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Posts Tagged ‘Jenny Owen Youngs’
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.

11 Sep

By Michel R Dussack

On September 9th and 10th, Motion City Soundtrack brought their “4 Albums. 2 Nights. 7 Cities. Tour” to the legendary Irving Plaza in New York City. This tour is fairly straightforward – the band is playing all four of their albums in full over two nights at each of the seven cities they’re stopping at. I was fortunate enough to not only attend, but photograph the second show (on the 10th), which featured the band playing their latest two albums – “Even If It Kills Me” and “My Dinosaur Life”. Despite many of their die hard fans insisting that the first two albums are better, the fact remains that their latest two albums contain some of their strongest material to date, with many critics calling “My Dinosaur Life” the band’s best album yet.

Opening the show was folk-rock singer and guitarist Jenny Owen Youngs backed by drummer Elliot Jacobson and bassist Mike Tuccillo. They played a short, but sweet 30 minute set full of their unique blend of folk with a slight tinge of punk noticeable underneath. Youngs is truly a brilliant guitarist and an incredibly talented front woman, brushing off a request for a date by quoting “Anchorman” and saying that she would take “applications for a nice seafood dinner and never call again” would be taken in the back after the show. Introducing a slower number, she remarked about how it “might be a really good opportunity to make a move” on someone you’ve been standing with at the show if you’re interested, but quickly added to not do so “in a gross way”. The band also played a new song from an upcoming album, and brought out Motion City Soundtrack’s drummer Tony Thaxton, much to the crowd’s delight, to play the shaker and cowbell on the song. They closed with a couple of faster, more punk infused tracks and the band ended their set, surely winning over a few new fans.

Due to the very nature of this tour, there were obviously no real surprises at the show, bar a brief comedic introduction of the band by Vanessa Bayer of Saturday Night Live. After she listed many reasons why she likes the band so much (one of which being the fact that they stay hydrated), the band came out for the first half of their show – playing 2007s “Even If It Kills Me” in full, and in order. The entire band came out firing on all cylinders playing the first few songs from the album without so much as a breath in between. Singer Justin Pierre introduced “Last Night” by saying how he tried to base the song on the concept of the movie “Memento”, where everything is out of order. A couple songs later, Pierre introduced “Can’t Finish What You Started” with another movie reference, telling everyone to dance like Rosie Perez from “Do The Right Thing”. However, the crowd wasn’t quite ready to move yet and they remained more or less stationary for a few more songs. During the 8th song of the night, “Broken Heart” the crowd finally started to let loose and dance and the look on Perez’s face could only be described as joy. The band then moved into some slower songs such as “Hello Helicopter” and “Where I Belong”, subduing the still attentive crowd for a bit, but the band finished their first set strong with tracks “Antonia” and the absolute monster of a sing-a-long “Even If It Kills Me”. The band then slipped away, promising to return in a few minutes to play more.

When the band came back 10 minutes later to play “My Dinosaur Life”, the entire crowd was completely different. Obviously excited to hear newer, more familiar material, as soon as the band tore into “Worker Bee” the crowd erupted into cheers and started bouncing up and down. Not much later, the first crowdsurfer of the night came crashing over the barrier into the photo pit. Songs like “History Lesson” and “Pulp Fiction” had the crowds screaming every single word along with the crowd. During “Delirium” the floor was literally moving up and down due to the energy of the crowd. “Motherfuckers” led to a nice, mid-sized mosh pit opening in the middle of the floor and crowdsurfers were being brought towards the stage a dozen at a time. After playing “Hysteria”, they announced that they only had a couple more songs left. Despite this being no real surprise to anyone in attendance, it was clear that no one wanted the night to end. Pierre told everyone that he would hang out by the side exit of the venue after the show if anyone wanted to meet him, though apologized that he wouldn’t really be able to talk much in order to save his voice (playing 25 songs a night for back to back shows is surely a big strain). The band played “Skin And Bones” and “The Weakends” to end the show and said their goodbyes. Before leaving the stage though, they did something I’d like to see more bands do – each member personally gave out their setlists to fans in the front row and made sure to toss out each guitar pick they had left.

Overall, this was one of the more unique and entertaining shows I’ve seen in a while, and getting to see Motion City Soundtrack perform two great albums in full was amazing. Playing for nearly two hours, they truly gave fans everything they could ask for and more. This is refreshing to see in a time where it seems many bands are playing the mere minimum that they can’t get away with. There are a few dates left on this incredible tour, I’d highly recommend checking out if it’s coming to a city near you.

All photos by Michel R Dussack. Check out more of his work at RXP Blog

Jenny Owen Youngs

Motion City Soundtrack