July 31, 2015 Civil Twilight Breathtaking at Bowery Ballroom NYC 7-22-15
Music is constantly bursting with new flavors, which while opening doors for talented artists like South Africa’s Civil Twilight, also creates new journeys for listeners In the live arena; the transference of emotion along with energy remains endless. That is why on Wednesday, July 22nd on the Lower East Side of New York City a buzz was gathering in the intimate heart of the Bowery Ballroom where Civil Twilight were scheduled to perform. Fans eagerly arrived early and waited outside the venue’s doors, ready to see the band return to the city for the second time in 2015, the first being back in January at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade NYC. This past year alone, they have been persistently on the road throughout the country, opening for acts such as Florence & The Machine, and now headlining their own nationwide tour. Having recently released their third studio album, Story of an Immigrant, on June 2nd via Wind-up Records, it was time to promote their latest and greatest with tour dates across North America that through November. Supporting them in the Big Apple for the much anticipated show was the Indie Rock group Cheerleader and the fresh Indie Pop act, Myzica ready to jump-start the night.
First up was the up-and-coming duo from Nashville, Tennessee, Myzica, who were honored to perform in front of the New York City crowd. It was during the Spring of 2014, where Producer Micah Tawlks and Vocalist Isaaca Byrd were recording music together in Tawlks’ basement, where their first song, “Ready or Not,” was created. Forming a bond together, they continued to record new tracks, and soon enough, Myzica was officially established. Currently signed with Peptalk Records, and recently releasing their debut EP, Myzica, on June 9th it was time for them to hit the road to share their Indie-Pop talent to all.
Flowing right into their set with the heart-throbbing “Together,” Byrd’s vocals flooded across the house, which marveled all. As the crowd seemed to enjoy the tunes from the get-go, Byrd warmed up even further as they comfortably continued into “Wait Just a Minute.” It was during the next tune of “We Started a Fire,” that had the accompanied touring band fly in with a rockin’ guitar solo. As their material was coming to life at full speed, Byrd was glowing and bolted into “Believer.” The New York crowd, at this point, were swaying with the new music as they continued their set with “Kiss” and the romantic “Never.” As their performance was coming to a close, Tawlks admitted to the audience that this was their first time playing in New York City. He then humorously continued by mentioning they only have CD’s at the merchandise table, “if people still have CDs or a Mac from 2008, or earlier.” After a few chuckles were heard in the audience, they closed their set with “Ready or Not.” It was a wholesome and humbling performance, and perhaps they will come back to New York City again soon.
Up next, was the Philly-based Indie-Rock band Cheerleader. Originally started when Vocalist Joe Haller and Lead Guitarist Chris Duran, as childhood friends, recorded like rockstars using GarageBand in Duran’s parents’ basement when they were in Junior High. As the years passed, these lifelong friends reconnected and decided it was time to follow their hearts and take their music career to the next level. By 2013, they added Paul Impellizeri (bass), Josh Pannepacker (keyboard), and Carl Bahner (drums) to the group, and Cheerleader was born. It has been since April 2015, where Cheerleader last performed in New York City at Webster Hall, opening for the Indie-Rock act The Wombats. On this evening at the Bowery Ballroom, they were there in support of their latest album, The Sunshine of Your Youth, which was released in May 2015.
Kicking their set off with the Pop-Rock sound of “Tomorrow Always Knows,” landed them directly in the spotlight. As Haller kept the audience hooked, he spoke about the prior night’s show, which somehow led him to confess to being a Seal fan and continued to acknowledge how much he enjoys the song “Kiss From a Rose.” During Haller’s proclamation, Pannepacker discovered there were technical difficulties with his keyboard, where he was unable to perform for the remainder of the set. His attitude was incredibly impressive, as he shrugged it off with a smile and grabbed a tambourine instead, they went into “Do What You Want” from The Sunshine of Your Youth. Keeping their spirit and energy together, they rolled right into “A Million Ways.” Impellizeri picked up his bass as though he was the lead guitarist and continued to dominate the stage during “Haunted Love.”
Haller spoke out to the audience and thanked everyone for being there as he continued on into the sentimental “The Sunshine of Your Youth,” where his pristine vocals penetrated into everyone’s nostalgic heart. Impellizeri wanted the house lights turned on in order to take a photo of the audience from his cell phone as they went into “Waiting, Waiting.” Haller fleshed out an impressive, but brief, guitar solo while the fans cheered. Before they wrapped up their set, Impellizeri handed out “cool cards from the 80s,” as souvenirs, which were baseball cards, however, it had photos of eighties/early nineties legends such as Chuck Billy from the Thrash Metal band Testament riding a motorcycle. After a handful of cards were passed out, they went into their last song “Feel Like That.” It was obvious that they are not only great musicians, they appear to have a great comradeship with each other as well, which transpires to their comfortability on the stage. Check out their latest release The Sunshine of Your Youth, these guys sure know how to Rock.
The time came to switch gears to the evening’s headliner, Civil Twilight. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, the band is currently residing in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee as they make waves on the North American scene. Consisting of brothers Steven (vocals, bass, keyboard) and Andrew McKellar (guitar), along with Richard Wouters (drums) and Kevin Dailey (keyboards/backing vocals), Civil Twilight was founded in 2005 after quite a few years of performing in local garages and clubs. Exposure picked up after their music was featured in a few Primetime TV shows such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles along with One Tree Hill, and their 2012 album Holy Weather received quite a buzz. Musically, they are compared to artists like Radiohead, Muse, and Arctic Monkeys. However, their full tone incorporated with fabled-esque songwriting leaves them standing out on their own, which, within their writing, exemplifies the turbulent obstacles that everyone as a human has to face. The honesty of their own journey and experiences transforms after each album. On this humid night, they were ready to share their expeditions and experience to the New Yorker crowd.
Opening on a joke where Steven claimed that the Bowery Ballroom was boring, and he continued to lighten up the mood saying that he wanted everyone to have fun. Fans cheered as they went into new song “When When.” Moving along, carrying the upbeat vibe, it was time to dive into “Soldier” from their self-titled 2010 debut album. As their melody enchanted the crowd, the pace softened as the piano erupted in the latest heart-felt “Let it Go.” Leaving the crowd nearly in tears, Steven picked up the mood when he introduced his older brother, Andrew, to the audience. Andrew joined in on the fun, elaborating that he pulled Steven out of the womb. After a sea of chuckles evaporated, it was time for the Muse-esque single “Fire Escape” from Holy Weather. The smiling Steven looked around the venue and expressed how great the Bowery Ballroom is and carried on by simply stating, “This is crazy, playing the Bowery Ballroom.”
Sailing along with “Doorway,” it was evident that the entire room was into the performance and having a wonderful time. Swinging with the variety of emotions, the night shifted once again when they swooped into “Please Don’t Find Me.” Now squinting, Steven had difficulty reading the setlist, admitting that he did not have his glasses with him that night and carried on with new album title track, “Story of an Immigrant.” Continuing to converse with the crowd, Steven asked the audience how they were feeling; a fan shouted back, “How are you?” Steven chuckled and answered, “Fuckin’ great,” and moved on with more new material, performing tracks “Oh Daniel” and “Holy Dove.”
Fans remained engaged with the new tunes, and at this moment, it was time to dive back to Holy Weather as they went into the adoring “River.” The lights slowly dimmed shortly after, where the McKellar brothers were at the spotlight, Steven on piano and Andrew awaited with a violin bow over his guitar as they went into the dramatic “Human.” Embracing the evening with a warming wave of emotions, they poetically closed the night with “Letters From the Sky.” These last two tracks ripped through the souls of the crowd, where everyone felt a deep connection with the music. Steven was filled with gratitude that at the end, he graciously walked up front and shook as many hands as he could as he left the stage.
The crowd raised their hands and begged for Civil Twilight to return. A moment passed, and sure enough, they walked back onto the platform to the delight of all. Steven grabbed the microphone and confessed, “Wow, feels really good to be in New York.” He mentioned that this was the first time headlining their own tour and continued to share a story about his history with the Bowery Ballroom. “It was here, I was walking by one day and we saw The President’s of the United States of America. So Rich and I were walking past, we grew up listening to them, and we bought tickets for like twenty bucks and sat out there and just watch them play, so this is kind of surreal. Playing here and having you guys as attentive as you are. There’s a fucking world out there, there’s people walking around like crazy and you guys are very peaceful.” A fan cried out, “Because we love you!” Steven blushed and continued by saying, “So this is a song I want to do for New York City and for all of the people,” as they officially closed the night with “Quiet in My Town.”
In enough words, seeing Civil Twilight live is a magical experience. The energy put forth bounced across the venue and into the hearts of their fans. There is still a chance with plenty of dates scheduled, so keep an ear out for a show near by and grab a ticket for this intimate concert experience.