The Smile is taking over New York City with three great shows at the Kings Theater and Hammerstein Ballroom

In the early stages of a 24-day North American trek that kicked off last week, The Smile (a side project by Radiohead members Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, along with Sons of Kemet Tom Skinner) came to New York City last weekend. week for a set of three consecutive shows.

The run kicked off with two nights at Brooklyn’s majestic Kings Theater (November 18-19) and a third at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom (November 20), a turn-of-the-century opera house. NYS Music was front and center for The Smile opening night at the King’s Theater on Friday night and the NYC finale at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Sunday night.

The Smile, which takes its name from a poem collected in Ted Hughes’ 1970 literary work Crow: From the Life and Songs of a Croware touring in support of their 13-track debut album which will be released in May 2022, Light to attract attention (XL Recordings). To further the Radiohead connection, the record was produced by longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich. Born during the 2019 COVID lockdown, as have many creative endeavors, The Smile released a series of singles and eventually, announced a world tour.

The current tour marks the first shows on US soil for York and Greenwood since August 2018, when Radiohead concluded their world tour in support of 2016. Moon pool. Yorke was scheduled to tour North America in 2020 with a stop at Kings Theater behind his stellar solo album animaHowever, this tour was eventually postponed and canceled due to the pandemic.

Backing The Smile for the duration of the tour, Robert Stillman, a Maine-born multi-instrumentalist and composer, has called the UK home for the past decade. Like his fellow tour mates (with whom he contributed to their album), Spellman delivers new material from his eighth studio album What does it mean to be American? (Orindal Records/KIT Records), released January 22.

Taking the stage at about 8:15 pm each night, dressed in head-to-toe white, Stillman relentlessly acknowledged the crowd for a moment before moving to his synthesizer. For nearly 30 minutes, Stillman wowed the audience each night with a deliberate looping process between his instrumentals and saxophone, curating an eclectic sound palette that drew on elements of jazz, drone, and psychedelia.

Kings Theatre (Friday, November 18)

On Friday night, early fans lined up before the doors at the Kings Theater in Flatbush, dressed in many Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Sons of Kemet, and other associated attire. The recently renovated classic movie theater is a great example of how a modern music venue can blend into a historic space. Decked out in ornate red and gold velvet accents, the cavernous venue boasts a deep sonic experience that constantly attracts artists of all kinds who want to experiment with their music in such a cool space.

The show began with York, Greenwood and Skinner at the front of the stage receiving thunderous applause, with the fans returning gratefully. With Yorke behind familiar piano, Greenwood on bass guitar and Skinner behind kit, Bana Vision got the festivities started. The song opens with a swirling piano riff before a dark jazzy beat kicks in. Yorke leads the song with his signature falsetto as his voice swells and calms down for several waves of the song. The band then plunged into a tight rendition of “Thin Thing,” a psychedelic Kraut-rock song that highlights The Smile’s style perfectly. The music is “stripped down” in the sense that it is confined to a trio, but the combination of dissonant vocals, punk rock strings, and jazzy percussions creates a dense palette that immerses itself in a lively setting.

In addition to songs from Light to attract attentionThe band played several unreleased songs on this tour. On Friday at the King’s Theatre, Stillman joined the band and contributed saxophone to two such songs, “Colors Fly” and “People on Balconies”. Other songs performed on Friday included “Bending Hectic” and “Read the Room”. The main set ended with the classic punk sound of “You’ll Never Work On TV Again,” which had fans bouncing all over the place. The final song for the night was Thom Yorke’s longtime favorite single “Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses”, which was self-released in 2009.

Hammerstein Hall (Sunday 20 November)

Although the doors were more than two hours away, a large (and fast growing) group of fans had already lined up at West 34.The tenth Sidewalk street in midtown Manhattan in semi-freezing weather late Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, at 6:30 p.m., quivering fans hoping for a spot on or near the stage rail were ushered into the cozy confines of the Hammerstein Ballroom, located inside Manhattan Center. Extensively renovated in 1997, the elaborate architectural ornamentation adorns the historic venue that seats 2,500 (all sold out tonight)—complete with box seating, three balconies, a proscenium arch, and a hand-painted ceiling mural 75 feet above depicting “Orchestra of Angels on the Heavenly Stage.” “.

At about 9:20 p.m., The Smile took to the stage, with Yorke stopping along the stage apron as the audience roared into wild applause and cheers. After assuming their stage positions (York on stage right, Greenwood center stage, and Skinner on his set on stage left), The Smile began their 90-minute set backed by a large video screen displaying broken horizontal line patterns. Bathed in red stage lighting, the first of ten performances from Light to attract attention Himself”. With Greenwood sitting at the piano, Yorke took his classic bass from Guild Starfire II and left the rest.

Throughout the evening, Yorke and Greenwood seamlessly traded their instruments, each playing guitar, bass and piano. Yorke gave stellar performances of “Thin Thing”, “The Opposite” and “Speech Bubbles” under Skinner’s loose-knuckle guidance and his hard-hitting rhythmic dialogues, addressing the audience succinctly while sitting at the piano for “Pana-Vision”. The Smile, but I guess you know it”. Next up was “Hairdryer,” as Greenwood bows his Fender Precision bass during the opening section of the 8-minute masterpiece.

The only blip of the night followed about a third into the show, a technical glitch that resulted in the “waving a white flag” being scratched from the set. While two other tracks (“Open the Floodgates” and “Free in the Knowledge”) from The Smile’s debut album weren’t performed Sunday night, fans were in for a treat with three new, currently unreleased songs – “Bending Hectic” and “Read the Room.” and “Bodies Laugh”.

Next up was “Skirting on the Surface”, developed from an unreleased Radiohead song and featuring Greenwood’s guitar vocals. York also introduced “People on Balconies”, praising The Smile fans in attendance for the second time. “I’m having so much fun being back in NYC. We wish we had another week, or two at least.” After welcoming Robert Stillman and the sax back to the stage, The Smile gave us “The Smoke” and “You’ll Never Work on TV Again,” a ballad in every sense of the word. After a break in encores, the final fifteen minutes of the epic included “Just Eyes and Mouth”, “Colors Fly” (with Stillman joining the band) and “Feeling Pulled by Horses”.

The Smile will continue its series of American dates until two concerts in Los Angeles on December 21 and 22 of the year. A 2023 show at Denver’s Bluebird Theater on February 16 has also already been announced.

Kings Playlist: Pana-vision > Something Thin > Contrast > Speech Bubbles > Free to Know > Hairdryer > Waving a White Flag > Colors Are Flying (with Robert Stillman) > We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Will Bring > Read the Room > Skrting on the Roof > Just Eyes and a Mouth > People On Balconies (with Robert Stillman) > The Smoke (with Robert Stillman) > You’ll Never Work on Television Again (with Robert Stillman) > Encore: Open the Floodgates > The Same > Bending Hectic Encore 2: Feeling Pulled Back by Horses (Thom Yorke song)

Hammerstein Hall tuning list: Same > Thin Thing > Contrast > Speech Bubbles > Bana’s Vision > Hairdryer > Sensory Bending > We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Will Bring > Read Room > Bodies Laughing > Skrting on the Roof > People on Balconies (with Robert Stillman) > Smoke (with Robert Stillman) > You’ll Never Work in Television Again (with Robert Stillman) > Encore: Just Eyes and Mouth > Colors fly (with Robert Stillman) > Feeling Pulled by Horses (Thom Yorke song)

Robert Stillman Gallery

Smile gallery

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