Recap: Pretty Lights at the Washington Avenue Armory

Pretty Lights headlined at the Washington Avenue Armory on Saturday night. I spent $26 on a ticket (plus an additional $5 in fees) and went with a group of friends. None of us were particularly familiar with Pretty Lights, or even the genre, and we didn’t quite know to expect.

To do my homework, I listened to as much Pretty Lights as I could the night before to try and familiarize myself with his work. Pretty Lights consists of DJ Derek Vincent Smith, who has been in the electronic music scene since 2006. On Saturday, drummer Adam Deitch accompanied him. Nothing I found online, however, could prepare me for the actual experience.


Photo: Keith Foote of jamforums.com

Due to the difficulties of wrangling cab rides for a large group of people (did anyone actually drive to the event?); I arrived late and missed opening acts Michal Menert and Chali 2na. However, the crowd seemed to love them. I arrived as the second act was finishing and there was already a swarming pit of dance and emotion. The collective state of mind could be described as altered, to say the least. Many fans rolled into the Armory ready to be taken over by the music. That is, those that didn’t have to wade through the immense blob of people waiting at the will-call line.

A thick haze of smoke hovered lazily over the mob of fans and helped enhance the dreamlike quality of the lightshow that was melting faces left and right. Lasers shot everywhere, illuminating the entire room. Behind Smith, a large LCD screen constantly assaulted viewers with continuously morphing images of abstract designs and colors. Strobe lights flashed in machine-gun bursts of radiance. In the pit itself, glow sticks and other flashing accessories cut through the darkness and helped to integrate fans into the spectacle. Clusters of people banded together, passed around water bottles, and let themselves be carried away.

Smith himself maintained a relatively low-key presence. He didn’t speak much, except to occasionally urge the crowd to cheer.  Despite the heat from the lights, he kept his hood on throughout the performance. His calm demeanor on stage stood in stark contrast to the zoo below.

The music could be described as a soulful and intense dance party. A constant thumping beat progressed throughout the performance, highlighted by Adam Deitch’s live percussion. The inclusion of a real drummer, rather than a recorded beat, gave the show a fluidity and naturalness that lent itself well to the expressive nature of the visuals. It was like being consumed by a living, breathing, glowing organism. The collective bodies of the listeners in the crowd swayed and grooved in time with the fat and even funky sounds produced by Smith.

The event transpired relatively hassle free. As far as I was aware, there were no serious fights or any other forms of static. I did see a dazed and frightened young hippie hurry out of the arena with a comatose girl slumped over his shoulder. I hope she’s okay.

At the end of the set, the crowed erupted in a loving rush of gratitude. Smith returned for his encore, apparently impressed by the applause. “Damn, Albany,” he drawled, cigarette in hand. That seemed to be enough for him, however, and he finished off the night with an “Empire State of Mind” and “Juicy” mash up that was definitely a crowd pleaser.

After the show, the crowd poured out onto the street and commenced a fierce battle over the cabs that began swarming the venue. Fans dispersed in small groups, their ears still ringing from the deafening display of phatness they had just ingested.

Article written by Charlie Vella for Keep Albany Boring.

Udachi of Trouble & Bass at Paggliaccis

[tweetmeme]Udachi stopped at Albany on November 6th with The Swagger Tour to give us a little bass. I was living in Brooklyn this past summer and met a few of the T&B dudes through my internship so when they came to my town I had to show them love! I got there as Udachi was playing so sorry to the openers! Udachi did a stand up job and really let us have it. We were lucky to have them stop in Albany!

Check below to see a bunch of photos that sum up the night. To see the whole photoset, check the full set on flickr.

You’re silly if you missed this just because of the cover!

Albany Music Review: Around the World and Back – Songs To Sleep To

Around the World and Back have been around for a few years now playing indie rock made notable by great guitar tone and skill. Their latest release is an E.P. titled “Songs To Sleep To”. As far as album titles go, this is about as straight forward as things get. This is a soothing album meant to be listened to in your bedroom. If you’ve heard the band previousl, you know that they frequently employ great dynamics to make a song. However, it’s a nice change of pace hearing a finished project with a cohesive theme. While most bands just lump together a few good songs this really feels like an album. Also, the fact that it’s an E.P. is perfect because while 40 minutes of this kind of music might get a little boring, seventeen minutes of it is perfect.

One of the first things I noticed about the record is that the band weren’t afraid to take a step back and focus on the song. No one’s overplaying on any of this and it definitely adds to the overall feel of the record. The subtle slide guitars in the background are very reminiscent of Mazzy Star and reoccur through the album. All of these songs flow together so well that when I initially tried to review these song by song it just didn’t work. Everything from the melodies, to the instruments used, tones, lyrics, and even background effects all re-occur and blend together so well that you can often transition into the next song without really noticing.

With that said, after listening a few times there are a couple stand out tracks. “@$%^” is an instrumental interlude that combines digital drums with analog instruments that will appeal to fans of Thrice’s Water E.P. The other song that really stands out is the last song “Advice”. Distant drums and airy vocal harmonies give this a haunting feeling that really makes it sound like a closing track. The slide guitar returns again acting almost as a narrator of the album to tie everything together and the guitar solo in this is one of the best written pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. It’s so subtle that you almost don’t notice how good it really is. Not to mention the tone is one of the best I’ve heard period. Guitar nerds take note, Marco Testa is the man to talk to when you want to geek out on gear.

This is an incredible E.P. that is also free. So really, there’s no reason to not be listening to this. Put it on in your bedroom, take a nap, make out with your girlfriend, smoke em if you got em, but just listen to this. Be on the lookout for a full length in early January.

The E.P. can be downloaded for free on Around the World and Backs Tumblr.

Any bands that would like to have their demo reviewed can send an e-mail to terranceconnell@gmail.com

Recap: Acoustic Music at Muddy Cup

Last Friday night, there was a really great show at Muddy Cup. The atmosphere was really warm and nostolgic. I really feel all the people there missed the old open mic days where everyone would come hang out and drink some coffee (or beer if you found an empty cup and went over to Price Chopper). The lineup was Caleb Lionheart, Nate Danker, Steve Layman and Terry Connell. Every act was great entertaining to say the least, and it was great to be able to catch up with old friends.

Steve Layman


Nate Danker


Caleb Lionheart

For a little sample of the music, check out the video below:


I hope more of these happen.