RANDALL’S ISLAND PARK, NY — Five minutes before Pusha T appeared on stage at the eighth annual Governors Ball on Randall’s Island, a teenager no older than 17 turned to me and remarked matter-of-factly, “This guy wasn’t relevant until a week ago.”
As someone who grew up first on the sounds of Clipse and the Neptunes and later on Kanye West’s GOOD Music collective, the idea that the Daytona rapper was ever “irrelevant” just didn’t make sense to me. Under-recognized or underrated? Perhaps, but Push has been one of the most important rappers in the industry for the past two decades, even if his bars about drug dealing never stormed the charts. And yet, just one week into relevancy, Pusha T’s mere presence was enough to inspire thousands of concertgoers to break out into several spontaneous “Fuck Drake” chants before and throughout the set. In just one week, he had gone from being your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper to slayer of the decade’s most dominant man in music, the “Hotline Bling” king Aubrey Drake Graham.
Deer Tick does a pretty good job of subverting your expectations. Judging from the album cover of their first full-length album, “War Elephant,” which includes nothing less than the band members sitting on a sand dune in front of two women in bikinis holding a shotgun and an AK-47, you might not expect the mellow fingerpicked guitars that follow. Moreover, after hearing Deer Tick’s infectious blend of tender folk and rollicking roots rock, you might not expect it to be something you could mosh to. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what we did at Deer Tick’s March 3 show at The Haunt. The night began with comedian Solomon Georgio taking us through his life as an African immigrant and “professional homosexual,” interweaving narratives of childhood bullies with social commentary on racism and homophobia.
If there is one word that is overused when describing concert experiences, it’s “magical.” Experiences and emotions are subjective, yet everyone seems to come back to that word. I agree that there is a certain atmosphere to be found at concerts that can’t be found anywhere else, but I believe that the affects found in a Girlpool concert are in a category of their own. Girlpool’s music takes emotions that are difficult to describe and puts them in an accurate, concise form of music that makes one think, “Wow. Why couldn’t I think of that when it’s so straightforward?” Taking those sentiments to a small venue like The Haunt makes the experience personal by forcing one to address neglected, bottled up feelings, creating a truly magical experience. Girlpool opened their show with “123,” the first track off their newest album Powerplant.
The Districts released their new album Popular Manipulations August 11, featuring their former indie rock sound, but richer and more developed. The band hails from Pennsylvania and earned their modest fame during their high school years. The album opens with the song “If Before I Wake.” The lyrics open with “thunder woke me up, it was storming in the city, I was suddenly wide awake.” The song is the perfect introduction for the lyrically exciting album, as it acts as a wake up call for the band’s new success. The lyrics “too blessed to be depressed” and “god, I’m bending over, love me” perfectly exemplify Rob Grote’s raspy and addicting voice that captures and keeps the listener’s attention. “Violet” is the second song on the album that touches on past memories.
When I was younger, I didn’t really like going to concerts. I wanted my favorite bands to come in, play all of my favorite songs and get out. I wanted their songs to sound just like on the record, and I hated when they jammed. Performances, like the one Dawes gave Tuesday night, were the reason I outgrew that opinion.
There were several planned street closures in Ithaca on Sunday for Porchfest, but crowds gathering to watch people singing and playing instruments on Fall Creek and Northside porches blocked off many more. As 180 bands played throughout the afternoon, people were watching, dancing and singing in the streets. Porchfest made Ithaca feel like any small town in America, despite also having a uniquely Ithacan feel. Considering Porchfest has grown to include more than 60 cities and towns in the U.S. and Canada, in a way, it really could have been anywhere in America. The quantity of artists at Porchfest was staggering; it would have been physically impossible to see and enjoy every act.
Local and national artists came together Saturday at the first Cayuga Sound Festival, delivering quality music to the unique Ithaca community and creating a one-of-a-kind experience that can only be found here in Ithaca. There was something special about the laid-back attitude of the Ithaca community, the musicians, the familiar location at Stewart Park, and the local businesses selling food. The familiarity and friendliness added comfort to the experience, breaking the stereotype of chaotic music festivals. There were two stages set up next to each other and artists alternated between them. Businesses and radio stations had tents set up along the park, with food trucks serving most of the local food found at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market.
I’ve never done ecstasy, but based on the Urban Dictionary definition which states it produces “strong feelings of positivity, empathy and connection to others” I can only assume it’s similar to the Two Door Cinema Club show at the State Theatre Thursday night. There probably wasn’t any surprise molly in my system, but nevertheless I found myself dripping with sweat screaming for more when the band “left” before playing everyone’s favorite song. Admittedly, I went to this concert because tickets were 40 bucks and it was ten minutes from my house. I had heard “What You Know,” a song from seven years ago, but that’s about it. I didn’t bother brushing up on their music before the concert, but that didn’t matter.
X Ambassadors are returning to their hometown of Ithaca on September 23 to headline Cayuga Sound, an outdoor music festival at Stewart Park that they curated to “bring bands that people of all ages would want to see.”
The experimental pop band, of Montreal, delivered a theatrical performance at The Haunt in Ithaca on Monday. The band was founded by lead singer Kevin Barnes in 1996, and their music has since endured various evolutions since their early rock, alternative sound. With the release of their most recent album, of Montreal has embraced an experimental pop vibe that deviates from the style of the band’s 13 previous albums. This performance not only showcased the band’s new sound, but also integrated various songs from their older albums, all which were welcomed by the crowd of veteran fans. The band’s publicist Naavin Karimbux described Barnes as “a sort of modern day David Bowie.” Though this statement seems a bit too bold, Kevin Barnes certainly knows how to entertain the crowd and his use of costume changes, dancers, sets and theatrics allows him to mimic Bowie, in his drama and androgyny. The first song on of Montreal’s latest album is “let’s relate,” which begins with the lyric, “how do you identify?” This question of identity pervades the band’s music and was an overarching theme of the performance.