Petter Stakee’s blond hair jutted from a black top hat as the five-piece Alberta Cross opened at The Rock Shop on June 21 with a new song called “Magnolia.”
Bassist Terry Wolfers pushed out a smooth bass line while a repetitive chorus etched the tune in our heads -- not bad for something new.
The band followed up with material off their 2009 debut album, “Broken Side of Time.” Alec Higgins’s keys and Sam Kearney’s guitar solo took us into “Old Man Chicago.” The band hit its groove and this breezy number had the crowd singing. “The Thief and the Heartbreaker” got the audience in one uniform head-bop.
Started in the U.K. in 2007 by Stakee and Wolfers, Alberta Cross really took shape after the two moved to Brooklyn later that year. They have built a following around their bluesy style of rock.
The band tried out more new material with “Money for the Weekend,” which had an arena rock sound led by Stakee’s gritty soulful voice. A cover of John Lennon’s “Steel and Glass” had the crowd rejoicing at Stakee’s spot-on delivery.
The group ended the set by inviting up folk artist Cory Chisel for a take on an Alberta Cross gospel number called “Rise From the Shadows.” With an old video camera in hand, Chisel filmed the guys performing from the stage before taking on backing vocals. Stakee made his way into the audience and leaned on a lucky few as he laid down the lead.
The encore was a heavy rocking “ATX,” with guitars howling, crowd clapping and a send-off jam to wrap it up.
An EP is on the way but in the meantime you can catch the band on July 6 at the Ottawa Bluesfest and July 8 in Chicago as part of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan tour.
On June 9, a capacity crowd at the Music Hall of Williamsburg treated Cults, another five-piece, to hometown cheers. The group was founded less than a year ago by New York University film students Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion after they morphed from posting a few tracks by themselves on the Web to selling out this local venue.
Follin’s long black hair framed a pale face as she sang the opening lines to “Abducted,” which tells of a bad breakup. She swayed side to side and traded vocals with Oblivion.
He remarked that the show was the band’s “official record release” as the self-titled debut had been released two days earlier. The album successfully captures the group’s ‘60s-style fuzzed-out pop sound, but the live show delivers the essence.
For “Most Wanted,” Follin’s innocent youthful voice was complimented by a simple beat, glowing keys, small guitar riffs and some prerecorded vocal samples. The warm number was quickly followed by a splashier “You Know What I Mean,” with snapping drum-pad and single guitar notes.
A xylophone played the opening sounds to “Go Outside,” the band’s breakout single. Simple in structure and lack of effects, it proved once again that a good beat and melody are all you need.
The too-brief set wrapped up in 40 minutes with “Oh My God.” Oblivion jumped in the crowd for his final guitar solo and Follin belted out a huge “Thank you!”
Cults will be back in New York for a free show at the Central Park SummerStage on Aug. 7. The band also has summer dates on the West Coast leading up to this show, including the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago.
Here’s a selection of New York-area shows in July. Please note that opening bands aren’t always listed. Shows marked (SO) are sold out, although online services such as Craigslist often have tickets.
July 1 Memory Tapes/New Moods at Mercury Lounge July 2 The Feelies at Maxwell’s July 3 Panda Bear/Ducktails at Music Hall of Williamsburg (SO) July 5 Mazes/Beige/Country Mice/The Hairs at Glasslands Gallery July 6 SBTRKT/Mux Mool/Shigeto at Glasslands Gallery July 7 My Brightest Diamond at Castle Clinton (Free) July 8 Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea/Workout at Music Hall of Williamsburg July 9 Soundgarden/Coheed & Cambria at Jones Beach Amphitheatre July 10 Vetiver/Yellowbirds/Meg Baird at Bell House July 11 Washed Out/Grimes at Bowery Ballroom (SO) July 12 Bill Callahan/Ed Askew at Bowery Ballroom (SO) Animal Collective/Black Dice at Prospect Park Bandshell (SO) July 13 Wild Beasts at Le Poisson Rouge James Blake at Webster Hall (SO) July 14 Tune-Yards/Austra at Pier 54 (Free) July 15 The Black Angels/The Sadies at Maxwell’s July 16 4Knots Music Festival at South Street Seaport (Free) July 17 Jon Hopkins/King Creosote at The Rock Shop July 18 Levon Helm Band/Emmylou Harris/Hayes Carll at Central Park SummerStage July 19 William Elliot Whitmore at Mercury Lounge July 20 EMA/Helado Negro at Mercury Lounge July 21 Cass McCombs Band/Lower Dens at Music Hall of Williamsburg Gang Gang Dance at Rocks Off Concert Cruise July 22 WU LYF/Bass Drum of Death at Mercury Lounge (SO) July 23 Heartless Bastards at Mercury Lounge (SO) WU LYF/Bass Drum of Death/Young Magic at Knitting Factory July 24 Heartless Bastards at Mercury Lounge (SO) Real Estate/Dent May at Maxwell’s July 25 Toots and the Maytals at Brooklyn Bowl July 26 Disappears/The Psychic Paramount at Union Pool July 27 Anna Calvi at Le Poisson Rouge July 28 Mountain Man/BOBBY at Mercury Lounge July 29 Black Lips at Bowery Ballroom The Dig at The Rock Shop July 30 The Dig at The Rock Shop July 31 The Raveonettes at Beekman Beer Garden (Free)
(Jaime Widder works in sales for Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are his own.)