Ticket Giveaway: Wild Belle and Emily Sprague at Valentine’s

This Saturday, Wild Belle and Emily Sprague will be coming to the downstairs floor of Valentine’s and we have two tickets to giveaway courtesy of Dellarocca Booking.

Wild Belle is a two piece comprised of siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman and is the pair’s first official musical collaboration. Following a successful SXSW run this year, Wild Belle was signed to Columbia Records and will be releasing a full length in 2013. The duo is currently on tour with Tennis now, and they just announced upcoming dates opening for Passion Pit and Of Montreal.

Essentially, judging by their current track record, this band is going to be huge in six months time and Saturday is your opportunity to check ’em out in an intimate venue.

Local performer Emily Sprague will assist in kicking the night off.

The show is Saturday, October 6, with doors at 8pm and show start at 8:30. The show is $9 in advance (available here) and $11 at the door. You can enter our giveaway by hitting the jump. As usual, only enter if you can go, etc.

Continue reading…

Shop Visit: Tierra Coffee Roasters

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This past week I stopped by Tierra Coffee Roasters on Madison to see what they’ve been up to. They’ve changed a lot of things in the space that was once known as the Muddy Cup, to the point that the single thing I was able to recognize was the long wood table. If you’re not already familiar, the space is now a cafe owned by Tierra Farms, which is based out of Valatie. They specialize in nut roasting, dried fruits, and trail mixes, and have more recently become involved in Fair Trade coffees. The shops got all sorts of food, including soups, sandwiches, salads, paninis and of course tons of vegan options.

It’s no secret that I’m an enormous coffee snob and when family was over and I was out of coffee, I bought a bag of Blonde Roast from Tierra. My expectations were admittedly low, but once I brewed a pot of coffee, I was quite shocked with the result. After talking to the guys at Tierra, they clued me in on the coffee roasting schedule so I’d be able to grab a bag of coffee that was roasted earlier that same day, which I’ve been doing for a few weeks now. My only nitpicky complaint about their coffee is that the bags don’t have a roasted on date on ’em, which isn’t that common, but would be nice to have.

Not only are they stocking small-batch self-roasted beans in addition to their big cafe menu, they’ve also started to do single-cup Chemex method brewing for those who ask. Rumor also has it that they’re getting in a few Aeropresses to have another brewing method for a single cup of coffee. This is definitely a first for any shop in Albany, and a big leap forward for coffee culture here. During my visit, I shared a Chemex of the blonde roast and they did everything spot on; got the water up to the right temp, rinsed the filter, did the 30-second pre-infuse, all of it. Ron, the manager at Tierra, told me about future plans for coffee tastings, including all their roasts and brew methods.

They’re close to getting their cabaret license so they can begin to do open mic nights again, and in addition to coffee, patrons can opt for a beer as well. Whether it’s at open mic night or just to be able to enjoy a beer in a non-bar atmosphere, it’s pretty cool that they’ve got a cooler full of craft brews.

Next time you’re in the area, stop in for a soup, a sandwich and a coffee, and stop back later that night and grab a beer and a baked good. This place is so much better than it was in its previous iterations; you won’t be disappointed. Hit the jump or click the photo above to launch the gallery.

Recap: Tim Hecker at EMPAC

It’s not everyday that attending a concert entails sitting in a pitch black auditorium. This past Friday at EMPAC felt like a rare listening opportunity featuring the unveiling of the aural result of a weeklong residency from Tim Hecker.

Tim Hecker is one of the leading figures in ambient and experimental music, whose work is very structured with intentional and conscious composition, while also creating room for the individual listener to have a different emotional response and listening experience to the abstract waves of sound presented.

The concert hall at EMPAC, whose high fabric ceilings and sound-deafening walls help assist in providing the best sound available in the upstate region, was bustling prior to the performance with much excitement abound. Upon “curtain call,” the lights faded off, and a book light was the only source of light visible on the stage. Tim Hecker came onto stage and began his performance.

Hecker played collected samples of organic instruments such as piano, organ and string synthesizers and created, well, an ambiance all his own and one specific to the site. This was a listening experience that would fail at a normal venue, and if you haven’t experienced the sound quality that EMPAC offers, you seriously need to attend the very next event you can. (Check out their Fall calendar on their website).

For an hour, Hecker was our guide, with no other interaction with the audience save for the performance itself. I found myself unable to keep my eyes open and drifted in and out of my state of consciousness. I’m somewhat certain I fell asleep, but this wasn’t like falling asleep to looping ocean noises via an alarm clock. This composition was dramatic at times and soothing at others, all while washing sub-bass, appropriate static and building melodies over the crowd. Once the performance came to a halt and the lights turned on, with Hecker disappearing out of sight, it was hard to shake off the daze we were in and I didn’t realize how much time had actually gone by.

All in all, it was quite the enjoyable listening experience, and one that no recording of the performance would do the artist any justice in recreating what he presented to us.

KAB Interview: Hans Leibold

Full disclosure: For four years, Hans and I played together in End of a Year. We’ve got history; we’ve got memories. As that band evolved into Self Defense Family, Hans left to explore other interests he’d neglected—among them, DJing. Lately, he’s been shaking up the Fuze Box’s weekend playlists; if you’ve heard 1000 Ohm’s “Love in Motion,” Malcolm and the Bad Girls’ “Shoot Me,” or countless other great obscure tracks as Saturday night becomes Sunday morning (anything that makes you pause to ask, “What is this?”) you can be sure Hans was manning the booth. But he’s also begun hosting a few events of his own.

Billed as “a night of unknown champions,” NO DJ is the latest of these—a chance for people to share their favorite tunes in public without worrying about their skills. It’s a cool concept that debuts next Thursday; hopefully, it’ll prove to be the first of many such get-togethers. On a recent brisk Sunday, Hans and I chatted for an hour about NO DJ, his recent accomplishments, and his wish to use art to encourage a renewed sense of community in Albany.

You’ve been pretty busy over the past couple of months: DJing Eighties Night at the Fuze Box, hosting a couple of movie nights, and so on. Any of these you want to talk about? Am I missing anything?

Sure. Eighties Night is just a fun thing where I can be a human jukebox for a night. I guess I’m a club DJ, if you will, but I don’t do anything flashy or acrobatic. I just fade songs into songs. I think that’s where I’m more of a selector than anything else. I lean on my rather robust knowledge of 1980s music to sort of lay the path for the evening. I don’t have a predetermined set or anything like that; I just play whatever people seem to be enjoying, then I collect money and go to sleep at 5:00 AM.

I’m also slowly getting involved with public access television via Channel Albany. I’m developing a show where couples resolve, or further screw up, their disputes in front of a camera and green screen backdrop of my choosing. Compelling TV, I think. I’ve made more progress on my homage to the Night Walk and Night Drive programs that used to air on Global TV in Toronto back in the eighties. I just walk or drive at night with my VHS camera, documenting whatever happens. Usually nothing.

Hit the jump to check the rest of the interview! Continue reading…

Quality events for this weekend vol. 61

Friday September 28th

Tim Hecker at EMPAC: Tim is one of the leading figures in ambient and experimental music and you can hear him play on the best sound system in the craziest venue around.

Business Casual Disco Birthday Bash at Elda’s: Classy attire recommended to help enjoy classy music.

Langhorne Slim & The Law at Helsinki Hudson: A local favorite not so locally, but worth the trip!

The World’s Largest Foam Party at the Armory: Music by Dallask, Alex English and Local DJ Prophet.

Third Annual Hallowing Festival at the Altamont Vineyard and Winery: Celebrity chef competition, tastings and all sorts of autumn related things going on.

Brothers Past with Timbre Coup at Valentine’s: Electronic influenced indie at one of my favorite venues in this city!

Nate Danker with Nightmares for a Week and Charlie Phillips at The Linda: Album release (stop calling it “CD”) for his new album ‘Texture’ in an actual theater.

Troy Night Out After Party at Daisy Bakers: After hitting up all the galleries, riding your bike in Critical Mass, checking out Trumastr at the Some Girls opening and getting some food around Troy the night’s not over.

Banned Books ReadOut: Important local people reading you books the man doesn’t want you to be able to read.

Saturday September 29th

Bike!Bike! Northeast Regional Bicycle Gathering at Troy Bike Rescue: Workshops, group rides, food and more. Learn about your bike!

Lark Street Pub Crawl: Benefit the Special Olympics, get drunk.

Banned Books ReadOut: Important local people reading you books the man doesn’t want you to be able to read.

Sunday September 30th

2-for-1 at McGeary’s w/DJ Trumastr: Best way to cap the weekend off.

Recap: Cursive and Minus The Bear at Upstate Concert Hall

Last night’s show at Upstate Concert Hall reminded me the importance of taking advantage of opportunities to see bands play live both in different places, and when possible, again. In my opinion, a good live music performance is also adaptive; the location, venue and crowd can all influence a touring band’s performance and consequentially, your experience. Essentially, what I’m advising is to try to avoid using “I’ve already seen ’em play” as a reason not to see a band again. You could be pleasantly surprised regardless of what your experience was the first time around.

I saw Cursive play at the House of Vans in Brooklyn just over a month ago, and I also saw Minus The Bear the last time they played in Clifton Park back in 2010 with Maps & Atlases and Phantogram. Going into the show, I had hopes of hearing the songs I’ve been listening to for years, as well as some new tricks and I wasn’t disappointed by either band in that. Cursive played a much different set than when I saw them in the city, though I can’t quite place my finger on how so (perhaps the difference between being a supporting band versus a headlining band?) but either way it was great to catch another refreshing performance from them.

Hit the jump for the rest of my recap and be sure to stay up with Step Up Presents and keep an eye on their fall schedule here.

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Grimes at Basilica Hudson: Recap and Photos

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Last night was my first visit ever to Hudson, and I can’t wait to go back. I stopped in at the Spotty Dog and it ended up being trivia night, which was really neat because the quizmaster put us on a team right away and we got to play a round, while enjoying a Souther Tier Pumking and eating some pita bread and hummus. Their space is really incredible and I hope someone rips off appropriates the idea and puts a bar in a non-standard bar atmosphere somewhere a bit closer to home.

After getting a tiny bit familiar with Warren Street, we made our way over to Basilica Hudson for the show. Myths and Elite Gymnastics opened for Grimes and while Myths was interesting to watch, neither me or the crowd were really feeling the tunes the way we all were once Grimes began to play.

Elite Gymnastics recorded material is a masterpiece compared the performance last night, in which James Brooks mostly told the sound guy how to mix the backing track and his vocals, and told the lighting guy what lights to use. The ‘performance’ could only be considered such if it was a three-song-long performance art piece detailing mans struggle to tame his own technology. Also, it was during this set the lovely lady standing in front of me had deemed me and my friend Meg “the two most pretentious people on the face of the planet” based on our commentary. Score.

Myths, which sounded like a blend of Bikini Kill and Sleigh Bells definitely out-shined Elite Gymnastics, despite playing before him. It was a strange blend of drone meets synth-pop but was entertaining to try and figure out what was going on while it was happening. The silly outfits also added a few more things to try and figure out. I feel as if these two acts were just a tad too experimental for a crowd who went absolutely apeshit once Grimes played something that was actually danceable.

I had only seen Grimes ‘live’ once before, via online streaming, so I was really excited to catch the whole thing in person. Her performance last night, which included both girls from Myths as backup vocalists and musicians, was much more polished and the material sounded exactly as it does on the album. Grimes’ voice live has a much warmer quality than it does recorded and sounded even better in person. Her performance was spot on, sounded incredible and was really quite fun. The sound at Basilica Hudson was impressive for being just a huge room. You could feel the bass in your stomach up front, and still have it come through in the back of the room.

If you haven’t been to a show at Basilica Hudson you really do owe it to yourself to visit. I can’t wait to go back to Hudson for more than a night.

Hit the jump or click the photo above to check out the full photo gallery! Continue reading…