Monday, February 29, 2016

Live + On Record: The Veevees, Hellbirds, Cosmicide, The Vandelles, Heaven

Winter months rarely present the same choices for casual outdoor activity that warmer seasons offer. Those fortunate enough to afford fabulous vacations in pleasing locales can escape harsh winds and snowdrifts. The rest of us hunker down at home in front of our TV’s or head out to movies and restaurants. One other option is to attend live show performances put on by quality hometown bands in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Friday, January 29 served as a prime opportunity to re-connect with the dynamic live show The VeeVees are well-known for.

As good as this band is on their recordings (and you can check out their 2015 release "Cream Of Heaven" - along with the rest of their discography on Bandcamp) - this is without a doubt a band best experienced live.

The driving blues rock first envisioned by founding duo Garrett Cillo (guitar/vocals) and Andrea Belfiore (drums) is now further enhanced by the recent addition of bassist Artur Novoselsky.

However it is the thoroughly over-the-top non-stop energy of vocalist Sophia Urista that takes everything to another level.

This young woman's stage presence exudes an utterly confident, humorously bawdy sex appeal that keeps you glued to her every movement.

Clearly an accomplished vocalist, Sophia isn't content to just stand and sing, but rather engages in what is equal parts athletic, sultry and seductive movements.

Between song banter is frequent, and a refreshing change from bands that simply play their songs and say very little (if anything at all) between them.

Delighting in teasing audience members or the band that was on just before her, she'll then make a grand gesture of chugging down a shot of whiskey some eager fan has given her.

The VeeVees have come a long way since I last wrote about them on The Deli Magazine here and their live show coverage on this blog right here.

It would appear their time now has arrived, as they combine epic, heavy tunes with a captivating live show.

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Manhattan's Lower East Side music venue Pianos has a knack for booking artists  on the cutting edge, often just before they ascend to larger spaces.  So it's fortunate to catch a band there in one of NY's best sounding, still intimate settings.

No stranger to this blog, Hellbirds took to that stage on Thursday, February 11, further expanding their power trio dark-surf sound.

Having witnessed their evolution through various style and line up changes, the current streamlined three piece continues to expand on the previously established material.

Much of that can be attributed to a very active live performance schedule, which apparently has them playing out every week and something multiple times within one week.

Performing that frequently establishes a level of confidence between musicians, pushing them to inject nuanced improvised figures within the framework of each song.

In addition to honing their live show, Hellbirds have simultaneously established themselves through innovative studio recordings.  While the audio for those works have been exceptional, a creative new video style has now emerged.

The above song and video is the first original work posted by the band (their highly-acclaimed Pep Peppers creation considered a re-imagination of other material).  "Back From Black" cleverly displays all the final takes that go into recording one song in the studio.

The band appears ready to deliver in a big way on both ends of the performance spectrum.

Using all that studio technology presently has to offer for maximum creative effect, while simultaneously delivering a powerfully distinctive live show experience.


Instagram action on that particular show

And another Hellbirds show attended at BlackBear on January 19

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That Pianos show was in support of intriguing space-rockers Cosmicide's weekly month-long residency there.


Performing here as a fully live four piece, this musical endeavor is predominately the solo project of former Secret Machines co-founder Brandon Curtis.

The band played in front of a dazzling wall of lights that often cast them as shadowy figures.

Not surprisingly, considering Secret Machines pedigree, the music played features long, stretched-out expanses colored by synth washes and textured guitars locked down by a 'motorik' beat very much in the mold of Michael Rother and Neu!.

At times the vocal style reminded of a Bauhaus/Love and Rockets feel all the way up to modern expanse-rock, teutonic motorik beat practitioners Toy.

A big crowd packed this intimate venue indicating this music seems destined for a larger reach.

Listen to selected track here

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One week later and back out to Pianos again for another night of Cosmicide's month-long weekly residency.

However the support act this time was a really big deal, as long-time CromFanFaves The Vandelles were playing their first live show in nearly two years.

Taking the stage just after 9 pm, the audience buzzed over how the sound may have evolved over that time.

Original core members Jas and Honey are the line of continuity that runs through every version of this band.

The biggest change this time comes by way of adding a powerhouse bassist in Rolando.

They opened with classic track "Fever of the Beat" before introducing brand new material.

One thing that can always be counted on at their shows is an array of creative lighting sequences, courtesy of Nick at Union Garage Productions.

The new material came fast and furious, as can be seen by this epic new song below:

When asked what provided the inspiration for this new song, the band revealed it references the desire to continue a friendship with someone you still "love" regardless of prior difficulties.

The evolution of their sound is attributed to "a balance between feedback and dissonant chords."

Eyes Wide Shut


The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Ferocious Throttle

Another new track titled "Techromancer" caught my attention for it's thematic similarity with William Gibson's seminal 1984 cyberpunk debut novel "Neuromancer."

The band revealed that a previous working title called it  “Midnight Sun,” and that certain members find lyrical inspiration via an “obsession with YouTube conspiracy videos.”

Honey Sticks


Ro let's his Bass Star Shine


Full Set List

New Portrait for Modern Times

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Once again, residency headliners Cosmicide took the stage


The band delivered a similarly brilliant performance as the week before.

For the second consecutive week a solid crowd packed the room, with multiple cameras attempting to capture the magic on digital media.

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Closing out this "penultimate" residency show was another long-time friend of this blog - Heaven


With the full band lineup intact for this show, core founding members Mikey and Matt drove the performance forward with a confident ease that comes from having played so many shows together.

A frequent solemn undercurrent colors the material, as songs build from slow, buzzy keyboards before launching into the main progression.

Listen in to lead track "Colors In The Whites Of Your Eyes" from their debut album Telepathic Love out on Goodnight Records.


Keyboardist Lizzah shares a telepathic musical moment with drummer Mikey

While just a few feet over, bassist Yoichiro and Matt do the same.

Heaven continue to remain true to a core belief that great songs presented with impeccable sound quality are what still matters the most.



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