Monday, August 22nd, 2011
Emmy The Great and Joywave at The Studio At Webster Hall in New York
Frank YangSo as mentioned yesterday, I’ve been on a little vacation in New York City the last few days. And while it was originally intended to be a music-free trip, when one of your favourite artists schedules a rare North American show that almost coincides exactly with your visit and at a venue three blocks from where you’re staying, well you adjust your plans. Which is why I was in Manhattan a day earlier than intended – to see Emmy The Great at The Studio at Webster Hall.
Support for the night was quite obviously added for scheduling compatibility rather than artistic, Joywave being a five-piece from Rochester, New York trading in boilerplate indie rock circa 2011 – dance-friendly rock with bits of funk and soul added in for good measure. Not bad, but not especially distinctive either. They do lose points, however for loudly talking by the bar through the headliner’s set. A lot of points. Okay, all points.
This actually wasn’t the first time I’d trekked down to the Big Apple to catch Emmy The Great – I did the same back during CMJ 2008 but those shows were more a bonus as I’d really hopped on a plane to see her fellow Brits Lucky Soul. Still, it was quite a contrast in performances between then and now. Then, her debut First Love was still a few months away so the performances were quick, stripped-down commando-style CMJ day shows that felt akin to busking. This time, she was following the release – at least in the UK – of her second album Virtue and had recruited locals Space Camp to play with her for these two US shows (the first was the night before in Philadelphia).
If Virtue represented an artist shaking the ‘folk’ tag in favour of ‘pop’, then this show saw her trying ‘rock’ on for size. Okay, that may be overstating a bit but with the thicker-sounding arrangements and Emma-Lee Moss wielding a shiny silver Gretsch for stretches of the set, it was certainly something different. There were a few point where the heavier and louder approach overwhelmed the material – whether it was the mix, the arrangements or the execution I can’t really say – but an ideal balance was struck around mid-set when Moss picked up the acoustic.
The 50-minute main set leaned heavily on Virtue, with only the two singles from First Love in the mix. Moss acknowledged that she technically had no records released in North America at the moment, but did mention that Virtue would be out in January, presumably in physical form and hopefully alongside some proper touring to promote. But as a treat to the hundred or so in attendance who’d most likely been following her career via singles and demos as long as I had, she went old-school and solo in the encore by honouring a request for “Edward Is Deadward” and a performance of “MIA” which she prefaced by criticizing the titular artist for her London riots tweets (Moss, by comparison, used her Twitter account to coordinate clean-up efforts). And as a big finish, she brought the band back out and invited Devonte Hynes of Blood Orange to join her on guitar and vocals for a cover of Weezer’s “Island In The Sun”. Considering it was through Hynes’ first Lightspeed Champion record that I first discovered Emmy The Great – she did backing vocals on it – the combo was especially sweet. And though I’d originally intended this trip to be a vacation both from my day job and the blog job… one night of working turned out to be pretty OK.
Photos: Emmy The Great, Joywave @ The Studio at Webster Hall, New York – August 18, 2011
MP3: Emmy The Great – “A Woman, A Woman, A Century Of Sleep”
MP3: Emmy The Great – “We Almost Had A Baby” (Simon Raymonde mix)
Video: Emmy The Great – “Iris”
Video: Emmy The Great – “First Love”
Video: Emmy The Great – “We Almost Had A Baby”
Video: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”
Video: Emmy The Great – “MIA”
Video: Joywave – “Virus.exe”
The Subways, whom I’m affectionate towards despite their not being especially inventive, are back after a layoff on September 19 with their third album Money And Celebrity – there’s currently an MP3 and video to preview the new material.
Video: Still Corners – “Cuckoo”
Though some webrips were circulating immediately after its initial broadcast, Radiohead have made their From The Basement video session, wherein they performed the whole of The King Of Limbs live from producer Nigel Godrich’s basement. Their remix album TKOL RMX is out October 11.
Clash asks Brett Anderson what he’d do on his last day on earth and unfortunately he gets the answer wrong, failing to say “get Bernard Butler on the horn to play one final PROPER Suede show in Chromewaves’ living room”.