Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Caught Live: The B-52s, Baby Acid, Sharkmuffin, Citris

Timing and opportunity is a frequent catalyst leading to attendance at compelling events. Living within a stone’s throw of The Space At Westbury assures that venue’s neon-flashing coming events marquee creates a level of “must-be-there” desire that might otherwise elude. So it stood to reason that the months long lead-up hype to truly legendary band The B-52’s appearance there on February 26, 2016 was certainly not to be missed.

Hailing from Athens, Georgia, the band formed in 1976.

Having paved the way for the entire Athens, Georgia scene that followed them at the moment they broke through the NYC club scene and eventually on MTV, the band carries on with original front vocalists Cindy Wilson (vocals, bongos, tambourine), Fred Schneider (vocals, percussion, keyboards) and Kate Pierson (organ, keyboards, bass, vocals),

The tragic death of initial band visionary (and Cindy's brother) Ricky Wilson and recent retiring from live performing (though technically still a band member) Keith Strickland has the band touring with a compliment of eminently capable long-time side musicians.

Walls inside The Space At Westbury are decorated with album covers from a vintage era of mid-1970's through 1980's that accurately reflects this venue's intended audience .

Since 12'' vinyl albums having emerged as a revived format among many of the current generation of new musicians, perhaps a future wall like this will exist in a venue 30 + years from now.

With its big open space and hanging spiral chandelier lighting, a large concert hall feel pervades the standing room environment.

Popular long-time local DJ "Larry The Duck" - who established his weekly "Party Out Of Bounds" radio show on WLIRR seemed as qualified an MC for this show as any.

What initially propelled this band from obscurity and out-of-the-pack was a visionary combination of kitchy visual styling and a sound blending dance music with surf rock.

Further setting them apart from generic copycat bands were guitarists Ricky Wilson and writing counterpart Keith Strickland's creative approach to guitar tunings.  Much like Keith Richards with The Rolling Stones, Wilson devised his own open tunings, creating a unique sound that can be heard here:

 Grouping the strings of his Mosrite guitar into a bass course (usually tuned to fifths for strumming) and a treble course (often tuned in unison), he removed the middle two D + G strings from his playing entirely, although there were times when he did play with five strings. Since the band originally didn't have a bassist, Wilson unified his tunings with a keyboard bass played by Pierson, creating a solid rock and roll sound without a bass guitar.

There's something about a band still carrying on what originally motivated them to play and perform after nearly 4 decades that is most satisfying to witness.

The current live band is as professional as you'd expect for an act that has had this kind of longevity and mass appeal.

Having over twenty million albums sold throughout their long illustrious career, attendance at their shows is a celebration of one amazing hit song after another.

Here is how they sounded on this very night:

Cindy and Kate took a solo turn halfway into the set, sing middle-period songs like "Revolution Earth" and "Roam."

Fred was his as-expected bubbly self, making funny cracks and telling amusing tid-bit stories along the way.

Including a most entertaining rendition of this song:

- - -

Props to Kate Pierson for still looking hot and in fantastic voice after all these years.

An adoring audience

Cindy + Kate, flower power

Light Beams + Happy Heads

Swirling 52 light surprise

A dazzling, fun, party show!

"Thanks, Westbury!"

Full setlist played


Social Network Celebration!

Opening the show was Country-rock, husband and wife outfit The Mike + Ruthy Band

Who also double as Kate Pierson's backing band when she plays her solo music.

The keyboard player in this band also played keys and guitar throughout the entire B-52's show as well.

* * * * * 

A week later it was back to the familiar stomping grounds of Brooklyn on March 3rd to check out a show at new club Aviv.

Decorative fan graffiti can often be found places where the public congregates.  All Brooklyn Band's have now been served the "Vince Neil challenge."

Grunge-gaze rockers Baby Acid took the stage early on, proceeding to deliver their familiar heavy bass and effects-layered guitar burst sound.

Vadim and Lindsey continue to provide the driving force behind a sound that combines deep riffs and swirling atmospherics.

Sonic structures run across a spectrum of defined bass-driven melodies and power-gaze guitar figures.

FX'd power force

Swirling in the "beautiful noise"

Photog zoom and fan appreciation

Lindsey delivers her message
* * * * * 

Headlining the night was the garage, punk, glam and grunge hybrid of Sharkmuffin

With this show serving as the kickoff to a March tour that traveled across the country - with a significant stop in Austin for the annual SXSW festival - and then back again.

Led by the unabashed Tarra on vocals, guitar (doublenecked now) and implacable promotion skills, their shows deliver high-energy excitement.

It would be difficult to imagine any other grunge-punk frontperson so casually playing such a conspicuously extravagant guitar.

Bassist Natalie continues to serve as steady foil to Tarra's frequently over-the-top, bombastic charm.

Drummer Kim completes this core trio with capable beat-keeping skills and an overall enthusiastic presence.

For this particular show they brought up a guest guitarists, providing an additional sonic layer.


Which also allowed Tarra to put her guitar down and go the hand-held mic route

A roam out into the audience led to this eventual mayhem.

Much to the delight of an thoroughly entertained audience.


Additional live Sharkmuffin show reviews can be found here - live at CMJ,  and here - live at CMJ two days later

* * * * *

Saturday March 5th brought the live show periscope back into Manhattan's lower east side for a show at Arlene's Grocery.

Though technically it was actually early Sunday morning, the prospect of catching another live show from new found fave Citris was too good pass up.


Primary songwriter and vocalist Angelina performed a solo electric set for this appearance.

Which she delivered with a seasoned confidence and skill that belie the relatively early stages of her musical career.

 Providing a spaciousness and clarity to the songs, allowing listeners to focus more on the lyrics and stories being told, as opposed to a bigger, full band show.

In addition being featured on the Deli Magazine website (written by yours truly) and Print Issue ad placement, there is also the recent distinction of winning that sites prestigious Artist Of The Month poll.

A true songwriter, Angelina exhibits an apparent natural ability that weaves insightful lyrics with creative chord structures.

Which keeps everything above a level of predictability and common repetition.

The debut album "Panic In Hampton Bays" can be heard and acquired here


Post-show had a few of us heading over to a local bar to continue the conversation about everything and anything.

City denizens gathering during early a.m hours immediately following just concluded events fosters it's own unique form of interaction.

Doubling down on the experience matrix.

* * * * * 


William said...

Very cool! of course... the B52's secret hit is the theme song they did for my good friend Mr. Captain Planet's TV show - Fred Schneider rapping about the environment you say? how could it go wrong you say? find out!

DaveCromwell said...

Ha! I'm a big fan of Fred's - so I've got nothing bad to say (publicly) about that. To be fair, there are a few pro among the expected snarky chorus of "cons" under that video's theme song.

Charles Marcus wrote:

For those who don't know the rapper on this song from 1995 is none other than Fred Schneider from The B-52's.I like this Captain Planet opening theme.The 1st theme used from 1990-1992,1st 3 seasons when it was produced from DiC and aired on TBS.The 2nd opening theme used from 1993-1995 Seasons 4 & 5 and produced from Hanna Barbera (1993-1996).The 1st opening used from 1990-1995 with the opening narrations.

While these folks chime in with:

This might be the worst TV intro I have ever seen in my life. I mean...whoa!

Makes the German Naruto intro look good by comparison.

It's like a trainwreck. You know you shouldn't watch, but you just can't help it. :/

* * * * *

Though I have to agree they could have done a bit more with the actual music - are the words *really* any sillier than "Planet Claire" or "Is That You Mo Dean?"

William said...

haha yes, i feel like they just discovered loops - but they are friends of my good friend barbara so i believe they did it for free as a favor which may have something to do with its somewhat lacking artistry

either way - a funny rock (lobster) trivia tidbit to bring out at your next B52's concert!!

DaveCromwell said...

Without a doubt. And let's face it - being friends with The B-52's and knowing they're willing do do something like this for your project speaks volumes about their own level of cool - as well as the merits of Captain Planet overall.

Mirror said...

@Sharkmuffin Retweeted:

Read new feature on (among others) @Sharkmuffin here
then go to their show 2night! #davecromwellwrites #sharkmuffin

- - - - - - -

@Sharkmuffin Tweeted:

Tonight we play in Nashville at FooBar with @fruitxflowers!! : @Zorah_Olivia #sxswafflehouse2016

- - - - - - -

alexander laurence @portinfinite Tweeted:

Read new feature on (among others) @Sharkmuffin here
then go to their show 2night! #davecromwellwrites #sharkmuffin
04:05 PM - 23 Mar 16
alexander laurence @portinfinite

I am the author of Five Fingers Make A Fist (short stories) and Junkyard (a novel). Music and books news.

DaveCromwell said...

Sharkmuffin have gotten a lot of attention on this blog recently, and deservedly so. They've been touring non-stop it seems, and reaping the rewards that kind of dedication produces. It's also nice to see artists who know their way around social media and understand how it can be used to spread the word.

Mirror said...

Angelina/Citris writes:

Another great review, but this time on my personal live solo performance at Arlene's Grocery. Thank you Dave Cromwell!

Yes, for the kind words, but mostly because you get what Citris is doing and trying to do!

We very much appreciate your beautifully written review, for nailing the vibe of the set and understanding Citris as a whole whether it be from performance, to sound, and message. THANK YOU.

My fave quote:

"A true songwriter, Angelina exhibits an apparent natural ability that weaves insightful lyrics with creative chord structures"
- DaveCromwellWrites

Also loved reading more about the overall escapade to the show and to others as well.

DaveCromwell said...

One of the best feedback responses you can get from an artist about a review you've done on them is that you "get" what they are attempting to present. This may seem like obvious stuff, but there is a ton of stuff posted every day that's loaded with generic hyperbole, blatantly motivated only by commerce, or simply (and completely) miss the mark.

Music and writing (and music writing) are things that should be respected for the creative outlets they are.

ViewFromSpookysDoghouse said...

Holy Sharkmuffins, Batman! I do love the name. Wonder if I can get some shark muffins at Starbucks. Hmm... Maybe they can get their music played inside Starbucks. PS--Nice looking double-neck.

DaveCromwell said...

I know, right? That double-neck guitar is too cool! I thought only "heavy metal" bands used them (or heavy blues bands like Led Zepplin - 'cause Jimmy Page made a big splash with one) - but then I ran across a picture of none other than Ricky Wilson of The B-52s with one! Yeah, somebody posted it up on Instagram. So, there you have it. "Alterna-bands" staked an early claim on them as well.

Mirror said...

Dave Smithweck writes:

TIN ROOF....rusted

Great article on the 52's Dave! What a truly unique American group...AND coming from down here ....Georgia!

DaveCromwell said...

The B-52s certainly spearheaded that whole Athens, Georgia alternative rock scene, Mr. Smithweck. No one can deny that.

Fun Fact about that "tin roof ... rusted" lyric (and song overall) - it references a 5-room cabin with a tin roof in Athens, Georgia that had (at the time) recently burned down. That was most-likely the building they were referencing. Kate Pierson in fact lived there in the '70s.

Mirror said...

Jenna Emens-Escalera wrote:


nice article!

- - - - - - - - -

Emily Taggart wrote:

Lucky you. Getting to see The B-52s!

Love your music scene, Cromz.

DaveCromwell said...

Sweet feedback, you two.

I'm pleased to know what's presented here provides a bit more focus on all this.

Matt said...

Great piece Dave! The B-52s have been one of my favorite bands since I saw them open for the Talking Heads at the Greek Theater in L.A. in 1980! That show blew my mind and I've seen them many times since. The last time I saw them a few years ago, they were still in fine form and voice!

DaveCromwell said...

Wow. The B-52's and The Talking Heads together in 1980! You were there right from the beginning, Matt. You know exactly what I'm talking about here. And you are absolutely correct that they most certainly still are in "fine form and voice." A truly wonderful BIG (yet intimate feeling) concert experience.

Mirror said...

Ray Kimura wrote:

I checked out all three bands which you introduced this time.

Baby Acid and Sharkmuffin are too much 'power rock' or 'grunge', so, they are a bit different from my taste, though, Citris sounds so good!

Especially the vocalist's singing voice is very attractive, which reminded me of the voice of Hope Sandoval.

As for The B-52s, wow, it looks the exciting gig!

I recalled the gig of The Specials which I saw at the music fest in Japan several years ago. Before seeing them, I didn't know them so much coz they're NOT the band of my generation.
However, their show was quite exciting and I really enjoyed it so much.

The legendary bands with long history/career never betray the genuine music lovers, right?

DaveCromwell said...

Interesting feedback, Ray.

I know you tend to favor the more pop-dreamy side of psych music, so harder "grungier" style bands don't always resonate with you as much.

Well done name-checking the wonderful Mazzy Star singer Hope Sandoval in your Citris reflections. I can definitely hear that too.

I think you sum it up perfectly there with that last sentence.

Great bands like The B-52's - with their decades long careers and fan bases to match stay true to their core audiences. That's a fitting testament to a lifelong commitment from both artist and the people who still follow and support them.