Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

What’s Wrong with the Theory of (D+)Evolution: Esperanza Spalding at the State Theatre

Esperanza Spalding sees something different in her music than I do. Out of Emily’s D+Evolution — her most recent album whose namesake tour brought her to the State Theatre this past Sunday — I personally got not only the best album I’ve heard this year, but one of the most halting pop-jazz records I’ve ever heard, period: that rare/vital kind of stuff that manages to wrap music at its most complex and daunting in a package that’s not just digestible, but alluring and outright dazzling, too. If we can take her Sunday performance as any indication, though, Spalding’s own take on the sounds she makes must be pretty far removed from mine. After (or maybe because of) releasing a hifalutin album like Emily’s that’s been getting laurels heaped on it like wood on a fire, it’s little wonder that Spalding seems to be suffering from that age old plight of the popular musician: taking herself way too fucking seriously. Under the guise of a prophet or a sage or a savior or something else like that, Spalding turned what could’ve been a showcase of her downright excellent music into an overwrought mish-mosh of histrionics, bad ideas, philosophizing and pretension.

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Believe Me When I Say: Real Estate at The Haunt

In the two years since I first saw Real Estate play The Haunt, I have done a lot in the way of growing up. In 2014, I was a naïve sophomore with a head full of possibilities and uncertainties. Now I am a senior with one eye toward graduation and the “real-world” beyond; probably still naïve, but much more settled in my views and plans. Real Estate, in contrast to my development, has remained fairly static. The band hasn’t released so much as a Single since 2014’s Atlas: the record which they were supporting on that previous spin through town.

COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. RECORDS

The Inherent Charm of Regina Spektor

This past Friday, Dan Smalls Presents treated us to a lovely and endearing performance at the State Theatre of Ithaca by inviting Regina Spektor to pay the city a visit. Waiting for the start of the concert, the theater was loud and everyone seemed in a slight daze, presumably from the recent turn of the weather, or maybe as a residual effect from the week’s earlier presidential debate. The cold outside had everyone shedding layers of coats, or drinking off the chill, or both. A half hour after the projected start time, as people could be heard asking their neighbors, “The opener hasn’t even started yet?” Spektor waltzed out onto the stage with drummer Mathias Kunzli, cellist Yoed Nir and keyboardist Brad Whiteley. “Oh my gosh she’s so cute!” I heard someone half-whisper off to my left.

COURTESY OF ANDREW BIRD

Darling, Andrew Bird is By Your Side

This past Tuesday at the State Theatre, Sinkane opened up the night’s show sounding an awful lot like I would have preferred to have them instead of Pumarosa opening for Glass Animals the week before.  With a sound more tangible and less clean than Glass Animals, Sinkane seems like it would have made a solid pick.  The sentiment may not have been shared by all that many, though. In the moments before they took to the stage, a kindly usher standing behind me advised, “If you don’t have earplugs—they’re loud.”

The band, with front man Ahmed Gallab, exudes a kind of warm, accessible music when you listen to their recorded work, and does a fairly good job of transmitting that same atmosphere when playing live.  Their sound is a blend between jazz, funk, Sudanese pop, and German experimental rock, which collide together to create an experience that hits you at once familiar and unique.

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Two Takes: Glass Animals at the State Theatre

Experimental psychedelic rock group Glass Animals played at the State Theatre on October 1. Two Daily Sun writers took in the concert and gave their thoughts on the night. “They Can Hold You — Glass Animals at the State” by Jessie Weber

The Glass Animals’ performance Saturday at the State Theatre was nothing short of glorious. I had the great pleasure of seeing a band that was even better live than I had hoped it would be, and they managed the crowd so effortlessly that I’m finding it difficult to write a piece that can match up to their performance. The night started barely a minute beyond the listed 8 p.m. with a small-piece opening band who whipped through a half-hour-and-some set and smacked the audience raw.

PHOTO BY CAMERON POLLACK FOR WXPN

Dive on In: Lake Street Dive at the State

Throw a bunch of New England Conservatory grads on a stage, and you can’t help but expect excellence. I knew going into the Lake Street Dive show this past Friday that I would see a tight, bluesy band fill up the State Theatre with sound. I was far from disappointed — Lake Street Dive brought even more presence and expertise than even I expected. The show opened with PWR BTTM, an energetic duo I’ve hoped to see for months. They emerged on stage, fully prepared to fill the mixed crowd of Ithaca natives and college students with their gritty, glittery garage-punk.

Off the Chain: Sphinx Virtuosi at Bailey Hall

On Friday night, the Sphinx Virtuosi — in collaboration with (and under leadership of) the Catalyst Quartet — presented their Latin Voyages: Viajes Latinos program. The result was one of the finest concerts I’ve seen at Cornell. Coming up on its 20th anniversary, the Sphinx Organization places young Black and Latino classical soloists on the world’s most prestigious stages — not least Carnegie Hall, where since 2006 they have held annual residency. But while there is an activist charge to the group’s ideological foundations, it all comes down to the quality of performance, style and selection. In those regards the virtuosi transcended racial and cultural barriers, owning a space that would pass even the stodgiest inspection.

Show Me The Body, Sammus Slay at The Chanticleer

Note: The reviewer arrived too late to see the opening act, What Nerve. The Chanticleer’s top floor is the perfect setting for shows that bridge the divide between performer and audience. The room has no stage and is too small for there to be much distance between the two, making it feel more like a space of shared experience than a performance with separate performers and viewers. Both Sammus and Show Me the Body made excellent use of the room’s potential; both, although in remarkably different ways, managed to make the audience feel like part of the act. Sammus, a rapper and Ithaca native who is also a graduate student at Cornell, is without a doubt one of the most exciting acts that can be seen in Ithaca.

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Not Strange At All

Chicago-based Louis The Child performed on the Arts Quad on August 26, delivering a killer set that was meant to be enjoyed by all, from the frequent festival-goers to the unsung indie-listeners. The EDM duo, comprised of Freddy Kennett and Robby Hauldren, stand out from the slew of emerging EDM artists with their unique blend of tropical house instrumentals and futuristic bass synths. I first heard Louis the Child perform at a basement dance club in D.C. known for its patronage of obscure, underground DJs and indie bands. They had opened for Shawn Wasabi — another notable EDM button-masher — and blew me away with their remix of “Roses” by The Chainsmokers. At the time, I knew Louis the Child was a group to keep an eye on; their approach to EDM was so fresh and diverse that of course EDM-lovers all over America would realize their genius in the upcoming months.

Kanye West performing in Indianapolis on August 25.

Kanye West’s Buffalo Dystopia

8:12 p.m.: We arrive in Buffalo. Jack bought a pass online that lets us park in a clearing under a bridge. A sign bolted to a cement support lists the rates — $75 daily maximum. It’s dark and we’re in a half-awake state from driving on Western New York backroads into fading light. 8:19 p.m.: We walk to the First Niagara Center.