September 19, 2007

9/17: Buckcherry @ Hard Rock Cafe, NYC

Encore Blog...Rev up your engines!

“Excuse me sir…can I sit on your bike?” asks the 5’1, four-eyed English teacher. Forget fancy car shows and pimped out sedans. Four wheelers are for wussies! Monday night, Broadway’s Times Square was lined with the sweetest rides in town for Bike Night at the Hard Rock Cafe. Bikers from all over rode in to show off their choppers, compare chrome jobs and above all else, rock out to hard core L.A.-based band Buckcherry. 


(Ross's competition)

To say I’m not much of a biker chick is an understatement. I owned leather pants once in my life, probably back in 1996 when I also thought putting my hair in hot rollers was stylin’, but ultimately came to realize that neither was a look I could pull off. And the closest I ever came to a tattoo was getting my hand henna painted down in the West Village on some incense-infused street corner. But, when Billboard asks if you’re able to cover one last show, you definitely don’t hesitate…and you definitely don’t care if it’s your favorite band playing or one you know absolutely nothing about. You’ll blog about the Wiggles if it means keeping your pro bono night job for just a little bit longer. So upon telling Billboard I was on board for the Buckcherry show at Hard Rock (though not revealing to Ross what we were seeing until showtime), I charged up my LG, did a little I-search about the artist(s) in question and stuffed my complimentary black backpack with an extra black and white marble notebook floating around my classroom. Hey, someone might as well use it!


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September 17, 2007

9/14: DMB @ Sound Advice Amphitheater, WPB, Florida

It’s only fitting that my final blog be from a DMB show! What an incredible summer this has been! Once again, thank you Billboard for letting me live out my dream as a music journalist. This was the best, won’t-pay-my-bills job I ever had! And to those of you who've actually taken the time to see the music world through my eyes, even for just a night or two, I hope you enjoyed!

Not having seen DMB since exactly one month prior on August 14th (can you feel my withdrawal shakes through the computer?)at SPAC, and having to experience Alpine Valley vicariously through mid-show texts and message board posts, I was counting down the days to my Florida excursion. Shacking up at hotel de Grandma and Grandpa offered a slightly different type of pre-show prep (brisket, anyone?), but no trip to the Sunshine State would be complete without some QT with the fam, right! After picking up my seat date Reid and fellow concert buddies Casey and Kristen from their poolside pre-party, it was time for the show at Sound Advice!

Um, is this a sauna or an amphitheater?? Can someone turn up the A/C please!?!? At around 8:30 pm on a steamy Friday night, DMB strolled onto the stage and thanked their sweaty, screaming fans for coming. It wasn’t too long before Dave astutely observed that it was “a little warm in here” and was in need of a wardrobe change. But, the sticky heat didn’t slow down the band or the audience. The guys put on an awesome show, the crowd was full of energy, and I was psyched I made the trip down south to see my favorite band in a new venue.


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September 16, 2007

9/9: Farm Aid Press Conference @ Randall's Island, NYC

If there was one show I really wanted to cover to this summer, it was Farm Aid…even writing a letter to the Farm Yard advocating for myself (which proved unnecessary anyway when you have Billboard in your corner). For those of you unfamiliar with this annual event (calling it a concert just doesn’t do it justice), here it is in a nutshell:  “Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land.” Rock legends Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid show 22 years ago in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise money so that family farmers could keep their land. Dave Matthews joined the board of directors in 2001. Over the past 2 decades, it’s turned into a huge, all day affair that includes incredible musical performances, delicious food (all organic and family grown, of course) and information about how we, as music abiding citizens, can help support Farm Aid’s “Good Food Movement.” As a lover of both good music and good food (those of you who know me know that one doesn’t necessarily supercede the other), there’s no way I was missing the chance to blog about Farm Aid, especially since this was the first year it was going to leave its footprints on New York soil! Rather than staging this “longest running benefit concert series” somewhere in America’s heartland, as it has more often than not done in years past, Farm Aid’s board decided it was time to bring their big show to the Big Apple. Woohoo! I’m not the biggest fan of festival type shows (usually feeling cheated by the shorter set times, overwhelmed by the massive crowds and frustrated with the usually restricted general admission view), but Farm Aid is different…aside from the obvious (i.e. great music and food), it’s for a good cause and there’s a great “we’re one big happy family” vibe in the air. Quite simply, it’s just a really fun day! Oh, and Randall’s Island has actual seats in addition to GA lawn.


Setting up shop at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island was the perfect choice, allowing the perimeter of the open field to be lined with concession stands of organic, family farm grown goods. From healthy versions of concert staples like French fries and chicken tenders (my personal concert meal of choice) to falafel, chicken kabobs, Cliff bars, granola and yogurt…us urban folks had a virtual smorgasbord of fresh, delectable choices to sustain us throughout the unusually hot September afternoon. Even the performers weren’t immune to temptation. Early in the day we spotted Tim Reynolds sampling some of the eats, and mid his acoustic set, Dave suggested we get some of the organic corn dogs, admitting that he “already had five.” Umm, perhaps a night I’m not tempted try to sneak onto his bus after the show. See, I’m not completely insane ;-).


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9/9: Farm Aid @ Randall's Island, NYC

Typical of festival type shows, the earlier part of the day was reserved for shorter sets, by less mainstream names like Polka rocker Jimmy Sturr, country crooner Billy Joe Shaver, rock n' rollers the Supersuckers, and The Ditty Pops, who proved their devotion to preserving the environment by biking over to the show (so said Darryl Hannah upon introducing them). 21st Century country stars Montgomery Gentry kicked off the transition into longer stage times with a 4 song set that included "Hillbilly Shoes," "Daddy Won't Sell the Farm," "What Do You Think About That" and "My Town."

Hassidic rap wonder Matisyahu stole the still sun-drenched afternoon portion of the show by bringing his religious infused rhymes to the mainstage. "Kodesh" aptly paid homage to the water, but it was his off the hook beatbox jam that was most inspiring and had us singing his praises! Derek Trucks took his own band out on the stage for a soulful set before joining the Allmans and then Mellencamp later in the night. The guitar phenoms wife Susan Tedeschi lent her harmonizing vocals to "Soul Serenade" and "Key to the Highway." Alterna pop/rock band Guster followed with a longer set filled with their put-a-smile-on-your-face-make-ya-wanna-bop-up-and-down organic tunes.



Guster Set List:  Captain, Manifest Destiny, Satellite, Amsterdam, Airport Song

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Carmen and Camille @ S.I.R. Studios, NYC

Those of you still recovering from last week's MTV Video Award’s Britney Bomb need not fear any longer. The future of the world’s existence, and more importantly its potential to produce worthwhile pop princesses, is secure. Enter onto the music scene Carmen and Camille, 22-year old twin sisters from Vancouver who have been singing and playing music together since they were 5-years old. Key phrase there: “playing music.” These girls, sort of channeling Stevie Nicks with their long blonde hair, all black attire and hanging silk scarves, are as much talented instrumentalists as they are singers. Camille serves as vocalists, guitarist and songwriter while sis Carmen adds harmonizing vocals, flute and sometimes tambourine. The twin team has hit the hottest spots throughout Canada, sung their way through Budapest, Australia and the Caribbean, and recently starred as one of the only female fronted, non-metal acts at Locobazooka up in Mass.



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September 13, 2007

9/8: Tea Leaf Green at Blender Theatre at Gramercy, NYC

As if a 3 night run in NYC wasn’t enough, Tea Leaf Green topped off their third and final show at The Blender Theatre at Gramercy by giving their east coast fans a double dose of their California-based folk infused rock. How can you not love (and respect) a band that opens for itself!?!? Saturday night’s show treated all in attendance to Coffee Bean Brown, TLG’s mellower, acoustic twin brother. Before hitting us with 2 full sets of high energy rock n’ jam, the guys warmed us up with about an hour of their more folk inspired, west coast sounding harmonies and tunes. A sucker for an unplugged guitar, this was one of those rare occasions where I might have enjoyed the opening act just a bit more than the headliner….though I suspect there’s not too much competition between these two alter-egos as to which one steals the show. Ain’t no room for a 50 Cent vs. Kanye West smack down on this stage!


Set List:

Coffee Bean Brown opener: Dreaming Without Sleeping, Rattlin’, I’m Not Fit, Barnacle B, Honey Bee, Biscuits, Packing Up, Carter Hotel, Cowboy’s Lullaby, Slip Away, Cops Took My Weed, For Every Lonely Lady, Harvest Time


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September 11, 2007

9/7: Afroskull @ Parkside Bar and Grill, NYC

Another Friday night…another night of discovering one of the many multi-talented, yet lesser known bands here in NYC. This time, it was off to the Parkside Bar and Grill on the Lower East Side for some “superfunk.” Laying aside all set plans to go home and kick my feet up after the completion of my first week back at my “real” job, I took the advice of trusted music lover and frequent concert companion Randy and ditched my four DVR’d episodes of General Hospital (yes, Sonny is STILL alive…don’t lie, you know you were wondering) for a couple of hours of what was promised to be great music. When Randy told me we were going to see his friend’s band, Afroskull, doubt immediately kicked in and visions of mullet-clad 80’s cover bands soared through my head (sorry Randy, couldn’t resist). Afroskull!?!?! Are you kidding me?? But, truth be told, Randy’s never steered me wrong…and what’s in a name anyway, right? After investigating further into the origin of the band’s name, I’m definitely not ashamed to admit that the meaning behind it WAS lost on me


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September 05, 2007

8/29 Herbie Hancock Quartet, Ridgefield Playhouse, CT

Icon. Hero. Innovator. Just a few of the words used to describe the piano virtuoso that is Herbie Hancock. He’s a virtual legend in his own time, performing a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at only 11 years old, joining the Miles Davis Quintet in his early 20’s and winning numerous Grammy Awards (not to mention an Oscar as well) for his solo work as a jazz pianist and composer. WHEW…did you get all that? I’m exhausted just writing it! To think that my biggest thrill at 11 was New Kids on the Block.

Needless to say, when I heard Mr. Hancock was making a stop at the little Ridgefield Playhouse, I immediately put in a request for the show. It’s not often you get the chance to witness first hand the talents of such a musical genius. I was as awestruck as I thought I’d be (if not more so), despite Herbie’s frequent chatter and interaction with the crowd…case in point, ME!


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September 03, 2007

8/28: Aaron Lewis @ Nokia Theater, NYC

One of the best things about being a Mobile Beat Blogger is going to shows that I most likely wouldn’t have heard about or thought I’d be interested in seeing even if I did know about them. Enter into my inbox an e-mail from Billboard asking if I could cover the Aaron Lewis (lead singer from alternative turned mainstream rock band STAIND) show at Nokia Theater. I’ll admit I was never a hardcore STAIND fan when the group hit its peak around 2001 with Break The Cycle, but signature (or dare I say radio friendly) hits like “Outside” and “It’s Been Awhile” frequently blared through my MTV screen or car radio…albeit just loud enough to drown out my tone deaf voice as I belted out Lewis’s angst-laden lyrics right along with him. So when I read that the shaved headed, tattooed rocker was stripping down for a solo acoustic show, “HAVE GUITAR, WILL TRAVEL” I was intrigued and immediately on board. Throughout the night I had to keep thanking myself for taking this assignment because it was definitely one of the most amazing and intense nights of music and, ironically, humorous shows (more about that later) I’ve attended this summer.  Not only does Aaron Lewis have one of the most incredible yet under appreciated voices in music today, he is also one of the most introspective and sensitive songwriters who really unveils all about himself in his emotionally vulnerable lyrics. Large-scale, smoke ‘n mirrors rock shows beware. Lewis’s back-to-basics, no frills 2+ hrs set is unscripted, real and raw…and funny??


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August 29, 2007

8/24: Greg Mayo & The Groove @ The Bitter End, NYC

Throughout this awesome stint as a wanna be music journalist (by far one of the best summer’s to date…thank you again Billboard), us bloggers have had the privilege of seeing (and hearing) some of the greatest live acts on today’s concert circuit. Wanting to hit up as many big names as possible, it’s easy to forget that some of the best live music is often that which is yet to be discovered by major record labels and concert promoters. Before my days of befriending security guards and unfairly weaseling my way in front of thousands of other screaming fans (being 5’ does have it’s advantages), my favorite Friday or Saturday nights were spent roaming (ok, stumbling) through NYC’s own Greenwich Village in search of some great live music. So, with no official Billboard assignment on the schedule for the week, I pouted long enough to convince my hubby (who’s been the ultimate co-concert trooper this summer) to go on a hunt for live music with me…after his rather sweaty softball game and before his post-game shower…like I said…trooper. As it's always bustling downtown on Friday night, we ventured back to Bleecker Street in the hopes of finding at least one blog-worthy band. Not so tough when you've got the Bitter End in your backyard! Oh how times have changed! Sipping Shiraz instead of guzzling G & T’s and replacing otherwise unmentioned hand held objects with pen and paper (gotta keep it clean for the ‘rents), we strategically positioned ourselves front and center in no other than “New York’s Oldest Rock Club”…The Bitter End If it was good enough for the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder (just to name a few), then it’s good enough for this Mobile Beat Blogger. If legends like that got started there, and now I’m reporting from there…hmmmmm…could this be the start of…ok, I digress (and clearly daydream). The Bitter End, with its intimate nightclub ambiance and red brick walls, is not only a NYC Landmark (literally…it earned the title on 7/23/92) but a cornerstone in the world of American music at large.


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August 23, 2007

8/15: Umphrey's McGee @ McCarren Park Pool, Brooklyn, NY

Dancing in the deep end...

No better way to beat the heat on a steamy August NYC night than with a dip in the pool. Forget braving Penn Station at the height of rush hour (not to mention 2 trains and a ferry ride) just to park your butt on the beach in Fire Island...or sitting (literally) in the traffic nightmare that is the L.I.E. all in the name of the Hamptons. The life of a free spirit is so much simpler…and for the newest generation of live music loving hippies, McCarren Park Pool was the place to cool off and have some fun in the sun last Wednesday night.


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8/15: Disco Biscuits @ McCarren Park Pool, Bklyn, NY

If anyone's putting a new spin on the jam band world, it's the Disco Biscuits. Even though these guys are now beginning their 2nd decade as a huge staple in the jam band community...emerging from the University of Pennsylvania party scene in the  mid-'90s...their mix of improv jazz with the electronic sounds reminiscent of the rave culture is definitely something to get used to. Dubbed as "trance-fusion," the Biscuits' music is, to be quite honest, a little weird. It's got lots of smooth free-form rhythms to help you get your groove on, but at the same time blends in harder, more psychedelic and often hypnotic beats that seem better suited for an acid-induced laser light show than a hippied-out fest of peace, love and harmony. But, that's just me...because based on the crowd in McCarren Park, as well as their tons of other sold out shows, the Biscuits' innovative sound has defintiely found itself a loyal fan base.


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August 17, 2007

8/9: Black Crowes @ Central Park Summerstage

Central Park Summerstage is definitely the place to be this summer. With acts like The Decemberists, Beastie Boys and Black Crowes coming through, it’s no wonder it’s the greatest park in the world…and Thursday night was no exception. The rain held out, and the cool breeze made for the perfect backdrop to the Crowes’ earthy, bluesy rock n’ roll. After taking a few years off, the Crowes are back in full effect, with Chris and Rich Robinson proving that brotherly love makes for a kick-a** hard rock jam band…one that’s among the best on the live circuit. Listening to and watching the hoard of devoted fans that collected in Central Park, singing along to all songs Crowes, it’s obvious that despite a not so brief post 90’s hiatus, the Black Crowes still know how to cook up a dish of down home, southern-like rock n’ roll that remains in high demand.


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August 10, 2007

8/4-8/5: DMB in Hartford, Ct.

So if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m a bit of a DMB fan, and over the years I’ve been to just a few shows ;-). Sifting through my old stubs (because of course who doesn’t keep them) it looks like the first time I was at the Meadows Music Theater (as it was called back then) in good ‘ole Hartford, Ct. was August 1, 1998. The price of my tix was $29.00 and my seat was section 800, row KK, seat 825. 9 years and a little inflation later, I’ve gone from pretty much the last row in the pavilion to the press pit. Not bad, I tell ya! I know lots of people moan and groan about this little venue in downtown Hartford…the crowds, the crazy parking lots (yup, been a victim of some smashed car windows myself…well, not my car, but I will protect the name of the innocent), etc., swearing they’ll never go back. Friends who I’ve gone up there with in the past look at me like I’m crazy for continuing to make the trip. Bottom line, if DMB is within driving distance, I’m going! And truth be told, once you get passed the mayhem outside the venue and are hopefully not sitting next to a puker or screecher, you’ll realize that the acoustics alone make it one of the best amphitheaters on the northeast coast, and I’ve seen some really stand-out shows there over the years. Lucky for me, Billboard was able to indulge me one last time with a press pass for my favorite band…whoohoo!!


I'm just going to keep telling myself that he's smiling at me.

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August 07, 2007

8/1: DMB @ Tweeter Center in Mansfield, Mass.

2007 Summer Tour Is Here!

5 days, 4 shows, 2 venues, 1 press pass and over $100 in gas can only mean one thing…DMB summer tour ’07 is “officially” underway! Lucky for me the guys decided to kick it off on the east coast so I can see as many shows as possible. Amazing as it may sound, in my nearly 100 DMB shows over the years, I don’t think I’ve ever made it to one that was a tour kick-off, so you can imagine how psyched I was to be at Mansfield N1 and N2. Of course Billboard didn’t “hire” me to solely cover DMB shows (though clearly I’d take that job in a heartbeat), so no press pass for me for this double-header opener. Pics may be few and FAR between (pun intended), but hopefully the review will make up for the lack of visuals.


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July 31, 2007

7/26: Xavier Rudd @ Highline Ballroom, NYC

I can’t remember the last time I felt this excited about discovering a new artist. Of course, I didn’t “discover” Xavier Rudd, but in terms of my own music library he is the newest and best addition. I knew I really liked his chill yet funky sound when I downloaded his newest release, White Moth, but I was absolutely blown away seeing and hearing him live.


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July 24, 2007

7/19: Yonder Mountain String Band @ Ridgefield Playhouse, Ct.

Bust out your bandanas and pigtails…Yonder Mountain String Band is in town!

“If you guys stay seated the whole time, I’m gonna be really freaked out.” It’s not often you hear a front man with a mandolin give an audience that warning. But with that, the intimate Ridgefield Playhouse turned into an old country hootenanny faster than a cowboy draws his gun. Talk about freaked out! Before I knew it, the 500+ hippies around me rushed the stage and were stompin’ their feet so hard that the floor beneath me was shaking. As the smell of patchouli filled the room, dreadlocks bopped up and down and an inflatable whale soared across the crowd, it was clear this was no ordinary hoe-down. Determined to get their quick-stepping freeform dance groove on, despite the limited space, the energetic Connecticut crowd was proof of how fast this progressive bluegrass string band from Colorado is taking over the jam band community.


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July 18, 2007

7/16: The Decemberists @ Central Park SummerStage, NYC

Feels Like December In July

Two signs you’re at a great concert:  First, the “official” press photogs are still hovering next to the stage well after their 3 song limit in the press pit has expired, without cameras in hand and actually singing along with the rest of us common folk. Second, and perhaps most indicative of the quirky yet totally entertaining night of live music—Martha Plimpton (yup, that blond chick from Goonies) is rocking out in front of you. Wouldn’t be Central Park SummerStage without some celeb name-dropping, now would it!


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July 10, 2007

7/8: Dave Matthews Band @ Toyota Park, Chicago

WOW! Billboard wasn’t lying when they said they’d get us get as close to the music as possible. After 11 dedicated years and too many shows to count, I can honestly say that I’ve never been as close to DMB as I was tonight at Toyota Park. THANK YOU, BILLBOARD! While I usually don’t love stadium shows because of their lack of intimacy, tonight I felt like I was getting my own private show…at least for the first 3 songs, that is. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she!?!? Forget trying to squeeze and sneak my way up to the front….in an arena filled with 28,000 people, I was literally (and legitimately, for once) the closest one to the stage. Looking back over the sea of fans was a surreal experience, to say the least. With strict “no video or camera” rules in effect, only myself and two professional photographers were granted access to the press pit. Intimidating? Just a bit! Whatever…I was too excited to let my insecurities take over. However, while my two “co-workers” for the night set up shop, I was hesitant to block the views of the front row fans behind me (talk about an oxymoron)! My giddiness must have been contagious though, because instead of being disgruntled by having to stare at my back rather than Dave’s face, if only but temporarily, they fully supported my cause. As I always say, DMB fans are the best! So with their go-ahead, along with yells from my cheering section a few rows back (thanks Frank, Celeste, Reid and Vanessa), I perched myself up on the guardrail between the front row and the stage, pinched myself a few times, and waited for my all time favorite band to take the stage. I think I’m still shaking!


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July 05, 2007

7/3: Bela Fleck & Flecktones @ Ridgefield Playhouse, Ct.

While winning this Billboard contest is definitely one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me throughout my concert-going life, I realize that I can’t be greedy and expect a front row seat and press credentials for every show I go to this summer (though of course it would be nice)….and when going to a venue as intimate as the Ridgefield Playhouse, tucked away in a little walking town in Fairfield Connecticut, every seat feels like V.I.P. I mean, who needs a press pass when the venue you’re going to only holds 506 people?? Ridgefield Playhouse is a truly special place to see a concert and proves that the aura of a show’s setting can only enhance the performance experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love the excitement and energy at stadium shows, and I’ve been truly overwhelmed by the natural beauty of places like Red Rocks and The Gorge, but seeing a concert in a cozy theater like Ridgefield is a refreshing change of pace.

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July 01, 2007

6/28/07: The Dollyrots, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Just got home, and all I can say is…Joan Jett rocks! In a world where pop princesses somehow reign supreme, thank goodness this 80’s icon is still going strong. I’ll admit, I didn’t know what to expect when Billboard gave me this first assignment, as punk/indie rock isn’t usually my thing, but hearing classics like “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah),” “Love is Pain,” “I Love Rock & Roll,” and one of my faves “Crimson and Clover,” reminded me of how many JJ songs I grew up on and love…and how much fun a good ole rock ‘n roll show is.


Die hard fans had already secured themselves in front of the stage by the time I arrived, but I managed to squeeze myself up to the front, albeit on the side, for a good amount of the show. Despite the initial rainy weather, Pier 54 was packed with all sorts of fans, from older veterans to the pierced/tattooed to those not even born yet when JJ was first topping the charts. Probably the best quote of the night was when she yelled out to us:  “Good. You’re all rowdy & wet, just like I like ‘em.” Not like this NYC crowd needed any riling up! “Five” and “Riddles” are definitely two of the best live ones off of the new disc. Signature raspy voice and hard-core guitar riffs aplenty, JJ definitely knows how to put on a kick-a** show. She looked like she was having just as good of a time as the rest of us…thrusting and dancing on stage and even smiling for some of the camera phones a few times. Ending with a cover of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People” was definitely a highlight for me. I’m psyched that I got to catch this show. Had such a great time!

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