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Friday, May 10, 2013
Last Friday found us on the streets of Greenwich Village for NYU Strawberry Fest, the storied university’s annual celebration of music, swag, and a certain tasty red fruit. In addition to generous free helpings of “New York City’s longest strawberry shortcake” (sidebar: at what point does it cease to qualify as a shortcake?), we also enjoyed hot jams al fresco thanks to two beloved bands on opposite ends of the career spectrum.
Tampa, Florida’s Merchandise are the new kids on the block, fresh-faced, full of ideas, and eager to please. They’re not exactly a daytime, strawberry season kind of band, and the impact of their excellent songs may have been blunted somewhat by the setting, but there’s no denying the excellence of those songs. “In Nightmare Room”, “Anxiety’s Door”, and the Do-approved “Time” all got play, and if this band can keep coming up with songs like those, they may well have a long career ahead of them yet. Not unlike…
…Mission of Burma, who have been there, done that, and are back for more. The hard-hitting trio (joined here on a few songs by a saxophonist, plus their trusty off-stage tape manipulator) could have stayed broken up after their initial dissolution in 1983 and their legacy would have been secured. But instead they did us one better, and accomplished the even rarer feat of reuniting with no apparent decline in quality or momentum. As drummer Peter Prescott joked after pointing out the longest shortcake, “longest reunion ever.” And it would seem they’re in no hurry to end it: Mission broke out a couple new songs packed with all the vim and vigor we’ve come to expect from these guys (for real, check the bassline on “Buzz My Soul” below). Who says middle age is for slowing down?
- Thew Lawrence
Mission of Burma - “Buzz My Soul”
Merchandise - “Anxiety’s Door”
Merchandise - “Time”
Mission of Burma
It’s nice to have bands like The National, Grizzly Bear, and Beach House, who subtly refine their sound with each new album, but it’s absolutely vital to have a band like Liars, who reinvent themselves at every turn. Last year’s WIXIW marked another new direction for the art-rock provocateurs, one that standout track “No.1 Against The Rush” summarizes nicely. In anticipation of the two Liars shows this weekend, let’s try it, shall we?
(Be warned, the video gets a little…disturbing, so maybe leave it on in a background window while you peruse pictures of flowers and babies.)
1. Great GoogaMooga - Prospect Park
Hold onto your fois gras, foodies: Great GoogaMooga arrives this weekend, boasting eats, beats, and…hey, wait a minute. Fortunately the beats are beatific: The Flaming Lips, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, De La Soul, Kool & The Gang, Sharon Van Etten, Matt & Kim, and so much more: have a look-see.
2. !!!, Sinkane - Bowery Ballroom
Hard to believe, but !!! has kept the party going for over 15 years now. The dance-punk pioneers hit up Bowery Ballroom Friday night to celebrate the release of their latest, Thr!!!er, and the good times are as good as guaranteed.
3. The Feelies - The Bell House
For feel-good look no further than The Feelies, New Jersey vets whose pivotal 1980 LP Crazy Rhythms still gets plenty of love in these parts. Their agreeable sound should mesh nicely with the cozy confines of The Bell House on Saturday night.
4. Liars - Temple of Dendur, Metropolitan Museum of Art vs. Liars, Doldrums - (Le) Poisson Rouge
Pick your poison: both of these Liars shows promise to offer something special. Saturday night has them performing in the shadow of a 2000+ year old temple (!) at the Met, while Sunday finds them in the slightly more modern environs of (Le) Poisson Rouge with the very welcome addition of Doldrums in the opener’s seat. Decisions, decisions…
5. Janelle Kroll, DJ Yohey - Port Royal
For free look no further than this no-cover gig by doNYC favorite Janelle Kroll, who brings her outsized pop and R&B to a very unlikely space: the remains of 1970s club Port Royal, tucked beneath Tea Lounge in Park Slope. The show serves as a wrap party for UglyRhino’s theater production “What It Means To Disappear Here”, so arrive early if you want to catch that as well.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
On Sunday we swung by fringe music hotspot Roulette for a very special performance: Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), both experimental titans in their own right, came together to showcase their 2012 collaborative LP Instrumental Tourist.
Up first were Software labelmates Co La. The project of Ecstatic Sunshine’s Matthew Papich, here a duo, served up a compelling and beguiling set of highly abstracted electronic sounds — part collage, part glitch, and very now. Co La’s tracks have an amorphous quality, and eschew any easy patterns or associations, which is as stimulating as it is confounding. The background projections did little to ground these alien sounds; if anything the looped images of canoodling canines, baristas making milk-foam art, and a burning Concorde jet only compounded our feeling of disorientation. Exciting stuff.
Hecker & Lopatin’s performance was a good deal more grounded. Going at it in near darkness, and arranged at a right angle, these two mavericks started subtly, with Hecker’s trademark digital blizzards taking the helm first. As the music developed, traces of Lopatin’s cut-and-paste playfulness began to work their way in, and before long the two distinct voices had melded into a cohesive, compelling whole. Roulette was the right space for this one: great acoustics, comfortable seats, ornate but hardly ostentatious. Here’s hoping these two continue joining forces in sweet synergy.
- Thew Lawrence
Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin
Why yes, turns out we can make “Jungle Boogie” our song of the day, now that Kool & The Gang have been revealed as 11th hour replacement headliners for Sharon Jones & co. at Sunday’s Great GoogaMooga! And we just did. Get down on it, people:
1. Kurt Vile & The Violators, Angel Olsen, Steve Gunn - Bowery Ballroom
Few things better complement a gorgeous spring day than the music of Kurt Vile, so why not end this one with a trip to Bowery Ballroom (you might have to hustle for tickets to this sold out show, but it’ll be worth it)? Get there early for the one-of-a-kind voice of an angel, Chicago’s own Angel Olsen.
2. No Joy, Weekend, Grand Resort - Glasslands
In case you missed them yesterday — or just can’t get enough of that swirling hair action — here’s another chance to catch No Joy, at Glasslands tonight. Bonus: awesome band Weekend (no, not The Weeknd) opens!
3. Midnight Magic, Teengirl Fantasy - Brooklyn Museum
Who knew museum-going could be so…festive? Brooklyn Museum’s Audiophile series continues with a double dose of danciness, courtesy of local party-mongers Midnight Magic and post-IDMers Teengirl Fantasy. This party is free with museum admission. Did we mention they have a pretty killer quilt exhibit right now??
Happy almost-summer everybody! The weather’s getting slightly warmer, and that’s making us WAY pumped for all the awesome shows coming up in June, July, and August. And even though it’s not summer quite yet, you can still celebrate the weekend like it is. This week, we’ve got a nice lineup of places to go and people to see so that you can make the most of your Saturday.
Feeling adventurous? Good, because word on the street is Bayleaf on North 5th Street has the best Indian cuisine in Williamsburg. Don’t let the cheesy (sketchy?) website fool you - these guys are serving some stellar curry, tandoori, biryani, and plenty more dishes we can’t pronounce. The best part? This place is sure to leave you full without breaking the bank - a huge portion of lamb curry is just under $12 and appetizers range from $2 to $6.
Between GoogaMooga and The Killers, there’s plenty happening on Saturday. But hey, this feature isn’t here to tell you about shows you already know are happening. Try something different! For this weekend’s source of live entertainment, head on over to the Ran Tea House and check out Doldrums, Rioux, and Crux at 10pm sharp. If you’ve never been to the tea house before, you gotta check it out. The open, airy atmosphere is the perfect setting for Doldrums’ experimental post-rock vibes.
Still trying to enjoy the almost-summer weather? Try Spuyten Duyvil (359 Metropolitan Ave) on for size. It’s gonna be a gorgeous night out and you’ll probably need to stretch your legs. Treat yourself to one of their specialty brews to quench your thirst after that walk. It’ll taste even better when you’re sitting in the cozy outdoor area around back…
Man, this is making us just ITCH for summer. Sweet, sweet summer.
Happy weekend, folks!
It’s summer! No wait, it’s still spring. But whatever, here’s a headrush of a catchy poptune by Cults. Catch them in the springtime open air at Great GoogaMooga this weekend. They might just kidnap your heart, too.
1. No Joy, Heaven - Mercury Lounge
No Joy is a hair band, insofar as when they play their full-throttle psychy shoegaze jams, their hair is everywhere. Scream some infidelities at them at Mercury Lounge tonight.
3. Shy Hunters, Fielded, Imperial Topaz, Gel Set - Death By Audio
It’s unofficial ladies’ night at DBA, and for only $7 cover you can get the lo-fi weirdness of Fielded and Gel Set, the dubby grooves of Imperial Topaz, the mysterious indie rock of Shy Hunters, and all the PBR your money can buy. Fellas welcome too!
Just joining us? Check our Night 1 coverage, videos, and more videos.
Between Black Hippy and Earl Sweatshirt, night one of the Downtown Festival would be tough to top, and indeed our second go-round felt more like a cool-down from these twin climaxes. Once again we kicked things off low-key: pleasant singer-songwriter fare at Rockwood Music Hall’s smaller Stage 1. It was still daylight when Texas-born, NYC-dwelling Tiger Darrow went on, and her sweet voice and smooth arrangements perfectly suited the sunlight still streaming in through the windows. Locals Mary Beth Doran and Amy Vachal kept the sunny vibes going, trading off songs “Nashville-style” before collaborating on a cover of Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”. This was a full-on coffeehouse affair, complete with a super polite crowd and each artist introducing her songs with a little backstory.
Pretty much the polar opposite of what went down at Tammany Hall immediately after: we arrived just in time for Cali MC Hefna Gwap, whose pro-weed, pro-sizzurp rap jams were both fun and rather rowdy. This was hip-hop hedonism at its best, and we have to hand it to Hefna on the PR front — the man had his associates carry around a custom-made sign that conveniently listed off the Instagram handles of everyone in his “Elegant Caviar” crew (that’s #elegantcaviar, folks). Way to embrace the now, dudes.
Speaking of the now, if the next act were any more now she’d be tomorrow. In some utopian future where everyone raps this won’t be a novelty, but for now, it bears mentioning: Awkwafina is a pint-sized Asian-American lady MC from Queens (but not Flushing, she’ll have you know) with a run of sharp-witted, hysterical, NYC-centric tracks in her arsenal that (her crew will have you know) she produced herself. Seriously, next time the boss isn’t looking, check out “My Vag”. The LOLs did abound, and the crowd ate it up. Really, it’s impossible not to root for this kind of thing, though we’d like to go on the record as saying Awkwafina has chops that far transcend any novelty factor. Plus she was born here, and you weren’t, so deal.
As hip-hop shows are wont to do, that Hefna Gwap/Awkwafina gig ran almost an hour late, which meant we were, regretfully, forced to skip out on Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire. Double ouch, we also couldn’t get into Autre Ne Veut at Pianos, but lucky for us plan C proved serendipitous. Back to Rockwood, this time the bigger Stage 2, where we learned a valuable lesson in not taking things for granted. TEEN is a Brooklyn band that plays a lot, and we’ve seen them a bunch of times, and we like them, but none of this adequately prepared us for just how great they sounded at Rockwood. Really, TEEN: excellent band. As a BrooklynVegan commenter might joke, real diversity from track to track. But for real. Go TEEN! Go Brooklyn! Sorry that Googling your name brings up all sorts of unsavory things.
Rather than risk getting shut out of Purity Ring as well, we held it down at Rockwood for Ducktails. Man, we love the new Ducktails record, but that’s a relatively lavishly produced full-band affair, and this, this was a solo throwback to Matt Mondanile’s loopy lo-fi days. So, a slight disappointment to anyone charmed by “Under Cover” and “Letter Of Intent”, but still a pleasant, dare we say “chill” time. Plus Matt kept thanking everyone profusely for coming, and gratitude goes a long way.
Wishing to go out on a bang, we made way for — no, not Trash Talk at Cake Shop (that would have been going out on a crack, i.e. the sound of a bone fracturing) — DIIV at Mercury Lounge! DIIV is another NYC band it’s easy to take for granted, seeing as they play roughly 16 shows a week, but this wound up being one of the better ones. The video projections the band has taken to using added to the whole energy, and the crowd was active but not, you know, juvenile. And they covered a Blank Dogs track and played some new songs that sounded pretty great. Perhaps ironically, it was Cali hip-hop that proved the best part of Downtown Fest, but the other best part was rediscovering just how awesome so much of our homegrown talent is. NYC! NYC! NYC!
- Thew Lawrence
Mary Beth Doran & Amy Vachal
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