Author Archives: Eric R. Danton

Beastie Boys Were My First Concert, In 1987

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Adam Yauch speaks at the Apple Soho store on May 2, 2008, in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder / Getty Images)

As news spreads via social media this afternoon about the death of Beastie Boys co-founder Adam Yauch, a tweet from the screenwriter Josh A. Cagan, West Hartford native and son of my colleague Korky Vann, stood out: “Ow,” he wrote. “My childhood hurts. #RIPMCA”

I can relate: the Beastie Boys headlined the first concert I ever saw, in July 1987, at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colo., outside Denver. Run D.M.C. opened. I was 11.

Mostly I remember them jumping around on stage, spraying each other with beer and dropping f-bombs, to the chagrin of my father, who had no idea what he was getting himself in to. I knew all the words to “Fight for Your Right” and “Paul Revere,” even if I was too young to know what they actually meant.

It was clearly a formative experience, though, and one that undoubtedly played a role in steering me toward a career writing about music. I never met Yauch, or spoke with him — in fact, that show at Red Rocks was the only time I ever saw the Beastie Boys live — but I’m grateful to him for planting a seed all those years ago. My childhood hurts, too.

Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch Dies At 47

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Adam Yauch, right, died Friday at 47.

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died Friday after a three-year battle with cancer, is reporting. He was 47.

Yauch, known as MCA, was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 after doctors discovered a tumor in his salivary gland. He co-founded the Beastie Boys in 1981 with Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) and Mike Diamond (Mike D.), a friend from a previous incarnation of the group that began in 1979. The trio last month was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though Yauch did not attend the induction ceremony in Cleveland.

The Beastie Boys started as a hardcore punk band with Yauch on bass, releasing a handful of singles before the trio evolved into a rap act known for repurposed Led Zeppelin samples and wisecracking rhymes on its debut album, 1986’s “License to Ill.” It was the first of eight studio albums that have collectively sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, including “Paul’s Boutique” in 1989, “Ill Communication” in 1994 and last year’s “Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2,” the release of which was delayed after Yauch’s cancer diagnosis.

Those early albums especially were transformational, helping to spread hip-hop from the streets of New York, where it originated in the 1970s, to the cassette players of suburban teens everywhere via singles like “Fight For Your Right” and “Hey Ladies,” and videos that featured the trio goofing around.

Yauch directed many of those clips videos under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower (and wrote a letter under that name to The New York Times in 2004 — third one down), though Spike Jonze directed the band’s most famous video, “Sabotage,” a send-up/homage to 1970s cop shows.

In addition to his musical activities, Yauch, a New York native, was a Buddhist and high-profile proponent of the Free Tibet movement. He helped organize — and headlined with the Beastie Boys — a series of Tibetan Freedom music festivals between 1996-2001.

Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, and his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.

Rubblebucket Plays High-Energy Set Of Danceable Songs Thursday At Pearl Street

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Rubblebucket performed Thursday at Pearl Street in Northampton.

Spending years on the road has honed Rubblebucket into a super-efficient party machine on stage.

The eight-piece Brooklyn band, formerly of Vermont, returned Thursday to Pearl Street in Northampton with a set full of high-energy songs, a sense of gleeful abandon and even a pair of giant metallic-looking puppets that wandered through the audience during the band’s set.

Rubblebucket’s music is an eclectic mix of styles that takes elements of indie-rock, funk and even electronic music and sloshes them all together into what’s best described as “dance music” on uptempo, horn-laced songs that make it impossible to stand still.

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New Concerts: Allman Brothers With Santana At Comcast; Linkin Park, Zac Brown Band at Mohegan

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The Allman Brothers Band coheadlines with Santana July 28 at Comcast Theatre in Hartford.

The summer schedule is filling up.

For starters, the Allman Brothers Band and Santana coheadline July 28 at Comcast Theatre in Hartford, one of just six dates nationwide the groups are playing. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 4, at 10 a.m. for $93.50, $63.50, $53.50, $43.50, $33.50 and $23.50 for reserved seats and $21.50 for the lawn. Tickets are available via

One Direction opens a U.S. tour May 22 at Mohegan Sun; tickets are $59.50, $49.50, $39.50 and $29.50. Demi Lovato performs with Hot Chelle Rae June 30 at Mohegan Sun; tickets go on sale Friday, May 4, at 10 a.m. for $34.50. Linkin Park headlines this year’s Honda Civic Tour with Mute Math Aug. 12 at Mohegan Sun; tickets go on sale Friday, May 4, at 10 a.m. for $69.50 and $49.50. The Zac Brown Band plays a pair of dates Aug. 31 and Sept. 1; tickets go on sale Saturday, May 5, at 10 a.m. for $97 and $77. Tickets are available via

They’re not summer shows, but Carrie Underwood plays a pair of Connecticut dates later this year: Sept. 15 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport and Nov. 10 at XL Center in Hartford. Tickets for both shows go on sale May 24 at 10 a.m. via No word on Bridgeport prices, but Hartford tickets are $65, $55 and $45.

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Ex-Fates Warning Singer Reteams With Guitarist As Arch/Matheos For Webster Show

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Former Fates Warning bandmates Jim Matheos, left, and John Arch have reteamed as Arch/Matheos. (Photo by Jeremy Saffer)

More than two decades after leaving Hartford progressive metal band Fates Warning, original singer John Arch is making music again with guitarist Jim Matheos.

The pair reconvened in 2010 to record “Sympathetic Resonance,” which they released last year as Arch/Matheos. They perform their first American concert Saturday at the Webster Theatre in Hartford.

“We’re really excited about this,” Matheos says by phone. “The last time that John and I played together was the first or second incarnation of Fates Warning, which was back in 1986 or 1987.”

They’ve worked together once since then, recording an EP in 2002, but no live dates followed. Although Fates Warning carried on when Arch left after the band’s third album, 1986’s “Awaken the Guardian,” Matheos says he always kept in touch with Arch and occasionally asked his old friend whether he wanted to collaborate.

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Norah Jones Releases ‘Little Broken Hearts,’ Covers Kristofferson

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Norah Jones' latest, "Little Broken Hearts," is a departure for the singer and songwriter. (Photo by Noah Abrams)

Singer-songwriter Norah Jones today releases “Little Broken Hearts” (Blue Note), her fifth album and her first outright departure.

Co-written and recorded with Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, the album strays from Jones’ jazzy low-key piano pop in favor of a leaner rock sound: Though there are ballads a-plenty, “Little Broken Hearts” features the punchy bass and offbeat R&B shadings Burton has brought to Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells and, to a lesser extent, the Black Keys.

The sound suits Jones’ voice on these songs, which were inspired by a relationship that feel apart. Known for sounding drowsy, she turns arch instead on “She’s 22″ and falls somewhere between rueful and royally ticked on “4 Broken Hearts.”

There’s an arid feel to “Out on the Road,” a slightly southwestern song of escape, while lead single “Happy Pills” is as glorious, and biting, a pop song as Jones has recorded so far.

Norah Jones performs July 2 at Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford. Tickets are $58, $48 and $38 via

(She covered this Kris Kristofferson song last week during an appearance on “Later With Jules Holland.”)

Amanda Palmer Announces New Album, Launches Kickstarter Fund-Raising Campaign

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Photo by Andrius Lipsys

Speaking of musical Wesleyan alumni from the class of 1998, Amanda Palmer today announced a new album and a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign that raked in more than 100,000 in its first seven hours.

The yet-to-be-titled album is Palmer’s first new studio release in four years “, and her first with her new backing band, the Grand Theft Orchestra. And it’s not just music: in addition to the album, the project features “a visual art exhibit featuring 30 visual artists who have created work inspired by the album,” including her husband, Neil Gaiman, along with Shepherd Fairey and Robyn Hitchcock.

Palmer will perform in a handful of major markets in conjunction with pop-up exhibits of the art, and while she’s not hitting Connecticut, the former Dresden Dolls singer will be in New York June 27 and Boston Aug. 2. She also promises she’ll be “touring it across the globe ALL year,” so expect more live dates to come.

Kickstarter contributions will help fund the independent worldwide release of the album and art book, and depending on how much you fork over, your reward can range from a digital download ($1) to a portrait of yourself painted by Palmer in a session that includes dinner and wine ($10,000). Click here for details.

Album Review: Santigold’s ‘Master of My Make-Believe’

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Wesleyan alumna Santigold performs Friday, March 16, in Austin, Texas, at Spin magazine's Spinn@Stubbs party.

Santi White didn’t intend to wait so long before releasing the follow-up to her 2008 debut, but it took her a while to adjust to the buzz that washed over “Santogold.”

The hype was deserved: “Santogold” was a forward-looking album that ignored genre distinctions, mixing electro, new-wave and post-punk into a dazzling hybrid, which led to tours with Coldplay and Kanye West. She doesn’t change her sound so much as refine it on “Master of My Make-Believe” (Atlantic), the long-awaited follow-up.

Now performing as Santigold (there were legal complications), the Wesleyan alumna works with a genre-spanning array of collaborators, including musical partner John Hill, Diplo, Switch, Q-Tip and members of TV On the Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

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Nickelback Revels In Good Times During 90-Minute Set Friday In Hartford

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Chad Kroeger, left, and Daniel Adair of Nickelback performed Friday, April 27, at XL Center in Hartford. (Photo by Diana Guay Dixon/Special to

Word that Bush was touring with Nickelback this spring seemed to prompt one of two reactions: “Really? Nickelback?” or “Bush — that’s still a thing?”

Yes, and yes.

Pairing Bush with Nickelback, though, makes sense, in that Nickelback is very much a stylistic descendant of Bush, which skipped over the commercial ambivalence of American grunge bands and aimed straight for mass-culture success. Nickelback is the latter-day equivalent, just streamlined, with bigger riffs and less subtlety. There was plenty of the former and little of the latter during Nickelback’s performance Friday at XL Center in Hartford, where the band treated a sizable crowd to 90 minutes’ worth of red-meat hard rock, and one unexpected cover. (See more photos here.)

The musicians radiated a regular-guy affability on stage, playing songs that were largely about having a good time: getting wasted on “Bottoms Up,” getting famous on “Rockstar” and getting laid on, well, plenty of others. Even on the darker songs, like opener “This Means War” or the domestic abuse tale “Never Again,” singer Chad Kroeger never seemed to take things personally — he had the confident air of someone who knows he’ll be back to having a good time in no time.

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Album Review: Death Grips’ ‘The Money Store’

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Death Grips makes music at once confrontational and fascinating on "The Money Store." (Photo by Jonny Magowan)

For as long as there has been hip-hop, there have been weird experimental offshoots. Industrial hip-hop is one of them — in fact, it’s probably the most enduring, though it’s never been widely practiced or particularly well-known.

Death Grips is changing that, at least a little bit. After releasing the cacophonous free mixtape “Exmilitary” last year (download it here), the Sacramento, Calif., trio this week returned with its first official album, “The Money Store” (Epic). It’s a collection of jarring songs packed with jumbles of explosive rhythm, synthesizer blare and sharp, barked vocals. “Abrasive” barely begins to describe the music, but there’s something mesmerizing about it, too.

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