Monday, March 15, 2010

Emanuel & the Fear's album release show

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of attending Emanuel & the Fear's album release show at the Gramercy theater.

Opening for them was Elizabeth Ziman (of Elizabeth & the Catapult) and Jeff Taylor. At every one of Elizabeth's shows that I've seen, Jeff has come up and performed a song or two with her, but it was cool to see them perform a whole set together. In fact, no offense to Elizabeth's band but I think I liked it better just the two of them. They're both immensely talented songwriters with incredibly nice, very natural voices that complement each other very well and they seem to energize each other and play off of each other in a really great way. Plus I think the combination of Elizabeth's playfulness and Jeff's folkiness makes for a really great pairing. They just light up when playing with each other and it looked like they were having so much fun the whole time. I highly enjoyed their set, although I will say that I thought it was cut quite short (they had to skip something like four or five new songs and I think they only played for about half an hour), and that made me sad.

Emanuel and the Fear, already a huge 12-piece band as it is, took the stage with the NYU symphony orchestra behind them (or at least part of it - there were maybe 25ish or so additional musicians. I tried counting but I couldn't see them all, there were so many people). It was quite the sight and I'm surprised they managed to fit so many people on that stage. It was to celebrate the release of their debut full-length album, Listen. Emanuel came out dressed in a red suit (according to him, Ru Paul owns the same one) and had everything a frontman should - high energy, memorable hair (oh that hair) and clothing, a unique voice, an eccentric poet MC to introduce him, plenty of rockness, and lots and lots of talent. He's a multi-instrumentalist whose songs seem to be influenced by so many genres that it's easy to lose count and his in-between song banter was simultaneously self-assured and self-deprecating, so it was a great show all around.

Of course, the whole band (and the back up orchestra) were all quite good, but there's so many of them that I don't really have time to comment on each of their individual performances. They played a nice long set, about an hour and a half including the encore (which they couldn't get off stage for and back on so Emanuel pretended to walk away for a second and then came right back. It was awkward but funny). All in all a very strong set and a solid album.

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