The Brooklyn Wildlife Summer Festivalreturns this Friday for a triumphant sixth year. The festival, which according to Brooklyn Wildlife founder Christopher Carr, is the “largest independent art and music festival in Brooklyn” with no corporate sponsors, features a lineup of more than 150 performers over the course of 10 days. It touts not only summer music jam sessions, but also “fine art shows, multi media presentations and tech meet ups” per their Eventbrite page.
In lieu of receiving corporate, non-profit or government funding, Carr, a full-time photographer who runs the Gamba Forest art studio with his partner (which is also hosting the festival’s Saturday lineup), funds the entire festival out of pocket–with the exception of a $10 application fee that he charges first-time performers seeking to play in the festival. The out-of-the-box music fest seeks to be the “new CMJ, the new WMC, the new SXSW” according to their Facebook event page. But doesn’t that sort of big tent, mainstream vibe run counter to the festival’s purpose as a gathering of indie artists? According to Carr, whom Bedford + Bowery spoke with by phone, not necessarily. In the early days of SXSW, Carr recalls smaller or mid-sized venues that brought people together in appreciation of solid indie music. He approaches his music festival in a similar way.
Photo from last year’s festival at Gamba Forest Gallery in Greenpoint (Photo: Nick McManus)
“I’m going for that middle ground where it’s large enough that it’s worth the time of the venues and individuals that put in the effort, but not so large that it cannibalizes itself,” says Carr. “I also enjoy Afropunk…but there’s an irony about a festival [that] punk kids can’t afford. We want to find that nice little area where we get some coverage, but we don’t need to cater to the media.” Carr also notes that this year’s festival stands out from previous years in two ways: “magnitude” and “decentralized performances” AKA events hosted in private residences with the help of the website artery.is. With so many events and performers, it can be hard to know where to start, but Carr suggests paying particular attention to metal band No Clouds, esoteric rapper Akai Solo (performing on the festival’s opening night at Trans-Pecos), and reggae/hip-hop artist D-Andra.
The Grove Street Stompers perform at Arthur’s Tavern (Photos: Tara Yarlagadda)
It’s your typical Monday night at Arthur’s Tavern in Greenwich Village, an eclectic spot on Grove Street that’s been serving jazz fans since the speakeasy days of the 1930s. Portraits of jazz legends hang on the wall amidst Christmas lights and a faded Happy Halloween sign. It’s late June—in case you were wondering.
Union Pool was the name on everybody’s lips when The Cut published a feature chock-full of tales framing the Williamsburg bar and venue as a notorious (and often beloved) hookup bar, even going as far as calling it a “boyfriend store.” While all this is surely true (I wasn’t a Williamsburg frequenter during the bar’s sexual heyday, so I can only rely on hearsay), heavy petting isn’t the only reason people go to Union Pool. There’s also music. Specifically, dance-noise-art-rock-punk-etc band Guerilla Toss will be playing a weekly show there each Tuesday for the month of June, starting tonight. Keep Reading »
When Pepe the Frog was coopted by the alt-right last year, the cartoon amphibian’s creator didn’t exactly think, “Feels good, man.” Instead, he set out on a quest to reclaim Pepe. That effort has now inspired a “meme musical experience” titled Passion of the Frog, in which the internet’s favorite hate symbol goes looking for love.
Photo of the exhibit (All photos are from inside the exhibit by Diego Lynch, unless otherwise indicated)
One man’s trash is another man’s… museum show?
Through April 29, the City Reliquary, in Williamsburg, is hosting an exhibit that serves as a history of New York City’s waste management (or lack thereof) as well as a show of works by artists and nonprofits whose medium is garbage. Also featured are some of the unusual items Nelson Molina collectedduring his 30 years with the NYC Department of Sanitation.
Even on Memorial Day weekend, when half the city seemed to be out of town, Gramercy Theatre drew a boisterous crowd to see Honor Among Thieves supporting Ten Ton Mojo. The scene was something out of a different New York era, with denim, leather, and tattoos more than well-represented, dudes throwing devil horns, and a whole lot of yelling. Honor Among Thieves has a decidedly old-school sound, straight-ahead rock and roll, what could be called pre-grunge or post-grunge and particularly appealed to the ’80s metalheads in the crowd. If the “Brooklyn Sound”—wall-of-reverb, loud-QUIET-loud, introspective grunginess—has become so ubiquitous in the past few years as to become the landscape, a band with the balls to un-ironically throw up a slamming cover of a Stone Temple Pilots song stands out.
Odwalla 1221, SADAF, Chicklet, Half Pet Friday May 19, 8 pm at Alphaville: $10
There’s this weird feature on Soundcloud, ostensibly an interactive one, that allows users to leave a “comment” by clicking anywhere on the wavelength as the song progresses. It seems kind of pointless until you come across a remark like the one left on an Odwalla1221 song that reads: “The world isn’t ready for your genius abilities!”
Vulture Fest: Cat Power, Frankie Cosmos Saturday May 20, 7 pm at Webster Hall: $40 to $45
This one’s at the top of our list because, well, Cat Power.
Lucky for you, Vulture Festival managed to do the impossible and book a last-minute gig with the ever elusive, certifiably brilliant Chan Marshall– which is just kind of how things go with her. In case you have lost track: she hasn’t appeared on stage in five years.
It kinda goes without saying, but Marshall has had a stellar career releasing albums as Cat Power. Our sister site, Vulture, writes that “Marshall is still one of our most vital songwriters, and each time she gets onstage is a unique, unexpected, and moving experience.”
But, for a time at least, she was notorious for lashing out at the audience (often justifiably– sorry, not sorry), walking off in the middle of her set, and generally having what the music media machine love to characterize as “breakdowns.” Mind you, the term seems to be reserved especially for women artists when they get particularly emotional, or even just confrontational on stage. (I guess rock star dude bros can have “breakdowns” too, but they usually involve rehab, or perhaps a reality TV show that documents a clinical inability to remove one’s headscarf.) When musicians of the male variety have tizzies on stage we just call it “shredding” or “Kanye.”
Cat Power’s last official tour–to promote Sun, which dropped way back in 2012–was predictably bumpy. Still, if it was easy to frame the drama as a result of “instability” or as a sign of burnout, it was impossible to square her recorded music with such a narrative. Pitchfork pointed out that Sun– Cat Power’s first to “feature synthesizers, Auto-Tune, and Iggy Pop” released nearly two decades after her debut– was the work of an artist at her creative peak, and “[existed] completely and defiantly outside of any larger musical trends.” What’s more, it was Marshall’s mercurial sensibilities that made Sun so magnetic and addictive in the first place.
So why would we expect anything other than an emotional hurricane from Cat Power’s live performances? (Personally, I’m gonna stick this one in the ol’ virgin/slut file, along with all the other contradictory roles we expect women to fulfill simultaneously.)
Let’s be clear: Marshall is older and wiser now, and it’s been years since she has relied on her potent stage juice (Xanax, cigarettes, and “a minibar’s worth of Jack Daniel’s, Glenlivet and Crown Royal”) to get things going. But (while we hope to see a full set from her) we fully encourage her to let it all out– and if that means starting a fire and burning the whole stage down with her, then we trust that she knows what she’s doing.
(Flyer via Trans-Pecos/Facebook)
Weed, Bugg, RIPS, Silk Sign Friday May 12, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $8 in advance, $10 at the door
If you’re a cynical jerk like me, then you might also be immediately suspicious of a band named Weed(in town from Vancouver, BC)– like, if Urban Outfitters had the keys to the record label castle and were given full reign to manufacture some Frankenstein-like on-brand band, it would most certainly be called “Weed.” I can see it now, an album cover adorned with pizza slices, alien faces, ying-yangs, and of course pot leaves, all sloppy-like as if sketched by a fifth grader hopped up on Hi-Chew and Mountain-Dew Slurpees. This “band” would sound like an aughts-does-the-’90s version of Sum-41 and would play shows at the (now-defunct) rooftop restaurant at the UO “concept store” in Williamsburg. In short, total barf fest.
Thankfully, Weed are not at all as I feared them to be. Instead they embody ganja in its realest, unmarketable form– as skater fuel, spiritual inspiration, and the stuff you ingest to make you slow down and, like, wonder about the universe for a moment. Sonically, that translates as sorta shoegazey (but not in any serious sense) stoner rock with a whole lotta reverb.
(Flyer via Silent Barn/ Facebook)
Street Eaters, HVAC, Boys Online, Salty Tuesday May 9, 8 pm at The Silent Barn: $8
You know that rumor that’s been going around for a while now? Something about how “punk is dead.” Come to think of it, seems like this has kinda always been the case. Prepare to have your mind blown, but consider the possibility that maybe this debate has been on the table since the dawn of friggin’ time. Hear me out: clearly “punk”–as a state of mind–existed long before The Velvet Underground and The Stooges and all that, even since the dawn of time. Shakespeare was kind of a punk (in fact, he was waaaay ahead of the curve when he used the term way back in 1602). And Sappho, well she was about as punk as anyone could hope to be when she was writing poetry circa 570 BC.
Given that punk (ideally, anyway) is youthful, rebellious, and against the status-quo, it’s only natural that questions about its continuing relevance are about as common as punk manifestos. It’s hard to admit, but in a lot of ways– looking around the NYC scene especially– punk, when considering its most visible forms and “successful” bands (lol whatever that means), still suffers from hyper-masculine, misogynist tendencies. Yes, still. Which, needless to say, has not only gotten old, but has been old– like, forever.
You might think that’s sort of sad, since right now especially (given the awfully depressing circumstances of our most horrifying present) we should all be going to more punk shows. It is, if you’re going to the same old shows, headlined by the same old bands. But there’s an easy fix: support the bands that are not zombie relics of another era– bands that include women, queer and trans musicians, people of color, Muslims, Jews, everyone, everyone. If you even need reason, you will be rewarded not only with a fresh-feeling scene, but excellent sounds that remind you why you started listening to punk in the first place.
The war in Syria has gone on for so long that many of us here in the West have grown numb to it– which might sound callous, but it’s difficult to avoid mainly because the narrative has been dominated by chaotic battlefield reports and gruesome images of the violence inflicted by Assad on his own people, including children and civilians in general. The only way to avoid going completely insane over such horror is to keep a safe distance.
But this can’t go on forever– and slowly, we’re starting to receive dispatches that are more human: personal accounts by the people who have actually been there. Art is an especially useful way to reach people, and more importantly move them.
Enter OmarSouleyman, an unlikely rock star who “began his career as a prolific wedding singer” in Syria, “releasing nearly 500 live albums before civil war broke out” in 2011. His life, like many more, was upended in profound ways, but he continued making music even after leaving his home in Al-Jazira (a region in Syria’s northwest) for Turkey, which took on a whole new depth. Now, the West is listening to Souleyman, whose sounds and heartfelt lyrics give listeners no choice but to reckon with reality.
On To Syria, With Love, the album Omar will release on June 2, he sings: “It’s been six years I’ve been away, and I’m tired of looking for home and asking about my loved ones. My soul is wounded and it’s like having dust in my eyes. We are in exile, and our nights are long. Our homeland is our only comfort. Life caused us so much pain—our wounds are too many and every wound calls out, ‘We miss Al-Jazira.’”
Correction: The original version of this post was revised to correct the release date of “To Syria, With Love.”
Hank Wood & the Hammer Heads, La Misma, Mommy, Conspiracy, Shimmer, Fur Helmet Friday May 5, 8 pm at Saint Vitus: $15
This lineup reads like a who’s-doo of Toxic State records. Arriving straight from the “institutional abyss” is Mommy. Then you have the Portuguese spittlin’ piss punks ofLa Misma, and scene stalwarts likeFur Helmet and Conspiracy. I mean, Saint Vitus has been called “one of the best-booked bars in New York”– even so, you’re rarely gonna find so many excellent punk/hardcore bands in one place outside of a funeral or, like, a festival (shudder).
Wolf Eyes, Eartheater, Twig Harper Saturday April 22, 8 pm at Brooklyn Bazaar: $13
Wow, what a whirlwind couple of years these must have been for Wolf Eyes– and this #blessed bestowance is well deserved for the band, which started out making noise, then moved toward not-noise-at-all noise that really was noise, until they transcended noise altogether. The comeuppance has meant, among other things, a new record label to call their own, a music festival in their honor (Trip Metal Fest will be back this year for a second go-round), a stream of sold-out shows in places that are just slightly above the underground and well beyond the borders of Metro Detroit, and now Undertow, a new album hot on the pup paws of 2015’s I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces.
Rich Awn (L) and Dead Eye Dave (R) at Magick City (Photo: Nicole Disser)
It’s true that one of the saddest sights in the world is a lifeless party struck down by under-attendance. We’ve all been there, at some point, and the sorry scene is always the same: a mostly empty room forms into a joy-sucking vacuum, where laughter feels forced and boozing looks like desperate denial. But nightlife veterans know that parties too big for their britches can be just as bad, and that even great parties will start losing their collective spirit as more and more people pack it in. Keep Reading »
If you’ve never been to a Pink Mass show and your idea of BDSM is 50 Shades of Grey, then grab your smelling salts for this one. Even I found myself flinching at photos of the band’s live performances– gory scenes of large, sweat-soaked men sheathed in balls-to-the-wall bondage gear, bending into various shapes of mastering and submitting, and abiding strictly by the band’s stated “personal interests”: