Archive for the ‘South Orange, NJ’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 2, 2022] DakhaBrakha

After the last few nights, I was in need of a break, but there was no way I was passing up a chance to see DakhaBrakha.

I heard about this Ukranian band from Tiny Desk Concerts, of course.  I fell in love with them immediately.  Their music was weird and wonderful with amazing harmonies and interesting instruments.  And their outfits were incredible.  Giant hats and beautiful dresses on the women–who totally kicked ass while they played, too.

I was thrilled when I saw they were coming to SOPAC–local, small and seated.  I snatched up tickets way back in November,

And then Russia invaded Ukraine.  And who even knew if they’d be alive, much less able to play in the States.  Evidently they left the country about a week before the show–so they had been there (their home base is in Kyiv) during the bombing.  It’s unreal.

So now, this show went from being a fun celebration of Ukraine to a pointed attempt to show support to a country that needed it.  Suddenly, the night was more significant.

Which, fortunately, didn’t change the music.  True, the visuals that the band showed were often far more somber and dark than they probably would have been otherwise, but you can’t change the music.  And it was wonderful. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[POSTPONED: December 10, 2021] KT Tunstall / New Reveille [rescheduled from March 27, 2020 and February 12, 2021]

I enjoyed watching the saga of KT Tunstall’s shows getting scheduled and postponed and reschedule and postponed again.  Not because I want her (or anyone to be unhappy), but because it was a good bellweather as to what was going on.  Unlike most artists, KT was really game to get out there.

Plus she had three shows in my area and it seemed like I saw her name all the time.

Well, things finally opened up and she was playing her shows.  Of the three, I was most likely to go to this one since it was closest.  And then a short time before the show, it was postponed as well.  But her other shows weren’t

But this time it wasn’t because of COVID or other health related issues, it was actually a boon for her (although not for SOPAC).

She was invited to sing at the 41st Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert at Symphony Space in New York City.  A good reason to postpone a show.

I see that in the new year, KT is on the West Coast, so I’m not sure when she’ll be back for SOPAC, but I’m sure her local fans will be waiting.

New Reveille is an Americana/bluegrass band from North Carolina.  They’ve got banjo, fiddle and a ton of attitude.  While they are definitely in the country vein, I think the bluegrass and the rockingness (they cover The Killers live) makes them a potentially fun live band.  For the three shows in the area, she has three different opening acts.  This one might be the most fun.

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: February 8, 2020] The Exile Follies

There are some musicians who I’ve often thought I’d like to see but who I wouldn’t really want to travel too far too see.  This trio of artists are each musicians that I loved back in the 90s but whom I’ve lost touch with since then.

I used to love Throwing Muses and I have her first two solo albums.  I often thought about going to her live, but I wasn’t sure if it was worth it if I didn’t know her new stuff.

Same with Grant Lee Phillips.  His song “Mockingbird” is one of my favorite songs of all time, but I don’t love all of his material, so I wouldn’t want to have gone for a whole show, I didn’t think.

And John Doe.  X is one of favorite bands from back in the day and seeing them live was amazing.  But I was never sure if I’d want to see just him because I don’t know much of his solo work.

So this tour with all three of them (and in a nearby venue) was perfect.

Kristin came out first.  She sat on a stool center stage and played her acoustic guitar. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: January 25, 2020] Bob Mould

2020-01-25 21.13.34_previewI saw Bob Mould perform in 1996 at Avalon in Boston.  I don’t remember that much about the show.  He had a three piece band I believe (and Rasputina opened).  It was mix of Hüsker Dü, Sugar and solo songs (according to setlist.fm–see below).  Interestingly, there is a scathing review of his 1998 show in Chicago here.

So here it was 24 years later and Mould was touring again (he has toured a lot in the meantime, make no mistake) and I thought it would be fun to see him again.

This time it was just him and an electric guitar.  Once again he played Hüsker Dü, Sugar and solo songs.  Although now he had a lot more solo stuff to choose from.

What was fascinating about this show was that since it was just him, he was able to really rock through a whole bunch of songs at a pretty good speed–with minimal accompaniment or soloing.

And it was really quite loud–especially in this normally fairly quiet venue.  It was particularly amusing since I was in front of him so that that every time he moved to the left or the right, the amp (which was behind him) was so much louder–he was literally blocking a ton of the sound with his body.

Mould was in good form, telling some jokes and genuinely seeming to have a very good time. (more…)

Read Full Post »

2020-01-25 20.04.54_preview[ATTENDED: January 25, 2020] Will Johnson

I didn’t know who Will Johnson was before this show although I see that he played drums and toured with Monsters of Folk–we have the CD but never saw them.

Wikipedia tells me that Will Johnson is “called ‘one of the most prolific artists in American indie rock.'”  He is the singer of the bands Centro-matic and South San Gabriel as well as Molina & Johnson and Marie/Lepanto.  I have heard of none of these bands.

Johnson came out on stage with an acoustic guitar, told a story or so and then started playing. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: September 27, 2019] Darlingside

This is now the fourth time we’ve seen Darlingside and our second time seeing them at SOPAC.  SOPAC is a great intimate seated venue with excellent sound (and a very strong air conditioner apparently, holy cow was it cold in there).

The last time we saw them there, there was an opening band.  But this time there was no opener.  Rather, Darlingside would play two forty-five minute sets with an intermission between.

We also brought S.’s mom as a treat, believing that she would love their harmonies.  And she sure did.  I think we know what to get her for Christmas.

Our seats were great–second row, although I joked with S. that we were too far to the left (instead of dead center).

So this was their second time in the same venue.  Some things were the same.  I don’t remember exactly, but I feel like at the last show they were lit by these same very cool old-fashioned bulbs (which you can see in a picture below) as well as the stage lights.  I enjoyed that they were somewhat connected to the music–growing brighter as things got more intense. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: March 3, 2018] Andy Borowitz

When we saw Darlingside at SOPAC, the director announced that New Yorker columnist Andy Borowitz would be performing in March.  It was just before Sarah’s mom’s birthday so that seemed like a fun present for her (and us).

I obviously know Borowitz from the Borowitz Report, but I didn’t know anything else about him.  We wondered if he voice would sound weird (it didn’t), we wondered if he would be awkward on stage (he wasn’t) and of course we wondered if he would be funny (he was).

He began the night with some general introductory material about himself and his life.  He made some good anti-Trump jokes and then explained that even though he was preaching to the choir, if he could encourage the choir to get other people to vote in the upcoming election then he had done his job.

He also had merch for sale, and 100% of Andy Borowitz’s profits from merchandise sales benefit The International Rescue Committee to aid refugees around the world.  The merch was simple and straightforward.  Shirts and hats in blue that stated: MAKE AMERICA NOT EMBARRASSING AGAIN. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: December 17, 2017] Darlingside

We saw Darlingside at XPNFest in 2016.  The outdoor setting and our wilty family led to a less than stellar experience despite the amazing sound of the band.  How can four guys with one mic sound so good in an outdoor festival?

Well, when I heard they were coming back around, I was super excited to get tickets at Bethlehem Steel Stacks–the day they went on sale I bought a ticket right in front of the stage.  And then we couldn’t go.  A commitment came up, I got rid of the tickets and then we wound up not even going to the commitment. Ugh.

But it was all fine because they had announced a show at SOPAC and I still got second row seats.

The band sounded amazing in this small venue–which had wonderful acoustics.  And they were charming and funny as well. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: December 17, 2017] Henry Jamison

We had never heard of SOPAC when I got tickets for this show.  We were supposed to go to see Darlingside in Bethlehem, but it was the same night as a Boy Scout event (which, frustratingly we did not go to, anyhow).  But I hoped that they would be playing somewhere else nearby and huzzah, they were playing in South Orange!

Well, the theater is charming and the sound is phenomenal.  I can only hope that other people that we like will play here.

Main Street also had some yummy looking restaurants, but we didn’t have time to check them out.  We did arrive in plenty of time to claim our 2nd row (!) seats for this show.

As the lights dimmed and we were told to power off our phones (three humorous times).  Then Henry Jamsion walked out with his phone on–saying he had to have it on during the show.

He never introduced himself, just started playing. (more…)

Read Full Post »