The lights were low but the energy was high at the Bowery Electric this past Thursday as four bands and artists with NYU roots took the stage for a “Joint Jams” showcase in honor of 4/20. The show was organized by recent graduate of NYU’s Songwriting Master’s program Brett Miller, who headlined the evening. Steinhardt senior Karina Noel opened the night, followed by With Snack and Tiger + Man. The room was full of love for each artist’s distinctive style and personality.
Noel’s vocals during the show were remarkably similar to her polished studio vocals, demonstrating her talent as an artist and performer both in the studio and in front of a crowd. The Steinhardt senior was extremely comfortable on stage, and her positivity was infectious. When Noel performed her EP’s title track “Blue Collar Love,” she got the audience to get up and sing along. She played a few tracks off the EP, released in 2014, as well as a few new tracks, leaving the audience looking forward to her next release. Towards the end of her set she threw in a cover of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain,” once again wowing the crowd with her vocal ability that ranges from delicate to soulful powerhouse.
Vocalist and NYU Songwriting Master’s student Lauren Scales grabbed the mic and warned the audience to “get ready to shake your booty” before launching into the band’s first song. Their stage presence could only be described as pure, effervescent fun. Trumpet player and Steinhardt alum Evan Lane jumped off the stage halfway through the set to dance with the audience, but they went wild when he revisited the stage to pick up his horn again. Scales’ personality and voice filled the room, but she was flawlessly tuned in with the band, never stealing the spotlight. Steinhardt alum Aviv Goldgeier’s hands flew across the keys while bassist and New School junior Nick Dunston stepped out of the shadows to blow the audience away with his solos. Drummer and Steinhardt alum Matti Dunietz kept the whole set moving, changing time signatures with precision and ease. The band gave a rich and energetic performance, drawing the crowd in with jazzy solo-packed breakdowns and interludes.
Tiger + Man
This electro-acoustic duo went on stage with a plethora of pedals and effects to translate their unique sound to live performance. The band’s fans were probably curious — perhaps even apprehensive — about how Steinhardt alums Tiger Darrow and Andrew Orkin would represent their music outside of the studio. But the evening proved that Tiger + Man is entirely capable of putting on a great show without losing any of their music’s spacey, other-worldly character. The fact that Darrow sang through the entire set while on the verge of losing her voice from illness made the performance even more impressive.
“Tonight what you’re gonna get is Tiger + Man, Tom Waits style,” Darrow joked.
The duo was at ease on stage and brought a subtly humorous rapport with them, trading jokes and jabs in between songs. They finished up the set with an almost unrecognizable cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” full of distorted guitar mastery and a full vocal spectrum performance by Darrow that could not have been healthy for her condition. While grasping her throat, she announced the physical effect of her enthusiasm.
“I taste blood,” she said.
As the organizer of the show, Steinhardt alum Brett Miller stood in the crowd during each performance, cheering and applauding. When it came time for him to take the stage, he didn’t lose an inch of the energy he showed for his fellow musicians. Miller went on with his new band, all together on stage for the first time that night, but sounding tight enough to have played together for years. Miller’s history as a performer playing piano in restaurants and bars since the age of 16 shone through as he approached the keyboard like it was as natural as breathing. But his performance was elevated even more when he moved out from behind the keys.
“I’m gonna lose this guy and get a little freer with this,” Miller said.
The band’s energy was contagious and many members of the audience got up and danced.
Following “Something Beautiful,” his sunny debut single released last month, Miller plowed on with a cover of Panic! At the Disco’s “LA Devotee.” He brought his friend and co-writer rapper Donatello up on stage to perform their original track “Bad Lord.” CAS senior Donatello brought some serious flow and rhyme to the stage. Their camaraderie on stage was inspiring.
Miller’s sentiments about the show during a preemptive interview with WSN ring even truer now.
“It’s fresh young talent, and it’s a strong lineup,” Miller said. “I’m grateful for everyone being a part of it.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 24 print edition.
Email Emilia Yu at [email protected]