May 3, 2010
JezebelMusic.com @ Death by Audio
May 1, 2010 | Light Asylum
If you’re hunting for dark, queer electro bands in Brooklyn, Light Asylum should be flashing on your radar. Loosely associated with other electronic locals like Mirror Mirror and Omega Jarden, the duo Light Asylum are industrial house veterans, having been involved in many NYC musical ventures, such as !!! and Telepathe.
I strolled into Death By Audio on Saturday wearing my reflective bike vest and headlamp, which was fortunate fashion for a Light Asylum gig. Instead, had I not dressed for darkwave, I could’ve picked up a glow stick crucifix from the Light Asylum merch table.
A musty crowd bounced on its heels as lead singer Shannon Funchess took precise swings at an electronic drum pad and alternated between singing long, low vibrating notes and quicker bullets of verse. Funchess’ band mate Bruno Coviello activated drum fills and samples on his two tier electronics station and played what looked like a Prophet ’08 synth. The set was tight and had no gaps, samples bled between songs, and there was little talking to the crowd.
JezebelMusic.com @ Union Pool
April 20, 2010 | Ava Luna, Air Waves, Total Slacker, Your Nature
Aside from Ava Luna, who’d sparked my interest in the first place, I’d purposefully gone into Tuesday night’s Union Pool show blind so as to keep myself from harshly prejudging bands based on the first ten seconds of the first song on their Myspace page, as we are all wont to do in this internet age. So, while openers Your Nature set up a forest of guitar pedals and tweaked their vocal mic echo effects, I eyed their tie-dye and wide open collars (like, wisps-of-chest-hair open) and began to worry about the next 40 minutes of my life. After a minute of guitar-pedal noises and nearly inaudible, reverb-soaked vocals I was ready to call it a loss, and then they blindsided me with an entire set of fantastic, well-written 1970s-heavy rock songs, loaded with buoyant high vocal harmonies, agile guitar leads, and even some prog rock touches like long forms, odd meters and non-diatonic harmony, which they pulled off effortlessly. The tightness and skill with which they executed their songs was a perfect contrast to their low-key, silly stage presence (they looked like your little brother’s high school band circa 1973 and had stage banter to match, complete with 4/20 jokes and a Hawkwind mention), and the room warmed up instantly in their capable hands.
April 3, 2010
JezebelMusic.com @ The Bell House
March 6, 2010 | Califone, Sonoi
On a rainy Tuesday night at 8 PM The Bell House back room was nearly deserted (I was chased out of the cozy front room by a heinous comedy night), and I began to have apocalyptic thoughts: if even Califone can’t pack the Bell House on a Tuesday, what is the music world coming to? Then I remembered that I’m the only jerk who shows up at eight o’clock for an “eight o’clock” show. By the time opening act Sonoi went on (nine), the house was filling up with an appreciative and slightly older crowd (median age 28 or so, but I overheard a greying dude talking about his midlife crisis beard, so there was a nice range and diversity). The audience was less fidgety and less chatty than most rock crowds, appropriate to the dusty morbidity of the headlining act.
JezebelMusic.com @ Bowery Ballroom
March 6, 2010 | She & Him, The Chapin Sisters
It was a rainy and totally miserable Tuesday. So unexpectedly rainy, in fact, Zooey Deschanel of She & Him, had to buy rain boots earlier in the day. Such was her quiet, rambling between song banter at She & Him’s second sold out performance at The Bowery Ballroom. Thankfully, She & Him, with The Chapin Sisters, said rain be damned and offered up a pretty sweet and sunny show.
Opening for She & Him were The Chapin Sisters, Abigail and Lily (sans sister Jessica Craven who is on a maternity leave). Ethereally costumed in flowing white, the Brooklyn born sisters, who now reside in L.A., exuded legit Monterey hippie chic. I felt like I could have been at any assortment of gatherings in the mid to late 60s, waiting for Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to jump on stage. That being said, The Chapin Sisters are neither campy nor outdated. Their lyrics are intelligent and I was into their acoustic vibe, not to mention long blonde hair. Their gorgeous harmonies took over the ballroom, making me wonder if they actually needed the backing band briefly joined them onstage. Granted the band does flesh out some of their more folky tunes, and made for some more up tempo moments, but the Sisters truly shine on their own. Premiering a lot of new material, at one point Lily traded in her guitar for a banjo because, as Abigail commented, “Who doesn’t love a banjo?” Word, sister.
JezebelMusic.com @ Music Hall of WIlliamsburg
March 6, 2010 | Nada Surf
It’s safe to say that the Music Hall of Williamsburg and it’s sold out crowd were thoroughly soaked in nostalgia on this particular evening. At the request of Nada Surf, Sea Wolf front man Alex Brown Church kicked off the night. Admittedly nervous without his usual backing ensemble, Church strummed through a set of bare bones folk/pop songs. The droning minor chords and his sublime tenor invoked the feeling of autumns past. After a few botched chords and false starts, Church met the crowd with a capricious smile that certainly matched the atmosphere. Things began to pick up a bit when Nada Surf front man Matthew Caws joined Church on stage for the Sea Wolf favorite, “You’re a Wolf”. Overall it was an enjoyable and intimate performance by an established indie rock front man.
JezebelMusic.com @ Glasslands
March 6, 2010 | We Are Country Mice, Dragon Turtle, ARMS, Tall Firs
I had never seen a show at Glasslands prior to this Saturday, and have to say, despite its somewhat abandoned location, I was enchanted. As I sipped my beer, waiting for the show to start, I took the time to appreciate the excellently haphazard and whimsical space, hoping the music would follow suit. Supported by an energetic coterie of glow necklace adorned fans, openers We Are Country Mice were by far the highlight of the evening. Brooklyn-based, but mid-country reared, their sound is honest and refreshing. Sometimes twangy, sometimes vaguely surf, they’re just plain fun. They won me over with “The Ballad of John,” a gorgeous, harmonious country-esque rambler that breaks out into a crashing, cathartic rock song. “A Good Old-Fashioned Barn Raising” is a lot less creepy live, and come on, who doesn’t love to see a megaphone appear onstage? Drummer Kurt Kuehn looks like he’s having an absolute blast, as they all do. Between a xylophone cameo and some inherent scrappiness —lead singer Jason Rueger smilingly manned their merch table all night — We Are Country Mice, are for sure at the top of my small-indie-bands-I’m-rooting-for list.
JezebelMusic.com @ The Knitting Factory
March 15, 2010 | Brooklyn Vegan Pre-SXSW Show
Banjo Or Freakout is a bedroom recording project recently turned live band that sounds a lot like, well, a bedroom recording project recently turned live band. It has the flaws you’d expect: the band is competent but slightly uncertain, the vocals falter and slip out of tune in a way that does not sound intentional or stylistic, most of the songs pick one rhythmic and melodic idea and just hit it on the head for about five minutes, the whole set is smothered in synth washes and reverb that hide all the melodies, no one really moves around much. This last was especially surreal at the Knitting Factory, given the generous size of the stage and the absolute swarm of photographers pacing the front with bizarre, spiderlike stabilizing contraptions and poking their lenses out from behind the amps. The obsessive documentation seemed to call for a little bit more than Alessio Natalizia and company were willing to give us, a fact that crystalized in the moment when I saw the videographer do a dramatic zoom in on the hands of the bassist as he played the same single note he’d been playing for about three minutes. Then the three Londoners in The Wave Pictures came on and obliterated the entire Banjo Or Freakout set with one blistering guitar lick.
JezebelMusic.com @ Silent Barn
January 07, 2010 | Fluffy Lumbers, Museyroom, Shark?, Bonus Eventus
The Silent Barn is essentially “your friend’s basement” the venue. Smoking is allowed indoors, but ironically not outside. As I lit up outside the front door, my usual pre-show routine, the doorman ushered me inside.
“We don’t allow smoking outside,” he explained. “Don’t want to draw the cops.” And, with the tip of my cigarette glowing like a torch beacon, he led me down into the depths of the basement.
The view was a disappointment. While the blue interior and plastic flowers that wound their way up the poles were pleasing, it still did not hide the fact that there were support poles EVERYWHERE and no actual stage. A crowd clustered around the front of the room was the only sign there was a performance going on. You know, that and the actual music. Which, owing to the less-than-ideal performance space, leant a sound that was loud and flat. Still, that didn’t mean the talent didn’t show.
Train trouble and the idea that nothing would start on time kept me from seeing the first act, Fluffy Lumbers, but I heard he took the “stage” solo and with energy. As I nibbled on my vegan pop tart, courtesy of Pop Tarts Suck Toasted (http://poptartssucktoasted.blogspot.com/), I took in Museyroom. I’ll be honest, they’re not really my thing. Ambient and masturbatory, they seemed unsure of themselves. With a little practice they could have a good thing going, but at this point, a basement is where they belong. I’m not saying they don’t have potential, but they didn’t get me my $5 worth.
Shark?, on the other hand, was a treat. Channeling a definite Misfits influence, with a touch of Jim Morrison in the vocals and a blues-rock instrumental, they were incredibly entertaining. Even from my spot, where I could see approximately 1⁄4 of the lead singer, I could tell they put on a decent show. I picked up a copy of their album, which came in a record single sleeve for some band from what appears to be the early ‘80s, and I’m pretty psyched to listen to it.
The last band to go on was Bonus Eventus, a band from the Dinosaurs in Vietnam collective, members of which, Jenn and Liz Pelly (of pellytwins.blogspot.com) helped organize the show. (And also took the helm to DJ between sets. Talk about multi-tasking!)
Channeling the party vibe that is their very being, Bonus Eventus took the stage with three people wanting to sing and one microphone. All leaning in, in an almost mo-town sort of way, they screamed the lyrics to their songs and hoped to hell the mic caught it. It was actually rather endearing, as they were dealing with more than their share of technical difficulties.
At first there had been concern that they would run out of time to perform, with Shark? taking the stage later than anticipated. However, after running through their repertoire (“We have nothing left to play!”), they were momentarily at a loss for what to do. But, thanks to the close-knit nature of the audience, a solution was at hand! Friends and co-members of band the Abberlines joined the stage with guitarist Matt Ludwig for an impromptu reunion. Their mellow sounds ended the night as the underage chugged their $2 Budweiser and prepared for the long train ride home.
by allison levin