  • I was originally supposed to shoot right in front of the stage, but then it was switched to just in front of the tech booth. eeek.
  • it rained before the show and for the the first couple of songs. not the end of the world, but I had a brand new lens on my camera and that was….stressful.
  • nothing else because Muse is flawless; Matt and Chris and Dom for life.

 

(d) overall thoughts

 

Getting to see Muse during this little summer tour has been one of my favorite things. To see a band that normally goes all in, puts out, and brings things to the next level with every performance, it’s so refreshing to see them in another light. Relatively stripped back stage design, level lights, and nothing but pure tunes in Central Park is alllll you need.

Matt, Chris, and Dom sounded fierce as usual, and everything was glowing as the sun set over the river to the west. The crowd was a bit wet and I had snuck up on the left side after shooting in the back to find a tucked-away corner of the pit. To hear songs I’ve loved for over a decade in Central Park surrounded by friends gave me such a warm feeling inside. Dusk quickly became night and the setlist quickly evolved into older classics like “Hysteria” and “Map of the Problematique.”

Even though the setlist was nearly identical to the previous show only two nights earlier, everything felt familiar and unique in the new setting. The Central Park crowd was in high spirits, tightly packed into each other. I saw older fans and even kids lining some of the barricade, everyone joyful and glowing under the soft light. I’ll never forget this show, and not just because I got to shoot one of my favorite bands. I’ll always love Muse because they always remain themselves; they transform with every new album and a lot of people give them shit, but I get what they’re doing. They’re just Matt, Chris, and Dom. They’re having a good time, entertaining the crowd, and never fail to forget how a single song can completely turn everything around.

Bottom line: This show was iconic. The intimacy of everyone jam-packed into pockets of jumping masses made this night in the park so memorable. Moving throughout the back of the pit to capture great shots, as well as moving up close to feel myself in the music only proved that – no matter the setting – Muse shows up. And while not every band can say that, Muse can.

Muse, 30 Seconds To Mars 7/22/17

(i) lineup

1a. 30 Seconds To Mars
2b. Muse

(1a) (30 Seconds To Mars’s) setlist

    1. Up in the Air
    2. Conquistador
    3. This Is War
    4. Kings and Queens
    5. Alibi
    6. The Kill (Bury Me)
    7. City of Angels
    8. Do or Die
    9. The Ocean (Led Zeppelin cover)
    10. Closer to the Edge

(1b) highlights

  • 30 Seconds to Mars are off their rockers, but they’re definitely not boring, that’s for sure
  • Jared Leto is a Character – for lack of better phrasing – and honestly, he was so entertaining despite looking like a hot mess

(1c) lowlights

  • even though there are 10 songs on the setlist…I am nearly positive at least 3-4 of those songs were not played in full; Jared Leto would rather prognosticate and preach for 5 minutes than simply sing his song. “The Kill,” which is normally maybe 4 minutes long, turned into a 12 minute affair of him climbing through the crowd, giving speeches, slowing the melody, turning it acoustic, and basically rewriting it live? Jared, what are you doing bb, what is happening
  • it rained a bit at the show, so there’s quite a bit of sloshing happening in the pit. While it was significantly worse during Muse, it started picking up during 30 STM and it was def too much

(1d) overall thoughts

30 Seconds to Mars came on the scene sometime in 2005 and made very distinctly 2005 music at the time. So, I’m honestly a bit surprised to say these guys are not only still around, but creating work that feels new.

Surprisingly, I’d actually seen 30 STM once before, at Weenie Roast in May 2007. I had enjoyed their debut album enough and was eager to see them join the lineup of great people at the time. Even then, I remembered thinking that their performance was over the top and a bit exaggerated, so there’s so reason why I should’ve assumed they’d be different this time. Because they weren’t.

Jared Leto is such a caricature of a rock star, as opposed to an actual rock star, that his performance comes across as hysterical to me. I actually enjoy him as an actor and don’t mind 30’s music (though I probably wouldn’t purposely seek it out, to be honest), but man, his stage persona brings things to another realm. An…unreal realm. He was wearing bright blue track pants underneath an Asian-inspired, floral Grandma-esque muumuu, a bright silver leather jacket, ridiculous high tops sneakers, orange huge sunglasses, a camo hat, and Jesus beard…need I go on? I appreciate that the dude, as he explains, is at “level 17 of I don’t give a fuck” – but I think it’s pretty notable that I remember more of what Jared Leto was wearing than the music.

Bottom line: 30 Seconds To Mars are never boring, but as a group, they’re a bit bogged down by Jared Leto’s self-admitted antics. I was certainly entertained, but in the same way I’m entertained by a bad movie that I can’t stop watching because it’s so bad.

(2a) (Muse’s) setlist

    1. Dig Down
    2. Psycho
    3. Interlude
    4. Hysteria
    5. Resistance
    6. Plug in Baby
    7. The 2nd Law: Isolated System
    8. Stockholm Syndrome
    9. Supermassive Black Hole
    10. New Kind Of Kick
    11. Madness
    12. Dead Inside
    13. Munich Jam
    14. Starlight
    15. Time is Running Out
    16. Mercy
    17. The Globalist

Encore:

  1. Uprising
  2. Knights of Cydonia

(2b) highlights

  • Muse is fiiiiiiiiireeeeeee, and I will gladly fight anyone who disagrees with me whatsoever.
  • the energy of the crowd, the band, the sound, the lights – everything was so heightened and immersive. Even with Muse holding back from their usual overwhelming set design, I felt their power through this performance
  • setlist was flawless from beginning to end, not a single bad song in there and every moment that needed to feel long and meaningful was certainly so
  • Matt going into the audience in the rain during “Starlight” and having the entire venue sing along was magical

(2c) lowlights

  • did you know that when it rains at Jones Beach, the surrounding water line rises? And then pours over into the GA pit at the amphitheater? We were standing in 8 inches of water for most of the show while it was also raining, so that was….an experience.

(2d) overall thoughts

For me, there’s no band quite like Muse. They elevate everything, everything they do feels richer and livelier, and they’re unabashedly over the top while still remaining themselves. People knock them for seeing inauthentic, unnecessarily garish, and a big cheesy, but I honestly never feel that way experiencing Muse. It’s a sensory experience, yes, but when Matt Bellamy stands onstage in bright red pants and a silk blue bomber jacket, I believe him. (This is the exact opposite feeling I have toward Jared Leto, if that reveals anything.)

Matt, Chris Wolstenholme, and Dom Howard all blend together to create a perfect cacophony; together, they’re true melodic. Their high energy and general happiness onstage together is honestly refreshing and uplifting. Few bands I see nowadays have an unspoken language between the members in such an obvious way.

This show was wet, hot wild, and fun down in the pit, and even though Muse wasn’t playing a new album (only “Dig Down” and their “Some Kind Of Kick” cover were new additions), you never have the feeling like they’re going through the motions. You can tell that each of them enjoy their work and care for each song – it’s refreshing when every member of a band actually gives a shit.

 

Bottom line: Muse stands out as a band for me not only because of their unique voice and all-encompassing performances that feel intentional, precise, and emotional, but their energy and dedication to the crowd and each song is remarkable. How many other bands can say that?