Highlights: Audrey Mika @ Mercury Lounge (16 Photos)

  • This is a portrait of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a portrait of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a photo of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a photo of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a photo of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a photo of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a photo of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a photo of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a photo of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a photo of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.
  • This is a photo of Youtuber and musician Audrey Mika on March 3rd in New York City at Mercury Lounge.

Photos by Jim Michaels (@jmichaels.jpeg) © 2020 Early Bird Music


On Friday night, Mercury Lounge’s walls were packed with teens ready to see rising star Audrey Mika perform her first-ever NYC show. Sold-out for weeks in advance, the YouTuber-turned-recording artist has been building her fanbase over the past few years covering popular hits from today’s biggest artists.

In October, she inked a recording deal with RCA Records, and her sound has fittingly evolved, demonstrating more emotional and lyrical depth than ever. Songs like “Fake Heartbreak” and “4712,” which she wrote on long drives from her native San Francisco down to recording studios in Los Angeles over the course of 2019 demonstrate her keen ability to describe how she’s feeling as her whole life has been changed in front of her eyes.

Now in the midst of her first headline tour, she’s finally getting to prove herself on the road and in front of her earliest fans across North America. Her New York stop at Mercury Lounge was an impressive debut in one of music’s most critical markets – she delivered far above everything you could expect from someone who is still so relatively new to the scene and only has a handful of live performances to her name.

Audrey’s energy was all the way up from the start as her New York fans chanted her name proudly, anxious for her to kick off the night. From the outset, Mika was comfortable on stage, taking the microphone with her as she engaged with fans and paraded around the stage with confidence. With such an important show, it would be understandable if nerves ever threw her voice off, but it rarely happened as she sang each note like a seasoned pro. She engages fans easily while singing

Along with performing her latest new music and a taste of her next single, Audrey surprised one lucky concert-goer in the crowd by singling her out, bringing her up on stage and announcing her as one of Audrey’s earliest fans that she could remember. That’s the type of move that endears true fans, and makes everyone realize that Audrey Mika is a true artist with a long career ahead as long as she keeps up this signature enthusiasm and fan interest along the way.

Audrey Mika is from the new breed of internet-native artists who come into the music industry with a developed brand identity along with hoards of fans who are already sold on the product, and because of that she’s in a far more advantageous place early on than most new acts who step onto the scene, trying to crack into the spotlight.

Review: Trippie Redd Rocks Terminal 5 (17 Photos)

  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.
  • Trippie Redd performs at Terminal 5 in New York City on February 23, 2020. Shot by Jim Michaels for Early Bird Music.

Photos by Jim Michaels (@jmichaels.jpeg) © 2020 Early Bird Music

 

It’s pretty common knowledge that a show on a Sunday night is the least desirable slot of the week, and a hard sell. Such was not the case this past Sunday when Trippie Redd came to New York on his 2020 Love Me More Tour in support of his 2019 album A Love Letter To You 4.

Sold out weeks in advance, resale tickets were going for $112 up until show time on third party selling sites, and Terminal 5 was a reflection of that the second you arrived. Typically, a crowd files in right around time for the headliner, but Trippie Redd’s atypical crowd showed up two hours early for the full ticket that included Kodie Shane and Blocboy JB as openers.

Fans waited later than usual for Trippie to finally grace the stage at 9:45PM, but what they got was an immediate dose of Trippie’s signature energy. Even with a simple, acoustically driven song like “Leray,” his opening song, when you add Trippie’s sing-yelling style with the stimulating production setup and flashing strobe lighting, every song feels like it’s electric and stadium-ready.

The entire set was full of two things: energy and smoke. Throughout the show, a blazing Trippie Redd screamed and sang his way all over the stage as compressed air cannons erupted toward the crowd at the drops and choruses of each song. As far as performing, Trippie Redd can do it all, displaying the diverse talent that his fans have come to expect from him through his continued rise over the last three years.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with his individual songs, the Ohio native’s live performance is an experience worth seeing and feeling for yourself, as he lights up a stage and crowd with passion and energy that’s hard to find in someone who hasn’t even turned 21 years-old yet.

The sound and energy that Trippie Redd brings to the show is a paradox, combining the emotion and avant-garde attitudes of punk rock over street rap in one moment, only to turn around and deliver a soulful melody only moments later. Through the harder, rap-focused songs like “1400/999 Freestyle,” “Death,” “Grinch” and “Dark Knight Dummo,” fans screamed atop each others’ shoulders and moshed in the packed crowd, throwing everything from shirts and drinks to Air Force Ones. During his more melodic songs, fans sang each note and waved their arms left and right to the beat.

The near 20-song set also included performances by special guests including New York native Lil Tecca, who performed “How I Was Raised” alongside Trippie before rapping his breakout hit, “Ransom,” and special guest Lil Yachty, who rapped along to his collab “M’s.”

One of the most intriguing points of the night came after the midshow break that included a quick spin of “Welcome to the Party” by deceased Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, in his late honor. Trippie came back out and immediately roused the New York crowd by literally screaming at them and asking them to scream right back, after which he covered XXXTentacion’s “Fuck Love,” which they created together in 2017.

Originally breaking through the “Soundcloud Rap” scene, Trippie Redd’s unique and wide-ranging vocal talent, his contagious energy, and his keen grasp of internet meme culture have already netted him over 5 billion audio and video streams in the U.S. alone, nearly 15 million Spotify monthly listeners, and 10 million followers around the world on Instagram.

You can still see Trippie Redd live on tour in US through mid-March – dates below:

Gallery: J.I The Prince of N.Y @ SOB’s (15 Pictures)

© 2020 Early Bird Music / Jim Michaels (Photos 1-11) © 2020 Calvin Schneider (Photos 12-15)

On Monday night, S.O.B.’s announced that Brooklyn-born rapper J.I was the only artist to ever sell out three nights in a row at the venue. The rising rapper’s popularity is at an all-time high after his recent songs “Blame on Me” and “Need Me” have been making waves over the web.

J.I first came into the rap spotlight in 2016 at just 15-years-old, when he was selected as a contestant on the second season of Lifetime’s popular reality TV series ‘The Rap Game.”

 

Check out his latest EP Hood Life Krisis Vol. 2 below, and follow our Early Bird Radio playlist to stay up to date with new music from J.I and many other rising artists.

Highlights: Camp Superdope! with Matoma and Two Friends (24 Photos)

On Friday night, Matoma and Two Friends brought the house down at Terminal 5 with their shared Camp Superdope! 2020 Tour. Two Friends started the night off hot playing bits of their “Big Booty Mix” mixtapes alongside dance-remixes of rock and pop classics alike. Their infamous energy, jumping off the deck, firing confetti cannons and shooting water guns into the crowd warmed everyone up for the headliner, Matoma.

Matoma took the stage and immediately got things going by playing his own hits, intermixed with the most viral and popular tracks of 2019 and 2020 along the way. With a new light show and energy derived from an already excited crowd, Matoma played till nearly midnight at the newly-renovated triple-decker venue, which now includes more room than ever to dance with your friends and catch a good view of the show.

Highlights: SiR @ Brooklyn Steel (Photos)

 

SiR was chasing Summer in the Winter at Brooklyn Steel on Tuesday night, keeping the crowd engaged with his distinct style of alternative R&B. His energy was palpable and translated well to the crowd, who created an environment of peace and relaxation as they enjoyed his latest songs off of his third studio album Chasing Summer.

The 33 year-old crooner’s bright personality was on full display all night as he engaged his crowd, keeping everyone smiling and singing along with him. During the set, he even brought up one lucky fan to help sing “Ooh Nah Nah” as a duet with him, fulfilling her wildest dreams, and took the opportunity to borrow a few hits of a fan’s blunt directly from the crowd.

He also surprised fans with a few guests throughout the night, first beginning with his brother, rapper D Smoke, who recently was crowned winner of Netflix’s first annual hip-hop talent competition, Rhythm and Flow. If that wasn’t enough, fans exploded to see fellow TDE labelmate and 9-time Grammy nominated singer SZA come out, who danced along on stage during a few late songs before SiR eventually ended the night with crowd favorite jam “D’Evils.”

Check out highlights from the show in the slideshow below:

Maintaining Integrity As A Music Blogger and Photographer

Preface: This is of course a very nuanced issue with a lot of considerations that factor into the way you represent yourself online as a member of the music media community, but here are my thoughts on the state of blogging as it pertains to usage of social media and the responsibility to maintain a blog and profile with integrity.

I keep seeing something on Instagram that has continued to bother me in the photography/blog community, and think something needs to be said. Yes, we all hate “the algorithm” (it sucks and none of us get the impressions we should) and want to find ways to see more engagement, and of course want to support our photography colleagues and friends to that end… but shamelessly showering posts with absurd SUPERLATIVE comments and overly hype-y praise every time is nauseating and loathesome 🤢

For instance, writing that every show you go to, each picture that you post, or commenting on some other photographer’s shot that it’s YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE/WOWOWOW/WTF/OMG 🔥🔥🔥/AMAZING — diminishes the gravity of capturing shows or shots that are actually special. Don’t get me wrong, comments are awesome and very helpful. This isn’t about being on a high horse, but calling for everyone to be a little less fake, and to be responsible with the way you interact and share on social media, because our role matters. 

For the most part, most music photographers willingly trade our time and effort for the price of a ticket, and for those of us that run blogs or supplemental content, that generally makes us feel like we should give a positive endorsement as well. However, I feel like some in the community have taken that too far and say everything they cover is all-caps INCREDIBLE, which is a slippery slope, especially if you’ve got fans and readers who depend on your content and taste to point them toward things they should spend their time and money experiencing. As media people and active photographers, whether we think so or not, our content has the ability to influence others to purchase a ticket to see a show.

The general population goes to just over two shows a year, and if you’re seeing a few shows a year and paying for it, you probably expect them to be GREAT. Thus, one would hope if it was recommended or endorsed by an outlet or someone with experience and access, that you’re not wasting your time and money. In contrast, as bloggers and photographers, some of us see 50-100+ shows a year, and as media we pay for very few of those tickets. That means the stakes are relatively low if it’s not a great show “this time around.” There will be another. 

I’ve shot 100 shows this year, and seen a total of 128 shows. I’ve paid in some way for all of them in the countless hours of effort editing, writing, posting and sharing, but at the same time, have only paid out of pocket for six of those shows. Generally, I’ve enjoyed most of those 100+ shows I’ve seen this year, though I’m not going to pretend or say each time that those performances were incredible or the best show I’ve seen this year (or ever). However, I do recap what happened and highlight the most compelling parts of each show.

It’s important to me that Early Bird, on the site and on social media, is an active representation of artists and shows that I personally enjoy, back and would recommend you get familiar with. At the end of 2018 I made a pact with myself that in 2019 I’d only go shoot shows of acts whose music I enjoy or that I’d share with friends, or on the blog whether I saw a show or not. I think I’ve only broken that rule 2-3 times this year out of the 100 shows I’ve photo’d (I won’t say which) and I’m proud of that fact. 

As long as it’s running, Early Bird Music will continue to represent emerging musicians with its own unique perspective, honest commentary, and no bullshit. Early Bird is about sharing and spreading awareness of great music with the blog-first mentality – not about racking up Instagram likes/follows – and will always maintain a high standard of quality content. The people who matter that have helped Early Bird get to where it is today already know that.

Accordingly, to each of you 900+ people that follow Early Bird here, Spotify and Instagram, I appreciate your support, your likes, your DMs every day, and look forward to an even bigger 2020. It’s hard to fathom having a better year than this one, but I’m sure it will be: the blog continues to grow, opportunities continue to present themselves, and more supporting photographers continue to contribute each month. When you comment, like and share our content, playlists, and photos with friends, you’re helping Early Bird accomplish its original mission: to honestly and accurately highlight the best up-and-coming musicians on the scene, and the best shows coming through your cities. Thanks for being a part of the journey ✌️

Jim 

Highlights: Hozier @ Hammerstein Ballroom (20 Photos)

 

Focusing mainly on songs from his sophomore album, Hozier effortlessly belted his latest songs for the sold-out crowd at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday night, including huge songs like “Nina Cried Power,” “Movement,” and “Almost (Sweet Music)” – not coincidentally the first three songs on his latest hit record.

It’s truly impressive to watch Hozier sing on stage, as it seems like he’s barely even trying, yet sounds as good if not better than his records. Hozier doesn’t just sing his songs – he gets creative with their arrangements as well. Unafraid of riffing and playing with the tempo of his songs in a live setting, Hozier’s live style adds both a degree of tension and invokes a sense of awe from the crowd, as he playfully dances away from tempos and perfectly syncopated lines that fans know in his recordings, adding some extra spice to the live show.

During the middle of the set, for instance, playing the popular “From Eden” off of his debut album, Hozier slowed the tempo down to nearly half time so that fans would feel the emotionality of the song, in what was likely the original tempo he wrote it in. While sometimes difficult for fans to keep singing at the slower tempo, it showcased the integrity in his voice and his clever lyricism on which he’s built his acclaim.

Not alone on stage, the show was full of energy propelled by Hozier’s incredible live band, which consisted of at least seven members that I could count, including: himself, drums, percussion, keys, piano, bass, and rhythm/strings. Each member was a talented musician in their own right, displaying their own personalities throughout each song, which made it even more enjoyable to watch Hozier as a band, and not just a solo artist.

On top of Hozier’s singularly recognizable voice and the prowess of his band, clever lyric videos added visual appeal and encouraged the crowd to sing along during songs like “Almost (Sweet Music),” while videos from real protests and social justice moments flashed throughout “Nina Cried Power,” and a recurring wall + window visual set a scene mimicking the bedroom in his Wasteland, Baby! album announcement video.

All of these visual elements combined with the live energy built a story alongside Hozier’s words and created an immersive, and truly connected experience for fans that furthered the depth at which they could experience Hozier’s music all night long.

 

NEW YORK / NOV 23 SETLIST:
Hozier's Wasteland, Baby! setlist from November 23, 2019 at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom.
Hozier’s Wasteland, Baby! setlist // 11-23-2019

Hozier’s Wasteland, Baby! U.S. tour wraps up on Tuesday night with a fifth and final show at Hammerstein Ballroom – resale tickets are still available in limited quantities.

Gallery: Elderbrook @ Bowery Ballroom (10 Photos)

On Saturday night, multi-instrumentalisgt and producer Elderbrook brought his one-man show to Bowery Ballroom. Playing on a rig that included a keyboard and electronic drum kit, he rocked the crowd with songs like his grammy-nominated dance collab “Cola” and more recent songs like “Something About You” and “Capricorn.”

Check out photo highlights from Hillary Safadi (@hillasafadi):

Highlights: Melanie Martinez K-12 Tour @ Hammerstein Ballroom (26 Photos)

 

New York-native and platinum-certified recording artist Melanie Martinez came through Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Tuesday night amidst her K-12 Tour. The 24 year-old Martinez, a former contestant on NBC’s The Voice, released her sophomore album K-12 in early September of this year, with an accompanying film of the same name.

Amazon Prime members can stream the full-length K-12 film online via Prime Video.

The full-length film K-12, which has already been viewed over 30 million times on YouTube alone, serves as the visual backbone to Martinez’s live show. To make sense of what’s going during her show, you must truly know the film and Martinez’ music – this isn’t really a concert for casual fans.

Effectively a live re-adaptation of the 92-minute K-12 film, the theatrical show combines a dizzying array of props, a full cast, numerous costume changes and a giant LED screen to set the scene for each song. From start to finish, you feel as if you are living out the 13-song album as a broadway play.

 

Check out photo highlights and a review from the show below, which chronicles a portion of the K-12 storyline (The Principal/Show & Tell/Nurse’s Office).