Tyler Glenn/Mercury Lounge/October 4, 2016
In 2004, Tyler Glenn’s father suggested he play music the son of one of Glenn’s father’s friends. In 2005, the two musicians moved from California to Provo, Utah, where in 2007they founded a pop rock quartet, Neon Trees. The band succeeded with three hit albums. In 2014, Glenn came out as gay to Rolling Stone, discussing his experience as a closet gay within the Mormon religion. On April 28, 2016, Glenn released his debut single as a solo artist, the electro pop single “Trash.” The video shows Glenn drinking alcohol from a bottle and spitting on an altered image of Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormons). Glenn’s debut solo album, Excommunication, will be released on October 21, 2016.
At the Mercury Lounge tonight, Glenn was dark-haired and bearded, unlike his platinum-blond and clean-shaven persona in Neon Trees. His demeanor was unlike the bubbly singer of the pop band. He was very serious and spoke of his seven years with Neon Trees as a past event, suggesting he may no longer be a member in that band. He also stated that he recently discovered his religion was false, and that his motive for this album was not sales but instead a resource of comfort for LGBTQ youth. Onstage alone, pacing before a tall, illuminated X and singing to prerecorded tracks, Glenn showcased a scant 35 minutes of new material, with no further reference to Neon Trees. The performance initially was deep in electro-dance grooves, but when he emphasized his lyrics, they seemed to circle around a period where he experienced a crisis of faith, the emptiness of doubt and the darkness of a one-man rebellion. The lyrics, born in pain, were the most provocative and personal he has ever written, even as they clearly denounced everything he ever believed in for 32 years. Although these songs may be his road to healing, the lyrics invited listeners to enter into a deep wound, and the performance at times felt more unnerving than soothing. May Glenn triumph over this turbulent chapter in his life.
Tedeschi Trucks Band/Beacon Theatre/October 5, 2016
Derek Trucks was playing guitar in the Allman Brothers Band in 1999 when he met the opening act, guitarist/vocalist Susan Tedeschi; they married in 2001 and had two children. Although Tedeschi led the Susan Tedeschi Band since 1993 and Trucks had led the Derek Trucks Band since 1996, they combined their bands and music in 2007 to form Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi’s Soul Stew Revival. This led in 2010 to the formation of the Tedeschi Trucks Band in Jacksonville, Florida. The Tedeschi Trucks Band’s debut album in 2011 won a Grammy Award for Best Blues Album; the band’s third and most recent studio album, Let Me Get By, was released on January 29, 2016.
The 12-person Tedeschi Trucks Band returned to the Beacon Theatre for its annual residency, with promises of guest artists and unique set lists over the six-night run. On the fourth night, reviewed here, guitarists Jr. Mack, Luther Dickinson and Jorma Kaukonen joined the Tedeschi Trucks Band onstage, but these were not the most riveting moments. The stars of the performance were Tedeschi’s powerful vocals and Trucks’ guitar picking, which complemented each another wondrously. The set explored traditional blues infused with Southern soul and other American roots music. On this night, 10 of the 16 songs were cover songs, including The Box Tops’ “The Letter,” the Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree,” and the Beatles’ “I’ve Got a Feeling.” No matter the song, the band took ownership by injecting passionate vocals and fiery guitar to make the performance unique. The band’s rendition of the Allman Brothers Band’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” was perhaps closest to its origin, but remained a house burner. At the end of the evening, the only thing better was knowing that a return on another night would produce yet another stellar blues jam.
Diarrhea Planet/Bowery Ballroom/October 6, 2016
The original members of Diarrhea Planet met in 2009 while attending university in Nashville, Tennessee. Bored by the serious music-business ladder-climbing aspirations of their classmates, they set about creating the brashest rock and roll experience they could muster. In short time, an arsenal of four relentless, high-energy guitars blazed across the band’s music and unleashed a signature sound. Diarrhea Planet released its third and most recent album, Turn to Gold, on June 10, 2016. The band presently is composed of vocalist/guitarist Jordan Smith, guitarist/vocalist Emmett Miller, guitarist Evan Bird, guitarist/vocalist Brent Toler, bassist Mike Boyle, and drummer Ian Bush.
Diarrhea Planet plays rowdy live shows, and the Bowery Ballroom had a rock and roll cyclone wash through the room. The four guitarists lined up at the beginning of the concert and ripped into massive and frenetic stadium-sized riffs, backed by a locomotive rhythm section. Each guitarist offered his own style, but never mind, the whole experience was a cascading assault occasionally interrupted by lyrics. A bombastic torrent of boom remained raw and explosive throughout the set, grinding a groove beyond its natural limits with chunky, fuzzy riffs. Maybe this was silly, maybe it was stupid, but it was fun.
Rips/Berlin/October 7, 2016
Several bands have used the name Rips, and there is little information on the web about the Brooklyn band Rips. The indie pop quartet consists of Dan and Bono on guitars and vocals, Gary on bass, and Henry on drums. If they have surnames, these have not yet been formally revealed. One member is from upstate, one is from New Jersey and two are from Texas. They met while working in a restaurant and formed a band. Austin Brown of Parquet Courts is producing tracks for a Rips album, and two songs are already on the web.
Opening for Navy Gangs at Berlin, Rips played a bare-bones set of songs that recalled late 1970s garage rock. Comparisons have been made to Television, and rightly so, both in vocals and guitar style. Rips is a young band with potential for a bright future.
Navy Gangs/Berlin/October 7, 2016
Vocalist/guitarist Matthew Tillwick, guitarist Noah Kohll, and drummer Gavin Cordaro began making music together in 2012 while in high school in Omaha, Nebraska. They worked for two months at a local zoo until they had enough cash for one way bus tickets to New York City, where they moved in temporarily with Kohll’s grandmother. In New York, they met their bassist, Wilson Keithline from Providence, Rhode Island. Together they became the indie-pop Navy Gangs and recorded a four-song debut EP (release date: October 14, 2016) in said grandmother’s apartment.
Launching a month of Friday night gigs at Berlin, Navy Gangs seemed totally Brooklyn. The four musicians wore both expressionless wardrobe and expressionless faces as they performed a brief set of original compositions. The dynamics were in the music, not in the movements, as matter-of-fact vocals and jangly guitar chords led to smooth guitar leads and pop-flavored songs were powered by garage rock arrangements. Navy Gangs returns to Berlin on October 28.