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).

Highlights: Bastille @ Hulu Theater (22 Photos)

 

Not many bands are able to channel what are “depressing” songs, in their own words, with the dressing of joyful instrumental and melodic disguises, but Bastille have found a formula that has allowed them to break through into the mainstream and still maintain credible critical appeal due to their depth and brilliance.

Lead singer Dan Smith’s songs and Bastille’s albums are able to find resonance with their audience through relatable lyrics spoken in symbolic yet non-obscure language, which allow them to feel unpretentious even though they are carefully manicured pieces of art.

Off the release of their latest studio album, Bastille kicked off their North American Doom Days Pt 1 Tour dates this month, stopping by Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. The night was a high energy affair that felt less like a concert than an evening tagging along for the ride inside lead singer Dan Smith’s episodic brain and psyche. Noticeable throughout the night was Bastille’s uncanny ability to bring the crowd’s mood up or down like puppets on strings at any time, with the crowd’s full emotional investment in the journey.

Split into three acts, the night was structured to tell the story of the new Doom Days album, beginning at 12:15am and ending at 8am, tracked on a clock throughout the night on-screen behind the stage, taking everyone through what Dan Smith calls “a typical night out,” for himself, after which the album was themed.

Act 1 kicked off with a bang as “Quarter Past Midnight” got things underway, followed by “Send Them Off!” from their 2016 album Wild World. Following “Evil Eye,” where Smith sat alone atop a platform ladder, the band broke into an interlude that ultimately led to their hit song “Happier,” further building the energy as the crowd danced and sang to each word.

As Act 1 came toward a close, Smith and the band then retreated a bit to take a more maudlin tone as the subject matter became more introspective and global, highlighting some of the plights in modern day society and the global political climate, pushing the evening into Act 2, “Those Nights.”

Act 2 came with a set change adding a rotating sofa painted with DOOM DAYS on it, as Smith, newly outfitted in a white hoodie, belted their fittingly titled song “When I Watch The World Burn All I Think About Is You” while the lyrics bounced on the screen behind him.

Following some more downtempo songs, Bastille made it clear that the middle “depressing part” was over and that they aimed to bring the show back to peak energy for the third act. Act 3, “The Morning Doesn’t Reach Us” then catapulted into “Joy” which got the entire crowd bouncing again, in what was probably peak energy for the evening before later ending with their most famous hit “Pompeii.”

Check out highlights from the show in the gallery below along with tour dates:

Mabel Lives Up to “High Expectations” with Debut Album

Out of all of the emerging acts in pop in 2019, the one person we’ve been the most excited about this year has been UK pop songstress Mabel. Born with pop star heritage in her blood, Britain’s rising star finally graced the world this August with her debut studio album, titled High Expectations, and we’re happy to report that it’s a pop masterpiece from top to bottom.

The album is aptly-named for one of UK’s most talked-about rising pop acts, given her lineage and fast rise to stardom. Born Mabel McVey, the 23-year-old is the daughter of Swedish singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry, whose 1988 song “Buffalo Stance” was a #1 US dance hit and peaked in the top 5 of the UK singles chart and Billboard Hot 100. Her dad, Cameron McVey, was also an established producer and writer in the ’80s and ’90s – so, yeah… High expectations.

Those expectations haven’t seemed to bog down Mabel, though, as she’s been able to channel her talent into becoming one of the brightest pop acts to burst on to the scene in recent memory. Coming off of 2018’s summer hit “Ring Ring” with Jax Jones, Mabel kicked off 2019 with what’s now the UK’s #1 best-selling single this year, “Don’t Call Me Up,” and its mood set the tone for the entire album.

With her self-assured lyrics and dancehall-tinged, rhythmic beats, Mabel’s pop brand becomes extremely clear when you hear her debut album and its various pieces: she’s that exotic, badass girl who hits hard and knows she’s “got it.”

There are hits like “Mad Love,” and “Bad Behaviour,” which keep that rhythmic identity under Mabel’s sultry voice and even steamier lyrics which position her as the one in the driver’s seat of her relationships. Add the new-but-underrated jam “Selfish Love,” and “Put Your Name On It” interspersed throughout the 20-song deluxe album, and the entire LP feels like it has a cohesive identity and theme.

The album isn’t exclusively full of dancehall-inspired rhythmic hits, though – Mabel is a versatile pop star, as she showcases in the second half of the High Expectations. Following “Mad Love,” McVey breaks out her emotional side with “Trouble,” and “OK (Anxiety Anthem),” both  airy, self-aware ballads that prove she’s not invincible all of the time:

TROUBLE
 Yeah, I came looking for trouble /
Yeah, I came looking for you 
‘Cause I can’t get you out my head / I know instead, I should’ve stayed at home
Yeah, I came looking for trouble / And I get everything I need, do as I please
Living dangerously, living dangerously

OK (ANXIETY ANTHEM)
There are days when the world gets heavy / Sleepless nights, I’ve had way too many
When it’s late and no one’s around, around / Alone in my room and the tears start pouring
Wishing the night was still the morning / But tonight, I’ma let them fall down, fall down

Cause it’s okay not to be okay
It’s okay if you feel the pain
Don’t gotta wipe your tears away
Tomorrow’s another day

Overall, for a debut full-length studio album, the body of work that McVey has put together is an extremely impressive debut. Between Mabel’s keen songwriting ability and production that grabs your attention at every turn, the album is one that can be listened through fluidly without much skipping.

Each song on High Expectations tells and important piece of her story, giving it that extra ability to connect with listeners on a relatable and personal level, which works in her favor over the long term. This album and its hits will help boost Mabel’s already significant fanbase, and sets her up to be at or near the very top of the pop food chain for the forseeable future. It’s Mabel’s world to take, and we’re lucky to be along for the ride.

Follow Mabel on Instagram: @mabel

If you’re lucky, you can catch Mabel on her short US & Canada tour this month, including tonight’s show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. We’ll be at the show tonight, so check back on Friday for photos and a recap!

Highlights: Jon Bellion @ Jones Beach Theater (19 Photos)

On Saturday night, Jon Bellion brought his Glory Sound Prep tour to Jones Beach Amphitheater in front of 12,000 hometown fans, who have been following him since his earliest days of success. The moment was one of surreality for Bellion, who grew up a Long Island native in Lake Grove, NY, about 45 minutes’ drive from Jones Beach.

Expressing gratitude for his most die-hard fans, Bellion was visibly awe-struck on stage at the massive crowd, telling them “You guys are the reason I’m able to continue to defy the industry, and continue creating my art – because you show up every night and allow me to perform like this.”

Bellion kicked off the evening emphatically with as he poured his soul out to songs from Glory Sound Prep, beginning with four of the album’s first five tracks, saving “Stupid Deep” for near the end of the night. Throughout the night’s duration, Bellion’s passion never ceased to shine, as he ran and jumped his way around the stage for over an hour as the crowd fed his energy with their own in kind.

Midway through the set, Bellion even surprised the crowd with three of his most popular songs from The Human Condition, as he played his hit song “All Time Low,” “Overwhelming,” and a special improvised version of “Guillotine” special-made for his Long Island faithful. Each of the THC songs brought roaring cheers and screams from the entire crowd, who sang along to every word.

Bellion’s Glory Sound Prep, released this past November, is his second studio album following his critically-acclaimed debut LP, The Human Condition. You can check out Bellion’s documentary of the making of Glory Sound Prep below the gallery.

Check out highlights from the night in the gallery below:
The Glory Sound Prep documentary:
 
GSP Tour Dates:
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chloe mk’s “Fantasy” EP is Power Pop Perfection

If you haven’t heard chloe mk’s debut EP, 𝘍𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘺, you’re missing out on one of the coolest new projects in pop music. Channeling the best eras of Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry but in a modern package. it’s a masterful introduction to a new pop powerhouse in the making.

Originally showcasing her powerful voice around Nashville’s bar scene, chloe mk eventually made her way into the public spotlight as the winner of NBC’s The Voice in 2017, and has been solidying her singular style since.

As a digital native, the New York-based singer/songwriter’s entire narrative is shaped by growing up in the internet-infatuated culture of today, a lifestyle and story that resonates on a personal level with her entire generation.

The entire EP is incredible, so give the project a listen from top to bottom – our favorites are “To Be Young,” “Ride,” and “Praying For Me.”

Highlights: Gorgon City @ The Brooklyn Mirage (15 Photos)

On Friday night, Gorgon City brought true UK House to The Brooklyn Mirage. With a lineup that boasted Lee Foss and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs as the openers, the House Faithful were given a long night of heavy bass and good vibes that didn’t let anyone down.

Once Gorgon City stepped into the booth at 2:30am, it was all go from there – the duo began with some of their biggest hits including “Lick Shot,” “Delicious,” and “Grooves on the Vinyl,” setting the energetic tone for the next two hours. They mixed in all of their deep cuts and plenty of fan house favorites along the way, ending the night with “Imagination” and “Real Life,” their infamous collaboration with Duke Dumont and NAATIONS.

Overall the night was an excellent deep dive into the world of house, a scene that The Brooklyn Mirage is well acquainted with. Fans danced the night away in the summer heat, and left the venue fulfilled as the sun was beginning to rise over the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

Check out photo highlights in the gallery below, and follow Early Bird’s “Boots and Cats” playlist to keep up with the best in the world of house.

Highlights: Isaac Dunbar @ Baby’s All Right

16 year-old emerging pop star Isaac Dunbar headlined Indify’s “Red Flag” showcase on Monday night, and blew the room away. It would have been an impressive showcase for someone who’d already played plenty of shows in his lifetime, let alone as a first-ever live performance. It feels as though this night truly allowed Dunbar to “let it out” on stage, and he took the opportunity and ran with it.

During the show, Isaac’s stage presence really shined – he has a very natural flare and instinct for performance which enhances the music itself by adding more emotion and energy to his already well-written songs. Dunbar’s voice was also strong and equally as good live as his records.

With where pop music is headed, there’s no doubt Dunbar is poised to make a splash as one of the most talented young artists to emerge in the last year. His style lives outside of the “bedroom pop” scene and has real potential in the mainstream, especially given his very little relative experience so far and at his young age. As Dunbar matures, his music will take on new forms as well, which is exciting for the pop world. For fans of the emerging pop scene, Dunbar may remind of a more edgy Conan Gray. He can nail a pop ballad, and each song he creates feels modern at every turn.

Dunbar’s debut EP balloons don’t float here drops this July 12th.

Check out highlights from the show in the gallery below:

Highlights: Empire of the Sun @ Webster Hall

On Saturday, legendary Australian dance outfit Empire of the Sun took the stage for the third consecutive night at the newly-renovated Webster Hall. The venue proved to be the perfect place for Empire of the Sun’s huge production over the weekend, complete with a lasers, CO2 cannons, and myriad of costumed backup dancers to complement Empire of the Sun’s infectious dance grooves. 

Empire of the Sun’s show at times felt like watching an EDM-charged version of Brazil’s Carnival, as the backup dancers twirled around the stage in various versions of costumes, masks and headdresses to accompany Luke Steele’s “emperor” frontman persona and vocals. 

The 90-minute set included their biggest hit songs like “High & Low,” “We Are the People,” and “Walking On A Dream” to which the crowd jumped up and down, shaking Webster Hall’s newly stained floors while they basked in a sea of neon lights. Among all of the night’s great moments, one of the peaks was near the end of the show when Luke Steele smashed his “Electric City” guitar on stage following “Tiger By My Side.” The moment served as a perfect way to cap off the first three-night run at Webster Hall since it re-opened. 

Check out photo highlights from the set in the gallery below:

Highlights: Jack Gray @ The Standard

On Monday night, Warner Music’s newly signed Jack Gray played an intimate rooftop set at the Standard Hotel. The Aussie musician played the songs from his newly released Nights Like This EP in front of his new Warner label family, Spotify curators, and press to introduce his music to the media capital of the world.

On stage, Gray was a natural and didn’t display any signs of nerves. Playing a full acoustic set, Gray complemented his easygoing vocals with a guitar and keyboard for the six song set, smiling and making ample eye contact with the crowd as if he was in a room full of friends. With low pressure, he took time to explain the meaning of his songs and the emotional state he was in while writing them, adding an extra level of personality to each of the tunes prior to playing them out. The common theme of the EP is the complexity of intimate relationships, and in Jack’s own words:

1. “Fools” is a song about staying too long in a very messy, failed relationship.
2. “Drunk Talk” is about saying the wrong things at the wrong time and later regretting it.
3. “Down Side of Up” ponders the balance between optimism and pessimism in setting expectations.
4. “Bullet” is about Australia’s suicide crisis and that there are always two sides of a person’s story.
5. “Take Our Time” is about long distance relationships, “which suck“.

 

Before he capped off the evening with an energetic performance of his new single “Fools,” Gray steered the crowd off-course for a moment and played his favorite cover song, dedicated to the ladies in the room: “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” Despite a broken string on the acoustic guitar, Jack stood up and jammed out like a true veteran, seemingly ignoring that any incident had even happened.

If you’re a fan of singer-songwriters like Dean Lewis and Lewis Capaldi, who infuse modern pop into their singer-songwriter style, Jack Gray should be next on your radar to keep an eye on. Jack Gray’s debut EP is an exciting statement that deserves a full listen and demonstrates that the Aussies are fully in the pop game, and not going away any time soon.

Check out photos from the showcase in the gallery below:

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Highlights: Bitbird (San Holo, DROELOE, Taska Black) @ The Brooklyn Mirage

On Friday night, San Holo’s alternative-electronic label Bitbird visited Avant Gardner’s Brooklyn Mirage for a special showcase dubbed A Night with Bitbird. Featuring Taska Black, DROELOE, Giraffage, San Holo and Duskus, the show began at 10PM and didn’t wrap up until the early morning hours around 4:30am. Throughout the night it was evident that San (real name Sander van Dijck) has built what truly amounts to a family of creatives who same a same-mindedness that surpasses simple musical careers and preferences, and rather fully embodies the Bitbird motto “Create Forever” with zeal.

The evening began with Belgian producer/musician Taska Black‘s set, and he’s come a long way since Early Bird Music first interviewed him in March of 2018. Over the last year Taska has accumulated more than 20M streams across his new music, and his live show has begun to take shape as well. Playing his biggest songs like “Running Away” with fellow Bitbird label mates DROELOE, Taska’s complex melodies and poetically larger-than-life sound was the perfect way to dial the crowd’s attention in for the show.

Netherlands duo DROELOE followed Taska, hyping up the sold-out crowd with their bass-heavy hits, playing off of each other as they danced around (and on) the DJ booth. With their darkly-tinged brand of EDM, DROELOE’s joint creatives Hein Hamers and Vincent Rooijers drew fans in further with their deliberate drops and stunning visuals (which were created by Hein himself.)

San Holo finally took the stage close to 2am and captivated Mirage’s audience for over an hour, showcasing his signature style of alternative EDM that combines bouncy, off-center beats and cinematic builds with his own endless energy. Throughout his set, he spun around stage and climbed on the DJ booth repeatedly, singing along with fans and encouraging them to dance into the night. He paired his music with a world-class production courtesy of Brooklyn Mirage, that kept the stage and the crowd in constant flux with an endless array of neon lights, CO2 cannons, and backdrops.

Following San’s headlining set, fellow producer and San’s close friend Duskus closed out the night in a B2B until the venue hit curfew at 4:30am.

Check out photo highlights from all three sets below:

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Highlights: Disclosure @ The Brooklyn Mirage

On Saturday, world-famous DJ/Production duo Disclosure made its way to Brooklyn Mirage on their latest US Tour. The duo, made of UK brothers Guy Lawrence and Howard Lawrence, have been gracing listeners ears over the last decade with hits like “Latch” and “Omen” with Sam Smith, “Magnets” with Lorde, and most recently “Talk” with Khalid.

Despite Saturday night’s event being a DJ Set rather than a Disclosure “live show,” fans sold out Mirage far in advance to catch an extremely rare taste of Disclosure, who last played in Brooklyn at a secret New Year’s Eve show at the end of 2016. 

Disclosure’s DIY aesthetic and visuals complemented their music throughout the night, using the outdoor Brooklyn Mirage and a cloudy, moonlit night sky as their canvas. It felt right that the show was at Avant Gardner’s outdoor Mirage venue, as it would’ve been a shame to waste the night indoors. The venue’s extensive track lighting and impressive stage lighting array backlit the booth and screens behind them, while also having plenty of strobes and scanners that made the experience immersive.

Disclosure kicked off the set flexing their house roots with lead single “When A Fire Starts To Burn,” off of Settle, followed by the even groovier “F For You,” and then switched it up with their jazzy 2018 single “Ultimatum.” At that early moment, fans realized quickly that they’d still be getting the full Disclosure experience after all, not some watered down set that would feature a slew of outside tracks. Guy and Howard mixed songs from their albums Settle and Caracal, as well as newer music from their latest Moonlight EP, like “Where Angels Fear to Tread,” “Moonlight,” and “Funky Sensation,” spread throughout.

Late in the set, many fans finally received what they’d anxiously waited to hear, in the form of Disclosure’s biggest hits. In a short span of about six songs, the duo rattled off their VIP remix of “Talk,” “Latch,” “Omen,” and the Flume Remix of “You & Me” to wrap up the night with a bow on top. 

Overall, the house-centric night was a blast, and Disclosure’s tasteful setlist made for a show full of variety and changes in pace, keeping things interesting into the early morning hours. 

If Disclosure is coming to your city on their US Tour, snatch up tickets ASAP and get to a show – you never know the next time Disclosure will be back. Their non-agressive, house-filled set is one that dance enthusiast can enjoy, novice or expert. 

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UPCOMING U.S. TOUR DATES: