I’ve been in need of a new band to follow. I think I may have just stumbled upon one…Of Monsters and Men.  Of course then I find out that iTunes is giving away free downloads of their song Little Talks right now, so I’m sure they’ll be hitting the TV show soundtrack circuit and skip all the lovely small venues in NYC and head straight to Madison Square Garden. sigh…Anyway, get it while you can! (and then download the rest of their debut EP).


This past weekend, Mumford & Sons stopped by Philadelphia’s Radio 104.5 for an in-studio interview. They also debuted a new song called Ghosts That We Knew. It’s very pretty, but be warned it’s a ballad–there’s no foot-stomping here.

I really wish I was at the here right now. But this will have to do.  Well, it might make me wish I was there even more…we’ll see.

I confess that due to recent apartment hunting, moving, and wedding activities, I have completely been slacking off in the concert department.  When I finally do end up at a concert after a break, I am always reminded of why I like live music and how it just makes everything better. This was definitely the case last night at the Prospect Park band shell.

While I really like Bon Iver and I have had tickets to last night’s show at Prospect Park’s Celebrate Brooklyn concert for a while, I was skeptical about the combination of a huge open air venue and the quiet, contemplative music of Bon Iver. Boy was I in for a surprise.This is what I was expecting:

And this is what we lucky people in the crowd, including myself, got to experience last night (especially the part after the 3 minute mark):

The openers, The Rosebuds, were a fun band from North Carolina. They got the night off to a good start. There was a bit of a wait for Bon Iver to take the stage, which seemed odd because how long does it take four seemingly low-maintenance guys to get ready?  Well, when they finally took the stage, out come not four, but NINE musicians. This included an additional drummer and a brass section. That was when I knew this concert was going to be different.

Since we ended up snagging a coveted spot on the hill in the lawn section, I had a great view of the whole stage. I give the whole production very high points in the lighting department.  There were nine thin vertical lights spread across the stage in the background throughout the performance.  Sometimes they appeared to be audio levels, bouncing up to the crash of the drum beat. At other times they were used as theme lighting (i.e. red lights = “Blood Bank”). At other times the white light seemed to produce a strobe effect and the musicians seemed to momentarily disappear a few at a time, only to quickly reappear.

The whole group of nine were onstage for most of the songs, but lead singer Justin Vernon did take a moment to slow things down with a solo song from his first album, For Emma, Forever Ago.  And you knew “Skinny Love” was going to be played…the question was when? And would they do something crazy with it?  When the band said good night, you knew it was coming in the encore. It ended up being the first song—with Justin Vernon on guitar and many of the other musicians providing the hand-clapping and foot stomping beat. It is not worth describing, because I am sure there are many video recordings of this song online. From the back of the lawn, all I saw was a sea of little lights, held arms-length in the air, capturing the song that made Bon Iver popular.

I have no idea if this big band set-up was special for this tour, or if it will stick around, but last night Bon Iver proved that their songs can certainly demand attention in the vast open air arena, and that they can most definitely headline a big show. I thank them very much for proving me wrong.

The Rosebuds:

I am proud to report that the album that I nominated as Best 2009 Album Never Released is now making its long-awaited debut. It’s not a total surprise, as We Are Augustines has promised that the album would at some point see the light of day, but it’s so great that the time has finally come.

This 2011 band is different from the band of 2009—a new mix of musicians (Billy, Eric and newbie Rob) and a new name (R.I.P. Pela), but many of the songs are the same.  Apple is offering the single “Headlong into the Abyss” as a free single download this week, so check it out.  They’re definitely getting their music out there—another single, “Chapel Song,” will be featured on Starbucks’ upcoming “10 Song Summer Mix” digital sampler.  Hear the song and watch the video (shot in the BK) here:

Siren No More


It was recently announced that after 10 years, the Siren Music Festival will not take place this year. Instead, the Village Voice is hosting a (smaller?) music event at South Street Seaport. Here are the details from their blog:

With the beginning of spring comes the announcement of summertime music festivals, and we have one of our very own: This July 16, the Village Voice will throw the inaugural 4Knots Music Festival on the South Street Seaport. Named after the speed at which the East River, which runs right by the Seaport, pulses along, the 4Knots Music Festival will be an all-day, all-ages show in downtown at the sweatiest peak of the season.

I can’t complain, they are still offering a day of free concerts, but the Siren Music Festival was a great summertime EXPERIENCE–the Cyclone, the Boardwalk, the ice cream, the hot dogs. It was a package deal. South Street Seaport has hosted concerts before, and while they are fine shows, there is no added bonus of a post-show roller-coaster ride. There was always a huge turnout to the multiple-stage festival in Coney Island. I’m not sure how South Street Seaport will accommodate that sort of crowd.  In any event, I’m sure it will be a good time. I’ll just miss my annual trip to Coney Island, where I was able see some great bands and get me my amusement ride fix all in the same day.

Here are a few pics from Siren’s past:

Last Thursday, The Cave Singers performed a foot-stomping, hand-clapping set at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I had seen The Cave Singers almost exactly two years ago and liked them when I saw them, but then they sort of fell off my radar.  But, luckily for me, the band played a mix of songs–many from their 2009 release Welcome Joy, and then some from their more recent album, No Witch, which was just released in February. So, as it turned out, I wasn’t all that far behind. The Seattle-based band is made up by three members, Pete Quirk, Derek Fudesco and Marty Lund, and they all looked like they were having a great time performing. I have a feeling they always look like that. Their songs are upbeat and involve maracas…and how can you not have fun when there are maracas involved?

The show opener was a performer I had never heard of before named Lia Ices. Clearly I am out of the loop because Lia Ices has already been featured on BriTunes, an online music series hosted by none other an NBC’s Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams. Just a couple of weeks ago I was in the audience when Brian Williams interviewed Newark mayor, Cory Booker, at an educational conference in NYC. Little did I know that he also sits down and chats with indie rock singers in his spare time.

Well, Brian knows how to pick ’em. Lia Ices had the crowd hooked on her lovely voice, which was backed by a three-member band. She sort of reminded me of Au Revoir Simone, but I think that’s just because of the keyboard and the female vocals. Lia Ices’ voice is much more airy and her songs have more depth to them.  Here’s a sample, it’s her “Little Marriage” off of Grown Unknown. And in case you were wondering, Brian Williams is completely hooked on it.