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10 Dec

By Keeyahtay Lewis

The Gaslight Anthem have become one of the biggest bands in the world. Every show they play, especially in the Tri-State area, is a big deal, selling out quickly. Their three night stint at Terminal 5 in NYC 11/28-30 was no different. Luckily, I was able to check them out again on the first night of that, Wed 11/28.

NY’s own Laura Stevenson and The Cans opened the show. This 5 piece indie/folk rock act was entertaining to watch. Stevenson is sweet and cute on stage, and she surrounds herself with other talented musicians At one point one of them even played accordion I literally have never seen a band play accordion live. They sounded great, albeit maybe a little strange as the band opening for TGA, but in any event they were great and the crowd loved them.

It wasn’t long after Laura left the stage that The Gaslight Anthem took the stage. With big smiles and waves for everyone, the strapped on their instruments and started off with a track of their last album, Mae. Mae is a bit of a slower song off of “Handwritten:, it’s an absolutely beautiful track but it seemed like a strange way to open. Gaslight is known for high energy and they usually start with something rocking. They picked it up with the next two tracks: The ’59 Sound and The Diamond Church Street Choir. The crowd was pumped and on their feet.

At this point pretty much everyone knows who Gaslight is. That Jersey band who wears their influences on their sleeve without sounding like they are trying to copy anyone. Led by Brian Fallon on vocals and guitar, Alex Levine on bass, Benny Horowitz on drums, Alex Rosamilia on lead guitar and touring member Ian Perkins on rhythm guitar. Over the last few years of touring they have really become a super tight live band that sounds really great.

Brian is funny during the show, interacting with the audience. For the most part, the band is content to play and let him have the spotlight. Perkins and Rosamilia especially hang towards the back while they play. Levine comes to the front and rocks out for the kids closest to him from time to time, but Fallon is really the guy who does most of the interacting.

The set list was a pretty long one and it bounced around all of their albums. Favorites like “45,” “Too Much Blood,” “Here Comes My Man,” “American Slang,” “Biloxi Parish,” “Miles Davis and the Cool”…everything sounded pretty spot on. Again though, seeing them play a few times before they just seemed a little more subdued that night than I was used to. Still great, just a bit more mellow.

They played a whopping 6 song encore which started with a Matthew Ryan cover, “I Can’t Steal You.” Matthew Ryan played before Laura Stevenson (I missed this) and he came out to join Gaslight on this song. It sounded great. They finished off with “She Loves You,” “Mulholland Drive,” “The Queen of Lower Chelsea” and “Blue Dahlia.” They saved one of the absolute fan favorites for last, Great Expectations.

It was a fantastic night and a great treat for New York City. It is impossible not to be impressed when you see The Gaslight Anthem play and it is easy to see why they are blowing up. They have a tendency of popping up here and there in NJ and NYC, but right now they are on a short tour across the US. Making new fans everywhere they go, I have no doubt.

08 Nov

Our new favorite LA indie-rockers JJAMZ played the Troubadour last night. Our photographer Marcello Ambriz was there to get some great shots of the cool yet sexy band. Check out his photos below, grab JJAMZ’s new album Suicide Pact on iTunes and check out their lyric video for the title track below:

05 Nov

Words by Ace Ubas, Photos by Marcello Ambriz

Saturday night at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles was a special night for Oklahoma-based quintet Other Lives as it marked their 10-year anniversary as a band. But if you’ve been following them for the past couple of years, that’s not the only thing that makes them special. In the past, they’ve opened for seminal acts such as Radiohead and Bon Iver, and rode the festival circuit that included Coachella. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they’ve been featured prominently by radio stations such as KEXP and KCRW. That proved to be more than enough to propel them out of the support role and into the headlining role. And if you ask me and the sold-out LA crowd, it’s been long overdue.

A lot of bands have been coming out of the woodwork as of late, bearing with them a folk/Americana-inspired sound. But what makes Other Lives stand out is their ability fuse orchestral pop with folk rock while adding a dash of world music. On their stellar album Tamer Animals, their cocktail of a sound may sound subtle (perhaps due to the mix). I don’t want to state the obvious, but it’s more vivid and lucid in a live setting yet it’s also complex. And you can’t help but immediately imagine the band play in a natural and organic setting such as a cave (ala Silver Jews) or smack dab in the middle of the woods.

But for the 60 minutes that Other Lives conquered the stage, they let their music create the environment instead, with the slew of instruments they had on hand and dimming globe lights that adorned the stage. They set the mood for the night by beginning their set with wavering ambient soundscapes that filled the room quickly before the curtains even parted, acting as a segue into opener “Dark Horse.”

It’s easy to liken their music to, say, the forestation of California’s Central Coast: lush, dense, expansive, and beautiful. What’s even more impressive is the complexity of the arrangement in some of their songs such as “As I Lay My Head Down.” The whole song is filled with shifting time signatures that is rich with melodies. Jesse Tabish’s vocals resemble a lower Thom Yorke, while cellist/back-up vocalist Jenny Hsu’s haunting vocal melodies lurk throughout. Even more is their creativity, using antler bells at the beginning of the song and castanets that added a Spanish rhythm during the second half.

Their experience as a band together showed greatly on “Landforms” and “Desert,” two songs that are quite distinct from one another yet the transition between the two was made seamless. The pastoral folk sound of the former highlighted the orchestral string arrangement which contrasted nicely with the horn-led Persian melodies that filled the latter. But it was the band’s tribal prowess that provided the cinematic shift in between the songs, thanks to Jon Mooney’s thundering rhythm on the timpani.

While some of the influences of Other Lives are global, they showed that the root of their sound still lays in the foundation of their native state. Fan-favorite “For 12” saw Tabish on an acoustic guitar playing riffs reminiscent of a 60s western while displaying his vocal versatility, singing with a soaring falsetto during the chorus. He then described “Dust Bowl III” a “real Oklahoma song” with its gentle guitar plucking that built-up a mesmerizing crescendo until everything came crashing down with Colby Owens’ wrenching percussion.

A few new songs made their way into the set including a couple from the recently-released Mind the Gap EP. The most notable and distinct difference with these songs was that they were more straightforward and minimal in structure. Rather than going with a more complex approach, they decided simplicity was best with “Take Us Alive,” a more direct folk number. But on “Dead Can,” they steered their sound in a complete 180 and showed that Radiohead’s presence rubbed-off on them during their tour. Rather than have organic instrumentation as the basis of the song, it’s the subtle and downtempo electronic beats that drove it (think Kid A and OK Computer). You’d expect it to sound off-putting and out-of-place, but they pulled it off well with the smooth bass line holding it all together.

The encore began with Tabish coming back on stage solo to do a beautiful rendition of the piano ballad “Black Table,” and then ending with two new unknown songs with the last being described as “horse ridin’ shit” by Tabish. Perhaps a possible hint on a more Western-style sound?

Other Lives’ performance was as close to perfect as it could get. When you see a band, you always come into the venue with a certain expectation; most of the time it’s rather high. But it’s not often you see a band shatter that expectation while setting the standard even higher. That’s what Other Lives did. They approach the folk genre with a Classical Minimalist mindset and experiment with it in different kinds of ways. They’ve made it known that masters such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass are huge influences. And at the same time, they incorporate intricate harmonies, such as on “Tamer Animals,” that are reminiscent of Fleet Foxes. It results in vast polyrhythmic layers, orchestral melodies and tightly-woven structure of the songs that make those influences more explicit. That’s when you know there’s something special brewing in the small town of Stillwater, Oklahoma.

31 Oct

By Keeyahtay Lewis

This year there has been much talk about the Twins of Evil tour- two of the “evilest” men in rock touring together: Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson. I had never seen either play, so I was stoked to check them out. Manson was opening the date in Camden. There was a large black curtain in front of the stage that remained up even as the music started. Finally the curtain dropped and revealed the stage. Darkness, crazy lights, inverted crosses- exactly what you would expect. Manson emerged from the shadows while his band played one of their new songs, “Hey Cruel World” off of Born Villain. The song is classic MM, soft and loud at the same time, with that voice you can’t confuse for anyone else.

Manson isn’t exactly as wiry as he is in my brain, he shows a bit of that age, but he still looks like what you would expect. He came out wearing all black with some kind of google/mask situation covering most of his face. Every person was on their feet loving every second of it. He changed microphones often: at one point having a huge knife attached, then a flashlight, and more I couldn’t really see from my seat.

They ran through most of the songs you would expect them to play; “Disposable Teens,” “mOBSCENE,” “The Dope Show,” “Personal Jesus,” “Coma White”… the stage was incredible and constantly changing. Manson himself would often change outfits and masks. At one point came out on a pulpit. Another time in a pope outfit. Here is the thing though, it all felt a little…off to me. He just seemed tired. At one point he said, “in all the reviews put in parentheses that Manson fell over drunk. And I am motherfuckers.” When he said that, it made more sense. It felt off but apparently it was because he was wasted. Talking between songs wasn’t garbled. At one point he said, “Can you hear the words coming out of my mouth.” The answer was no, not really.

“Sweet Dreams” was a definite highlight, and it was pretty cool. A single bulb dropped down from the ceiling. He sang into it at times, and other times swung it out over the crowd. Dramatic. He ended with “The Beautiful People” and for a few minutes, he felt mostly on his game.

Rob Zombie was up next, another huge curtain was hanging from the ceiling. But this time when the sheet dropped a fire breathing robot was on the other side. Awesome. His band was already ripping into Jesus Frankenstein and he came out looking like a cast member from Mad Max. Tall hat, long robes, long dreads, mask covering his face and skeleton arms extending off of his own arms. His microphone stand was a huge skeleton.

The energy was immediately so different. Rob Zombie is an animal on stage. Never staying in one place for long, running from platform to platform. Head banging while dust literally flew off of his hair. And the fire. I love shows with fire, and they made great use of it. “Superbeast,” “Meet The Creeper,” and the hit “Living Dead Girl” were up next. His background was huge LED screens that showed old horror movies and anime porn.

At various times huge robots came out and danced on stage with the band. Another time it looked like he was riding in one. He spent a lot of time talking with the audience, and at one point walked along the barricade holding hands along the way. Rob Zombie does not look or move like a man who has been doing this for 20+ years. His portion of the show was good, and it just seemed like fun.

A personal favorite “More Human Than Human” was next and the place lost their shit collectively. Theme for an Angry Red Planetplayed with LED signs that said “Mars Needs Women” flashed across the stage. “Sick Bubble Gum,” “Scum of the Earth,” “Pussy Liquor” and the White Zombie hit, “Thunder Kiss ’65″ were next. The energy never waned and Zombie never stopped moving. The Alice Cooper song “School’s Out” was next, and they finished up with “Dragula,” Rob Zombie’s biggest commercial hit.

Although they call this the Twins of Evil Tour, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson could not have had more different shows. Manson wasn’t nearly as fun, but his fans loved it just the same. Zombie definitely puts on a hellofashow. He brought his love for horror to his show, but never forget to make it fun for everyone. You know what you are getting into when you go see those two perform. I think the biggest surprise for me was how damn good Rob Zombie was. Manson was having a bit of an off night, which happens to everyone. All in all, there was something for everyone there.

24 Oct

Bombay Bicycle Club just finished their west coast tour last week at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. The band will be taking some time off from playing live before they head to Australia at the end of the year. Check out photos from the LA show thanks to Marcello Ambriz and pick up the band’s album A Different Kind of Fix on iTunes

24 Oct

By Keeyahtay Lewis

All Time Low recently released their new album Don’t Panic and they are on tour to support that with their “Rockshow at the End of the World” tour. The tour stopped in Starland Ballroom with The Downtown Fiction and Jersey’s own The Early November for support. It has been a long time since I have seen The Early November and I was excited about getting there in time to check them out. Judging by all the comments people made to me when they found out I would be shooting them- everyone in their home state are happy that they have returned.

When they took the stage the place erupted. It was clear immediately that NJ miss their hometown boys. They stepped out smiles all around, and ripped into Digital Age, a new track from their latest album In Currents. Maybe “ripping into” aren’t the words to describe that song- Digital Age is a slow song powered with acoustic guitar and piano, but it sounded wonderful. Something That Produces Results, an older song, was up next. The energy in the sold out crowd was was high and it was clear that the band loved every ounce of it.

Lead by Ace Enders on vocals and guitar, Joseph Marro on guitar and keyboards, Bill Lugg on lead guitar, Jeff Kummer on drums, and Sergio Anello on bass. Over the years they have changed members back and forth a few time, but this current line up (which has 3 original members) sounds tight and fantastic. I will say too that Anello on bass was just really fun to watch. I would say out of everyone his energy was so high and he spent a lot of his time getting the audience riled up.

Mountain Range in My Living Room, Tell Me Why, I Want to Hear You Sad, Frayed in Doubt and Baby Blue were all up next. It is nice to see a band that is really happy to be playing, and The Early November were certainly that band. Ace told a story about playing a show years ago and a young band opened up for them. Of course the band in question was All Time Low, now the tables had turned, but there was an obvious fondness between the guys.

The Early November didn’t have crazy lights or anything, they just went up there and played 9 songs with passion. They closed out their too short set with the headlining track off their new album, In Currents and the obvious favorite, Ever So Sweet. It was really great to see them back on tour and clearly loving every second of it.

All Time Low were coming up next and judging by all the LED lights on the stage, I knew it was going to be a good one. As soon as they stepped on the stage the bras started flying onto the stage. Seriously, maybe 5 seconds into their set bras were literally flying through the air. Reckless and the Brave and Shameless opened up their set. I will never not be moved when I see thousands of people singing along to every word, and watching these kids pressed against the barricade losing their minds with their favorite band brought a smile to my face.

ATL had rows of lights and green lasers covering the whole stage. They are definitely another group of guys who really love playing music together. Led by the team of Alex Gaskarth on vocals and guitar and Jack Barakat on guitar and backing vocals, they were a powerful duo. Not to take anything away from Rian Dawson on drums and Zack Merrick on bass- they kept the music moving forward.

ATL are a fun band, you can tell from their videos that they don’t take themselves too seriously. I like that about someone. In no time at all every microphone stand had bras hanging from it. The light show made it a little hard at times to take pictures, but from a fan’s point of view it looked pretty great. I know that every single person pressed against the front waited in line for hours but I am sure that every time one of the guys reached a hand out to them or made eye contact- it was all worth it.

All in all, another great sold out show at Starland Ballroom. It was just a fun show, and a pretty great tour all around. I would say that if you just want to go out and forget about your troubles for a while- this is the tour to catch.

Full Set List for ATL:

The Reckless and the Brave
Forget About It
Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)
Coffee Shop Soundtrack
Somewhere in Neverland
Lost in Stereo
The Beach
For Baltimore
Remembering Sunday
If These Sheets Were States
Jasey Rae
Poppin’ Champagne
Dear Maria, Count Me In



24 Oct

AWOLNATION are in the middle of their “Never Let Your Fear Decide Your Fate” tour with Imagine Dragons and Zeale. Last Thursday, they played Emo’s East in Austin. Our photographer Phil DeSimone was there to get some shots from the show. Check them out below and pick up the band’s album Megalithic Symphony now on iTunes

21 Oct

Ellie Goulding stopped by Amoeba Records in Los Angeles last week for a performance after her Conan taping. The night before, Ellie rocked out for the crowd at the Troubadour. Check out photos from her Amoeba Records set below thanks to Marcello Ambriz and pick up Ellie’s album Halcyon now on iTunes.

14 Oct

Garbage just wrapped up their fall tour last week in Austin at La Zona Rosa. The concert was a makeup show from a cancelled date in the spring. Our photographer Phil DeSimone was there to get some great shots of the band.

Check them out below and pick up Garbage’s new album Not Your Kind of People now on iTunes.

14 Oct

By Matt Arena

It’s always interesting to see successful acts overseas come to the US. The level of popularity usually takes a while to catch on, look at artists like Arctic Monkeys or Muse. For a while they went from household names in the UK to being relatively unknown in the US. Frank Turner had just recently headlined Wembley Arena and played at the opening ceremony in the Olympics, so having him at the 1500 person sized Webster Hall in New York would no doubt be a different experience to what he’s been used to lately. Having recently been in the US, he’s mentioned his love for the states in the past, it’s pretty clear that Frank Turner is quickly growing in popularity in the US too. Two sold out nights at Webster Hall attest to this.

Opening for Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls was Jenny Owen Youngs. The New Jersey native played with just an acoustic guitar and a microphone, but it was more than enough to wow the crowd. Of course, a Frank Turner crowd is more open to an acoustic set than your standard crowd, but that didn’t diminish how great she was. Her powerful voice fit the stripped down atmosphere quite well, as she bantered back and forth with the crowd as if she were playing in the corner of a coffee shop. The highlight of her set was the fantastic cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire,’ which had the entire crowd singing along to nearly every word. Not something you see every day during the first opener’s set. Up next was Larry and His Flask. Going in not knowing the band at all was a huge treat.

Being that this was the second of two shows at Webster Hall, many fans who attended the previous night noted how insanely energetic the band was. Of course nothing could actually prepare you for how out of this world entertaining this band is. Playing a mix of folk-punk, they crammed the stage with six members, all flailing and jumping around as if the ground was on fire. Massive upright basses were whipped around like tiny violins, guitarists clashed and bounced around the stage, it was impossible to watch them and not get caught up. Clearly the crowd felt the same as they were jumping and moshing so hard it was shaking the floor. During their last song, the band found their way into the crowd, with lead singer/guitarist Dallin Bulkley finding his way into the middle of crowd. From the stage, the audience was signaled to all crouch down, and they did, with Bulkley standing amongst them posing for pictures. As it grew silent, a yell from the stage came out, “this is a rock show, why the fuck are you all sitting down?” which threw the room into an absolute tizzy, as the band members bounced along the top of the audience and found their way back onstage.

Soon enough Frank Turner came out, accompanied by his touring/backing band, The Sleeping Souls. Frank has been known to do a number of acoustic shows, but hearing his songs with the extra punch of an electric guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard make them that much more special. Songs that are a bit more stripped back on the album, like ‘The Road,’ become layered anthems live. His song selection spanned material all across his career thus far, even sneaking in some new material, all of which hopefully make the cut onto the new album. Especially, ‘Wherefore Art Thou Gene Simmons,’ a song which was preempted by Frank recalling reading Simmons’ latest book and being wowed at the thousands of women he’s professed to sleep with. The song itself pokes fun at the sex, drugs, rock and roll lifestyle, and actually brings to light the sheer ridiculousness and danger of it all. That’s what makes Frank Turner such a great musician and just a great person in general. You’ll never see any of that rock star bullshit with him; in fact he hangs around at almost every show to chat with fans by the merch table. Not only to serve as an antithesis to the “untouchable rockstars” but to show his appreciation, this also comes through in his demeanor on stage. He always seems absolutely ecstatic and sincerely happy to be up on stage in front of all those people. That genuine spirit really is rare in music these days, between the manufactured studio musicians, and guys simply in it for the money, a guy like Frank Turner is incredibly refreshing. Needless to say, he absolutely killed at Webster Hall. Be on the lookout for his latest studio album, which he’s currently recording in LA and in the meantime pick up his latest compilation album, Last Minutes and Lost Evenings.