Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks met in 1999 when she was the opening act for the Allman Brothers Band, in which Trucks was a guitarist. Tedeschi and Trucks married in 2001 and began performing together regularly as Soul Stew Revival in 2007. In 2010, Tedeschi and Trucks announced a hiatus for their individual bands and formed a new group called the Tedeschi Trucks Band, based in Jacksonville, Fla. The band’s debut album won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. The band’s most recent album is Live from the Fox Oakland, released on March 17, 2017.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band’s eighth annual Beacon Theatre run again consisted of six concerts over nine nights. On the third night, the 12-member band played a slower and softer set than usual, consistently loaded with jams and reinterpreted cover songs. Tedeschi led most of the vocals, and her bluesy, gutsy singing embodied the very soul of her songs. Trucks’ bluesy guitar leads were the standout of the performance, Tedeschi’s guitar work was knock-out impressive, and spotlighted contributions from the keyboardist and the horn section made the songs definitively a collaborative band effort. This united front was founded on roots music, hooked on vintage sounds and arrangements, and reinvigorated for a timeless delivery.
The Black Lillies/The Loft at City Winery/Oct. 11, 2018
After three albums, Cruz Contreras and Robin Ella Bailey divorced and dissolved their band, Robinella & the CCstringband. As part of his healing process, Contreras gathered a few musicians in Knoxville, Tennessee and wrote, arranged and recorded songs in his living room. He released these songs as the debut Black Lillies album in 2009, receiving immediate accolades from the Americana community. Since then, the Black Lillies annually has been ranked as the “Best Americana Band” in the Metro Pulse “Best of Knoxville” poll. In 2010, the band was the first artist selected and announced to participate in the new Americana Music Association’s Festival & Conference. In 2011, the Black Lillies became the first independent artist from the Knoxville area to be featured on the Grand Ole Opry, and made history again by being invited back multiple times; the band has appeared on the show more than 35 times, a record for an independent act. The Black Lillies lineup presently consists of Contreras on lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, and mandolin, with guitarist/vocalist Dustin Schaefer (formerly of Mickey & the Motorcars), bassist Sam Quinn (formerly of the Everybodyfields), and drummer Bowman Townsend. The Black Lillies’ fifth and most recent album, Stranger to Me, was released on Sept. 28, 2018.
Following another foundational change in personnel, the Black Lillies juggled its old sound with a new sound at the Loft at City Winery. The band still favored country rock, but with the former six-member unit now reduced to four members, the catalog forfeited the earlier male-female vocal interplay. Contreras led most of the singing with the band members assisting with lush and layered three-part harmonies. Contreras’ pensive and articulate lyrics largely hinged on hope and growth, giving the set an upbeat dynamic. With so many country bands leaning heavily on crossover pop and rock these days, the Black Lillies pleasantly performed a set that positioned country melodies at the forefront.
Nine Inch Nails/Radio City Music Hall/Oct. 13, 2018
Trent Reznor was born and raised in western Pennsylvania, where he began playing the piano at age 12. In high school in the early 1980s, he learned to play the tenor saxophone and tuba, and was a member of both the jazz and marching band. After school, he sang and played keyboards in the new wave band Option 30. Pursuing a career in music, Reznor moved to Cleveland where he joined a cover band called the Urge, then joined the Innocent in 1985, and Exotic Birds in 1986. He worked as assistant engineer and janitor in a recording studio, where he recorded demos of his own songs during unused studio time. Unable to find musicians that could articulate the music as he desired, Reznor played all the instruments except drums and called the project Nine Inch Nails. Over the years, Nine Inch Nails achieved record sales exceeding 20 million copies worldwide. Although he has used other musicians in the studio and on stage, Reznor was the only constant member of the band until 2016, when he recruited keyboardist/synthesizer player Atticus Ross as a permanent member. Nine Inch Nails’ ninth studio album, Bad Witch, was released on June 22, 2018.
Nine Inch Nails brought its “Cold and Black and Infinite North America 2018 Tour” to Radio City Music Hall for two nights. Reznor and Ross were joined by multi-instrumentalist Robin Finck, keyboardist Alessandro Cortini, and drummer Ilan Rubin. The band came on stage loaded with ripping energy, slowed down for a few atmospheric tunes, and then returned with more wild frenzy. Amidst dense fog and flashing lights, Reznor sang and shouted with fury, frequently shifting from whispers to screams, while the band played coarse and cutting riffs behind him. The set included somewhat re-envisioned workings of better known songs, including “Wish,” “March of the Pigs,” “The Hand That Feeds,” “Head Like a Hole,” and “Hurt,” plus new songs, deep cuts and surprising covers of David Bowie‘s “I’m Afraid of Americans” and Joy Division‘s “Digital.” Many songs, built on tension and release, impacted like an explosive series of volcanic eruptions. Noise, distortion, and dissonance propelled with chromatic melodies added to the crushing intensity of the sonic assault. This was the summit of what industrial rock could be.
The Brickbats/Mercury Lounge/Oct. 13, 2018
Vocalist/guitarist Corey Gorey, bassist Paul Morden and drummer D.W. Friend formed the Brickbats in 1995 in New York City and brought their Halloween-themed stage show to area clubs. After three albums, Morden relocated to California in 2000, and the three musicians joined other bands, putting the Brickbats on hiatus. In 2016, Gorey and Friend reunited and recorded a new album, Return of the Living Brickbats. The Brickbats now consists of Gorey, Friend, and bassist Gregjaw, with whom they had worked in a band called the Brides during the Brickbats’ hiatus.
The monthly Red Party at Mercury Lounge majors in underground gothic, darkwave and post-punk music, but it was not a far stretch for the Brickbats to headline there. The three musicians came on stage and performed the opening song wearing large jack-o-lanterns over their heads. The song concluded and they removed the pumpkins to show their faces covered in corpse paint. The band’s raw music rocked, bathed in reverb, fuzz and distortion, marrying garage, punk, psychobilly and even surf rock. Some of the songs had horror themes, all with tongue firmly in cheek. The Brickbats’ live set was fun that would entertain long after the Halloween parties end.