Tag Archives: Kirsten Becker

Review: Tycho @ Union Transfer (April 19, 2014)

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A good majority of the WKDU staff could be found at the Union Transfer last Saturday. The much anticipated return of Tycho, both in Philadelphia and in recording, led to a sold out show. Their latest album, Awake, has been a station favorite here, and for good reason. Mainman Scott Hansen’s project has evolved from solo to trio, whose recent live performances include a backing band. Beyond that, the synth-heavy music of Tycho is both tranquil and engaging. Each song will take you on a ride, changing vibes at every turn.

If we weren’t already excited for Tycho, a few weeks before the show it was announced that California natives Gardens and Villa would be the opener. I’ve been told by many that their live show is incredible, and after avidly listening to their two albums (Dunes, was most recently released in February) I was already interested in seeing them live.

We were able to get right to the front with no problem during Gardens and Villa’s set which was awesome because we were right in the midst of the band’s high energy set. The lead singer Chris Lynch’s numerous flute solos combined the poppy sounds of the synths with tribal influences.

            Black Hills and Orange Blossom form their first release were personal favorites of mine. They also played a lot of songs from their latest, Dunes. The moody purple lighting on the stage was an excellent touch as well. They ended their set with lots of applause, and they expressed their gratitude to the crowd.

            Tycho came on soon after, in which time the audience was chanting in excitement. Hansen got on the mic to explain that they were fixing some technical difficulties on stage. After fixing the problems, the show started with a bang. If you are not familiar, Scott Hansen is also a very well known graphic artist and it would be no surprise if he had something to do with the projected visuals. Serene settings of beaches and minimalist designs coincided with each song. The title track from Awake kicked things off. They also played a lot of songs from 2011’s Dive release as well. What I found most appealing was the live drums, which gave each song a different feel, something not heard in their recorded works. The entire set was mesmerizing and I don’t think anyone wanted it to end. Being right there by the band was also an amazing experience.

            For the encore, they played the two songs everyone was waiting to hear: A Walk and Montana before giving a hearty thanks to Philadelphia for being such a great audience.

Be sure to check out Gardens and Villa’s Dunes as well as Tycho’s Awake, both out now!

http://www.gardensandvilla.com/

http://tychomusic.com/awake/

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Concert Review: Atoms for Peace @ The Liacouras Center (September 24, 2013)

Courtesy of Spin

Courtesy of Spin

By Kirsten Becker

I jumped at the opportunity to see Atoms For Peace kicking off the US leg of their tour in support of “Amok” at the Liacouras Center. For those who don’t know, the superband is composed of Thom Yorke of Radiohead, frequent collaborator and producer Nigel Godrich, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco, and Joey Waronker. They entered the stage and kicked things off with the opening track to “Amok” entitled “Before Your Very Eyes…” Yorke then broke between the next song to voice one of the few words he would say that night: “My name is Jay Z,” (gesturing to Flea) “and this Beyonce.” Delving back into the music, Atoms For Peace played both original songs and versions of Thom Yorke’s solo material from his 2006 record “The Eraser.” Yorke flailed around the stage doing his signature moves while his haunting voice danced above Flea’s erratic basslines. Refosco showed off his talent playing various indigenous percussion instruments, some of which I could even recognize. The performance had a high level of energy and emotion, something that couldn’t ever be captured on an album. All of the members were fully invested in each song and every move and note was calculated; even down to the lights which fluttered and pulsed to the music.

After an impressive set, Atoms For Peace walked off the stage to roars from the crowd. When they returned for an encore, Flea had a melodica in hand. They performed an interesting and jarring version of Yorke’s “Skip Divided.” Also in the encore was a cover of UNKLE’s “Rabbit in Your Headlights” and Radiohead rarity “Paperbag Writer.” Five songs later, they left the stage again. It was clear they weren’t over just yet, roadies tuned and adjusted guitars in the dimmed lights. Finally, the collective returned; this time Flea making a costume change into a Temple basketball jersey. The final two songs were again Thom Yorke originals, “Atoms For Peace” and “Black Swan.”

The musical genius of this band is remarkable and seeing them live is an experience in itself. “Amok” is available now, for more information on the band and future tour dates, visit http://atomsforpeace.info/

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Concert Review: Kishi Bashi @ First Unitarian Church Sanctuary (September 14, 2013)

kishibashi

By Kirsten Becker

Kirsten’s review of one of our recommended concerts for fall 2013.

I was extremely excited to get a chance to catch Kishi Bashi at the First Unitarian Church on September 14. This was his second show he’s played at the Church, last year playing in the basement, this time playing in the sanctuary upstairs. I have seen him perform before, just a few months ago at Firefly Festival. I was blown away by his performance and I knew right away his Philadelphia show was one not to miss.

One of the opening acts was Elizabeth and the Catapult. Never hearing of them before, I was unsure of what I was about to see. The band, comprised of Elizabeth Ziman on vocals and keys, Danny Molad on drums, and Peter Lalish on guitar; was a mix of poppy rock comparable to Rilo Kiley, lounge­y vocals of Lana Del Rey mixed with heavy jazz influences. Elizabeth opened up with a solo version of “Thank You For Nothing.” She stood on stage with a keyboard and sparse lighting. The song captivated the entire room and it was the perfect first song to open the set with. After loud cheers, the set picked up intensity. Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees came on stage a few times to collaborate with the band as well. Towards the end, Elizabeth and the Catapult played a moving cover of Dawes’s “When My Time Comes,” to which Elizabeth prefaced the cover by saying Dawes has been one of her favorite bands. She also played accordion and various other instruments throughout the rest of the set. After the surprise standout performance of Elizabeth and the Catapult, it was now time for Kishi Bashi. He announced that the show that night would be their last one for a few days, and that he wanted to play for as long as possible–a goal he fulfilled, ending his set well after midnight. Three new songs were debuted from his upcoming album that is scheduled for release next spring, including a personal favorite “Mister Steak.”

Seeing Kishi Bashi is an experience, some parts of the show seem like they don’t make sense, but he knows exactly what he’s doing. As a classically trained violinist, it is clear his early training in music is still very much part of his work. He played long solos, looping parts over and over until it sounded like an entire orchestra was filling the church. He recorded his voice, either singing pitches or beatboxing over the violins. Then, catching everyone off­ guard, he would double or half the speed of the loops creating an entirely different sound. Tall Tall Trees, a frequent collaborator with Kishi Bashi, again joined the stage to play more songs with his light­up banjo.

Taking a break before “I Am the Antichrist to You,” Kishi Bashi made some jokes about singing about an Antichrist in a church. He also took the time to express his gratitude for the Philadelphia crowd and how much he really does enjoy coming to this city. He finished his set with a highlight from his debut 151a: “Manchester.” The place lit up with cheers for an encore and after less than a minute he was back on stage. He promised to play one more song, “Bright Whites,” which was soon followed by a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” with the bassist on vocals and Tall Tall Trees on banjo again. Kishi Bashi jumped into the crowd while the song played and crowd surfed, videotaping the whole thing on his phone.

Getting to see Kishi Bashi is never a disappointment. He is an incredibly talented musician and an amazing performer with amazing energy. Be sure to download 151a and be on the lookout for new material from him in 2014!

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Interview with Smith Westerns (July 26, 2013)

Image courtesy of Fat Possum

Image courtesy of Fat Possum

By Kirsten Becker

I caught up with Cullen Omori, the singer from Smith Westerns before their 7/26 show at
Union Transfer to talk about their latest release, 90’s music, and what’s coming next for the band.

Kirsten Becker: What was the recording process for this record? What comes first, music or lyrics?

Cullen Omori: It kind of happens together. The way that we write our songs varies, [guitarist] Max [Kakacek] will write some parts and I’ll write a full song, or Max write a full song and I’ll write some parts. So, when I go about writing music I try to go about with the chords with the lyrics because I feel like when you have words down, you come up with the melody or the chords a lot quicker. For me, lyrics come with the music. That’s kind of how I write.

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Concert Review: Devendra Banhart @ Union Transfer (June 10, 2013)

Image Courtesy of Nonesuch Records

Image Courtesy of Nonesuch Records

By Kirsten Becker

It’s been awhile since folk-­rocker Devendra Banhart performed a show in Philadelphia. June 10th marked his return to the city, playing a show at the Union Transfer. The night was one of only a handful of shows he will be playing in the US this year. His eighth record, Mala was released back in March and has been highly praised by many. His live shows are something of a spectacle and I was eager to see one for myself.

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Concert Review: Deerhoof @ Union Transfer (April 15, 2013)

Image courtesy of Four Paws

Image courtesy of Four Paws

By Kirsten Becker

Deerhoof played the last show of their tour right here in Philadelphia at the Union Transfer. Known for their bombastic, jarring, noisy sound, Deerhoof performed a very distinct set, living up to the playful and weird image they’ve created for themselves over the course of their 19 years as a band.

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Concert Review: TNGHT @ The Starlight Ballroom (April 10, 2013)

Image courtesy of The Windish Agency

Image courtesy of The Windish Agency

By Kirsten Becker

There has been quite a bit of buzz surrounding TNGHT, the electronic duo comprised of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice. With just over a year of performing as TNGHT, they have become wildly popular for their unique blend of trap music. Despite having only released one EP, their self-­titled debut which came out last year, they embarked on a massive worldwide tour. To kick off the United States portion, TNGHT stopped by Philadelphia’s Starlight Ballroom on April 10th. This show was one of only four stops they would be making in the States.

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