October 6, 2010

Born Ruffians/ Winter Gloves/ First Rate People - Bowery Ballroom - October 2, 2010

Born Ruffians
Winter Gloves
I went to Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night to check out Winter Gloves and stayed around to see headliners Born Ruffians.  I usually get to general admission concerts early to secure a table and/or seat in the balcony.  So I got to see First Rate People as well.  As the crowd trickled in, they seemed younger than usual.  From the looks of them,  the average age was around 22 - tops.  By the time the first band went on stage, there were a fair amount of people in the room.

First Rate People walked on stage at 9:30 with each member lining up along the front.edge of the stage (downstage). Since there were was equipment for the other 2 bands behind them, it looked a little crowded but their set seemed to work out just fine.

Like many of the bands that I've seen this year, First Rate People have an indie approach to music accented with flavors of  hip hop, dance and reggae.   FRP's first song, "Film Star" had a strong lyrical hook and sounded indie pop when I heard it performed live. However the song's recorded version sounds more like Daft Punk, which I partially attribute the auto-tuning on the vocals.

For their second song, keyboard player and vocalist Jon Lawless announced "Here's a sexy R&B song - This one is for Kanye."  FRP played "Orion"  which was interwoven with a looped sample from the The Stylistics song  "Betcha By Golly, Wow. " 

A song in FRP's set which was my favorite was "Dress So Fine, " with its reggae feel and lead vocal sung by Ross on drums.  Ross was later joined by Lawless and rhythm guitarist Sanagan who sang a contrasting melody for the B section of the song.  From what I remember of the song that followed, "Little Tykes," it had a faster tempo with a heavy backbeat.  Unless I was imaging things, it seemed like the bass part was doubled. The song had a funny lyric.  One of the lines I caught went something like "hold my baby's hand (hair) while she's throwing up."

Ross played with an even four dance feel on the kick drum and what I recall as 16ths on the high-hats for  "Gentlemen's Club."  Sanagan, Lalonde and Ross did the lead vocals together in unison and once again Lawless came in with a contrasting melody.    Sanagan  and Lawless also sang "It's Never Not Happening" which was characteristically different from the other songs in the set. It was a little more melodic and lyrical.

First Rate People ended their set with the very funky "Girl's Night."  This time the vocals went back and forth between Ross and Lawless with Sanagan in unison  It's not on the recording, but in concert the song's opening guitar riff reminded me of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back."

First Rate People were a great opening band. Their music was feel good fun.  I enjoyed all their songs and when I looked around the room, so did the rest of the audience.

Towards the end of the entire show, Born Ruffians' Luke LaLonde thanked both opening bands.  Jokingly, as an aside, he said "we fired First Rate People." It was a JOKE. He was kidding.  I wrote Alicia Ross to get info for this review and she assured me that the only reason First Rate People did not finish the tour was that 2 of its members were back in college.

First Rate People Set list
1.Film Star
3.Dress So Fine
4.Little Tykes
5.Gentlemen's Club
6.It's Never Not Happening
7.Girls Night

First Rate People Members
Alicia Ross - drums and vocals,
Hayden Stewart - lead guitar and vocals
Jon Lawless - keyboard and vocals /blond guy
Liam Sanagan - synth and occasionally rhythm guitar and vocals  - Tall Brunett
Patrick Morrissey - bass.


Winter Gloves zoomed through their 12 song set with an energetic intensity that seemed relentless.  Through most of their set, Winter Gloves kept the audience clapping and dancing along as they worked up a sweat on stage.  So much so, that keyboard player Vincent Chalifour's collared shirt was soaked by the time the set ended. (I noticed when the lights came up and band were breaking down their equipment).

Winter Gloves had 3 keyboard set ups, one of which included guitarist Nico Ormiston's glockenspiel. Along with their keyboards, there was a Mac Laptop to left of bassist and keyboard player Vincent Chalifour.  Without a doubt, Winter Gloves is an electronic indie rock band but that shouldn't negate the fact that guitar and drums are an equally important part of their sound.  That fact was apparent when I heard the opening song "We Need Transportation."

Winter Gloves front man and songwriter, Charles F., started the first song with an organ patch which lead into Ormiston's funky pulsating rhythm on guitar.  I couldn't help notice from my seat in the balcony that drummer, Pat Sayers, was multitasking.  He was playing a tambourine with his right hand and a snare and tom with his left.  Each time the song changed, requiring more high hats, Sayers would trade off his tambourine for a drum stick in his right hand then trade back.

The second song "Tooth Fairy," like first was from the new album All Red.  This time Ormiston prompted the audience to clap along and they more than willing complied.   Charles F's vocals and some of the modal sounding keyboards often remind me of Radiohead on speed.   To put it another way, I find the quality of Charles F's voice similar to Thom Yorke but a lot more urgent especially after hearing him sing the refrain "always" several times. 

Winter Gloves returned to their album About A Girl with the song "Factories."  The crowd recognized the song from the first "oh,oh" and immediately starting clapping along.  Charles F. kept up his manic pace by dancing around in place with tambourine in hand.  The band kept the momentum with the song "Let Me Drive," and the audience continued to clap along while dancing in place.
If I'm reading my notes correctly both Charles F. and Ormiston played guitar, while Chalifour switched between electric bass and keys for the song "Plastic Slice."  This song sounded like a change of pace not only based on it's instrumentation but because the drums had more of rock feel.  The following song "Strange Love" had a funky bass line over an even for beat.  It was the first time I noticed Ormiston playing glockenspiel while a theme played with a sort of glassy sounding synth patch was coming from one of the keyboards.  I try hard not to date myself but both there was something in both the a fore mentioned songs that sounded very new wave 80's.  I think "Plastic Slice" reminded me of the B52's "Rock Lobster" and "Strange Love"  reminded me of Gang of Four's "Man In The Uniform."

"Invisible" had this really sonically low bass part with a kick drum to match.  I'm not sure if Vincent Chalifour was playing the bass part on his synth or if it was coming from the laptop.  What I do know was that the songs had a cool piano like riff was being played by F. Toward the end of the song Chalifour  & Ormiston  played shakers and F stood on a stool to play the Wulitzer keyboard with one foot and a tambourine with his hands until the song ended with an immediate stop.

I know 8th song had a pretty fast kick drum beat and that when I looked at the main floor everyone was dancing .  Those were the two things I wrote in my notes but as for what the song was - I haven't got a clue.

If anyone reading this knows the name of the song - feel free to leave a comment. I originally thought it might have been an arrangement of "The Way To Celebrate" but I'm sure it was not.  However, I do know the song after it was "Use Your Lips"

A good host will always make sure you leave with something to remember their party.  So, before doing "Party People", each member of Winter Gloves stood at the end of the stage and gave out copies of their CDs to those audience members they could reach.  They also threw a few but not many.

Another one of the those 80's moments was "Trap The Mouse,"  with a song that sounded like it could have been on The Cures album Seventeen Seconds.   The rubbery bass sound and the sparse melodic rhythm in the guitar part against the eerie synth patches all sounded early 80's.  There was a part in the song where the audience went wild when Ormiston churned out a grinding guitar part.

Winter Gloves ended their set with "Ending Soon,"   I have to admit I liked some of the material from the last album more than the current one. But I'm changing my mind after hearing it live.  Winter Gloves were excellent and it feels like they should be headlining at this point. When the set ended, I still could have listened to 10 more songs.   Now, if Charles F. would only realize that having an initial for a last name makes him sound like a member of AA.

Winter Gloves Set List
1.We Need Transportation
2.Tooth Fairy
4.Let Me Drive
5.Plastic Slides
6.Strange Love
8.(Way To Celebrate)
9.Use Your lips
10.Party People
11.Trap The Mouse
12.Ending Soon

Winter Gloves are:
Charles F - lead singer, guitar, synths
Pat Sayers - Drums
Vincent Chalifour - Keyboard, synth bass
Nico Ormiston - guitar ,glockenspiel

Before Winter Gloves set, a woman joined my table in the balcony and asked me about the bands I liked.  (And I, of course, forgot the woman's name.)  We chatted for awhile and she seemed surprised when I told her that I had listened to Born Ruffians but wasn't impressed.  After the Born Ruffians set, I understood her disbelief.

Born Ruffians reminded me of Heartless Bastards who I saw not too long ago.  Both bands have a raw urgent quality to their music that feels very punk.   Though Luke LaLonde vocals were melodious, they felt like they were more about rock-n-roll rebellion then about sounding pretty or having perfect pitch. In some ways Born Ruffians felt like a neighborhood bar band that everyone went to regularly listen to on Saturday night. I honestly mean that as compliment. I don't think that pop music has to be deep, glitzy or pretentious to be good. Born Ruffians like Heartless Bastards are straight forward band with no frills and/or shtick, just a whole bunch of songs that the audience can sing along with and enjoy.

Born Ruffians started their set with an interlude that didn't really sound like much of anything.  But it was actually the introduction to "Foxes Mate for Life."  Once the LaLonde started playing the infectious sounding guitar pattern the audience recognized the song as was ready to sing the chorus of "And I know foxes mate for life because they're in love."

The bar room sing along went into high gear with the next song.  The only thing that seemed to be missing were pints of beer in glass mugs in the right hands of the audience members.  "Barnacle Goose" had swing feel and a distinctive lyrical rhythmic meter which is in many if not most of Lalonde lyrics.

Ruffian's next song "Sole Brother" had a opening verse with a melody that automatically hooked in the listener.  In the middle of the song, drummer Steven Hamelin sang a falsetto part before Lalonde came back in with his vocal.    Lalonde started a "In a Mirror" by himself, before the rest of the band joined him on the next part of the song.  That second part sort of had an afrobeat rhythm or a titch (a smidgen) of a neo soul feel to it.

Bass player Mitch Derosier played like a madman for most of Saturday nights show.  Derosier's playing is fast and fluid.  I guess it became evident to me when he was playing fast staccato notes during "Retard Canard." Derosier never stands still while playing at any point in the show. He's usually dancing all over the place which doesn't make it easy to snap a picture.

Before doing "Pinky Plonk,"Luke LaLonde announced that the song was the title of their New E.P.  The audience seemed to already know it and clapped along.  For part of the song, Steven Hamelin played the rims of his kit with his drumsticks.  Hamelin started off the next song "The Ballad Of Moose Bruce" which had a bass line and drums that actually reminded me of a horses gallop.

When I looked around for pictures of Born Ruffians on line, I noticed that Andy Lloyd wasn't in most of them. So I assume he's a new member.  Much of the time Lloyd doubled Luke LaLonde guitar parts like on the song "Oh Man,"  which by the way sounded very rockabilly.   Other times Lloyd would play the Nord synth that was stationed in front him.

Born Ruffins never lost the audience's attention but when they reached "Little Garcon," it felt like a song the audience was waiting for.    LaLonde started the song by himself on guitar with Mitch Derosier eventually joining in on harmonica.   The song had a sing along part which the audience knew and did without prompting.  At one point there was a breakdown with just the audience singing and Hamelin playing the kick.   I would love to know what it's like to be standing on stage in a room like Bowery Ballroom and have an entire room sing my songs back to me.  There were two points in the show on Saturday night that were really special, "Little Garcon" was one of them.

I could tell the show was coming into the home stretch because the audience became part of every song, dancing clapping and singing along.  I looked down and some of the kids were slam dancing on the floor. The poppy vocal on "Humming bird"  reminded me of Matt and Kim. LaLonde mentioned that Saturday night was the fastest they had ever done the song.  LaLonde said "You guys got Mitch so Fuckin' hyped up."

Then Ruffians got a little funky in a Joe Jackson Look Sharp (The Album) sort of way with the songs "What to Say" and "Nova Leigh."   The guitar on the "Nova Leigh." also reminded me a little of Vampire Weekend.  I guess "I Need A Life." was the right song to end with, because there were hands up in the air and everyone seemed to be singing along.  The song broke down to just drums and bass, the lights went down and came back up - end of set.

The audience went wild, not totally ape shit but stayed really loud chanting "one more song!"  The guys came back and did two.  They came back with the marching "Badonkadonkey." which had the entire first landing of Bowery Ballroom dancing. "Kurt Vonnegut" was truly the grand finale.  By the end of the song, the entire audience was singing "Won't you come outside....won't you please be mine.."  The audience kept singing the chorus as all four members walked into the audience and with the exception of LaLonde stayed there until the song ended.  It was an amazing moment.

For a person who wasn't really thinking I would be into all three bands, I had a really good time.  I hope to see all three bands again in the future.

Born Ruffians Set List
1.Foxes Mate For Life
2.Barnacle Goose
3.Sole Brother
4.In A Mirror
5.Retard Canard
6.Pinky Plonk
7.The Ballad Of Moose Bruce
8.Oh Man
9.Little Garcon
11.What to Say
12.Nova Leigh
13.I Need A Life
15.Kurt Vonnegut

Born Ruffians Members
Luke LaLonde - guitar/vocals
Mitch Derosier - bass
Steven Hamelin - drums
Andy Lloyd - synth and guitar


  1. i actually have the set list for winter gloves... i'll tell you what the eighth song was when i look at it

  2. Sorry i took so long to get back.... the eight song is "Way to Celebrate"

  3. Thanks so much! I originally had "Way To Celebrate" but the arrangement was very different and I wasn't sure. Thanks! I appreciate it!!