By Matthew Herzfeld

About Matthew Herzfeld

Matt Herzfeld is a freelance writer, music supervisor and musician, and serves as Project Manager for the Music Office at the French Embassy in the US. He is based in New York City.

On Conor Oberst’s Voice at Northside

Connor Oberst at Northside Festival 2016
Connor Oberst at Northside Festival 2016

Its November 2002, and Pagan Kennedy of the New York Times, searching for a way to describe the fawning reverence of Conor Oberst’s young fans writes: “Maybe years from now they’ll be known as members of the generation startled out of puberty by 9/11”.

It is through this quote that I back-peddle, knowing now that Oberst’s McCarren Park show at Northside Festival last week, preceded the massacre in Orlando by several hours.

At a time when Americans adjusted ideologically to the opposite of security, Conor Oberst’s career jettisoned from local music notoriety to cult-ish teenage fan stardom. The life events Kennedy mentions (9/11 and puberty) are experienced both as universal facts and deeply subjective breaks from reality: the value of these breaks is derived from the shock-not merely of having happened-but from the shock that the world we thought we were experiencing before, is not the world we know after. Continue reading

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Upcoming Bill Callahan Residency at Baby’s All Right

bill callahanSmog (aka Bill Callahan) rolls in to Brooklyn town late June for a residency at unflinchingly popular Baby’s All Right on Broadway.

Bill recently played New York in April, supporting the famous Iggy Pop on tour, with a drop-down at the United Palace Theater, uptown.

A prolific singer and songwriter, Callahan, active in the lo-fi New York scene for well over 20 years and only in the last few recording under his new name, has, perhaps, as Pitchfork has pointed out, maintained a kind of mystical aura, thanks not only to the minimalism of his music, writing, and interview repartee, but also because-up until recently-not many people had heard his own recordings. Callahan’s songs have been taken up by noted artists such as Gil Scott-Heron, Flaming Lips and Cat Power.

In a recent profile, The Washington Post described Callahan alongside three other major singer-songwriters as, “asserting their gravity in the North American mystery zone where cosmopolitan sophistication and folk mysticism overlap”.

Come see for yourself when Callahan plays Baby’s All Right this month.

Bill Callahan
June 26 through June 28
Shows at 6PM and 9PM each night.
Baby’s All Right, Williamsburg

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Concert Review: Peter Bjorn and John at Baby’s All Right

On the night modern values caught up with Ted Cruz and he quit his principled electoral charade, a Swedish band in Brooklyn, long absent, was proving they were still relevant.

Peter Bjorn and John, performing in New York for the first time in five years and on their first tour overall in three years, played before a sold-out, schvitzy crowd and seizure-inducing lights at Baby’s All Right (146 Broadway) in Williamsburg on May 3rd. Though they had played a show the night before at the slightly larger Rough Trade venue, Baby’s All Right was the ideal setting for this band, whose aught-era music of the Apple Commercial genre, like the venue, is sleek and stylish, but not lacking in substance (listen only to the Bjorn’s driving-bass lines hidden behind expressionless shades for proof). Continue reading

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Free Summer Concert Series at House of Vans Kicked Off with Jon Hopkins, The Field, and Black Madonna

Capture d’écran 2016-06-06 à 12.33.31
The first of House of Vans Summer Concert Series featured Jon Hopkins, The Black Madonna, The Field with Fixed NYC

On a crisp, first-glimpse-of-summer night, with nigh a sk8rboi in sight, Jon Hopkins and electro company kicked off the annual free concert series at House of Vans (25 Franklin St) in Greenpoint.

Capture d’écran 2016-06-06 à 12.33.38Exceedingly referential with sponsoredstreetart and a lightinstallation” that referenced a once-flickering warehouse marquee, Vans’ branded millennial pandering was never a distraction from evening’s chilled-out vibes, free orange-vanilla seltzer, nor the gaunt and smiley Hopkins’ superb set. Hopkins music, often slow to build, develops meditatively through repetition. You could even hear someone scream, “where’s the drop?”

Outdoor music, while often exchanging sound quality for experiential novelty, has the unique quality of gathering diverse groups of people together, especially when free.

There are five more shows coming up. Check them out: Continue reading

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Northside Music Festival 2016: What We’re Seeing

frankie cosmos
Frankie Cosmos is playing Sat (6/11) at Rough Trade

A festival that harkens to Austin’s over-saturated SXSW festival without the tasteless inundation of branding in the name of culture (yet), Northside Festival returns to North Brooklyn from June 6 – 12 and is still a great opportunity to catch bands you know alongside local groups you may have only heard mention of. As you skip around venues old and new, these are some of the acts that would be a shame to miss.
Continue reading

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Films on the Green Returns to Transmitter Park This Summer

Crowd watching a film in Transmitter Park, last summer.
Crowd watching a film in Transmitter Park, last summer.

One of the area’s brightest summer events, Films on the Green will be returning to Greenpoint’s WNYC Transmitter Park to project two films ‘en plein air’.

An initiative of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US, the FACE Foundation and the City of New York Parks & Recreation, Films on the Green Films is unique among the myriad of free movie screenings attracting cineastes to NY green spaces every summer, as each year the series presents a free and fresh sampling of French films around a given theme.

This year, as part of the Tandem Paris-New York, a cultural partnership between the cities of New York and Paris including a music festival, film, art, and other events, running between June and October 2016, Films on the Green presents classic and contemporary films that, “present the diversity of Paris, its inhabitants, landscapes, and cultures”.

Greenpointers can view two classic French films projected alongside an unmatched East River view of Manhattan, when Luc Besson’s ‘Subway’ screens June 24th and François Truffaut’s ‘400 Blows’ on July 1st. Continue reading

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Album Review: ‘Moth’ by Chairlift

Caroline Polachek from Chairlift, doing her best La Roux impression.

Moth is the third album from Chairlift, a band composed of Greenpoint residents. It’s a breezily-pleasant release, their first since 2012’s Something. Out January 22nd via Columbia Records, the album, while not groundbreaking, fills a need for apolitical, genuine, carefree and casual pop.

Maintaining their relevancy as a North-Brooklyn “indie-pop” band well after their 2008 track Bruises became popular and a ipod Nano commercial,  Chairlift continues to craft anxious-yet-exciting love songs that capture a particular moment of transition.

By that I mean moments like the excitement of the first glimmer of the city lights on a Friday night, or experiencing New York for the first time, or the awkward ginger-ale-like-fizzy-feeling of hopeful danger when  starting to fall in love. Continue reading

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