Weekend Music Picks (5/1-5/4): Choose your own adventure
This week I am going to teach you my favorite web-based ways to preview bands playing in North Brooklyn, so you can discover your own favorites to catch this weekend. My recommended shows are provided within the tutorial for busy, or lazy, Greenpointers.
When figuring out what bands or DJ’s to catch on a given weekend, it is usually best to start by going straight to the websites of your favorite places to hear music locally. Clubs employ bookers to listen to a ton of demo songs each week, and that can save you some time compiling your own curations, if you generally like the bands they book.
For example, if you like honky-tonk, rockabilly, or bluegrass, you know you should look first at the bands playing at Skinny Dennis. If your preference runs toward heartfelt singer-songwriter acoustic music, you can check out the lineup at the Living Room and Pete’s Candy Store.
Next, you can visit a website that covers the North Brooklyn music scene across all clubs; Brooklyn Vegan is one good option. However, keep in mind that curated listings on such sites often reflect genre preferences of the editorial staff, or lean towards bands that are trending. What that translates to for the present scene is lots of punk music, and some sold-out shows.
But good news for fans of two well-known bands playing this weekend, though: tickets are still available for the Underdog show at St. Vitus (1120 Manhattan Ave.) on Sunday at 2 pm, and the Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 N. 6th St.) still has tickets for the 11:30 pm show on Friday by atmospheric rockers …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead. Both are well-established acts, Underdog dates back to the mid-80’s CBGB’s hardcore scene, and both bands continue to compose new work. If you suffer a concussion from bashing around with the crowd at St. Vitus during Underdog’s show, ideally you will regain consciousness just in time to catch punk parodist veterans, The Meatmen, at the same venue on Monday at 8 pm.
The next step in your discovery of great music is to take the band and DJ names you have collected from the venue and music critic sites, and stream your candidates’ music. Easy, right? You may be thinking you can just sign into your subscription service of choice (Spotify, Rhapsody, etc.) or go to YouTube and look up their videos. In practice, it is not so easy. Both the subscription services and YouTube often lack songs by local, lesser-known bands.
A lot of bands do post their performances on YouTube. The one embedded below, featuring North Brooklyn’s own success story, Hannibal Buress, as well as the J-Train, got us excited about seeing the free Heems show at Brooklyn Night Bazaar (165 Banker St.), playing last in a five-act lineup that starts at 7 pm tonight (5/1). Heems, formerly of Das Racist, has retained the goofy and timely lyrical style of that group, but has thankfully abandoned its sometimes academic, rote rhythms for club-thumping mad beats.
Your most successful search for a band’s music will usually happen when you run a Google search for a band followed by the phrase “soundcloud bandcamp.” This will reveal search results for two of the most popular websites where independent musicians post their songs for streaming.
Soundcloud will let you compile all the weekend’s music into a playlist for continuous listening, or through an Android or iOS app. Bandcamp requires the purchase of at least one song to access advanced features, but links that bands provide to their Bandcamp page will play without a subscription.
Many local music venue websites make this whole process easier by posting a link to the band’s Soundcloud or Bandcamp page, or the band’s own website — or maybe just free tickets to Santigold playing 5/14 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, being released Friday May 1st at noon. Aren’t you glad you kept reading this post?
Pretty soon, you’ll be previewing songs with ease, perhaps through headphones at your day job. Just remember, when you shout out “yo that’s my jam!” your co-workers will not be amused.