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Alberta Cross Get Bluesy, Cults Grabs Brooklyn Hometown Crowd

Alberta Cross
Petter Stakee, lead singer of Alberta Cross, at The Rock Shop in New York. Their debut record "Broken Side of Time" was released in 2009 and the band exposed their heavy blues-inspired take on rock. Photographer: Adam Seigel via Bloomberg

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.

Hometown Cheers

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.

Breakout Single

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
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
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.)

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