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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday September 7, 9 p.m.
at the Haunt
When was the last time you went to a concert that was billed as “Israeli Livetronica?” Probably never, I’d assume. Or at least in a really, really long time. Well, if you’re interested in changing that, you should check out the music of G-Nome Project, Israel’s premier electronic band. They’ve been filling bills in their home city of Jerusalem and building a name for themselves as one of Isreal’s hottest live music acts. But don’t assume that you’ll be out of place at their show at the Haunt even if you’ve never heard of a single band from Israel: G-Nome wants you to be rest assured that fans from any anywhere and any background will be at home among the good vibes and hardcore dance moves at any one of their concerts.
Playing an album live, end-to-end, can prove arduous for many artists. Rather than tailoring a set list to crescendo, climax, and resolve for a given night, the performers must trust that the same progressions that worked on the album will similarly thrill live audiences. The same challenges that can sink such a play-through, however, can also elevate a concert. A performance can offer testimony to the narrative and vision that inspired an album rather than simply offering up a smattering of tracks from an artist’s career. Kurt Riley’s Kismet proved to be a viable work to bring to Klarman Auditorium, in its entirety, on Friday night.