Cymbals Eat Guitars/Bowery Ballroom/September 10, 2014
The year after graduating high school in New Jersey in 2006, guitarist Joseph D’Agostino was making music in Cymbals Eat Guitars. Based out of Staten Island, New York, Cymbals Eat Guitars first gained buzz in 2009 with a self-released debut album, Why There Are Mountains. Since 2009, Cymbals Eat Guitars consists of D’Agostino, bassist Matthew Whipple, keyboardist Brian Hamilton, and drummer Andrew Dole. Opening for Bob Mould at the Bowery Ballroom, Cymbals Eat Guitars combined a raw garage band sound with shoegaze and emo. A few slow-burn songs hosted a contemplative side of the band, others exhibited angst and loss, but most of the set was rocket-fueled riffing that was intentionally monotonous for climaxing tension-and-release effect, with D’Agostino frequently shouting and distorting his guitar leads with his whammy bar. While some songs sounded more accessible than others, Cymbals Eat Guitars was grounded in experimentation and noise.
Bob Mould/Bowery Ballroom/September 10, 2014
Guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould was born in Malone, New York, but attended college in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he formed Hüsker Dü (1979-1988). Mould launched a solo career in 1989, then formed the loud pop trio Sugar (1992-1995), and returned to solo projects in 1996. Relocating to New York City in the late 1990s, he took a detour into dance music and electronica, worked as a live dance club disc jockey, appeared in Bear Nation, a movie about gay culture, in 2010, and published his memoirs, See A Little Light: The Trail Of Rage And Melody, in 2011. Headlining the first of two nights at the Bowery Ballroom, Mould led yet another power trio with bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster (of Superchunk). Mould opened his 23-song set with two nitro-powered Hüsker Dü songs, “Flip Your Wig” and “Hate Paper Doll,” and a Sugar song, “Changes,” then began his solo songs with “Star Machine” and “The Descent” from the 2012 Silver Age album before introducing “I Don’t Know You Anymore” from his current album. Mould made smart use of his 1987 Lake Placid Blue Fender Stratocaster, ripping into wall-of-noise guitar licks as he darted across the stage, bounced in place and worked up a sweat throughout the set. His set consistently rocked hard and loud, with well-crafted melodies and hooks powered by sonic savagery. Finally, after more Hüsker Dü, Sugar and solo songs, Ryan Adams helped end the rousing evening by joining Mould’s band as a rhythm guitarist on a four-song encore of Hüsker Dü songs.
Lorde/Pier 97/September 14, 2014
Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, known by her stage name Lorde, began performing as a child in Auckland, New Zealand. She began singing cover songs publicly at age 12, began writing songs at age 14, and performed her original songs publicly at age 15. “Royals,” a song from her debut The Love Club EP that mocked the glamorous lifestyle of the rich, became a number one song internationally in 2013 when she was 16 years old. At Pier 97, Lorde performed 15 songs, including covers of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” and Bon Iver’s “Heavenly Father.” Backed by a synthesizer player and a drummer, the music was sparse, focusing attention on her alto and mezzo-soprano ranges. Beyond the bubble machines and confetti canons (shooting out little drawings of Lorde), there was very little spectacle. From the opening “Glory And Gore” to the closing “A World Alone,” Lorde put on a low-key performance, singing sweet and sultry songs and responding to the rhythms with twitchy non-choreographed dances. Her floating dream-pop melodies were alluringly mystifying without ever booming beyond the electronic musicscape. Although still a teenager, Lorde showed that her art pop was made of mature substance.
Raven/Gramercy Theatre/September 15, 2014
Two brothers, vocalist/bassist John Gallagher and guitarist Mark Gallagher, and drummer Paul Bowden formed Raven in 1974 in Newcastle, England. Rooted in British hard rock and progressive rock, the power trio became part of the burgeoning New Wave of British Heavy Metal and began to develop what would become speed, thrash and power metal. Raven relocated to New York and had a minor hit with “On And On” in 1985. Virginian Joe Hasselvander (ex-Pentagram) joined the Gallagher brothers as drummer in late 1987, and the revamped trio continued until 2001, when a wall collapsed on Mark, crushing his legs. Raven went on hiatus for nearly four years, from 2001 to 2004, while the guitarist rehabilitated. Raven resumed performing in 2004 with Mark in a wheelchair. Opening for Accept at the Gramercy Theatre, Raven performed a decades-old setlist, from 1981’s “Rock Until You Drop” to 1986’s “Speed Of The Reflex.” John Gallagher spoke extensively to the audience between songs, establishing Raven’s credentials as longtime metal heads and engaging the audience to clap or move. He screeched the songs while playing a heavy bottom on his bass. Mark Gallagher filled out the songs with extended leads. Hasselvander kept the thick rhythm even when the Gallagher brothers stopped playing or rubbed their guitar and bass necks together for noise. Together, Raven was a sonic battering ram. With the scarcity of classic metal bands these days, the minor 40-year-old thrash band sounded pretty major.
Accept/Gramercy Theatre/September 15, 2014
The origins of heavy metal band Accept can be traced to 1968 in Solingen, Germany. Accept split in 1989, regrouped in 1993, split again in 1997, reunited briefly in 2005, and reunited again in 2009 with Mark Tornillo, formerly of New Jersey’s T.T. Quick, replacing original vocalist Udo Dirkschneider. Accept presently consists of Tornillo, original members Wolf Hoffmann on lead guitar and Peter Baltes on bass, Herman Frank on rhythm guitar, and Stefan Schwarzmann on drums. This refitted Accept returned to the Gramercy Theatre for a one-off East Coast warm-up concert in preparation for a fall tour of Europe. The two-hour concert centered mostly on newer songs, but sprinkled in older songs as well. The band opened with “Stampede” from the new album, “Stalingrad” and “Hellfire” from a 2012 album, and “200 Years” from the current album. Only after establishing that the new songs rocked as hard as the vintage breed, the band revisited songs from the 1980s, including “Losers And Winners,” “London Leatherboys” and “Starlight.” All the while, Tornillo rasped and roared and worked the crowd, and Hoffman likewise played stunning guitar licks while playing up to the audience. Enormous riffs dominated, and repeated catch phrases left no doubt as to the titles of the anthem-like songs. Schwarzmann’s familiar double bass drum attack launched “Fast As A Shark,” which closed the proper set. For an encore, the now shirtless Tornillo led Accept in a suite of old songs, beginning with “Metal Heart,” where cheerleader Hoffmann led an audience choir of “whoa whoas,” followed by “Teutonic Terror” and “Balls To The Wall,” the last one eliciting yet another sing-along. Accept’s European warm-up was a successful evening of classic pedal-to-the-metal.