Choral Rock Group “Ages and Ages” Doubles Up Gigs on the Lower East Side


 TLD contributor Flora Theden caught up with Ages and Ages, who will perform Monday at Mercury Lounge and Tuesday at Bowery Ballroom. 

Seven-piece choral pop/rock band Ages and Ages will perform at Mercury Lounge on March 31 and Bowery Ballroom with Lake Street Dive on April 1 to celebrate their sophomore record, Divisionary, which was released earlier this week. More of a collective than a band, Ages and Ages is gaining acclaim for their choral rock sound produced by overlapping harmonies created from the vocals of all seven members. Accompanied by hand claps, shakers and noisemakers, don’t be surprised if the contagious group singing ignites the urge to frolic through fields of wildflowers, a la the Flaming Lips and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.

Ages and Ages is returning to Mercury Lounge and performing at Bowery Ballroom for the first time, a venue which Rob Oberdorfer, bassist and vocalist, says is one of his favorite in the country. “Both shows should be cool for different reasons,” says Oberdorfer. “A little packed room has a different energy than a big, classy theater.”

The single, Do The Right Thing, is a secular gospel song with inspirational harmonies, piano and violin. The track came to life in Oberdorfer’s room when he haphazardly struck a C chord and stomped out a beat on the floor. “This mechanical mantra voice came out with the words ‘do the right thing, do the right thing…’ and the rest just started to fall in place,” he says.

The verses of the track address the complexities of doing right amidst a culture of greed and destructiveness.

“I wanted to paint a line between being correct – or following rules – and being right regardless of rules or expectations. That idea actually gets to the point of the word ‘Divisionary’ because it makes the case that doing what’s right often means you’re gonna piss some people off in the process. Which makes it confusing sometimes,” says Oberdorfer.

Tim Perry, guitarist and vocalist, spent ten days on a silent mediation retreat formulating the direction of Divisionary in his head while he was unable to read, write or speak. He attributes the calm, centered vision at the core of the album to a thoughtful and spontaneous writing process, which is evident from the celebratory vocals, triumphant melodies and introspective lyrics.

“Tim writes the songs, presumably by transcribing the voices of angels he hears in his head,” says Oberdorfer. “Everyone seems to have a different evolution. Some of the tracks on the new record were essentially built up from his bare bones demos, and others were more hashed out through practice and live shows.”

Monday, March 31 // $12 // Doors at 6:30pm, show at 7:30pm // 217 East Houston Street 

Tuesday, April 1 // $20 // Doors at 8pm, show at 9pm // 6 Delancey  Street 

Neil Patrick Harris Makes a Pre-Hedwig Appearance at Mercury Lounge

Ken’s Music Pick: Anna Haas at Mercury Lounge

Anna Haas

Songwriter/Pianist Anna Haas makes it clear that she is inspired by and passionately loyal to both her hometown of Nashville and her adopted hometown of New York City. And it’s true that her compositions display the sweetness, storytelling and southern charm of Nashville, but also the spit, grit and danger of NYC.

Her debut album “Crazy Is,” has the proud vocals of a Carol King or Sara Bareilles, with the musical daring of Ben Folds or Mika. She peppers her songs with unexpected breaks, horn lines and chants, then ties them all together with a lot of soul.

Celebrating George Harrison at Mercury Lounge

George Harrison

This Sunday, Mercury Lounge is putting on a birthday celebration for my favorite Beatle, George Harrison.  He may have been known as “the quiet one” to the young teen girls of the 60’s, but Harrison was really the driving force for many of the Beatles’ most memorable songs, like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Taxman” and “Here Comes The Sun.”

A largely introspective, spiritual person with an insatiable appetite for knowledge and new experiences, he is credited with guiding the group towards eastern music and mysticism, which would have a huge impact on their subsequent albums. Harrison, of course,  was much more than one of four Beatles, and went on to experience success as both a solo artist,  collaborator and an inspiration for countless musicians through multiple decades.

Laura Gibson at Mercury Lounge Tonight

Photo: Parker Fitzgerlad.

Tonight at Mercury Lounge, a musician who’s getting quite a bit of notice for her just released third album will take the stage. NPR called Laura Gibson’s first efforts “harrowingly intimate.”  On “La Grande,” the Oregon-based singer goes in new directions, “stretching her own limits, without losing sight of the warmth, richness, subtlety and haunted beauty that made her worth celebrating in (earlier albums).”  The show is at 7:30 p.m. and costs $12. Mercury Lounge is located at 217 East Houston. You can sample “La Grande” here.


Weekend Music Picks

Here are musician Ken Beasley’s top music picks on the Lower East Side this week:

Katy Gunn

KATY GUNN –  Fri. Apr 8 | 9PM at The Living Room

Brooklyn singer/songwriter Katy Gunn plays the Living Room this Friday, behind the release of her self-titled debut CD. An energetic offering of jazz/pop fusion, Gunn sings tunes reminiscent of Adele or Fiona Apple – adding bouncy string arrangements and danceable beats to her uniquely soulful vocals . FREE//154 Ludlow St.

Weekend Music Picks

Here are musician Ken Beasley’s top music picks on the Lower East Side this weekend:

Fang Island

FANG ISLAND – Fri., Mar 11 | 8PM at the Bowery Ballroom

“Everyone high-fiving everyone.” That’s how Brooklyn rockers Fang Island describe their music. Offering up heavy, melodic tunes like “Treeton,” laced with happy synth parts and beach boy harmonies, and “Daisy” with its effects-rich dueling guitars, they definitely inspire the urge to turn to your neighbor and slap hands, up high AND down low. $13: Advance $15: Day of Show// 6 Delancey St.

LES Music Tonight

Dam-Funk - photo via BrooklynVegan

L.A.’s  “Ambassador of Boogie Funk,” DJ Dam-Funk (pronounced “Dame-Funk”) will be at Bowery Ballroom tonight with a full band and DJ Spinna.

Over at Mercury Lounge you can catch MEN at 10:30pm (featuring JD Samson of Le Tigre) preceded by Light Asylum at 9:30pm.

At Pianos, you’ll find Capsula, Cavalier Rose, and Orange Opera starting at 8:00pm.

LES Music Tonight

Jim Campilongo - photo by Arthi Krishnaswami

If you aren’t going to the sold out shows at Mercury Lounge (Washed Out) or Bowery Ballroom (Company of Thieves) tonight, here are some other musical events that look like fun:

Guitarist Jim Campilongo is playing with his trio at the Living Room this month on Monday nights. Watch video of a recent performance here.

The 88 is playing at Pianos tonight at 10pm.

The Small Beast music salon curated by Paul Wallfisch is happening at The Delancey.