The Music Box











I find it hard to write an unbiased review of this show to be honest. If you know anything about me, you’ll know how big a fan of Lady Gaga I am, and how absolutely ecstatic I was to score a ticket to The Monster Ball at Radio City Music Hall last night. I had jitters before the concert; I haven’t felt that since I was about eighteen.

And, despite the recent health problems and regrettably canceled shows, Lady Gaga definitely gave the good time I was expecting. She’s such a petite young woman, but her personality and presence onstage are certainly bigger than life, and she has no problem filling up the large screens that play such a big part of her stage show.

But, before I wax ridiculous on Lady Gaga anymore, let me take a moment to express my pleasure at another young artist that opened for her. I’m sure most of you have heard the song Whatcha Say on your local radio station – that song that combines Imogen Heap and autotune and adds a whole lot of pop sensibility. It’s sung by the twenty-year old newcomer Jason Derülo, who has also taken part in The Monster Ball. I found him very likable and entertaining. The sincerity with which he said “Thank you so much” between each song when he received a good reception was positively endearing. I also ran into him on the street outside Radio City before doors opened and he was so incredibly polite and soft-spoken.

The first opening act was Semi Precious Weapons. I think that the band was the perfect way to start the night and get everyone paying attention – or at least talking. Loud, proud and incredibly vulgarly blunt, Justin woke the audience up right as they walked into Radio City. He provided a healthy dose of profanity, sexuality, nudity, and alcohol consumption. Which is, quite possibly, everything a good Little Monster (as Lady Gaga’s fans are called) expects from a concert.

Sadly, there are only a few dates left to catch The Monster Ball. I’m sure they’ll all be back on the road fairly soon, however, so go out and catch them if you can!

Lady Gaga’s Setlist
01. Dance in the Dark
02. Just Dance
03. Love Game
04. Alejandro
05. Monster
06. Teeth
07. Speechless
08. MC -interlude- (Pokerface acoustic)
09. The Fame
10. Money Honey
11. Beautiful, Dirty, Rich
12. Boys, Boys, Boys
13. Pokerface
14. Paparazzi
15. Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)
16. Bad Romance

Links:
Semi Precious Weapons Official Website
Jason Derülo Official Website
Lady Gaga Official Website

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The down side of relying on public transportation: although I went to see the LMFAO Party Rock Tour, obviously featuring LMFAO, I had to leave right after Schwayze’s set to catch the last train back to New York and therefore missed LMFAO themselves. Nonetheless, it was an interesting and very entertaining show.

Since I’m not going to be in the country for the New York leg of the tour, my friend Kirstie and I traveled to Toad’s Place, a little venue in New Haven, Connecticut, right on the Yale University campus. It’s a tiny, relaxed place with a university feel to it; to be honest, I don’t think the people that worked there were at all prepared for the level of craziness that was going to take over with the arrival of the Party Rock Tour.

No, honestly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many tiny sequin tube tops and empty frame glasses in one night. The crowd had so much energy and excitement, and LMFAO fans are insane in the best possible way. By the time the doors opened, the line stretched all around the building and out back, and entrance was mild chaos. There was a DJ out spinning between sets, everything from Lady Gaga to Miley Cyrus to New Kidz and David Guetta.

It seems as though LMFAO took all of their closest Interscope / Cherrytree Records friends on the tour with them: the show opened with a set by UK DJ Space Cowboy, who was eventually joined by the lovely Chantelle Paige for a few songs. I’m probably biased because I already adored both of them as well as their music, but their set was my favorite of the night, although it was a bit short. Space Cowboy is a wonderful performer, and Chantelle Paige is just beautiful and has terrific charisma up on stage.

After Space Cowboy and Chantelle Paige warmed the crowd up, the Paradiso Girls, another Cherrytree act consisting of members from the U.S., France, the UK, Barbados, and the Philippines, came onstage to raise the sexiness up another level or two. If you like the Pussycat Dolls, you definitely have to check these young ladies out.

Following the Paradiso Girls comes the Far East Movement, who you will have seen a lot from and about if you follow MTV Iggy. I’ve seen their name so much in the past couple of months, but had never had the time to check them out, so it was great to finally see them. They’re a California-based rap and hip-hop group that put together the first multicultural live event down in Koreatown, Los Angeles.

By this time the crowd was an excited, sweating, somewhat inebriated mess, but the show still wasn’t close to finished. The Far East Movement introduced the next performer, Schwayze, who was sadly the last performer I would see the night. Kirstie and I ran out about halfway through the last song of his set to catch a cab back to the train station.

Despite missing the title act of the Party Rock Tour, it was a great experience, and if you have a chance to check out the remaining shows on the tour, definitely take the opportunity. And pick up a pair of Party Rock glasses!
Remaining tour dates:
12/04/09 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
12/06/09 Farmingdale, NY @ Crazy Donkey
12/08/09 Richmond, VA @ The National
12/09/09 Norfolk, VA @ The Norva
12/10/09 Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
12/11/09 Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
12/14/09 Orlando, FL @ Firestone
12/17/09 Houston, TX @ House of Blues
12/18/09 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
12/19/09 San Antonio, TX @ The White Rabbit
12/20/09 McAllen, TX @ Las Palmas Event Center
More information about ticket purchases and all acts at partyrocktour.com!



{2 December, 2009}   Coming up:

3 December: LMFAO Party Rock Tour with Space Cowboy, Far East Movement, Chantelle Paige, Paradiso Girls (New Haven, New Jersey)

6 December: Samy Deluxe (Hamburg, Germany)

10 December: Panik (Hamburg, Germany)

12 December: Mozart L’Opera Rock (Paris, France)



This past week Noah and the Whale was in New York to both premiere First Days of Spring, a film to accompany their second album, and to play three nights at the Mercury Lounge down on Houston. I had the chance to go see them on 03 November for one of these gigs, with so, so, so much thanks to Cherrytree Records.

I had never been to The Mercury Lounge, but I fell in love with it. It’s small with two rows of couches on either side. When it’s empty, it’s such an intimate venue, and when it’s packed you can’t breathe or move, but it still never feels too big or overbearing.

The opening act was Essie Jain, an incredibly charming young woman from England. She and her band are getting ready to put out a lullaby CD, and after hearing her voice for ten seconds, you can understand why it would be perfect. I actually would love to buy the CD when it eventually comes out. I don’t actually know her music that well, but I made a stab at the setlist. Please correct me if I’m wrong:

Setlist
01. Up Until Then
02. The Truth
04. Afraid of the Dark
05. Stand in the Light
05. Love for You
06. Haze
07. ??? (Second Chance?)
08. Stop
09. ??? (Fall Into Sleep?)

During Robert Francis’ set, I actually left the stage area to find Andrea from Cherrytree Records to say “hi” and thank her. I caught a bit of the set, and it didn’t capture me the same way Essie Jain did. It felt to me as though he tried a little too hard to be emotional and artistic, if that makes sense. He does make good music, though, and no offense intended towards him.

John Norris of MTV was also at the show on Tuesday! I grew up watching him on MTV News, so I was a little stupidly giddy when he was pointed out to me. When we went back into the stage area for Noah and the Whale I wound up right next to him.

Noah and the Whale, though. I didn’t know too much about them going in other than really liking the few songs of theirs that I had heard, and knowing that the poor guys had their equipment stolen in England recently. Seeing them live is an experience, though. They’re one of those bands that you just close your eyes while they’re playing and just lose track of where you are, and what time it is. Charlie Fink is also a remarkably charming performer. He didn’t speak much during the set, excepting to apologize awkwardly into the microphone for, in fact, not speaking. He said he had nothing to say, so other than occasionally giving the name of a song or a brief explanation, he stayed with the music.

As a brief anecdote, the Mercury Lounge doesn’t have a “backstage.” The artists just step up from the back of the venue and walk up onto the stage. Noah and the Whale reached the end of their regular setlist, at which point Fink said (paraphrasing my own), “Now after this song, we’re supposed to go off and hide for a minute and thirty seconds, pretending it’s the end of the set. Then we come out again and play the encore. We don’t have anywhere to hide, so we’re just going to keep playing. But please, pretend this is the last song.”

Setlist
01. Blue Skies
02. Our Window
03. Give A little Love
04. Slow Glass
05. Jocasta
06. Give me the Love of an Orchestra
07. Rocks And Daggers
08. Stranger
09. I Have Nothing
10. My Door Is Always Open
13. The Shape of My Heart
14. You Were Always On My Mind (Elvis Cover)
15. My Broken Heart

Links
Essie Jain on MySpace
Robert Francis Official Website
Robert Francis on MySpace
Noah and the Whale Official Website
Noah and the Whale on MySpace
Cherrytree Records

I brought my actual digital camera this time. But you know what would be really cool? A digital camera that didn’t turn itself off at random that wasn’t ten years old and halfway broken. Yes. That would be awesome.

The Stage
Stage at the Mercury Lounge

Essie Jain
Essie Jain Setting UpEssie JainEssie JainEssie Jain's trumpet playerThe Crowd After Essie Jain

Setting up for Robert Francis/Robert Francis
Warming up for Robert FrancisRobert FrancisRobert Francis
Robert Francis

Noah and the Whale

Noah and the WhaleNoah and the Whale



I think that it’s time to turn this into more of a concert blog than anything. I go to way too many concerts lately.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was able to go to the Emilie Autumn concert I mentioned in another post. It was incredibly fun; definitely worth the few years I’ve waited for Emilie to finally come (back) to this country.

Emilie Autumn is a singer, violinist, harpsichord player, poet, and writer. I usually describe her style to people as neo-Victorian gothic electronica if they really want to know, but typically when I start adding that many descriptors to a genre, I just leave it alone and let it speak for itself. Her stage show is a combination concert, burlesque show with a touch of circus thrown in.

Her backup band is known as The Bloody Crumpets, and between songs are skits and kissing games and even a fan dance. During songs The Bloody Crumpets occasionally come out and perform acrobatics over and among the audience on hoops and sheets. Each member of The Bloody Crumpets has her own “identity” in the Asylum – Veronica is the sexy nymphomaniac, Aprella the sweet maiden, Captain Maggot the deranged pirate captain (though I found her quite adorable), while Contessa is the proper lady.

It’s certainly a spectacle, and Emilie is incredibly charismatic (and sexy). The show is raunchy and inappropriate, but that’s certainly the point: Emilie finished the show with a striptease, and as I said on my Twitter, “After the vocalist is naked…it’s pretty much time to go.” The Rat Game, which ends in two girls kissing rather passionately, was fairly worrisome to me given the recent problems with seasonal flu as well as H!N1, but hey. Whatever floats your boat.

Setlist
1. Intro/4 O’Clock
2. Opheliac
3. Liar
4. The Art of Suicide
5. I Want My Innocence Back
6. Shalott
8. God Help Me
9. Dead Is The New Alive
10. I Know Where You Sleep
11. 306
12. Misery Loves Company
13. Face The Wall (Emilie Violin Solo)
14. Mad Girl
15. Bohemian Rhapsody

ENCORE
Bohemian Rhapsody
Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

Links
The Asylum: Official Website
Emilie Autumn Official MySpace

I hope that Dean (follow him on Twitter @dean_b, by the way) will forgive this last round of bad pictures. I didn’t have a new battery for my eight-year old digital camera yet, so I was still using the cell phone.
Better pictures can be found here thanks to knightmare6. I just feel odd posting someone else’s pictures on my own entry.

Captian Maggot on her hoop

Captian Maggot's Hoot 2

Maggot Hoop 3

Emilie and Contessa

Stilts

Swallowing Fire

Emilie on her violin

Contessa Sheet Dance



I wanted to start by giving a huge “thank you” to Martin Kierszenbaum for letting me send him questions.

You all probably at least know of Martin from his work with t.A.T.u as well as his diligent work with all of the artists on Cherrytree Records. He is also head of A&R at Interscope Records, and has worked with Sting, Keane, Feist, Ai, Colby O’Donis, and many other artists internationally. He is Cherry Cherry Boom Boom.

He is incredibly accessible, always on Cherrytree’s Twitter, and often popping into the chatroom over on Cherrytree’s website.

And enough of me babbling: his name is all over if you want to learn more on your own. On to the questions:

1. What are your earliest memories of music in your life, and how early did it become such a major component of who you are?

I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. I started taking piano lessons at 8 years old and became very interested in writing music and what I call the language of music theory. I was pretty much obsessed with the process of making music and began spending more and more time on it to the point where it probably kept me out of a lot of trouble in high school and college. To this day, making music, talking about music and listening to music is when I’m the happiest.

2. You’ve seen so many people walk through the Cherrytree and Interscope doors: do you see any major differences – personality, attitude, anything – between young artists that started out when you first came into the business and the artists we see today?

There isn’t necessarily a major difference in the level of quality, determination or passion. Those elements are quite constant with truly talented folks no matter the era. Where I do see a difference is in the access to and availability of information. Thanks to the interconnectivity of today’s world, talented artists can be more empowered, informed and aware. Modern technology also allows more talented artists to be exposed, no matter where they come from. I see that as a beautiful thing.

3. Do you have a favorite music or artist-related story to tell?

I’m fortunate enough to have worked with many very special and talented artists. It would be hard to pinpoint just one experience. Someone extraordinary from whom I’ve had the privilege to learn tons is Sting. He’s been like a big brother to me in his kindness and support. I do remember meeting him for the first time many years ago. I was doing international publicity for his Soul Cages project and had traveled to Atlanta to supervise an interview with a Dutch publication. I was in the glorious Fox Theater in Atlanta thinking about having started work for A&M records only the week before. I went backstage to greet Sting and take him to the interview room backstage. We both got in the elevator there – an old one where you have to open the screen door manually when you arrive at your floor. In the elevator, Sting was holding a plate, trying to squeeze in his supper before doing the interview and playing the show. When we got to the floor and the elevator stopped, I spaced and didn’t open the screen (And, Sting couldn’t do it because his hands were holding the plate). So, the elevator automatically went back down to our original floor. Sting looked at me and uttered the first words he ever said to me: “you f’cked up.” I’ll never forget it; quite an auspicious first impression really. 18 years and lots of adventures together later, I’m proud to say that Sting now records on my imprint.

4. How do you think the heavy digitization of music and voice is affecting the technique and technical skill of young artists today, if at all? Where do you think it will take music?

There have always been technological advancements in making music. Did the piano forte affect the technique and output at the time? Surely. I think that making great music requires musical talent, originality and skill. That hasn’t changed. It’s not easier to make great music. It’s just different.

5. You’ve met so many amazing, influential people, have you ever been starstruck? With whom?

I’m still very impressed when I meet a musician that I really admire. I mean, for me, great musicians are heroes. Music is important to me so, yes, I get excited. It’s not to the point where it interferes with doing my job, but I embrace that feeling of excitement. It’s fun and brings me joy.

6. Which artist that you’ve worked with has been, in your opinion, the hardest to market to the American scene, regardless of musical skill? What do you think made it so hard to get people to catch on?

Anybody making maverick music and pushing the creative envelope is going to be met with some resistance at first. I’d say I may have made it a little harder for myself when I started trying to break artists across borders just because it wasn’t that prevalent a concept at the time. But, as with anything that’s unique and of great quality, it will eventually succeed and reach its audience. Growing up, my dad always told me “cream rises to the top.” That idea continues to inspire me to this day – even in the face of the toughest obstacles.

7. What do you think is your “most played” song of all time?

You mean my favorite song? Or a song with which I’ve been involved? It’s tough to pick a favorite song but my top 10 list would probably include “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” by Dionne Warwick, “Appetite” by Prefab Sprout and “1999” by Prince. In terms of my own songs, I’m proud of having co-written “All the Things She Said” by t.A.T.u. which was no. 1 for 4 weeks in a row in the UK. I think “Happy Birthday” by Flipsyde was special and I really like “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)” by Lady Gaga which recently reached no. 2 in Sweden.

8. Cherrytree seems to have such an international assortment of artists – was that your intention from the beginning and why, or how did it come about?

My intention is to not let geographic location limit us. I moved all over the world when I grew up – lived in 3 continents. The prospect of seeking out talented artists across borders and cultures isn’t daunting to me at all. Doing so widens my net in terms of finding exciting artists. It’s not that I purposely search for international acts. It’s just that I don’t have an aversion to getting up at 3am to make a call or traveling 18 hours in search of great music. I’m excited to find talented people and help them get their music exposed no matter where they are in the world.

9. You must get approached by and exposed to so many great bands that would love to work for Cherrytree every day: what’s the process for sorting through to find new talent for the label?

This is the hardest thing to articulate because so much of it is based on particular taste and instinct. Cherrytree looks for unique and trend-setting artists within the tradition of pop music. I’m drawn to unique voices, great songwriting and compelling points-of-view.

10. What professional or musical accomplishment to date are you most proud of?

At Cherrytree Records, we’re privileged to work with really innovative artists such as Feist, Tokio Hotel, Sting, Lady Gaga and Robyn, just to name a few. That’s a real source of pride for me: to be involved with artists whose music is pushing creative boundaries as well as touching people’s emotions. In addition, I’m really proud of the connection that the team at Cherrytree has been able forge with the music-loving folks that form what I call our “pop alternative” community. I think that people can feel the family vibe that exists here at the label across the http://www.cherrytreerecords.com site and the other Cherrytree destinations including the Cherrytree chat, http://www.cherrytreeradio.com, and The Cherrytree House TV program. I think people can feel that we love our staff, our artists and their music. I consider it an honor to be able to work with the team at Cherrytree and its amazing roster of artists. I’m also grateful to all of the Cherrytreerec’ers – our supporters who feedback to us and egg us on every day.



{22 August, 2009}   Emilie Autumn: Tour Dates!

Friday, October 09: Toronto, ON, Opera House
Saturday, October 10: Montreal, QC, Les Saints
Monday, October 12: Cambridge, MA, Middle East
Tuesday, October 13: New York, NY, Highline Ballroom
Wednesday, October 14: Baltimore, MD, Bourbon Street Ballroom
Friday, October 16: Atlanta, GA, Masquerade
Saturday, October 17: Orlando, FL, The Social (early show)
Monday, October 19: Houston, TX, Meridian
Tuesday, October 20: Dallas, TX, Granada Theatre
Thursday, October 22: Mexico City, MX, El Circo
Saturday, October 24: Pomona, CA, Glasshouse
Sunday, October 25: Los Angeles, CA, Key Club
Tuesday, October 27: San Francisco, CA, Great American
Thursday, October 29: Portland, OR, Hawthorne Theatre
Friday, October 30: Vancouver, BC, The Rickshaw Theatre
Saturday, October 31: Seattle, WA, El Corazon
Monday, November 02: Salt Lake City, UT, Murray Theatre
Tuesday, November 03: Denver, CO, Bluebird
Wednesday, November 04: Lawrence, KS, Granada Theatre
Thursday, November 05: Minneapolis, MN, Varsity
Friday, November 06: Chicago, IL, Logan Square Auditorium

Visit Emilie’s Official Website and Ticketmaster for more information!

I’ll be at the New York show. 🙂



et cetera