A Seder Plate of Music

14 Apr


Happy Passover! I write this as my stomach prepares for a night of hedonistic gluttony. While one of the central tenets of Passover is the prohibition of leavened items, the food is still absolutely sumptuous. Passover is perhaps my favorite Jewish holiday. Like all holidays, it presents the opportunity to see family, but Passover has a unique component – the seder. The Passover seder encompasses the annual retelling of the Jews’ biblical exodus from Egyptian bondage, and, like most elements of any good religious story, there is a great deal of symbolism and purposeful repetition. I am partial to storytelling, and, for Jews, this is one of the most epic tales of survival, revenge, and escape. With the recent release of Noah, it will not be long before the tale of Moses is offered in IMAX 3D.

So, in celebration of the first night of Passover, I thought I’d be a bit creative with a post before I start noshing on matzoh and hard-boiled eggs. Perhaps the most crucial element of Passover is the seder plate, which features six items – variations of food, of course – that are all symbolic of an emotion felt by the enslaved Jews. I wonder what song might fit each item?


1.) Maror and Chazeret

Maror and Chazeret are bitter herbs. In the Ashkenazi tradition (Eastern European Jews), horseradish or lettuce is used. As one might guess, Maror and Chazeret are used to symbolize the bitterness and terror of slavery. Unfortunately, slavery persisted well beyond Egypt, and the work songs of African Americans in bondage demonstrated just how awful slavery was (and still is). “Trouble So Hard” by Vera Hall is an excellent example of a bluesy work song from the early 20th century, which represented the troubles of African Americans during slavery.


2.) Charoset

Charoset is a sweet mixture of nuts, apples, cinnamon, and red wine, which represents the mortar that Jews used to build houses in Egypt. While the sweetness seems slightly paradoxical, it tastes a whole lot better than mortar! What best represents the dirty work of construction? How about a little late Rolling Stones?


3.) Karpas

Karpas, traditionally parsley or celery, is dipped in salt water to represent the tears of Jewish slaves in Egypt. Get the sense this is not the most optimistic holiday in the world? Crying. I don’t need any more of an excuse to use Roy Orbison’s operatic voice for the purpose of this post! The end of this song is one of the greatest vocal climaxes in any song ever – just saying!


4.) Z’roa

Sacrifice. The Z’roa is a roasted lamb or goat shank bone that represents the traditional Pesach sacrifice. It is not eaten. It is just on the plate to represent the sacrifice. A song to represent animal sacrifice? Elton John – “Sacrifice”? No. This is tough, and the food is calling my name. We go with Evanescence.


5.) Beitzah

The Beitzah also represents sacrifice (the festival sacrifice), but it has come to also represent mourning, as eggs are traditionally the first things served to mourners after a funeral. Let’s go with the latter option for our song. Unfortunately, mourning is an inevitable human emotion and thus several songs are written about the subject. Eric Clapton just happens to have one of the most heart-wrenching of the bunch.


Gosh, perhaps we shouldn’t say HAPPY Passover. Well, in the story the Jews escaped slavery! Jews have a history of powerful persistence, and no matter the adversity (and it continues to exist), Jews continue to persevere, and this holiday is an example of this. Enjoy the festivities if you celebrate!


A Lazer Gun Show from Brisbane

11 Apr

Hey Geronimo


In his epic War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy wrote “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” This was particularly apt because it took an inordinate amount of time and patience to write this work, which eclipsed 1,000 pages! I mention Tolstoy’s quotation because I have not posted on The Music Court since February. It’s weird typing these words, greeted once again to the blank “Add New Post” canvas. When I started the Music Court several years ago, I made you – the reader – a promise that I would never produce rushed, unimaginative content. Every post would be structured with care. You have responded favorably by helping us reach nearly one million views since our creation. Over the past few months I was simply unable to concentrate on writing keen posts for the blog. Thus, minus the excellent contributions from our concert reporter, Mimi Hong, I have let the blog sit (and my emails pile up). I am excited to write that I am back, and to celebrate my first post since April and thank you for your patience, I have an excellent Indie Pop single for you to check out from a band hailing from Brisbane, Australia! 

Famous Apache Indian leader Geronimo once said, “While living I want to live well.” If I might be so bold, I’d like to add a component to this quotation – “live well” … and listen to great music. It should come to no surprise then that Hey Geronimo, the subject of today’s Music Court feature, is creating some top-notch, effervescent Indie Pop music that you should listen to … right now!

This sub-three minute jitterbug infuses upbeat rock elements with staccato beats and carbonated harmonies. These elements are all wrapped up into a loaded firework and shot off into the sky to explode with wild colors and shapes. And, like a firework, the music attracts the listener’s attention and doesn’t let go. Instead, it explodes in the ears of listeners like pop rocks. There is just so much energy in this song. The spacey electronics to the crashing drums are both incredibly effective. It’s an excellent release from an up-and-coming band.

Hey Geronimo released its sophomore EP back in November and has since been touring the new EP (Erring On The Side of Awesome) throughout Australia. The band has found permanent residence on several music charts seemed primed for break-out global success.

Follow the band on Facebook or Twitter. You can also check out its website.

Wolverines Tour

3 Apr



The Swellers

The Swellers

I Am The Avalanche

I Am The Avalanche

I Am The Avalanche

(All photos from the show can be found here.)


Having previously seen Vinnie Caruana fill in for Hit The Lights on the Acoustic Basement Tour back in January, I was excited to see how he would sound in the context of a full band, in I Am The Avalanche. That day, March 28, was actually my first ever show at Webster Hall, surprising considering how close by it is. The first band was Bellwether, a local pop-punk band from Long Island. They had good energy and a lively lead singer, and put on a good opening set. The next band was Turnover, a Virginia based band with angsty lyrics and a sound to match – not quite hardcore, not quite emo, but somewhere in-between. On a split single with Citizen, they share a similar sound, and personally they remind me a bit of Seahaven. It was during the second half of their set that the crowd really began to get moving, and I was a big fan of their sound. The next band was The Swellers; Michigan based what I would call pop rock, most definitely with the upbeat influences and driving tempo of pop punk. Their set saw a large amount of crowd surfers, and their performance was very high energy.

Classified as punk rock and post-hardcore, Vinnie Caruana has hard-hitting vocals that are perfect for aggressive finger pointing and frequent crowd surfing. His arrival onto the stage saw a massive push from the crowd trying to get closer to the stage, and he seemed ecstatic to play, according to him, their largest NYC show ever. With the show that night serving as their album release party for Wolverines, they played a good portion of their new album, along with several older favorites, closing with “Brooklyn Dodgers”. Vinnie has a stellar stage presence, and every crowd surfer that made it onto the stage gave him a pat on the back, or received a high five from him. The crowd and the band had a very mutual respect for each other, and it was a very interesting dynamic to observe. Overall the show was incredible, and I was glad that I was able to see him perform with heavier, more aggressive vocals.


The Sound Of Animals Fighting

1 Apr

Unwed Sailor

The Sound Of Animals Fighting

The Sound Of Animals Fighting

The Sound Of Animals Fighting

The Sound Of Animals Fighting

The Sound Of Animals Fighting

The Sound Of Animals Fighting

(All photos from the show can be found here.)


On the 22nd of March, I anxiously stood outside of Best Buy Theater, hoping that nothing would go wrong with the list I was supposed to be on for a photo pass. Turns out the list was missing, and myself and four other photographers found ourselves stranded outside of the venue while show time inched ever closer. Luckily said list was located, and they were able to get us in with no problems, but most definitely a little close for comfort.

I was there for The Sound Of Animals Fighting, an experimental rock supergroup made up of big names such as Circa Survive (as well as now Saosin)’s Anthony Green, Chiodos’s Craig Owens, as well as members of Rx Bandits. Craig Owens did not join them on their reunion tour, busy with a new Chiodos album. It is to be noted that this was the first TSOAF show in ten years, as the supergroup had previously only ever played four live shows together. There was only one opening act, Unwed Sailor, an instrumental rock/ambient band with no vocalist, previously having toured with the likes of Owl City.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show, familiar only with Anthony Green’s vocals, with the promise that their live show was something unique and even a little crazy, most definitely a true performance. Anthony Green’s stage presence was incredible, a dynamic vocalist that made full use of the stage and interacted with the crowd. There were morph suits, and lots of them, holding a banner that held the quote “We must become the change we want to see.” Their live show was most definitely an experience, as several incredibly talented vocalists, (Anthony Green, Matt Kelly, Rich Balling) taking the stage together was breathtakingly overwhelming. The feel of TSOAF is definitely one that takes some getting used to, wildly experimental, ranging from purely instrumental to spoken word, covering essentially every style few and far between. Their lyrics and instrumentals tug at something indescribable in your heart, and you just feel the music in you, and they inspire angst, awe, and a lot of pure, raw, emotion. I came for the vocals of Anthony Green, but left with a new found appreciation of this star studded heavy hitter, as well as a newfound appreciation for the pure talent ground in this group.

The Unconditional Tour

17 Mar










On 3/5/14, sacrificing the convenience of not having to hold a massive winter jacket for the duration of a heavy, sweaty, metalcore concert, I was able to get in the second row at Irving Plaza. So close to the barricade, yet so far away. Admittedly the pictures are a bit dark (but we’ll just blame Irving’s poor lighting), but hey – at least they’re close. After successfully avoiding the long line of ticket holders by standing in the will call line, I was in the second row for the entirety of the show.

The opener was Beartooth, the new band of Caleb Shomo (ex Attack Attack!) and members of My Ticket Home. Though they only had about a third of the stage to work with, they utilized it well, jumping around and standing on the crowed for some of the songs. The final song was played with lead singer Shomo stage diving into the crowd and then being brought back to the stage via crowd surfing.

Next was Hands Like Houses, a six piece band from Canberra, Australia. Roughly grouped as a post hardcore band, they are definitely one of the big up and coming bands of 2014 (in my own humble opinion). They played several tracks from their new album Unimagine, along with several classics from their previous release Ground Dweller. However the lighting for their entire stage was incredibly dark, making it difficult to get any distinguishable photos. Hearing the softer songs “Developments” and “No Parallels” live for the first time was in itself a beautiful experience. Lead singer Trenton Woodley’s vocals were splendid as usual, soaring and dipping, hitting all of the intricate highs and lows present in their songs.

Next was A Skylit Drive, who were able to use a little bit more of the space, bringing out risers to put on the front half of the stage. Almost all of their setlist was from their new album Rise, which, don’t get me wrong, is an excellent album, but it was disappointing for fans of their previous releases, like myself. My personal favorite, Identity On Fire,  saw no love on their setlist, and Wires…And The Concept of Breathing received just one song. Nevertheless they put on a stellar performance, and lead vocalist Jag has only improved since they first started back in 2008. He too jumped in the crowd for their final song, and I was lucky enough to snap a few pictures.

The Word Alive informed the crowd that they were working on a new album, and debuted a song called “Play the Victim,” which is soon to be officially released. They really got the crowd going, starting several circle pits, with the epitome of the energy happening during their song “2012,” most definitely a crowd pleaser. Lead singer Telle showed off his vocal prowess, shifting easily between powerful screams and cleans. They closed with “Life Cycles,” a crowd chanting anthem that ended with Telle getting into the crowd, giving high fives to fans as he returned to the stage.

The headliner Memphis May Fire understandably had the most impressive lights for their set, able to finally utilize the entire stage. They are known for performing well live, and lead singer Matty Mullins did not disappoint that evening. They included a couple of much older songs, including one from their album Sleepwalking, circa 2009. When performing “Miles Away,” Jag from A Skylit Drive came onstage to do vocals in place of Kellin Quinn, and he and Matty performed it beautifully in the glow of an intense blue and purple lightshow.

This was definitely one of my favorite shows of the year so far, made better by being able to see several of my favorite bands on the same lineup, and being so incredibly close to the stage.


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