Posts Tagged ‘ real estate ’

Taper’s Choice: April 24, 2022 The Sultan Room Rooftop

June 6, 2022
Photos by Jefe

Billing themselves as “Not the Jam Band We Need But the Jam Band We Deserve,” Taper’s Choice are somewhat mysterious newcomers to the scene—and they’re sure having fun with it. Here’s what we know: the band is a jam supergroup comprised of Dave Harrington (Darkside), Chris Tomson (Vampire Weekend), Alex Bleeker (Real Estate), and Zach Tenorio (Arc Iris). Beyond that scant info, it wasn’t until recently that tunes have emerged. Previously available only at merch tables at the band’s few California shows earlier this year, the cassette-only Choice Tapes Vol. 1 circulated word-of-mouth for a while before finally landing on Bandcamp along with Choice Tapes Vol. 2. (I hear Vol. 3 is in the works.) Songs on the tapes are titled only with single or double curly quotes on both volumes but if you listen hard maybe you’ll hear some similarities to jams circulating in “trader” circles on the Live Music Archive.

We were fortunate to get invited out to the band’s exclusive (and sold out) first show in New York (or Jam Hollywood to those in the know). Two sets under the stars at Brooklyn’s Sultan Room (one of the premier destinations for jams in the borough) and we were sold 100% on Taper’s Choice. These guys even have their own festival! Take that Phish. And go buy some tickets to Choice Fest.

Stream and download at the Live Music Archive

Taper's Choice
The Sultan Room Rooftop
Brooklyn, NY

Recorded and produced by Eric PH for

MBHO KA200N/603A > Naiant PFA >> Sound Devices MixPre-6 > WAV (24/48) > Adobe Audition CC + Izotope Ozone 5 > Audacity 3.0.2 > FLAC

Set 1:
01. Running From the Rain
02. Lick the Toad 
03. The Dave Test (Yes) >
04. Walkin’ Around 
05. Darkness on the Edge of Midtown*

Set 2:
06. Above the Timberline  
07. Every Bubble >
08. Born to Burst*
09. Lilac Palace 
10. Low Era*^
11. Döner Wrap

*with Stuart Bogie - sax
^Geese cover with Cameron Winter (lead singer of Geese)
Kenny Wollesen - percussion on all of second set

Taper's Choice is:
Dave Harrington, Alex Bleeker, Chris Tomson, Zach Tenorio-Miller

Martin Courtney: February 13, 2016 Baby’s All Right

March 8, 2016


There’s much love for the band Real Estate both at this site and in NYC in general, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s a fan. With the detractors, it seems that what bugs them the most is that Real Estate make things too easy — their music seems to positively roll forth from them in a smooth wave, with breezy melodies and approachable hooks, vocals wafting in a comfortable haze. That voice comes from one Martin Courtney, who rolled out a solo effort, Many Moons, last year. It’s what you hope for in a solo album — a scaled-back version of a Real Estate album in some ways, a much more personal, intimate album in others. If you don’t like Real Estate, well, I don’t know what you to tell you, because Courtney doesn’t abandon the band’s formula so much as peel back a few layers. “You will not find me wasting my energy” begins one couplet on the album’s opener “Awake,” and you get the sense with this record that it’s not a lack of effort by any means, but it is a great example of not trying too hard.

Courtney hit that sweet spot at this recent Baby’s All Right show, a venue which at this point feels like a second home for a certain caste of Brooklyn music regulars. This performance, falling near the end of the tour, had the mellow, easy feel of a weekend show before a friendly crowd. We got to hear the entire album, highlighted by the single “Airport Bar,” and the kickoff track “Northern Highway.” Of course, it wouldn’t have been a show by a Real Estate band member without some crucial covers, and Courtney nailed both the placid “Harvest Moon” and Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” before the grand finale, with opener EZTV joining the headliners for a Feelies cover, “On the Roof,” from their second album The Good Earth. It was a night for the familiar, a night for the good, and one for a longtime friend to share with the people who were with him from the beginning.

The engineer Jason Kelly of Baby’s All Right recorded and mixed this set. The sound quality is outstanding. Enjoy!

Download the complete show: [MP3/FLAC]

Stream the complete show (banter tracks removed):

Martin Courtney
Baby’s All Right
Brooklyn, NY USA

Exclusive download hosted at
Recorded and live mixed by Jason Kelly
Produced by acidjack

Soundboard (main stereo mix) + Audio Technica 4051 (FOB, DFC, XY)>Pro Tools>4x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down, adjust levels)>Izotope Ozone 5 (effects)>Audacity 2.0.5 (track, amplify, balance, downsample, dither)>FLAC ( level 8 )

01 Northern Highway (fades in)
02 Focus
03 [banter]
04 Foto
05 Asleep
06 Airport Bar
07 Awake
08 [banter2]
09 Little Blue
10 Before We Begin
11 Many Moons
12 Vestiges
13 [banter3]
14 Harvest Moon [Neil Young]
15 The Killing Moon [Echo & the Bunnymen]
16 [banter4]
17 On the Roof [The Feelies]*

* w/ EZTV

Support Martin Courtney at his website and by buying Many Moons from Domino.

Alex Bleeker & The Freaks: July 27, 2013 Bowery Ballroom – FLAC/MP3/Streaming

August 16, 2013

[photo by acidjack]

I know I’ve thrown around the term “indie rock jam-band” before. But it’s hard to find a more appropriate label for Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, who used their three quarters of an hour opening for fellow Brooklynites Woods at Bowery Ballroom to play more than a few songs that hearkened to an earlier era in tone and in their ability to flow seamlessly from one to the other. Bleeker, who also serves as bassist in Real Estate, had a birthday on this night, and he treated himself by playing songs that I suspect reminded him of home. You knew this set was going to be right when the band led off with the Grateful Dead’s “Let the Good Times Roll” and went from there into a mix of songs from the band’s latest record and fun-loving covers that did exactly what the first one promised.

If you listen to their new record, How Far Away, you’d be forgiven for the cheap comparison that Bleeker & the Freaks sound almost like a hybrid of Woods and Real Estate at points, with some of the former band’s lo-fi style blending with Real Estate’s easygoing sound. That’s no more in evidence than on “Home I Love”, which made for one of this show’s most compact bursts of good feeling. That led into a superjam of sorts, with three more numbers from the album, with “See You On Sunday” jamming into “Steve’s Theme” and then “Rhythm Shakers” before the band switched gears into Katrina and the Waves’ all-time classic “Walking On Sunshine”. After “Step Right Up (Pour Yourself Some Wine)”, Bleeker toasted his birthday in grand style with their song “Epilogue” teasing Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” into the set closer, Brewer & Shipley’s “One Toke Over the Line”. A happy birthday, indeed.

I recorded this set in the same manner as the Woods recording with Schoeps MK5 microphones and a soundboard feed from longtime Bowery engineer Kenny. The sound is outstanding. Enjoy!

Stream “Home I Love”

Stream “Epilogue>One Toke Over the Line”

Download the complete show in [MP3] or [FLAC]

Note: All of the material on this site is offered with artist permission, free to fans, at our expense. The only thing we ask is that you download the material directly from this site, rather than re-posting the direct links or the files on other sites without our permission. Please respect our request.

Alex Bleeker & the Freaks
Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY USA

Exclusive download hosted at
Recorded and produced by acidjack

Schoeps MK5 (DINa, DFC)>KCY>Z-PFA>Sound Devices USBPre2 + Soundboard (engineer: Kenny)>>Edirol R-44 [OCM]>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, effects)>Audacity 2.03 (fades, tracking, amplify, light parallel compression, balance, downsample)>FLAC ( level 8 )

01 [intro banter]
02 Let the Good Times Roll [Grateful Dead]
03 Don’t Look Down
04 Home I Love
05 [banter]
06 See You On Sunday>Steve’s Theme>Rhythm Shakers
07 Walking On Sunshine [Katrina and the Waves]
08 Step Right Up (Pour Yourself Some Wine)
09 Epilogue>One Toke Over the Line [Brewer and Shipley]

If you enjoyed this recording, PLEASE SUPPORT Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, visit their website, and buy their latest, How Far Away, from Woodsist Records.

Real Estate: December 11, 2012 Maxwell’s – Flac/MP3/Streaming

December 25, 2012

Real Estate Marsh
[photo by Steven Marsh and Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone blog]

Last week, Real Estate checked off what must be described as a common bucket list item for New Jersey rockers of a certain age — the chance to open up a Yo La Tengo Hanukkah show. But this slot wasn’t just given to the band. They have clearly earned such honors, as Real Estate has emerged as one of the best bands in indie circles these days. Days was one of the best albums of 2011, and at Hanukkah Night 4 Real Estate revealed that they have the blueprints for a worthy followup. The band opened the show with three new songs, all instantly catchy in a Real Estate way. The third new song also featured something that seemed natural for the band, but it may be the first time we’ve seen the band engage in an extended jam. And it was dead-on. We’re streaming the untitled new song below, and we hope it will continue to be one of the band’s jam vehicles. Real Estate will be going to tour in Australia in the new year.

I recorded this set in the same manner as all of the Yo La Tengo recordings, the Sennheiser cards mixed with an excellent board feed. The sound is superb. Enjoy!

Stream “New Song “Easier That Way”:

Download the Complete Show [MP3] / [FLAC]

Note: All of the material on this site is offered with artist permission, free to fans, at our expense. The only thing we ask is that you download the material directly from this site, rather than re-posting the direct links or the files on other sites without our permission. Please respect our request.

Real Estate
Hanukkah Night 4
Hoboken, NJ USA

Digital Master Recording
Soundboard + Audience Matrix

Soundboard + Sennheiser MKH 8040s > Edirol R-44 (Oade Concert Mod) > 2 x 24bit 48kHz wav files > Soundforge (level adjustments, set fades, downsample) > CDWave 1.95 (tracking) > TLH > flac (320 MP3 and Tagging via Foobar)

Recorded and Produced
by nyctaper

[Total Time 39:43]
01 [new song – If Not For You]
02 [new song – Have Another One On Me]
03 [new song – Easier That Way]
04 Suburban Dogs
05 Easy
06 Green Aisles
07 Wonder Years
08 Its Real

If you Download this recording from NYCTaper, we expect that you will PLEASE SUPPORT Real Estate, visit their website, and purchase Days from the Domino Records website [HERE].

Real Estate: November 23, 2011 Bowery Ballroom – FLAC and MP3 Downloads + Streaming Songs

November 30, 2011

[Photo courtesy of Brian Stollery]

Another of the bands we make no secret of our love for is Real Estate.  Over the past three years that we have been following the band, we have watched the mature and develop sonically, culminating with their release of the new album Days on Domino Recording Company – their first for the tastemaking label. Days continues a run of good news for the band, who have continued to tour hard and earn accolades from critics and fans alike.  This show at Bowery Ballroom was the culmination of a two-month tour of Europe and the U.S., and it couldn’t have made for a better sendoff into the Thanksgiving holiday the following day.  The respectful, excited crowd cheered through the longest set of Real Estate’s that we have seen to date at 70 minutes, which covered almost every song on Days and their self-titled debut, plus their cover of Felt’s “Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow”, a favorite on this tour.  In a market crowded with bands following others’ lead, Real Estate have distinguished themselves with a laid-back, unique sound that always surprises.  They have almost singlehandedly come to define their hometown of Ridgewood, New Jersey where three of the band members grew up together, and which has served up great music from the band’s fellow travelers and other unique talents like Julian Lynch and tour openers Big Troubles.  We closed out this show thankful not only for this great show, but for the band’s continuing support and future prospects.

I recorded this set with a combination of a soundboard feed by Kenny, the house engineer at Bowery Ballroom, and Schoeps MK22 “open cardiod” microphones.  The results are excellent. Enjoy!

Special thanks to Domino Recording Company and Real Estate for their hospitality and for their continued support of NYCTaper.

Stream the full set:

Direct download of MP3 files [HERE]

Download the Complete show in FLAC [HERE].

Follow acidjack on Twitter

Note: All of the material on this site is offered with artist permission, free to fans, at our expense.  The only thing we ask is that you download the material directly from this site, rather than re-posting the direct links or the files on other sites without our permission.  Please respect our request.

Real Estate
Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY USA

An acidjack master recording
Recorded and produced by acidjack for

Soundboard + Schoeps MK22 (A-B, balcony, slightly LOC)>KCY>littlebox >> Edirol R-44 [Oade Concert Mod]>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Audition (mix down, balance)>Audacity (set fades, tracking, amplify and balance, very light EQ, downsample)>FLAC ( level 8 )

01 [intro]
02 Easy
03 Beach Comber
04 Green Aisles
05 Municipality
06 Younger Than Yesterday
07 [banter]
08 It’s Real
09 Out of Tune
10 Wonder Years
11 Suburban Dogs
12 Kinder Blumen
13 Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow [Felt]
14 Three Blocks
15 Fake Blues
16 All the Same
17 [encore break]
18 Suburban Beverage

If you enjoy this recording, we expect that you will PLEASE SUPPORT Real Estate, visit their website, and purchase Days from the Domino Records website [HERE].

Real Estate: October 15, 2011 Bohemian Beer Garden – Flac and MP3 Downloads + Streaming Songs

October 18, 2011

[blurry blackberry photo by nyctaper]

The new album from Real Estate is officially released today. Days is the first album for the band on their new label Domino — and this seems to be the perfect match between a label for music aficionados and a band who have melded a plethora of musical influences into a deceptively simple laid-back suburban indie sound. At the Bohemian Beer Hall in Astoria on Saturday, Real Estate began their CD release show by performing Days straight through, as they had done at 285 Kent in June. But midway through the set, at the conclusion of “Side A”, the band really threw us a curveball — a cover of Felt’s “Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow” (streaming below) that was as faithful to the original as much as it sounded like a Real Estate song. Matt Mondanile spent some time in Europe, and seems to have developed a taste for eighties Brit alterna-pop. After the show, we spoke to Matt and their Domino rep and learned the genesis of this cover. Felt’s Lawrence had programmed a show on Domino radio that Matt had heard and spurred his interest. The show continued with “Side B”, which concluded with a jammed-out seven minute version of the album’s closing track, “All The Same” (also streaming below). Real Estate finished the show with an extended take on “Beach Comber” that also stretched to seven minutes. The band flew overseas to begin a European tour before they return to the US in November. Real Estate will play Bowery Ballroom on November 23.

I recorded this set with the Neumann microphones mounted at the soundboard about 30 feet from the stage and mixed with a soundboard feed. The show presented some challenges, as the packed crowd muffled the PA speakers that are inexplicably placed at ground level at the venue. Ultimately, some EQ and a proper post-production mix of sources has resulted in an excellent recording. Enjoy!

Stream “Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow” [Felt cover]:

Stream “All The Same”:

Direct download of complete show in MP3 files (HERE)

Download the Complete show in FLAC [HERE].

Note: All of the material on this site is offered with artist permission, free to fans, at our expense. The only thing we ask is that you download the material directly from this site, rather than re-posting the direct links or the files on other sites without our permission. Please respect our request.

Real Estate
Bohemian Beer Hall
Queens, NY USA

Digital Master Recording
Soundboard + Audience Matrix

Soundboard + Neumann KM-150s > Edirol R-44 (Oade Concert Mod) > 2x 24bit 48kHz wav files > Soundforge (level adjustments, mixdown, downsample set fades) > CDWave 1.95 (tracking) > Flac Frontend (level 7, align sector boundaries) > flac

Recorded and Produced
by nyctaper

[Total Time 1:04:48]
01 Easy
02 Green Aisles
03 It’s Real
04 [banter – kick drum]
05 Kinder Blumen
06 Out of Tune
07 Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow [Felt cover]
08 [crowd]
09 Municipality
10 Wonder Years
11 [banter – record release]
12 Three Blocks
13 Younger Than Yesterday
14 All The Same
15 [banter – setlist]
16 Fake Blues
17 [banter – thanks]
18 Beach Comber

If you download this recording from NYCTaper, we expect that you will PLEASE SUPPORT Real Estate, visit their website, and purchase Days from the Domino Records website [HERE].

Real Estate: May 20, 2011 Bell House – FLAC and MP3 Downloads + Streaming Songs

June 14, 2011

[Photos courtesy of Jill of fortheloveofbrooklyn photoblog]

Our friends Real Estate have spent the past few years doing it “the right way” – garnering critical attention for the debut LP and building off of that with varied, exciting and packed live shows. Their hard work has paid off in the form of an exciting new deal that finds them leaving one of our absolute favorite boutique labels – Woodsist – for one of the best-curated international indie labels, Domino Records. Per Domino’s press release, a new record is expected in October of 2011. Giving a treat to a Friday night crowd that the band said was one of their best NYC crowds in years, the band played a bunch of new material, including a number of songs we had not heard before. The new songs do not deviate wildly from the old material – call them evolutionary rather than revolutionary – but demonstrate their continuing overall improvement as a band and as songwriters. Ridgewood’s finest will no doubt play some local shows before that new record comes out, and we expect to enjoy hearing more of the new material between now and then.

hi and lo recorded this set with the Schoeps microphones in our usual location in the venue. As with the Julian Lynch recording, these accurate microphones picked up a lot of natural reverberance of the wide room. However, the house mix was stronger, and the crowd a bit less chatty, so with additional mastering efforts, this recording is the much better of the two. Enjoy!

Stream “Easy” [new song]:
[audio: Easy.mp3]

Stream “Younger Than Yesterday”:
[audio: Younger Than Yesterday.mp3]

Direct download of MP3 files [MP3]

Download the Complete show in FLAC [HERE]

Follow acidjack on Twitter

Real Estate
Bell House
Brooklyn, NY USA

Digital Master Audience Recording
Recorded by hi and lo for
Produced by acidjack

Equipment: Schoeps Mk5 (cardiod)>NBox+>Sony PCM-M10 (24/44.1)
Position: Clamp to soundboard, mics DINa
Mastering: 24bit/44.1kHz WAV>Audacity (set fades, tracking, EQ, amplify and balance)>FLAC ( level 8 )

Tracks [Total Time 1:15:54]
01 instrumental
02 Suburban Beverage
03 [banter/tuning]
04 Easy [new]
05 Pool Swimmers
06 [unknown]
07 Younger Than Yesterday
08 [unknown] – new
09 [banter]
10 Fake Blues
11 [banter]
12 [unknown-new]
13 [banter]
14 [unknown]
15 All The Same
16 [unknown]
17 Atlantic City
18 Beach Comber
19 [encore break]
20 Black Lake
21 Out of Tune

If you download this recording from NYCTaper, we expect that you will PLEASE SUPPORT Real Estate, visit their MySpace page, and purchase their releases from Woodist RecordsHalf Machine Records, and Underwater Peoples, plus check out their forthcoming release this October on Domino Records.

Our Top 25 Concert Moments of 2010 (with MP3 Download and Streaming Songs)

December 31, 2010

We were treated to a lot of amazing music this year, and the site has continued to grow. This year, we reached our 600th recording posted since 2007 – a pretty incredible number considering that this is only the fourth year of the site.  As a final New Year’s treat to our readers, we thought we would share a “mixtape” with you of some of our favorite concert moments of 2010.

Out of the two hundred-plus shows that we saw, we selected 25 moments that we thought were particularly memorable (among the shows we recorded, at least). There is a wide range of music, styles and artists represented: folk, rock, Scandinavian pop, punk and much more. There are new bands who are just breaking into the mainstream, as well as mainstream acts continuing to perform at a high level. The only consistent theme is that these artists all touched us in some way, giving performances that stayed with us long after the last notes were played.

The following list is in no particular order. Links to download the entire compilation, as well as selected numbers streaming, are below.

Want to keep up with the latest concert updates and recordings on the site? Follow @nyctaper and @acidjacknyc on Twitter.

Download the entire mixtape [HERE]

1. Built to Spill – “Carry The Zero” – September 20, 2010 Rocks Off Concert Cruise. This show was nuts – on a boat, with a tiny main floor, with a crowd that was loud, drunken and rowdy, and a veteran band doing what they do best. We saw Built to Spill a ton of times over the past two years, but this show was the clear standout. [audio:]

2. Oh Land – “Lean On Me” – November 8, 2010 Brooklyn Bowl. We first saw this young Danish artist play Brooklyn Bowl back in July. Although she was still getting comfortable with her new material, her talent and unique stage presence were already on display. After seeing her again at the Backyard Brunch Sessions, we caught her again a month later at Brooklyn Bowl. Her evolution blew us away – displaying newfound poise and confidence, designer clothing and a new percussionist, Nanna dominated the stage. Though many of her songs lend themselves to dancing, I have always been partial to this more precious number. She may now be the face of Missoni, but Oh Land is far, far more than a pretty face. [audio:]

3. John Vanderslice – “The Parade” – October 21, 2010 Mercury Lounge. On the night after our Unofficial CMJ Day Party at Cake Shop, we caught one of our favorite acts, the inimitable songwriter John Vanderslice at Mercury Lounge. John has always been a supporter and friend of the site, but we were especially gratified by his heartfelt intro to this song when he thanked nyctaper from the stage. [audio:]

4. The Dirty Projectors – “As I Went Out One Morning [Bob Dylan]” – September 11, 2010 Terminal 5. After this band blew us away at the tail end of 2009, we were thrilled that Johnny Fried Chicken Boy was able to catch their show at the massive Terminal 5. This Dylan cover was among many special songs played during another show that wowed us with its musical skill. [audio:]

5. Pavement – “Fight this Generation” – September 19, 2010 Williamsburg Waterfront. Pavement‘s return was probably my personal musical highlight of the year – nobody ever thought it would happen, and when it did, they were exactly as nonchalant about the whole thing as you would expect. Everything went right at their first NYC show in ten years, and the irony of Pavement – an iconic band for Generation X – playing “Fight This Generation” on the Williamsburg waterfront to an entirely new generation of fans was perfect. This loose, jammy rendition killed, too. [audio:]

6. Superchunk – “Digging For Something” – September 19, 2010 Music Hall of Williamsburg. While I was checking out Pavement, nyctaper was down the street taking in an equally amazing performance from another 90s indie darling, Superchunk. Supporting their first new album in almost a decade, Superchunk gave us even more than we could have imagined when special guest John Darnielle joined them for this number. [audio:]

7. John Roderick w/ Nada Surf – “The Commander Thinks Aloud” – March 26, 2010 Bell House. Nada Surf‘s multi-night series of full album performances had many memorable moments, but my favorite of all came from John Roderick of The Long Winters, the opening act at the Bell House/The Weight Is A Gift show. With Nada Surf as his backing band, Roderick capped off his acoustic set by tearing through a fully electric version of this big number that showcases Roderick’s unique voice. You can stream and download this song, and the entire show, on the Live Music Archive [HERE].

8. Natureboy – “I’ll Keep It With Mine” – May 15, 2010 Piano’s. This show was a special day for us, as we celebrated the third anniversary of the site with some of our favorite bands. Natureboy drew a strong crowd as our first act of that evening, and they made our night by performing, our request, their cover of this Dylan-via-Nico classic.[audio:]

9. Fucked Up – “Son the Father” – February 18, 2010 Maxwell’s. I had the pleasure of seeing Fucked Up three times this year, and each show was awe-inspiring. Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham is a punk rock showman without parallel: on the mic, he is extremely hardcore; in between songs, he chats up the crowd like each person is his best bud. “Son the Father” is one of the band’s best songs, and it was at about this point during the Maxwell’s show that (as has to be the case at every Fucked Up show) all hell broke loose. [audio:]

10. The Black Keys – “Same Old Thing” – July 28, 2010 Terminal 5. There was a huge response to our post of The Black Keys‘ show at Terminal 5, and for good reason – it is an excellent recording of a band that is rapidly ingratiating itself with the mainstream. This song is a four-piece version of this song, with Leon Michaels on keyboards and Nick Movshon on bass. [audio:]

11. Panda Bear – “Song For Ariel (Guys Eyes)” – September 11, 2010 Governor’s Island. On the same day as the epic Dirty Projectors show back in Manhattan, Panda Bear was giving a magical performance on Governor’s Island that blew our minds both for the incredible quality of the sound (which did not always receive such good reviews for other shows) and the clarity and focus of the performance. This guitar-heavy and reworked version of this song was one of many highlights of an amazing show that also featured some new songs. [audio:]

12. Soft Black – “I’m Not Afraid of You” – August 7, 2010 A Backyard in Bushwick. This whole show was a testament to the power of the local music community and the DIY spirit of the moment. Soft Black were supposed to be playing on a rooftop elsewhere in the ‘hood as part of a benefit show for the people of the Gaza Strip. That show was shut down by the cops three acts in, while it was still light outside. But instead of giving up and calling it a night, the fans and bands rallied to move the show to one of the musicians’ backyard. Soft Black dedicated this haunting song, with its defiant refrain, to a kid who got arrested when the police shut down the rooftop show. The song itself is quite dark, but the moment was joyful, and powerful, in a way that I will never forget. [audio:’mNotAfraidOfYou.mp3]

13. Real Estate – “Reservoir” – June 25, 2010 Music Hall of Williamsburg. Real Estate is another band that has wowed us both with their consistent playing as well as their respect for their fans. We had seen them open for labelmates Woods a number of times, but this time, they found themselves as the headliner of the Woodsist showcase at the Northside Festival. This showcase was one of the best experiences of the entire Northside Festival, but Real Estate’s set in particular stood out, as the more mature band showed off some new songs, including the excellent “Reservoir.” Download the entire set [HERE].

14. Maps & Atlases – “Solid Ground” – August 12, 2010 Mercury Lounge. I caught Maps & Atlases back in 2009 touring behind their previous record, the EP You, Me and the Mountain. I liked what I saw – the unusual combination of freak folk and math rock, vocalist Dave Davison’s vocals, the dual percussionists – but they didn’t seem quite there yet. For one, while I liked their sound, I wasn’t completely blown away by the songs. That all changed with the release of this year’s Perch Patchwork, which was one of my favorite records of the year, and a massive leap forward artistically. For this show, the band was greeted by a spirited crowd literally screaming for more, and in particular, this song (you can hear a drunk dude yelling “Solid Ground!” in between every other song on the set before they finally play it). When the band finally played the song, the payoff was huge, and the jam at the end clinches it. After an outstanding set, Maps broke down their gear and put some chairs and drums in the center of the floor and played an acoustic set for those willing to wait. The performance was not only the most improved of any band that I saw this year, but also one of the flat-out best. It didn’t hurt any that the recording came out flawlessly, too. Download the entire set [HERE]. [audio:]

15. Holly Miranda – “I’d Rather Go Blind [Etta James]” – May 26, 2010 Bowery Ballroom. A Bowery Ballroom headlining gig has become a barometer of a band’s success these days – for a New York band on their way up, there is your time on the scene before Bowery, and your time after, and after, things are never the same. This show represented Holly Miranda’s Bowery breakout, and she treated the event with the reverence due it as she ripped off a lengthy set representing her latest record The Magician’s Private Library, and played two covers, including this jaw-dropping rendition of an Etta James classic. [audio:]

16. Wilco – “Thank You, Friends” – April 2, 2010 Wellmont Theatre. The challenging acoustics of this venue did not deter Wilco from delivering one of the most epic sets we have seen of theirs (well over three hours long). This Big Star cover played tribute to their singular frontman, singer and songwriter Alex Chilton, who sadly passed away this March. Alex and his many contributions to rock music will be dearly missed. [audio:]

17. Sharon Van Etten – “One Day” – October 8, 2010 Rock Shop. It is no secret that this site has been a huge booster for Sharon Van Etten, and we are thrilled to see her career taking off in a big way (you can hear one of her songs, “I Fold” in the closing sequence in a recent episode of the Showtime series The Big C). In the two shows she played at Rock Shop this year, Sharon’s maturity and outstanding songwriting made us fall in love with her music all over again. [audio:]

18. Woods – “Bend Beyond” – May 13, 2010 Abrons Arts Center. In a music scene that is strong but fragmented, Woods have emerged as bi-coastal scene godfathers of sorts, in the way that Sonic Youth have been for a generation. The Woodsist label, for which the band is the anchor, has produced a roster of like-minded acts from the East and West Coasts that share a common affinity for the psychedelic, folk-influenced sound the label is known for. While they have been building a formidable presence with the label, Woods themselves have evolved far beyond the “freak folk” tag into a full-blown indie rock jam band of sorts, turning four-minute album tracks into epics that showcase their virtuosity on their instruments. This show, featuring the band backed by the Joshua Light Show, was especially sprawling, and never moreso than on this nearly twenty minute “Bend Beyond.” This show proved that this was a very different band than the act I saw opening for Dungen in 2009 – that band was a great “freak folk” act, if you will. This band is legendary. [audio:]

19. Spoon – “Car Radio” – September 13, 2010 Cake Shop. After we caught their set opening for Arcade Fire at Madison Square Garden, we weren’t sure we would have another chance to record Spoon this year. But then along came this secret show at Cake Shop, a live video recording for “Nobody Gets Me But You,” that proved to be one of the most exciting and intimate performances we saw all year. These guys remember where they came from (Austin) and we trust that they will never stop being one of the most consistent, most fan-friendly acts in the country. Download the entire set [HERE].

20. The Loom – “The First Freeze” – October 10, 2010 Backyard Brunch Sessions. We enjoyed many of the Backyard Brunch Sessions sets we saw this summer and fall, but perhaps none more than this performance by our friends The Loom, who proved that great musicians do not need extra amplification or trickery to make powerful music. Set up in a humble backyard in Bushwick, rocking a homemade bass made out of a washtub, they wowed us with their modern, folk-influenced sound. This song was my favorite of all, not least of which because of the added humor of some rowdy neighbors making noise in the background (who cannot be heard on the recording) – making a bunch of noise right before this (the quietest song of the set) song began. Once it got going, it was the most mesmerizing vocal performance of the day. [audio:]

21. Yo La Tengo – “Little Eyes” – December 7, 2010 Maxwell’s. If you have read this site once in December, you know that Yo La Tengo’s 2010 Hanukkah shows have been our main focus this month. These eight nights of unique setlists, special guests, and fan camaraderie at one of our favorite venues in the city, Maxwell’s, are some of the best nights of the year every time that YLT decides to do them. This song, from the Summer Sun album, is an expanded version augmented by the guitar wizardry of the legendary Nels Cline, who joined the band for most of this night’s set. Although we loved the December 5 show featuring Mission of Burma, this show on the 7th turned out to be our favorite of them all – a perfect balance of the band’s harder and softer dynamics that showcased them at the height of their powers. [audio:]

22. Bear In Heaven – “Lovesick Teenager” – November 19, 2010 Music Hall of Williamsburg. Bear In Heaven was another band that stepped up in a big way in 2010. A year’s worth of touring took what had been a great album act but somewhat uneven live band and turned them into the juggernaut that we witnessed at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Whereas previous shows had always faced technical limitations (primarily with respect to sound), everything was perfectly dialed in for this show, with the Music Hall sound system delivering crystal clear sound and a light show that dazzled the sold-out crowd. Not but twelve months ago this band was playing the cozy Zebulon down the street. This show was obviously this band’s “Bowery moment.” [audio:]

23. The Joy Formidable – “Austere” – January 12, 2010 Pianos. Whereas a Bowery Ballroom show tends to cement a band’s status in the scene, Pianos is Manhattan’s best incubator. Shows there tend to capture the nervous energy of bands trying to make their break who know that this could be it. We are pleased to say that since this show, The Joy Formidable did make it in a big way (including their own Bowery moment), playing tons of NY-area shows (almost all of which we saw) and bringing their music to new fans each time. Their massively loud sound is probably better suited a bigger venue, but we loved this Pianos show best of them all (and our recording sounded great). [audio:]

24. The National – “Terrible Love” – December 8, 2010 Maxwell’s. Though it borders on heresy (and is not an opinion shared by all who work on this site), I was not an instant convert to The National‘s critically acclaimed High Violet. I didn’t hate the album, but after a three year break from recording, I was not sure what I should expect from the band. High Violet didn’t grab me in the way that earlier records like Alligator did, and it didn’t help that I first saw the songs live in the sonically deficient Terminal 5, where the sound was so poor that even The National’s sound engineer commiserated with us about the venue’s challenges. Luckily, I was given a second chance at this rare set opening in the (relatively) tiny Maxwell’s for Yo La Tengo on the final night of their Hanukkah shows. This time, in this intimate setting, the subtle beauty of the High Violet songs shone through, especially on the set’s closer, this fantastic rendition of “Terrible Love.” [audio:]

25. We Were Promised Jetpacks – “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning” – February 15, 2010 Knitting Factory. I went to this show on a lark, having never heard this Scottish trio before. Apparently I had missed the memo, as the Knitting Factory was so packed I was literally crushed against the soundboard. In the best of ways, We Were Promised Jetpacks are what I like to call Scotland’s answer to U2 – their songs rely on anthemic riffs and vocalist Adam Thompson’s throaty choruses. The band worked this crowd into a froth, the energy seething through the room, as Thompson belted out song after song in a way that could have melted the ice outside. In a show full of them, this song was a particularly stirring anthem. [audio:]

Special thanks to all of the artists, management, labels, photographers and other music sites that have supported NYCTaper this year. And of course, a huge thank you to our readers, who we hope to continue to provide with high-quality, artist-sanctioned recordings, reviews and photos throughout 2011. Happy New Year!


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