Growing up as I did (with a father who loved to constantly relive his glory days), I listened to Weird Al a lot. I watched the music video to “Trapped in the Drive-Thru” a million times, played “Virus Alert” on my iPod shuffle and knew all the lyrics to “EBay.” My dad listened to the classics, reminisced about listening to Weird Al on Dr. Demento’s radio show and told me over and over again the story about how, when he was in college, he and Weird Al got lunch together. So when Weird Al’s Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour came to The State Theatre, obviously my dad and I got tickets. I’ll admit, while I’ve listened to a few of Al’s more recent singles, I hadn’t truly listened to him since the days of my iPod Shuffle. The tour was also self-described as “scaled-down,” featuring older, original songs rather than parodies.
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.
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.
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.
Remember a little movie from the late 90s called Titanic? Remember the dancing scene in third class with Jack and Rose spinning around the table? Ladies and gentlemen, last Saturday at the State Theater, that scene’s own traditional Celtic band: Gaelic Storm. The band’s most recent album, Matching Sweaters, is the their twelfth, released in July 2015; it peaked at 60 on Billboard 200 the following month. As a side note, Storm’s albums tend to have very playful, colorful titles: Chicken Boxer (2012), Cabbage (2010) and Herding Cats (1999), on which the famous track from Titanic appears.
Whether you’re a freshman, senior or Cornell employee, at some time or other it should become blatantly apparent that Ithaca has an incredible music scene. In my three years on the Hill I’ve tried my best to experience all parts of said scene.
Last year, one music event captivated my heart more than any other that I’ve come across. This event was Porchfest and, luckily, it’s an annual festival that will be taking place again this upcoming weekend, on Sunday.
Hey-o spaghetti-o’s!! Welcome back! Or just welcome! Hope everyone enjoyed their summers and is now enjoying the second day of classes. Hope everyone listened to some super rockin’ music. Hope the freshmen have figured out how to get from North Campus to Mann Library (hint: it’s not as long a walk as you think) and that the sophomores haven’t collapsed getting up Libe Slope (hint: umm …. I got nothing, it just sucks) and that the juniors have as yet avoided heinous noise violations, which unfortunately cannot be said for the house across the street from me. Or perhaps fortunately considering the lack of actually falling asleep that went down in my room the last two nights.
This article was originally published online on Jul. 8.
NEWPORT, R.I. – The Newport Folk Festival – having endured Dylan’s controversial ’65 burst of electricity, financial turmoil and an addiction to corporate sponsorship – has come a long way from its folksy, populist incarnation of 1959. But at this 50-year benchmark, Newport’s architects have struck gold in grafting the Festival’s roots to anachronistic, serene Fleet Foxes and progressive-folk-rock showmen The Decemberists. Seeger’s even leading a sing-along at age 90, for Pete’s sake.