There are few things in this world that make you feel more like a corporate lackey than sipping a free cocktail spiked with piss-colored (and flavored) energy drink at a show put on by said energy drink’s uber-branded festival that you didn’t pay for either. Ok, so maybe when it comes to the Marxist-guilt department, writing a glowing review about the aforementioned caffeine company’s spectacular music event tops one shameless night (ok, two) spent gobbling down all those freebies. But the real and honest-to-god truth is that Red Bull Music Academy is responsible for some truly killer (and sometimes truly rare) music happenings all over the world– Glenn Branca’s Symphonies, held at the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, were no exception.
Just as we began to worry, rather dramatically, that New York had lost the last of its great geniuses, Glenn Branca, the uber influential modernist composer who at one point collaborated with David Bowie, has announced a rare live show. He’ll be leading the US premiere of The Third Ascension at The Kitchen on Feb. 23 and 24.
Earlier this month, when we saw Pharmakon, Genesis P-Orridge, Merzbow and others at “Nothing Changes” during the Red Bull Music Academy Festival, we bumped into legendary no-wave composer Glenn Branca and his wife and ensemble member Reg Bloor in the crowd. Over the thrum on stage, they managed to tell us they’ll be closing out the annual Bang on a Can Marathon, returning to the Winter Garden on June 21.
La Monte Young, the minimalist master whose trailblazing work with droning has influenced everyone from the Velvet Underground to Sonic Youth to Brian Eno, who once called him “the daddy of us all,” made a rare public appearance at Red Bull Studios on Thursday, dropping some tantalizing details about a new Dream House installment coming in June to Dia:Chelsea.
Just a couple days after Glenn Branca premiered his latest in Paris, one of his former ensemble members and a guitar legend in his own right, Page Hamilton, performed with Helmet back home at Saint Vitus.
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Kim Gordon’s forthcoming memoir (being plugged at BAM tonight and Strand tomorrow) has brought new attention to the No Wave scene she emerged from during her downtown days in the early ’80s — Glenn Branca, one of the movement’s forerunners, was even name-checked in yesterday’s All Things Considered story about the book. And yet the premiere of Branca’s sixteenth symphony at the Paris Philharmonic on Friday strangely hasn’t received much attention, even though the hour-long opus has a hell of a title (“Orgasm”) and was written for a staggering 100 electric guitars (that’s 80 six-string guitars and 20 basses).
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Okay, so Glenn Branca thinks CBGB was “just a shithole where bands got up on stage and played,” but others think the place was pretty special. And many of those folks are likely to converge on Greenpoint today, because Three Kings Tattoo is giving away one of these memorial tattoos between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. It’s first come, first serve, but don’t expect quite the kind of line those $13 tats got: these are going for $100 to $300.
When you’re done getting inked, head over the the B+B Newsroom to hear Rayya Elias, who played at CBGB back in the day, read from Harley Loco, her memoir about her rough-and-tumble life in the ’80s East Village, followed by Brendan Jay Sullivan reading from Rivington Was Ours and sharing his memories of running with Lady Gaga on the Lower East Side. The free reading and discussion starts at 7 p.m., at 155 Grand Street, off of Bedford Ave., in Williamsburg.
As excited as we were to celebrate Glenn Branca’s 65th birthday at the B+B Newsroom last week, we didn’t expect our discussion with the trailblazing composer to be as epic as, say, the time in 2001 that we were blown away by his 100-guitar symphony beneath the Twin Towers, and (more recently, in 2010) the debut of his 15th symphony at Le Poisson Rouge. How wrong we were: the master rolled into 155 Grand with a bottle of whiskey and, just like when New York spoke to him in 2004, immediately lit up a cig. We weren’t about to tell him to put it out.
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There was a lot of fuss about Philip Glass’s and John Zorn’s recent birthdays, and we’re not going to let the birthday of another legendary downtown composer, Glenn Branca, go without a similar amount of hoopla. This is, after all, the iconoclast who, with his band Theoretical Girls, helped spearhead the No Wave movement in the late ’70s and who mentored Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo back when they were members of his guitar orchestra, belting out what John Rockwell of The Times described as “music of massive sonic grandeur.” That’s why we’re inviting you down to the Bedford + Bowery Newsroom on Monday, October 7 — the day after Branca turns 65 — to ask him anything.
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Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong are sifting through their voluminous archive of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at NYU’s Fales Library. This week: a look back at DNA.
“How dare you play your guitar like that! Don’t you know that’s the same instrument that Eric Clapton plays?” Audience members were often quick to share their dissatisfaction with the screeching dissonance that Arto Lindsay wrung from his instrument during a feverish set. So whenever his no wave band DNA finished up, Lindsay was sure to pack up quickly.
“It was the music I liked to play,” Lindsay says. “I thought the more far out you were, the more likely you were to be hailed as the next Jimi Hendrix. I just wanted to see what music would do to people. “
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