While we’re talking about fall here, don’t go reaching for the pumpkin spice. That’s not what this is about. But if you would like to spice up your Thursday night plans, keep reading. Queer nightlife collective and “global network of artsluts” The Culture Whore is having an event called Sequinox tonight at Bushwick’s Flowers For All Occasions, billed as “a celebration of queer music and the turning of the wheel.” It’s part of a new initiative the collective has started, with a focus on showcasing new queer music and underground artists.
Though there is that “Turn! Turn! Turn!” song by Pete Seeger (fun fact: it’s a #1 song with some of the oldest lyrics ever), these folks are referencing the modern pagan “Wheel of the Year” seasonal festival cycle—the autumn equinox is one of three harvest festivals celebrated.
The Culture Whore, helmed by Paul Leopold and Dream Dommu, has been cooking up nightlife creations since 2012, from drag-heavy warehouse raves to “Satanic Smokeouts.” Though their parties get crazy, there is usually a compelling performance element to their events, and I don’t just mean the dazzling fashion creations donned by many: They’ve welcomed queer and trans artists like Will Sheridan, Kembra Pfahler, Charlene, Lena Marquise, Macy Rodman, and countless others, including up-and-coming DJs like JX Cannon, Katie Rex, and Sadaf. Several of these artists got their start at Culture Whore events and the surrounding scene, and I’ve personally observed them gain press and traction as the years have gone by. Tonight’s shindig will be a little chiller, as it’s in a fairly small café, but presumably will be no less rife with creativity and queer expression—perhaps we’ll see some of tomorrow’s stars.
Dream and Paul (who performs under the moniker BoyWolf) will be doing live sets tonight, as will midwest-based black trans artist Cae Monae (recently profiled in Bullett), Addison XIV, Goon Soul, Hamm Samwich (also behind the podcast Hamm Radio), and Kyle R. Almost all of them make work using electronic music, but don’t you go thinking that makes them all the same.
This event accompanies the release of The Culture Whore’s “semiannual compilation mixtape,” containing songs from many of the artists who will be performing their music live tonight, and tracks from some others like the high-pitched wails of NOLA-based White Girl Wasted and Molly Rhinestones‘s sassy pop.
Several of these tracks involve dealing with pain from past relationships, and being able to move on, at least in some capacity. Take Goon Soul’s aptly-soulful “Punk,” about “living grittier than the people who love you,” or Addison XIV’s “WHeN i SeE yR FaCE,” which manages to be bouncy but also ballad-y.
The artist describes it as “Mostly a song about desperation … But ultimately, the song is about choosing to have self-respect, and to remove yourself from the influence of a person who hurts you no matter how much you still care.” As hopped-up beats blare in the background, Addison sings, “Should I see your face again? I don’t know.” Meanwhile, Cae Monae’s vocals are distorted to the point of being indiscernable, made incredibly deep and almost demonic, a blatant subversion of society’s demand for trans women to “pass” in every aspect of their selves.
For Kyle R (who, I should say, is my roommate), the music itself acted as rebirth. His track “I Gotta Know” was one of the first songs he’d written after many years without doing so. “It was originally about an ex-lover but it slowly changed as I kept working on it, becoming more about myself and that happy place where making things puts me,” he explains.
“I know it’s gonna be different this time,” he proclaims to space-y beats and theatrical keyboard grooves. “I’ll be stranger, I’ll be freer.”
The mixtape isn’t all serious relationship stuff or anything. On the Addison-produced “My List,” Molly Rhinestone’s layered vocals tell the world she always keeps a list of the “guys she’s kissed.” And sure enough, she cheekily lists many of them by first name while a sugary, ultra-danceable track swells. Meanwhile, Hamm takes on her mom in the super catchy synth-heavy “Mother,” with vocals that sort of recall the eyeliner-clad pop-punk bands I used to love—which I mean in a very positive way, mind you.
The Culture Whore’s Sequinox is happening tonight at Flowers For All Occasions, 1114 Dekalb Avenue, 9 pm to 2 am. Music begins at midnight. Suggested donation of nonperishable food item.