Vital Joint’s venue is tiny, but the amount of pre-show audience chitchat was enormous. Most was facilitated by a a suit-donning and larger-than-life Rhinelander (more on him later), but some was organic: “Did you make that necklace” or “Hey, the bar serves beer” pleasantries were also exchanged. If there was ever a lull, our German friend was quick to fill it with a quip or suggestion that the cash-only bar is steps away. “This is experimental theater,” he said. “You’ll need a drink.”
This is all the prelude to Dandy Be Good, queer artist GJ’s storytelling cabaret now playing through January 27 at Vital Joint (109 Meserole Street) as part of Brooklyn’s Exponential Festival. Like the pre-show banter, Garlan Jude (GJ)’s show fosters community and togetherness. They lip sync to songs from Judy Garland (a fun reversal on the performer’s name?) and interviews from socialite women of yore. But GJ doesn’t hog the stage — they share it with a trio of guest performers: a vaudevillian-reminiscent actress, a consummate orator, and — yes — our chatty German pal.
Last Sunday at Elsewhere (599 Johnson Ave) the night opened with high energy post-punk trio B Boys, who happen to be on the indie Greenpoint label Captured Tracks. I’m not necessarily a post-punk fan, and to me the genre can range from fun to straight up annoying. But B Boys actually were able to sound palatable—a bit like a surfy, less grungy Nirvana. And they played the part of anarchist punks with more irony than anarchy, singing lyrics like “every day is a struggle.” At times, they hit garage-y notes, but with a little more polish. They’re the kind of band I’d have seen in college, but minus the angst. So, they won my approval.
B Boys definitely got the crowd amped up for Brooklyn headliners Parquet Courts. The band’s been around long enough to be able to wistfully (and perhaps bitterly) reference the dwindling Brooklyn DIY scene and the Elsewhere owners’ fallen former venue. When the crowd started catapulting their drinks at the stage during the second song, keyboardist Austin Brown quipped, “This isn’t Glasslands, you can’t throw shit.” And being a band born in Brooklyn in the mid-aughts certainly they’re clearly schooled in the art of playing to a house full of intoxicated locals donning flannels, thick-rimmed glasses and vintage Fugazi shirts. But this time, the scene was different. It was Elsewhere. Continue reading →
Last Thursday night at Rough Trade (64 N 9th St) opened with Michael Nau performing to a packed room. Nau’s rich warm tones gave a welcoming feel to the cold November night. Previously the frontman for Page France and Cotton Jones, Nau’s style is relaxing with a rockbeat that enables the listener to truly feel like being on a sort of vacation. It’s evident that Nau writes music purely because he enjoys doing so, that he is naturally moved to write it. This puts a heartwarming personal stamp on his songs, everpresent during his performance.
This (sort of) escapism journey continued with David Bazan as he zoomed into giving an other worldly performance. While Bazan and his band unleashed a more thunderous sound than Nau, Bazan remained connected to his spirit. When he often closed his eyes onstage, you could really feel that presence—and that let his talent take over the stage, unobstructed. It’s not always easy to let others into a personal inner world, but Bazan was able to succeed at this. The audience was transported straight into his inner world and feelings. Continue reading →
We profiled local weirdo and musician Brad Cantor a few months ago about his musical project Glass Valley. The vintage-sounding dreampop debut An Intimate Man was co-produced and mixed by Asobi Seksu guitarist James Hanna. It’s well-crafted and worth a listen, especially if you’re in a nostalgic mood and need a soundtrack for your sorrows. Brad stars in the video for instrumental track Psrip, in which you will never be able to get enough of his piercing gaze. Psrip was an homage to folk artist Pete Seeger’s instrumental interludes (hence the name, P.S. RIP). Brad says that he actually wanted to add more versions of himself into the video, but maxed out, limited by the processing power on his computer. If you need a palette cleanser afterward, check out the video below for Glass Valley’s Friction Burns, which does not feature Brad but instead some adorable slow-mo birds lunching in a Manhattan park. Enjoy. Continue reading →
You might expect Reggie Youngblood to be in the internet know—his indie pop band Black Kids blew up as an internet sensation after posting their EP Wizard of Ahhhhs on Myspace back in 2007. But he will be the first to admit that he has not kept up with the inter webs. After a decade of working, not working and then working on Black Kids’ newest album, Rookie, Youngblood decided they should share it on Bandcamp. Who could argue with free downloads? But offering this thought was not alluring to fans, he joked, “..no one really wants to download things anymore, and that everyone really just wanted to get the record streaming on Spotify or Apple Music.”
Youngblood has seen changes in the way bands interact with fans nowadays and he misses being on the hunt for more information on musicians, along with the sense of mystery when all you knew about them was their music. Now, most bands rely on being a voice on Instagram, using all social media channels to show their personality and to keep in touch with fans.
When he was a kid in the San Francisco Bay area, Matt L. Roar’s mom and dad formed a blues band with him on bass, his little brother on sax, mom on the keys and dad on guitar. A guy from their church, who would wear a hat with red lights on it during shows, played the drums. They would perform at watering holes out in the East Bay, and Matt’s dad would dress him up in a big coat and hat as a cheap disguise—to hide the fact that he was only twelve years old and hanging out in a bar. After growing up, playing in hardcore punk bands in San Francisco and the East Bay and later moving to North Brooklyn several years ago, Matt L. Roar is definitely no newbie to the indie music scene.
Equally influenced by a DIY punk ethos, modern rappers like Lil Yachty, oldschool hiphop (Wu Tang and Tribe) and the old timey sounds of Woody Guthrie’s wails, his musical project Golden West Service is an idiosyncratic blend of garage, punk, noise, lo-fi 8-bit and a number of other genres. On GWS’s newly released first full-length album When You Die, he collaborates with a variety of musical friends, including Tim Hellman (OhSees/Flat Worms), who plays guitar on three songs; Evan Smith (Russian Baths) who plays bass on almost the entire record, and Jah Jah Brown (local punk rappers Ninjasonik) does vocals on one of the tracks. His younger brother Aaron Rohrer plays sax on one of the songs, poet Marisa Crawford performs on another and, and friend Andy Del Calvo laid down some drums for the song Blackbird.
We chatted with him about his new album, and the best local venues to see live music (The Gutter, Silent Barn, Trans Pecos and RIP Greenpoint Heights). Continue reading →
Frankie Rose, an original member of Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls, introduced her fourth album Cage Tropical at Baby’s All Right (146 Broadway) before she heads out on her US and European tour. Frankie’s performance was a shimmery 80s daydream: ultra-confident and unapologetic, yet she exuded a mellow energy. Her vocals were glimmery and ethereal. And, psychedelic projections that changed for each song—from an atomic bomb to flashing disco palm trees—set a powerful backdrop to her intoxicating voice. Continue reading →
Williamsburg-based singer/songwriter, and dark-humored Brad Cantor released his first solo album a couple weeks ago, under the moniker Glass Valley. The 60s and 70s-inpired dreampop album—which takes a few whispery pages from Velvet Underground and Elliott Smith—brings you on one man’s journey as he closes the door on his 30s and enters his 40s. Brad, a self-proclaimed “aging Brooklyn hipster,” wrote 22 songs after a trip to Joshua Tree, where he had time to reflect on the past decade of his life. When he returned to Brooklyn, the songs quickly poured out in an emotional stream of consciousness, and nine of them made it onto his debut album An Intimate Man. There’s a section in the track Young Hip and Old where he croons, “Everything’s gotten boring and we lost our way. Every party feels so forced, we ran out of things to say. The nights got less glamorous as our friends starting dropping off,” reflecting his stunted coming of age in early 2000s Brooklyn.
I chatted with Brad about how, in the music world it’s a little unusual for anyone to release their first album at age 40. “We don’t value older artists,” Brad says. “We don’t value their creativity. We don’t value their experience.” There’s a general consensus that when you’re younger you “embrace the craziness and rash decision making,” and as you age, you slowly shut down the most creative parts of your brain. “Fear makes people say things like that,” Brad says. So while on this album he may be resigning himself to getting older (on Golden Age: “It’s romantic to think that we’ll conquer the world, But most roads lead to rust belt cities, and gray rivers flow to dead ports, while strip malls decay in neglected suburbs. There was never a golden age, but life has a way of making it seem that way”), the brilliantly-executed record as a whole defies the idea that creativity fades after people reach a certain age. Continue reading →
On May 17th & 2st, Frankie Cosmos joined Real Estate for a shoegazey and magical set at Brooklyn Steel. With hints of vaporwave fun and twee, playful melodies, it was a sweet show to dance and nod yer head to. And, both shows sold out! I could see why – the set list was on fire with plush tones and great vibes.
Franz Ferdinand played to a sold-out house last night at Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave) on their first tour since 2014 supporting Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. The band’s new lineup is comprised of Alex Kapranos (lead vocals and guitar), Bob Hardy (bass guitar), Paul Thomson (drums, percussion and backing vocals) and Dino Bardot (guitar) and Julian Corrie (synth, guitar) replaced founding member Nick McCarthy, who left the band last summer.
After playing Governor’s Ball over the weekend, the band extended their stay in New York City playing the show as part of Governor’s Ball After Dark.The crowd was as electrified as the band, especially when they played dance-beat heavy songs such as “No You Girls”, “The Dark of the Matinee” and “Take Me Out”, dancing, jumping and waving their arms to the music. Franz Ferdinand returned to the stage for an encore performance and ended their show with energy surging, “This Fire” and hand-in-hand the band took a bow.Continue reading →