Fred Hersch, My Coma Dreams: Saturday, March 2 at Miller Theater

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper at Knitting Factory

by Craig Brinker


A trio of Brooklyn bands all currently signed to Ba Da Bing Records came together at Knitting Factory on Saturday night to celebrate the release of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper's newest LP, Ripley Pine.

There's been a trend in some sectors of indie music towards a more orchestral sound, full of violins, woodwinds, and pitched percussion, with artists like Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens leading the vanguard of this movement. Brooklyn's own Cuddle Magic incorporated a subset of this genre, complete with a saxophone, glockenspiel, trumpet, and the obligatory three-part harmonies. While technically proficient and well rehearsed, the group suffered from a malady that plagues many bands of their ilk: the low-energy live show. One could attempt to point to classical training as the source of this problem, but I've certainly seen many classical concerts with more arresting performances.

Xenia Rubinos was a much more engaging performer, with a set full of lively, danceable tunes. Her R&B-tinged songs are mostly a vehicle for her powerful voice, accompanied by sparse arrangements relying solely on keyboards, drums, and the occasional sample or loop.  While her project shows a lot of potential, a larger array of musicians might help to broaden her scope of textures and fill the many dead spots encountered throughout her set.

Aly Spaltro, the main musical force behind Lady Lamb and the Beekeeper, was an audacious performer with an irresistible voice. It takes a lot of confidence in oneself to begin a set in total darkness, singing a capella, your voice echoing naked through the PA system. As soon as she opened her mouth to sing, though, it was instantly clear why Lady Lamb was the headliner: the diminutive girl with the innocent face was musically head and shoulders above the opening acts. 

Her bluesy voice would sometimes stretch to a breaking point, shattering in the anger of a particularly cutting lyric. The songs often took unexpected twists and turns, and even numbers that began with a vitriol-fueled guitar riff easily found themselves turned into a lullaby halfway through.

Spaltro was clearly in her element while performing on her home turf, backed by a large number of her talented friends plucked from the opening acts: Xenia Rubinos played keys and provided backup vocals, Marco Boucceli took over the drum kit, and Cuddle Magic's trumpet player and saxophonist came back for various numbers—her father even flew in from Texas to play lead guitar.

With her charismatic performances, and a set of compelling, idiosyncratic pop songs, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper easily proved that she is one of the most promising artists emerging from the current Brooklyn music scene.