By Katie Baker

About Katie Baker

Katie Baker is a writer and filmmaker in Brooklyn. Contact her at [email protected]

Interview: Angus Andrew of LIARS Playing at Warsaw on 9/21

Angus Andrew comes to Greenpoint to perform his first solo album as Liars. (photo credit: liarsliarsliars.com)

Angus Andrew dropped a new Liars album last month on Mute Records, and is performing at Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave) on September 21. YVETTE and Idgy Dean will open.  You can get tickets here, and check out the album here.

The new album, titled TFCF (Theme From Crying Fountain), is the first album since the departure of founding member Aaron Hemphill. The live show will have band members from Bamabara, and will include songs previously recorded but not released by Liars.

We caught up with Andrew during his break between the European and US tours to discuss the making of TFCF – which included a couple years of self-imposed isolation in the Australian bush. We also can’t wait to catch his show in Greenpoint and see first hand what he’s been up to down under.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Greenpointers: You’ve been based in the States for a long time, but wrote this album in Australia. What brought you back there in the first place?

Angus Andrew: There was a lot pulling me back there. I’d wanted to move back there for a long time actually, but it’s very tricky when you are a touring band to be based out there, but eventually… I made the leave… and thankfully got a good amount of time with my dad before he passed away and so it was really a good thing for me to do… I live in a pretty isolated spot which you can only get to by boat. Continue reading

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Brooklyn Film Festival’s 20th Anniversary Kicks Off Tomorrow Night at Wythe Hotel

Thomas Middleditch in Entanglement, Dir. Jason James
Thomas Middleditch in Entanglement, Dir. Jason James, showing at the Brooklyn Film Festival 2017

This Friday, June 2nd kicks off the 20th annual Brooklyn Film Festival, which will screen over 122 narrative features, documentaries, narrative and documentary shorts, animated and experimental films from 32 countries spread over six continents. Two of the festival’s venues are in Greenpoint: Windmill Studios NYC (300 Kingsland Ave) and the Kickstarter headquarters(58 Kent St)—also the site for the BFF Exchange—a day of free panels, and a happy hour sponsored by Stella Artois on Saturday June 10th. Continue reading

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Governors Ball After Party with ROOSEVELT at Brooklyn Bazaar this Friday

Dance music DJ, Roosevelt beings his four-piece band to Brooklyn Bazaar for a totally new live experience. (Photo credit: Brian Vu)

Catch the German-based dance music producer, multi-instrumentalist, and dreamy vocalist, Roosevelt, for a late night party at the Brooklyn Bazaar (150 Greenpoint Ave) this Friday, June 2nd following his performance at Governors Ball on Randall’s Island.

For those of you familiar with Roosevelt, it might come to you as a surprise to see the DJ with a four-piece band this time around. He’s amping up his live shows, and just added a new keyboardist to complete their summer tour (Brooklyn is just one of the three stops in the US—Governors Ball NYC, Philly and DC—are also on the list, before trekking back to Europe).

This is the first time for people to see it as a four piece. A lot of things came from the laptop before, but now everything is live… So that’s exciting for me right now because so many things can go wrong because there’s actually a band. That’s quite a special thing because it’s the first time we’re playing together.”

We sat down with Roosevelt before he dipped into a 5-hour-long rehearsal session in Brooklyn to discuss his new Remixed EP, touring with a girl, and what he means by “the European way.”
Continue reading

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‘What A Joke’ Comedy Festival to Raise Money for ACLU

OK. Tomorrow is the inauguration. We have all kinds of feels. And if this past election has showed us anything, it’s that we can and will strategically come together to support, defend, edify, forgive one another, and even laugh out loud in the midst of heartbreaking confusion.

Brooklyn comedians Emily Winter and Jenn Welch are doing just that with What A Joke – a national comedy festival which spans across 34 US cities, includes 86 shows, and gives all the ticket sales proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Like the hat? 10% of the sales proceeds go to ACLU No joke.

The NYC shows are happening right down the street at the Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Ave.) and Rough Trade (64 N. 9th St.) on Friday and Saturday. And the festival kicks off in Manhattan tonight at The Stand, and includes a happy hour and silent auction. The lineups are full of a number of headliners like Nikki Glaser, Dave Hill, and ‘Comedy Central’s Comics to Watch’ sketch team, the Astronomy Club, among a whole lot more. (Side note: Rough Trade is having another benefit for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood tonight with a nice little music lineup).

We got the chance to ask Emily Winter (co-founder), a few questions about the festival and discuss why good comedy is no joke. Continue reading

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Behind the Scenes at the Brooklyn Comedy Festival

Founders+Reggie
BKCF Founders (Julian Kiani, Chris Nester and Ashleigh Walker) headliner, Reggie Watts. Photo by: Rafe Baron

Last week the Brooklyn Comedy Festival filled Greenpoint and Williamsburg’s bars and music venues with top names in both local and big-time comedy. It was the festival’s third year to take over our hilarious borough, and we caught up with one of the founders, Chris Nester, to see how things went and what goes into making the fest a success.

Greenpointers: So, the festival is over! How’d it go? 

Chris Nester: Oh my god it’s over? Really?! How did it go? JUST KIDDING…We’re really happy with how this year’s festival went. We were trying to pull off a lot, and I think we did it without letting anyone know how tired we were.

GP: I don’t know about that. You look pretty awful. 

CN: They sent a comic to do the interview. Perfect.

GP: (Sorry). What made you decide to start the Brooklyn Comedy Festival in the first place?

CN: Julian [Kiani] and I were performing and going to shows in Brooklyn every night. We saw that something special was happening in NYC comedy, and that it was happening in Brooklyn. One night after a show, we had a candid conversation that basically went, “Is there a Brooklyn comedy festival?” “No, I don’t think there is…” “That’s crazy. We should start that.” Then we pitched it to Ashleigh [Walker], our producer, and less than a year later we had the first Brooklyn Comedy Festival.

GP: How long have you been in Brooklyn?

CN: I’ve lived in Brooklyn for six years. Moved here Sept. 10, 2010.

GP: Have you seen a change in the Brooklyn comedy scene since you moved here?

CN: Mostly, I’ve just seen it grow – not only in the amount of performers getting up every night in BK, but also in the number of shows happening and the number of people coming to watch those shows. In many ways, the festival has grown with the scene and the borough, and I think that has helped us a lot.

GP: Your team works out of the Pencil Factory in Greenpoint. What made you choose that space as a home base?

CN: Free coffee.

GP: Sounds about right. What’s your favorite place to watch comedy in Greenpoint? 

CN: I am a huge fan of the show Broken Comedy that happens at Bar Matchless every Monday night. They’ve tapped into something there – there’s always a good crowd and a full room, and the line-ups are always killer. It’s FREE. It’s become a great Monday night spot for comics to hit before they run off to Whiplash or wherever, and also for comics to hang if they’re done for the night.

GP: What’s Whiplash?

CN: It’s a great showcase at UCB’s mainstage every Monday night. Also free.

GP: Back to the festival: What venues were added this year that weren’t a part last year?

MusicHallCrowd
Crowd at Music Hall of Williamsburg on the last night of the fest. Photo by: Rafe Baron

CN: We had a few this year… Bell House, Threes Brewing, Dizzy’s Backroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg… As the scene continues evolving, with certain weekly [and] monthly shows ending and new shows always popping up, I think we’ll have new venues every year. A lot of our new venues are for shows that already exist and we attach to the festival.

GP: Did you notice a difference in the turnout this year?

CN: Every year we add more shows and bigger venues…it’s amazing that every year people continue to pack out almost every single show. It blows my mind, every single year.

GP: There were some big names on the roster like Reggie Watts and Vanessa Bayer, to name a couple. How do you get the larger acts on the lineup?

CN: I’ll just say that we have a lot of friends doing amazing things in comedy, and sometimes the stars align and we get to work together.

GP: Can we be friends? 

CN: I sent you a friend request like five min before this interview even started, soooooo ball’s in your court. 

GP: Score. What would you say is the biggest factor in the success of the festival?

CN: One huge factor in our festival’s success is the growth of its namesake borough. There are so many more people in Brooklyn now, and that mixed with the comedy boom we’re currently living in… I think people wanted this type of festival and they’re responding to it. We also work our asses off year-in and year-out to put on a good festival.

GP: Did you have a favorite show from this year?

CN: Reggie Watts, Reggie Watts, Reggie Watts. And with Jena [Friedman] and Michelle [Buteau] both doing feature sets….it was a really fun night.

GP: Reggie is magic. So, what are your plans for the future of the festival?

CN: 1.) To make sure Trump doesn’t get elected….not sure how but we’re really working hard on that.  

2.) That’s a tough question, and we try to make changes every year based on what we’ve seen and learned from the year before so we’re kind of just starting to look at next year. Our main goal has always been to lift up our scene, its fans and performers however we can, so we’re going to try and continue to do that as best we can.


Check out the Brooklyn Comedy Festival on places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for highlights from this year and info on the next!

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You Asked, We Provide: The Best Places to Watch Fireworks and BBQ on July 4th

Check out the sweet spots for celebrating this year.
Check out the sweet spots for celebrating this year.

From a waterfront restaurant in Greenpoint to outdoor parties in Bushwick, there are tons of places to eat meat, drink beer, and watch them fireworks this Independence Day.  Here’s a list!

  1. The Brooklyn Barge Bar is throwing their first ever 4th of July Party on the floating restaurant and bar this year. Tickets include a lot of food and drink with an unobstructed view of what could be the best viewing spot for fireworks in the hood.
  2. Get some Funfetti cake with a 4-course Star Spangled Supper at Hail Mary for only $39. And that includes all you can drink. Praise Jesus.
  3. Dance and dine at the Star Spangled Boogie shindig hosted by LP & Harmony and Deepdance promotion. The grub is FREE with a drink purchase.
  4. Nitehawk is making it tempting to be indoors (at least for a few hours) with their JAWS-inspired brunch and screening, starting this Saturday through Monday.
  5. The 4th of July BBQ Extravaganza at House of Yes in Bushwick includes 12 hours of meat and music, and is FREE with an RSVP.
  6. Dip yo’ toes in a pool and eat some eastern-style BBQ at Montana’s Trail House for their 4th of July Pool Party. Count on cheap beer and shot specials, BBQ and a raffle with proceeds going to The Youth Farm.
  7. Roberta’s is throwing a Happy Birthday America Budweiser Pizza Party complete with DJs, some artwork and FREE beer (thanks to Budweiser).
  8. Ridgewood’s beloved outdoor summer hang, Nowadays, is extending its hours from noon until midnight for the holiday. Think food trucks with all the classics (vegetarian options available), vinyl spinning, and a massive FIREWORKS show from the neighbors. Oh, and they have a FULL BAR now.
  9. Spend the 4th and the Flea with our neighbors in LIC. Shop, eat, and drink a beer at the Queens Beer Garden just steps away from the waterfront.
  10. Make your own meat and pies and find a friend’s rooftop.

The fireworks start around 9PM. Also note it’s the 40th anniversary of the Macy’s Fireworks Extravaganza – there’s talk it could be an even bigger display this year. Happy 4th!

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Go Before It’s Cool: Brooklyn Film Festival Comes to Greenpoint

Last week, the Brooklyn Film Festival kicked off its 19th year of showcasing local and international feats of independent cinema in a handful of venues, including two Greenpoint landmarks: The Wythe Hotel and Windmill Studios. With a number of networking events and screenings, there’s plenty of action for filmmakers, film supporters, and film lovers to get into this week.

This year’s festival premieres 12 narrative features, 24 narrative shorts, 9 feature documentaries, 18 short docs, 25 animated and 20 experimental films. The theme is “Experiment.”

With our 20th anniversary around the corner, the festival feels like floating in mid-air between our history and our plans for the future. It is this subtle sense of instability that fuels “Experiment” Edition. The experiment is reinventing ourselves, it is about allowing the unknown, and it’s about paying attention to the youngest storytellers. Every year we launch a new generation of talent, and this year’s selection is as experimental as mind-altering.

We were able to snag one of these new talents, Michael Irish, whose breezy serio-comedy narrative feature, Life of Significant Soil, premiered on Wednesday at Windmill Studios. Continue reading

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Shot! Free Screening of Danny Brown Documentary TONIGHT at House Of Vans

Premiere week kick-off begins at House of Vans with Danny Brown concert doc.
House of Vans and Rooftop Films partner to bring the world premiere of Danny Brown: Live at the Majestic

In a world full of bullshit and bullshitters, Danny Brown is as clean as a whistle. In fact, his authenticity is perhaps as pure as a baby bull’s shit. No matter how it’s put, Danny Brown is a true artist, and there’s a new documentary out tonight that will school you on the matter.

Directed by Andrew Cohn (of Medora fame), Danny Brown: Live at the Majestic captures raw moments with the indie rapper as he prepares for a homecoming show at The Majestic Theatre in Detroit. With 21 cameras, Cohn’s crew captured full coverage of the live show, but the documentary also includes intimate footage with Danny in his own hometown.

The film premieres tonight at House of Vans in Greenpoint as part of the Rooftop Films Summer Series, and it will be followed up with a live performance by Danny Brown himself.

Andrew Cohn, whose career initially started with screenwriting in Los Angeles, but who is now based in Brooklyn, enjoyed much success with his first documentary, Medora. The heart-wrenching doc follows a seemingly hopeless small-town high school basketball team through their losing streak in Medora, Indiana. The film premiered at SXSW, and it won an Emmy last year. 

Andrew Cohn at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Demis Maryannakiss)
Andrew Cohn at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Demis Maryannakiss)

Danny Brown: Live at the Majestic is one of Cohn’s newest documentaries (he also just finished Night School). This time, as with Medora, he seems to have been born to make this film. As a Michiganian, Cohn was a fan of Danny Brown before the rapper’s fame hit global proportions — before XXX or Old hit the charts — back when Brown was just a drug dealer in Detroit trying to make it as a rapper. Cohn says he remembers when it was a big deal whenever Danny was featured on the cover of “Metro Times” in Detroit. As a fellow Midwestern artist, he’s enjoyed seeing Brown’s fame rise as his own filmmaking success has evolved.

I had the chance to catch up with Cohn about the documentary — how it came about and what it was like working with the creative force that is Danny Brown. 

Greenpointers: What made you decide to make a doc on Danny Brown?

Andrew Cohn: It kinda came about as a side project because I was in the middle of making Night School, which I was in Indianapolis for. I had been in touch with his manager about doing a doc… and had lots of ideas that just fizzled and nothing came of [them]. But when I was making Night School… his manager approached me and said, ‘Danny is doing this show…it’s his first time doing a solo show in Detroit in a long time and we wanna film it, and want to talk to you to see if there’s something bigger you want to build around it.’ And immediately I was like ‘That sounds great, I’m close, I already have a crew and a ton of resources in Detroit and Michigan since that’s where I’m from’…So, first thing we wanted to do was shoot the fuck out of the live show…we wanted to just totally blow it out… And then I went back [to Indianapolis] to finish [Night School]. And, obviously, I spent about three days interviewing Danny while I was in Detroit… then had the idea to follow some fans who were at the show, and spent a few days with them, and slowly, slowly it started coming together… It was about a sixteen-month process from the first day of shooting.

GP: How did you find the fans who were featured in the film?

AC: Danny put out a Facebook post asking for fans who were going to be at the show who might be willing to be filmed…and we found some really great characters, you know, his fan base is super, super interesting… I think for Danny, he has a lot of fans who aren’t hip hop fans, a lot of them are punk rock fans. You’ll see a lot of mosh pits at his show. But I think that’s what’s great about Danny — he brings that vulnerability to his song writing. It’s not all braggadocious. He has that street credit, but he also has a punk rock mentality. Like, he refused to sign to a major label, he has this independent streak in him where he just does things his way, and I think the audience really reacts to that. He just has a really wide audience…like a lot of kids that come to his shows, I don’t think they’re gonna see a Drake show. He speaks to people that feel maybe disenfranchised, or people that are attracted to that kind of honesty.

GP: I was really impressed with how open and honest he was [in the film]. Was it easy to get him to open up like that in the conversations you had with him?

AC: Surprisingly so. I’ve done some profiles on some bigger artists and there’s always this kind of wall. They give you the PR spin of, like, an athlete after a basketball game, ‘Both teams played hard’ — this kind of sound byte stuff. But as soon as I met him — and I’m a huge Danny Brown fan — I totally understood why people love him so much. He’s so open and so honest and so vulnerable and raw. There’s none of that fake bullshit.

The first day I met him, we were filming late at night at the EL-P show, and they were all going to go back to Danny’s house and hang out after, and I [asked to come and film] and he was like, ‘Yeah of course!’ But I didn’t have car. I was trying to figure out how I would get back to the hotel…and he was like, ‘Oh, you can spend the night at my house! It’s fine.’ It was the first day I met this guy and he was inviting me to crash on his couch. At the time it didn’t seem like a big deal, but now, looking back, I’m like, ‘Damn, that’s crazy. That’s crazy.’

Danny Brown at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit.
Danny Brown at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit.

GP: So, why did you approach his manager initially? Was it just because you’re a big fan?

AC: Yeah, I mean I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. I remember Danny Brown before he was big at all…he was just another rapper from Detroit. He just opened for people – he was just one of the dozens of rappers in Detroit doing their thing…To see him transcend that and be really big was really really fun to watch. And so when I approached Dart, his manager, I showed him Medora, and he and his wife really loved the film, and knew that they would be in good hands. And I just started this relationship that ended up taking a long time to come to fruition, but I think in the end there was a trust there — like we’re from the same place, we have the same point of view, you know. So that’s what was cool about doing the doc…I didn’t have to sit down and Google ‘Danny Brown’ and do research on who he is…I already knew his full story, so it made it easy when we were interviewing or talking, because I understood where he was coming from.

GP: What made you decide to have the world premiere through Rooftop Films?

AC:  Just because I know Dan [Nuxoll, Program Director], and I know that they put on amazing screenings. The screening they did with Medora was unbelievable…so I knew I would be in good hands. They said that they had requests for 2,100 tickets in like three hours, or something like that, so I knew they would be able to handle the volume and accommodate Danny’s fans. I think that was really important to us — to have something where Danny’s fans have access…[something that] was going to be free, was going to be open to the public…all ages, 18 and over. So that was important to us. And you know, New York is a big market for him, so it made sense.

GP: Most of your work seems to revolve around people in low-income situations. What draws you to that landscape?

AC: I think that I love stories of underdogs. I’m not exactly sure why. I enjoy giving a voice to people who might not be given that platform. I think that there’s a lot of people out there in that part of the country who are really overcoming a lot of odds that don’t really get credit for it. So to be able to shine a light on people who wouldn’t have their stories told is really important to me. I think everyone is attracted to different types of material, and I like just making movies about real people who are trying to live in the real world, you know, and I think there are really courageous stories in that space. And I’m from the Midwest and obviously I love the Midwest — there’s just the frankness of the people — they’re very forthcoming and honest — and so I like telling stories about that part of the country — that part of the world.

GP: What are you working on now?

AC: I just finished my other film, so [I’m] figuring out the rollout with that. I’m doing something for MTV, Vice, ESPN, doing some television stuff, then basically taking a break. This will be my fourth feature film in three years. I’ve been going pretty hard for the past two years, so I’m going to take a break and see what’s next.

GP: Do you have an idea of what you would want to work on next?

AC:  Yeah, I want to take a stab at doing a narrative film. Get back to screenwriting and hopefully direct something narrative. I have a couple ideas for docs. There are plenty of opportunities coming my way and it’s hard to say no, but I need to do laundry, and just get my life back on track.

GP: Get back to the basics.

AC: Yeah, exactly.

GP: I mean, that’s a good problem to have as a filmmaker.

AC: Yeah, I’m super grateful. Especially for the opportunity to make a film about your favorite rapper…it seems so surreal. I’m just grateful to have the relationship with him. He’s just a great guy, you know.

***

Yeah! I know.

Attendance for tonight’s show is on a first come, first serve basis, and doors open at 7. Screening starts at 8:30, followed by a Q&A with Danny Brown and Andrew Cohn. Danny performs at 10PM. House of Vans is located at 25 Franklin Street in Greenpoint. 

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Earth Day 2016 Roundup: What To Do and Where To Go

Transmitter Park in Greenpoint
Find out how to keep Greenpoint green for Earth Day this week.

On a global scale, this year’s Earth Day marks a significant point in climate-change combat as world leaders including President Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping, gather at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, attempting to keep global temperatures rising above 2 degrees celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. Thanks, guys!

And while historic world-wide initiatives are being considered, here are some ways we can get in on the action in our own neighborhood.

  1. TODAY from 4pm-6PM you can join the NYC Eco-Schools and Greenpoint Eco-Schools in the Brooklyn Sustainability Coordinator Gathering, specifically celebrating the sustainability initiatives with Greenpoint’s teachers, students, parents and schools. This is a FREE gathering open to formal and non-formal educators across NYC and members of the Greenpoint community.
Calling all educators: Celebrate Greenpoint TODAY at 4PM.
Calling all educators: Celebrate Greenpoint TODAY at 4PM.

2. Grab your crew, your posse, your family, or just your lonesome and head to Transmitter Park for Greenpoint’s INSTAMEET, co-hosted by Greenpointers and Edoardo Monti on FRIDAY April 22nd at 6:30PM. This is part of the WorldWide Instameet’s #LifeOnEarth celebration.

3. If hashtags aren’t really your thing, trot over to Newton Creek for an Earth Day Nature Walk, and learn about the the city’s wastewater treatment in one of the most infamously polluted industrial waterways in the US, all the while enjoying the inspired sculptures of artist George Trakas. Meet at the big picnic tables on the Whale Creek side at 6:30pm this FRIDAY.

4. Learn how you can help green Greenpoint through GCEF’s 30+ environmental projects on Saturday, April 30th from 10am-noon at The Warsaw on Driggs Avenue. They’re looking for neighbors just like you to make things happen.

Join GCEF in Greening Greenpoint
Join GCEF in Greening Greenpoint

5. Keep up the Earth Day momentum NEXT MONTH, on a Guided Tree Walk in McGolrick Park. Along the way you’ll learn the variety of tree species in the green haven, and discover the Greening Greenpoint movement and initiatives behind the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance.

We’re looking forward to celebrating with you this week! See you in the green!

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East River Skate Shop Is Carrying the Torch

East River Skate Shop on Greenpoint Avenue (Photo credit: Nicole Disser)
East River Skate Shop on Greenpoint Avenue (Photo credit: Nicole Disser)

It’s been two months since the East River Skate Shop reopened after the death of its owner, Rich Oates. Thanks to Oates’ good friend, Jad Magaziner, and his sister, Katie Oates, it will remain a living and breathing fixture in Greenpoint and the skating community at large.

Oates opened the shop with a vision to “create a community shop that was focused on family and the skate community,” says Katie, who now manages the operations side of the store. “He wanted it to be a positive environment for both newbies and the established skate community.” Continue reading

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