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YDP Concert Review: Penguin Prison

10 Apr
Penguin Prison
Last night I had a chance to watch Penguin Prison’s first live show before a sold out crowd of about 250 at Mercury Lounge. I was tipped off to them a couple days earlier by Lord B, and while excited to see them, given the high pop production and the fact that it was their first live show I had admittedly limited expectations for what I would see. There were only a couple of songs that I could find online and I felt “The Worse It Gets” stood out. It had One-Hit-Williamsburg-Indie-Wonder written all over it.
Watching the front man Chris Glover a.k.a. Penguin Prison who writes and records all the records was an interesting sight. He was clearly nervous, extremely serious and very intense. He had assembled a band for this show which constituted of a bass player, a drummer, a synth man, and Glover on guitar. They also backed themselves up with a laptop on Garage Band which had a nice effect of augmenting the sounds.
When he started playing, the nervousness seemed to fade and a highly talented, Type A musician began to kill it. Opening with “Animal Animal,” Penguin Prison brought a song that felt a little flat to me in the recording to life with excellent vocals and a great guitar solo (Why doesn’t anyone do guitar solos anymore?).
I have literally been driving myself crazy today trying to find the songs “Don’t Fuck with My Money” and “Multi-Millionaire,” which I had never heard before, and think might be better than “The Worse It Gets.” Penguin Prison, if you are reading this, please email us the MP3’s, we promise we won’t put them up or share them (unless you want us to)!
Penguin Prison, you have completely won us over, you killed it last night, please play NYC again soon and keep writing more songs.
Das Racist
As for the opener, Das Racist.  Where to begin?  It was like you took all the guys that lived in the house together in Knocked Up, gave them an eight-ball of heroin, took away their sense of humor and told them they should start a rap group. They were really sloppy and the performance was definitely not helped by whatever substance everyone was on. C’mon guys, think about the bands in the 70’s and 80’s that did drugs, they were still really good, you need all the help you can get so I recommend staying in reality next show.
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Black Eyed Peas + LMFAO @ the Staples Center

30 Mar

BEP

Yuppie Dance Party is going to check out the Peas and LMFAO tonight at the Staples Center. Follow the concert @yuppydanceparty on Twitter.

LMFAO – I’m in Miami (Trick edit)

Metric tonight @ the Palladium

26 Mar

I’m going to be there…with bells on.

How do you balance like that?

Who wants to come say hi?  Or see what we see…via twitter.  Follow @yuppydanceparty on da twittelator!

Concert Review: Mike Posner at Gramercy Theatre, February 22

24 Feb

Hype can be a dangerous thing for artists. It can cause an artist to blow up way too fast and and create expectations that ultimately derail the bands creative spark. It can cause groups to be anointed the next big thing before they even have their first album. This brings me to the recent Mike Posner concert I had a chance to check out, when Asa180 got me tix!

YDP covered Mike Posner previously in an In the Know that showcases some great songs, mentions the fact he was still in college until December and essentially concludes that as an artist, he isn’t a finished product. After watching him last night, I agree with Lord_B’s assesment.

First with the highlights: I was nervous that like many people with heavily produced songs, Mike Posner’s voice would be lacking or not even sung. I have certainly seen my fair share of lip synching over recordings in concerts so I wasn’t sure what to expect. That was clearly not the case. His voice was even better live than on the recording and this was apparent from when he opened with “Drug Dealer Girl.” I was impressed and hope he shows his vocal range in future songs.

At least with his hits, he was committed to building on original recording of the song and this came through again especially with “Cooler Than Me,” and also “Evil Woman,” “You Don’t Have to Leave” and his cover of John Mayer’s “I Don’t Trust Myself.” His strongest songs performed live were his best songs (no surprise there), and his performance of them showed a lot of promise. I was also very impressed with his stage presence. Its very rare to see a one man show with pop music and Mike Posner clearly was up to the task. He seemed perfectly at ease to be up there alone with the crowd and that is quite a feat. He gets a free pass on playing songs on his Macbook since he single-handedly produced and mastered all of them. It’s not like there was a band he left at home to go on tour by himself, and there is way too much going on in his songs for him to be expected to play them live.

Now the criticism: By my estimation, Drug Dealer Girl and Cooler Than Me are his only two high quality songs that feel and sound original. The rest of his strong songs, like Evil Woman, You Don’t Have To Leave and I Don’t Trust Myself are more or less covers, and the other original songs were kinda weird breakup songs that weren’t particularly catchy or sounded like I’d heard them before on the radio or out in clubs. Cooler Than Me and Drug Dealer Girl, while not the most enlightening lyrics of all time are genuinely funny, tongue and cheek and paint a picture, especially of ‘those girls’ on a college campus! His other songs struggle to achieve that. Of course I will cut the man some slack because he only just stopped having to go to class, has a ridiculous tour schedule and hasn’t even released his first album. That said, with a live show I was surprised to see as many covers as I saw (with the term covers I include using the same exact melody and changing a couple words that rhyme with the original verse).

It reminds me of in Finding Forrester where Forrester teaches Jamal to write by telling him to starting typing someone else’s story and making them his own when he felt comfortable. In terms of his musical development, more often than not than not this seems to be the stage that Mike Posner is in. Even the songs I give him credit for being original in, I can’t help but wonder if I like it because I’ve heard the song somewhere before. Now I understand that every song copies other songs to some degree but when you open a song with “I Never Knew, I Never Knew” in the some notes as the Fray and continue this trick with the majority of your songs it gets a little old.

In this metaphor Jamal is Mike Posner and Forrester is...Jesus?

To me the point that really sums up my criticisms of Mike Posner are when he comes out for his encore. Shirtless he tells the crowd he doesn’t normally do this but he’s only gonna sing Acapella. He proceeded to sing Halo by Beyonce acapella even though his voice is certainly not up to that task (not that many people are) to an adoring drunk high school crowd that sang along with him. If that isn’t blowing the encore I don’t now what is.

None of these criticisms are the kiss of death for an artist at the beginning of his career. I wish the absolute best for Mike Posner and if his album blows me away I will stand corrected but I’m just not sure what direction he is headed right now. We shall see…

On that note, my encore, a review of the opening act: Chiddy Bang with his DJ, Xaphoon Jones opened and really put on an exceptional live show. Chiddy Bang has a great flow, hilarious lyrics and solid free styling skills. He even ran up and freestyled during Mike Posner’s performance. Xaphoon Jones clearly has some talent in the production department providing Chiddy some varied and really rich backgrounds the work perfectly with Chiddy’s rhymes. Also while “Opposite of Adults” their current hit was good, I thought just about everything else they performed was much better. These guys are going places.

Chiddy Bang and Xaphoon Jones

Frightened Rabbit on tour to promote new album

31 Jan

Scott Hutchinson from Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit is one of the best bands you’ve probably never heard of.

Unfortunately I haven’t talked about them nearly enough on this site.  I’m sorry.

A Scottish band seemingly always in the process of forming their core, Frightened Rabbit found breakthrough (critical) success with their sophomore effort, The Midnight Organ Fight. It was a fantastic and raw album that really has to be praised for its simplicity and delivery. Not Lo-Fi as much as stripped down, the album is blunt in meaning and hits you with meandering raw reflections on life from Scott Hutchinson (the band’s main driving force). Coupled with his delivery, the album fuses perfectly and what could have been a mediocre album of love and loss becomes a fantastic album of personal introspection.

Frightened Rabbit – “The Modern Leper”

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Coachella 2010! April 16-18

20 Jan

looks like fun

If somebody asked me to list the greatest (current) music festivals in the United States, I’d probably give them the following five in no particular order: Virgin Festival, SXSW, Lollapalooza, Sasquatch! Music Festival, and Coachella. Given that I will not be attending 4/5 of these events, pardon me while I gush about the one I will.

Welcome to Coachella 2010. A three day music fest located in sunny Indio California. From April 16-18, for the price of $269, you can rock your socks off, shake your groove thing, dance like a maniac, or sway awkwardly from side to side. The choice is yours! Currently in its 11th year, the show is bringing a solid mix of rock/indie/electronic/classic/contemporary/mellow/upbeat moods to the sunny April weekend. But what’s so special?

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Remember, Live Music Must be Lively

10 Jan

The other day, I got a youtube “subscription notice” about a new clip.  It was from one of the bands I liked, but hadn’t heard from in a while: MUTE MATH.  Turns out they were distributing concert video from their recent tour in Japan.  In it, they are performing their single “Spotlight” (a song that was just re-released on the movie Twilight‘s soundtrack) before a galvanized crowd.  It’s worth sharing:

Rock so hard you defy gravity

This made me think two things: Speaking in general, live music is awesome.  More specifically, Mute Math gets after it.  They’re pretty mild in this piece, (see this here video for evidence of some musical hate crimes on a drum-kit generally reserved for Tool, Fear Factory or Dying Fetus) but have no problem raising their level of intensity for an audience.  Their drummer duct-tapes his headphones to his head during gigs.  It’s extremely necessary.

I’ve included a few tracks off their eponymous first album released in 2007.  They made a few waves, but not until they hitched their wagon to the movie about vampire rape fantasies did they get more notice.  Their second album, Armistice, came out in May ’09.  My next mission is to see them live and get involved in a mosh-pit.  Cheers!

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YDP Sees a Cover Band

5 Dec

Bono came to New Haven?

Last night, I was fortunate enough to get a comp ticket to see a U2 coverband, “The Unforgettable Fire.” In an extremely last minute move, I accepted the chance to go check out the show. A highly touted group that’s been covering U2 for 15 years now, I watched the performance at New Haven’s historic venue, Toad’s Place. The crowd was all 30-somethings (save for a pocket or two of people in their twenties getting ridiculous), but to me the final headcount was surprisingly light.

Now to me, bands that make their living playing songs made famous by others need to be rated on two major factors. The first, how closely they emulate the music, is probably the most important, but has two things that can greatly influence it: the variance inherent in live performances, as well as the alcohol-enhanced atmosphere at most shows. I give UF high marks for their performance. The guitarist had down all of the Edge’s licks, and their tech had perfectly set up the pedals to exactly replicate the effects necessary in so many of U2’s canonical offerings (Where the Streets Have no Name, Elevation, Pride, etc.). The band’s “Bono” look-alike had a voice matching the passion of the real planet-loving musician, though he fell a little short in the upper vocal ranges. Rhythm and drumming performances, to my untrained ear, were also more than sufficient.

The second, and sometimes overlooked factor, is how much cover bands emulate the look, style and stage presence of the band they’re paying homage to. Here, I was definitely stunned, especially with “Bono,” who is by necessity the centerpiece. He was giving an all-out effort, stubble, sunglasses, hair. He passionately gesticulated when in song, and spoke to the crowd in a (pretty good) lilting-irish tone between songs. His execution of the call-and-response portion of “Pride (In the Name of Love) was absolutely electric. “Bono” was also probably taller and subsequently heavier built than the real deal, but things I could overlook. The “Edge” had the requisite beanie, but could’ve used a goatee to really round things out. Again, faux Adam (Bassist) and Larry (Drummer) were both pretty good ringers.

I truly judge my experience that night by two things: first, one of my bosses bought me a ton of beers. Two, I had a great time rocking out to very good reproductions of a great band’s music in a live setting. This is why cover bands will always thrive in America. Can’t wait to see someone paying tribute to Miley Cyrus in 15 years.

Sunday Bloody Sunday...that's my jam

Enjoy the music.

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Seeing The Bravery was “An Honest Mistake”

16 Oct

Hey All,

This is a guest post from a good friend, Jø$h. He went to The Bravery concert down in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday night. This is what he had to say about it:

i'm blue da ba dee...

i'm blue da ba dee...

It was “An Honest Mistake”…

Wednesday night (10/14) I had the pleasure of seeing The Bravery live in concert.  Now, I know Charlotte, North Carolina is not known for it’s music scene or concert venues, but nonetheless, many medium size acts like The Bravery stop by every now and then.

Over the past five years, I’ve been to over 60 shows and seen well over 100 live acts, and I gotta say this one falls into the orgasm inducing “Awful, I want my money back” category.  Now, I understand that playing an only half-sold out show on a Wednesday night in the Queen City, after a miserably bleak rain-soaked day may not be enticing, but for small to medium-sized acts such as The Bravery, that’s an opportunity that must be capitalized on.

Before the show ever started, I checked out the merchandise table to see how much CDs were, but they didn’t have any; what they did have were t-shirts for $20 and “after show passes” for $10.  Strike 1.  For still up-and-coming acts, connecting with your fans is essential.  Stopping by the merchandise table after the show to sign CDs [for free] is a common occurrence.  Especially when we’re in tough economic times and people may not have to finances to come out to a Wednesday night show, but still do.  I understand the band needs to make money, but $10 just to meet the band?  That’s pretty lame.

Now, the opening act, The Dustys, were alright, not too bad.  They had some good chords and decent synth grooves, kind of a garage-psychedelic feel.  For an opening act, they were a solid choice.  Now, after they went off the stage, a promoter from a local radio station came out to inform us that the middle act,Living Things, had been victims of crime the night before: their equipment had been stolen, so they did not make the trip.  That’s unfortunate, but because of that, The Bravery said they’re come out early and play a longer set.

Can you still see my hat?

Can you still see my hat?

So around 10:10, The Bravery comes out to begin playing, kind of early, but it’s going to be an extra long set, right?  So it’s no worries, or so I thought.  After playing several unenthusiastic renditions of some of their songs, they went off the stage at 11:00 waiting to be cheered back on for an encore.  Strike 2.

Now, I’ve seen Ben Harper get into a groove with the crowd and play over two and a half hours, and also get bad vibes and only play an hour and a half—I understand that crowd interaction is important.  But only playing 50 minutes and expecting an encore?  That’s bold for anyone, especially a band that needs as much support as they can get.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show were the headliner played less than an hour and a half.  Well, that was until last night.  After a three-minute pause, The Bravery returned to the stage for their encore and played for another 10 minutes.  At 11:13, the concert was over.  That’s 63 minutes from when they first started playing, including a three-minute jaunt backstage.  A headlining act that played for almost exactly 60 minutes, that’s Strike 3.

In these tough economic times, it’s hard for everyone—the fans, the concert venues, the bands, etc.  But playing only an hour set when you’re only a medium-sized act is pathetic.  Eric Clapton could do that and his fans would still love him, Bruce Springsteen too.  But I doubt they ever would.  They know how much it means to their fans.  So if there is anything I take away from last night, it’s that The Bravery either doesn’t care about their dedicated fans, or they think they’re better than they really are.  Either way, last night was a disappointment.  And in my thoughts: Awful, I want my money back.  D+.

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Pavement Reunion (starting next September)

21 Sep

Arguably the greatest American indie rock band of all time is reuniting next summer to play 4 shows at Central Park’s Summer Stage. Tickets are already on sale and a couple of the days are already sold out. Go buy tickets now, Shibby!

I can’t really express how awesome this is right now. I’ll do it later.

MGMT at the Prospect Park Bandshell

2 Jul

YDP attended the MGMT concert last night planning on some Electric Feel and Kids but not much else. The Prospect Park Bandshell was hopping with roughly a 45/55 hipster to yuppie ratio and it was a perfect night. There were even fireworks and an impromptu Jimi Hendrix style rendition of  “Star Spangled Banner.”

YDP was very impressed by their new music which showed musical growth and some new Southern Rock and Rock and Roll influences. Musically they were very tight and it translated to a live show much better than expected. They even played some ballads. Electric Feel killed it and showed some interesting improvisations on the original.

The one disappointment of the night? Kids.

Like last time I saw them at the Bowery Ballroom, they put on an ipod for the background and sung the words. Unlike last time, the whole band was up there playing random instruments in a way that detracted from the song. Their disdain for the playing that song was clear from the rest of the band joking around to the attitude of the singing.

So while YDP was impressed by the musical growth and range that MGMT showed, they either need to compose some new renditions of Kids or at least take it seriously. I can understand them being tired of playing that song but its the reason why they were able to sell out the Bandshell. They also had a great crowd that was really enthusiastic and receptive to their new music so if anything Kids allows them to expose people to their new songs.

Till next time…

"Why are my jeans so tight?"

"Why are my jeans so tight?"

Santigold at Terminal 5

10 Jun

I saw Santigold at Terminal 5 last night and got the great suprise of both Amanda Blank and Spank Rock joining her. They also did a great job linking up some remixes and collaborations with the original song especially with Diplo’s mixes who comes out with Major Lazer this weekend.

What I was struck with is this music is so produced that it doesn’t quite translate to an on stage performance. The collaborations, remixes and production are amazing but I could never tell what “the band” was doing or whether Santigold was singing. Spank Rock was energetic but the real fun is hearing his lyrics and you couldn’t really hear him in his delivery. It seemed more like an industry party than a tight performance.

Since Yuppie Dance Party has written about or featured songs with everyone in the show previously besides the really bad death metal?/ska/I don’t even know opening band I pretty much had to write about it. Sadly though I’m realizing I don’t have really anything new to say

Here are some good songs with Spank Rock, Santigold and Amanda Blank, if you weren’t playing them while reading the above you are probably bored. I am sorry.

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bump (kid legit remix) – spank rock