Live Concert Photography: Balthazar with Vlad Holiday at Baby’s All Right 5/25/19
I’ve written quite a bit about Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maarten Devoldere, known as the frontman of two critically applauded, internationally recognized JOVM mainstays Balthazar and Warhaus. Now, as you may recall, Devoldere’s work in Warhaus is simultaneously an expansion upon his work with Balthazar and a bit of a sonic departure — with the Warhaus material recalling The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, and Leonard Cohen — paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.
While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in Kyrgyzstan, his longtime friend, songwriting partner and Balthazar bandmate Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, focusing on his old school R&B inspired solo project J. Bernardt. During their primary gig’s hiatus, Devoldere and Deprez enjoyed the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses — while individually receiving commercial and critical success to be liberating. Interestingly, Balthazar’s songwriting duo found that the time apart created an undeniable urge to work together again, propelled by a much broader artistic horizon and an even greater mutual respect for each other’s work.
When the members of Balthazar reconvened, they did so without any particular plan beyond just having a desire to improve upon their previously released work — and to further the band’s story. As they were beginning to write material, Balthazar’s songwriting duo agreed that their new material should overall have a less serious, less melancholy feel and while looser, retaining the hook-driven quality that won the band national and international attention.
Last month, Balthazar played their first New York metropolitan area show in over four years, a career-spanning headlining show at Baby’s All Right. Opening the night was the Bucharest, Romania-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Vlad Holiday. Check out photos from the show below.
Born Vlad Luca Gheorghiu, the Bucharest-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Vlad Holiday’s father was a journalist, who spoke out against the post-Nicolae Ceaușescu regime, claiming that the new regime was just as corrupt as the old one. Because of his father’s work, Holiday’s family received death threats, which eventually led to the family emigrating to the US as political refugees — although it took the better part of a decade for the entire family to be reunited. in September 1999, a ten year old Holiday moved to Mahwah, NJ, where as a high schooler, her attended Mahwah High School. By October 2011, Holiday was fronting his own band. Initially performing as Electric Sun, the band played their first live show at Music Hall of Williamsburg — but by the following year they changed their name to Born Cages, as a result of a number of people confusing them for a 1970s band Electric Sun, which was fronted by Scorpions’ Uli John Roth. The band’s first show as Born Cages as at a CMJ Music Festival showcase that same year with X Ambassadors. Born Cages signed with Razor & Tie Records imprint Washington Square, who released their full-length debut, 2015’s I’m Glad I’m Not Me, and as a result of album singles “Rolling Down The Hill” and “Metaphor” receiving regular radio airplay, the album landed at #9 on the Alternative Specialty Radio Charts — with “Rolling Down the Hill” reaching #7 on the Alternative Speciality Radio Charts. 2017 saw the release of their Vlad Holiday, Matt Maroulakos and Justin Gerrish-co-produced sophomore album, an album which featured “Ain’t Gonna Happen” and “Half Asleep,” both of which landed on the Spotify US Viral 50. Building on a growing profile, Born Cages has shared stages with The Subways, Hockey, Magic Man, The Virgins‘ Donald Cumming, Har Mar Superstar, JD Samson, Said The Whale, Public Access TV and Guns ‘N’ Roses. Over the past couple of years, Holiday has been focusing on a solo career, releasing songs almost as soon as they’ve been recorded, not worrying about the pressure of music industry constructs like EPs, albums, singles packages and the like. His solo debut single “Quit Playing Cool” was premiered on NYLON and was featured on Spotify’s New Indie Mix playlist and Fresh Finds: Six Strings playlist, as well as All Genres Hot Tracks on iTunes and Apple Music. Since then he’s released a number of attention-grabbing singles including “Children,” which was featured on The Wild Honey Pie‘s “Buzzing Daily,” before eventually landing on Spotify’s New Indie Mix playlist; “Tunnel Vision,” a song focusing on extreme escapism that premiered on The 405 and continued a run of singles, which landed on Spotify’s New Indie Mix playlist. Holiday’s solo set, revealed a sound that owed a debut to The Strokes and others — but with an earnest sensibility.