BERMUDA TRIANGLE/VLAD HOLIDAY CONCERT REVIEW. MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN, JULY 26, 2018 (THU)

622D2696-A9C0-4C42-8DC9-10B63E395432

Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes landed New York City with her side project, Bermuda Triangle, on a comfortable summer night. One thing got my attention about the trio’s concert…that would be a rare opportunity to see Brittany Howard really close in the small, all standing venue with the capacity of only 550 people. The successful Alabama Shakes wouldn’t have tours at such small music halls for a while, at least theaters or bigger. Alas, how hard to obtain a ticket when Alabama Shakes had a concert at New York City’s Beacon Theater in 2015! That was worth to witness their magical performance. One of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever been.

Some of Brittany’s fans had the same opinion at that night. I heard about their excitement to be able to see her up and close around me on the front row before the concert. I was also curious how differently the Bermuda Triangle would carry the concert comparing with Alabama Shakes even they released only 3 singles without an album.

1. SUPPORTING ACT: VLAD HOLIDAY

5B9C874B-FE57-4B00-9151-C2A8EA65F85F

I actually looked forward to seeing a local vocalist/guitarist, Vlad Holiday, at the opening. I checked his “Exit Signs in a Burning Building” album a few days before the show and quickly favored. Melancholic and psychedelic but catchy pop-rock was somehow fresh in this rock-is-dead era. Good melodies were vivid with the 7 songs album. I felt that Vlad’s show would also be interesting though I didn’t know almost anything about the indie act.

I was right. The empty hall upon start quickly filled up and heated up. Vlad’s music was more guitar driven and edgy rock-oriented than the album. With some latest songs, the melancholic and psychedelic sides were more front forward than the catchy side but his hot performance succeeded to get immediate attention from the fans of Brittany Howard/Alabama Shakes/Bermuda Triangle who absolutely had no knowledge about Vlad Holiday within his 30 minutes allowance. They were concentrated on the totally new music. His wild and dynamic (yet technical) guitar solos reminded the audience why rock-n-roll was still exciting, the simple fact that was forgotten these days. Especially the climax guitar solo of his last song, Tunnel Vision, was thrilling. Eye-popping for fans, and I forgot to press the button of video recording. Some girls were shouting “this is so good!, he is sooooo fuckin’ good!!”. People asked his name again to remember the unknown brilliant artist while he and his band members, who also showed the tight performance (especially bass), were cleaning up the equipment after the show.

The con was it was hard to hear Vlad’s vocal even I was on the front row. I guess it was because of the sound issue without proper adjustment, a disadvantage of supporting acts before full quality for the main artist. Still, Vlad Holiday did his important jobs; heating audience before the Bermuda Triangle and impress himself to totally new people.

1C017DBE-41E1-4337-9C87-59A2A2254D98

3813E269-B50D-4319-AA45-1287C4446DC6

OVERALL POINTS: 73/100

  • Performance: ★★★★
  • Excitement/Fire: ★★★★+3/4
  • Vocal: ★★+1/2
  • Instrumental: ★★★★+3/4
  • Sounds: ★★
  • Song orders: ★★★★
  • Stage setting+lighting: ★★★
  • Better than recordings: ★★★★
  • Chemistry with the audience: ★★★★

VLAD HOLIDAY, EXIT SIGNS IN A BURNING BUILDING

2. BERMUDA TRIANGLE

Brittany Howard was on time again. She and her two other pals appeared at 10:00 p.m. Last time at Beacon Theater, Brittany and Alabama Shakes showed up to the stage at 8:00 p.m. sharp, literally when the clock clicked at 8 o’clock. It might be coincident but I loved to see her on time performance.

8FDF832A-E0F2-4DEB-8A6D-2E6DF3D2A8A3

As much as expected from their three released songs, most of Bermuda Triangle’s list were laid back southern folk/country songs. To learn about the Bermuda Triangle’s music was actually very easy on that show because Becca Mancari in the center clearly described their music in the simplest way; porch music. Sitting down on the porch, playing guitar, and having tequila or rosé is their music, Becca said. “Does New York have the porch?” Some do but not big like the South.

Now probably you find out. Brittany Howard was not in the center of the stage, locationally and musically. She was on the left, and musically being supportive of two other members rather than dominating all the spotlight and attention. Becca mainly took the vocal in the center, then Jesse Lafser on the right, and lastly Brittany, who wasn’t the main speaker, either.

E6BB503D-0FB1-4A27-822F-8B5A8952E570
Brittany Howard (left) and Becca Mancari
9B1E2719-A62D-4236-B57D-21506F166BCA
Jesse Lafser

That characteristic was clear on the setlist as well. Beside Bermuda Triangle’s original songs, the one-hour “porch music” concert included the songs of Becca and Jesse but no songs from Alabama Shakes. Bermuda Triangle was not Brittany’s solo project. Superficially.

However, Brittany Howard was definitely the main star on the stage. Her aura was different from the other two when she opened her mouth to sing. It wasn’t only that because Brittany was the main member of a successful band. Her soulful and bluesy voice and experiences to show herself on the big stage gave herself the shining aura to get attention from the fans. Becca and Jesse performed well, but Brittany had more performance power. Like she’d knocked fans out at Alabama Shake’s concerts.

DA7926C5-8881-4F76-8AC0-D72571D272160AFB73BE-A6F2-4953-B8A8-D3D620E22FC7C5F4441F-2BCC-427E-BE6E-010280F4E477

Some fans might be curious about the differences in concert between Alabama Shakes and Bermuda Triangle. Here are what I found out. Alabama Shakes’ concert means the one at Beacon Theater in 2015.

a. What Bermuda Triangle had but Alabama Shakes didn’t

  • Talk: Alabama Shakes didn’t talk much except the introduction of members by Brittany. Bermuda Triangle frankly talked and enjoyed interactions with their fans. When Becca was busy setting the drum machine, she asked Brittany to speak instead. Brittany said, “I got a cat”… very laid back. Becca, who was partially Puerto Rican background, was clearly different from the other two girls when she spoke. “I was born in Staten Island! (a borough in New York City)”. Yap, I thought you were from here. Not exactly southern. Welcome home.
  • Multi-vocalists: Brittany was the Alabama Shakes’ sole vocalist. With the Bermuda Triangle, all three members took vocal.
  • Encore: Bermuda Triangle sang one additional song to meet with the request from fans. Alabama Shakes didn’t.

b. What Bermuda Triangle didn’t have while Alabama Shakes did

  • Brittany’s electric guitars: No, Brittany didn’t play her beautiful Gibson and Harmony she always used with Alabama Shakes. Instead, she played acoustic guitar and double bass. Becca played electric guitar. I loved the way Brittany emotionally played electric guitar, so it was a little disappointing.
  • Rock: Bermuda Triangle’s music is “porch music” matched with liquor and lazy southern night. More country or folk. Not a bit of southern rock like Alabama Shakes.
  • Electic bass and drum: Brittany sometimes played big wood bass. The drum machine was used if necessary.
  • Touring members and men: Alabama Shakes had a session keyboardist and three background singers. Three females were the only musicians on the stage with the Bermuda Triangle. Thus there were no men, unlike Alabama Shakes that other members were men.

The quality of both songs and performance were high. Though all the songs were slow tempo, Bermuda Triangle succeeded to make the audience excited. Very minimal instrumentals succeeded to appeal good technic of each member with beautiful acoustic sounds and harmonies. The quality of fans was high as well. Real music fans gathered at that night. New York audience was drunk by the southern comfort directly imported from there. Two fans even offered surprise complimentary tequila shots to the members when the concert was getting close to the finale (they bought the drinks at the downstairs bar and brought to the stage). Fans enjoyed the good chemistry between them and the band in the small hall.

631E5AD7-6225-4C17-9262-C0DD0546D5A13CFE7811-3B15-4A7F-A3D7-93D68B7F57D3

Before the concert, I wondered if the Bermuda Triangle was Brittany’s another main project beside Alabama Shakes, if so what the destiny of Alabama Shakes would be even though Brittany was the main songwriter and brain. Bermuda Triangle’s concert deleted those concerns. Brittany was obviously just taking a break. If I said I was optimistic about the Bermuda Triangle’s long-live possibility by that concert, I would be wrong. Becca also said, “hopefully this is not our last year’s show”. Probably each member will be back to where they used to be. The concert was, in fact, fun. A nice opportunity to experience the southern porch music in the northern Big Apple. The musical skills of Becca and Jesse were high (that was a nice discovery of Jesse’s clear blues voice), and the band was entertaining. But I couldn’t find the project’s value more than one summer special without their achievable goal and certain numbers of their own songs. If Brittany Howard was not in the band, it would be difficult for the rest of the unknown musicians to fill the 550-capacity concert hall with not that cheap ticket (is $40 cheap? Well, cheaper than Alabama Shakes). I’d certainly look forward to Alabama Shake’s new muddy rock than Bermuda Triangle’s new materials.

OVERALL POINTS: 80/100

  • Performance: ★★★★
  • Excitement/Fire: ★★★★
  • Vocal: ★★★★★
  • Instrumental: ★★★+1/2
  • Sounds: ★★★+1/2
  • Song orders: ★★★★
  • Stage setting+lighting: ★★★
  • Better than recordings: ★★★★
  • Chemistry with the audience: ★★★★★

BERMUDA TRIANGLE

SHARE YOUR POPPIN' COMMENT! (ANY LANGUAGE)