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Four Shows: Syrian Wedding Singer’s Wartime Serenades, Punk is (Sorta) Dead, and Cat Power (No, Really)

(Image via TicketWeb/ Facebook)

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.




(Flyer via World Music Institute)

Omar Souleyman
Thursday May 11, 7 pm at Le Poisson Rouge: $30

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 Omar Souleyman, 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.”

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Week in Shows: Sonic Immersion Excursion and Girls, Girls, Girls

(Flyer via Le Poisson Rouge)

Concert for Immigration Rights: Glasser, Underground System, Tigue, Elena Moon Park & Friends, Ashley Bathgate, and Ljova
Wednesday March 22, doors 7 pm at Le Poisson Rouge: $25

Le Poisson Rouge is hosting a benefit this week for the New York Immigration Coalition, which is cool. As you might expect, they’ve put together an eclectic lineup to help rake in the cash for a chill cause: defending immigrants rights. Funds are going directly to the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) which provides services that LPR says are “particularly crucial in the wake of the recent presidential executive actions.” Hear, hear.

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Jonesing For Good Shows? Take Your Lady Pills

Lady Pills (Photo via PopGun Presents/ Facebook)

Lady Pills, Dead Stars, RIPS, Monograms
Wednesday March 15, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $10 

Another one of our own bit the dust– say it with me: RIP Shea Stadium. Now what? Get out there and keep supporting DIY venues across the city. And yes, that also goes for homegrown spots that just happen to be certified-legit, grown-up, and now pleasant after years of hard and risky work– never forget that these dudes are threatened by the looming, apparently totally arbitrary powers that be.

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Our Guide to This Year’s Scary-Good Halloween Parties

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 26

giphyGIFoween
Brooklyn Bazaar, 150 Greenpoint Ave., Greenpoint; 7pm; free

The web’s best animators set out to prove that everything is scarier when it’s looped for all eternity at this contest from the folks at GIPHY and Brooklyn’s Animation Block Party. The coolest entries are being screened and measured up by celebrity judges at the Brooklyn Bazaar’s new four-story space — here’s hoping for lots of animated homages to the dancing pumpkin man. Plus, on Saturday BK Bazaar is doing their “Brooklyn Fright Bazaar,” with musical tributes to The Cramps and The Bee Gees, games, karaoke (guess they found a manager), a Halloween drinking game contest (yikes), food and more.

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Catch France’s Crème de la Crème (For Free!) at the France Rocks Summerfest

Israeli-French singer/songwriter Yael Naim. (Photo courtesy FranceRocks)

Israeli-French singer/songwriter Yael Naim. (Photo courtesy France Rocks)

Voilà! The inaugural France Rocks Summerfest or should we say, France Des Roches Fest D’été (no, no we shouldn’t) kicked off Memorial Monday with a performance by “guitar orchestra” composer Rhys Chatham, and continues on June 3 with a performance at Le Poisson Rouge by French pianist and composer Maxence Cyrin (known for his solo piano covers; check out his 2009 cover of “Where Is My Mind” by The Pixies). The seven-week showcase of French music will include more than 30 musical acts performing a range of indie rock, pop, electronica, jazz and world rhythms at more than 25 venues across Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

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Doc Series Burn to Shine from Fugazi’s Brendan Canty, Returns With ‘Vol.6 : Atlanta’

(Flyer courtesy of BTS)

(Flyer courtesy of BTS)

It’s been nearly a decade since Lee Tesche, guitarist for the Atlanta-rooted band Algiers (whose brain-jostling blend of gospel and hardcore punk has been sort of blowing up since the band release their self-titled debut last spring) convinced a longtime idol, Brendan Canty of Fugazi, that his hometown music scene was worth documenting. Canty, along with his collaborator Christoph Green, had been working on an episodic rock-documentary series for the past few years, Burn to Shine, a stripped-down take on various music scenes across the country. And Tesche wasn’t wrong in thinking it was high time they came to Atlanta. The doc captures bands like Deerhunter and Black Lips at the moment before they blew up big, as well as veterans like Shannon Wright, who went on to stake out even wider renown.

But Volume 6, shot in 2007, became something of a time capsule, after it failed to see an official release when Canty, Green, and many of the bands they had filmed, ran up against the collapse of the DVD industry and advent of YouTube mid-way through the project. Finally, almost ten years later, Burn to Shine 6: Atlanta is seeing a proper premiere as Algiers has set out on an East Coast mini-tour, playing music and screening Tesche’s portion of the series along the way. Tonight marks the band’s New York City stop, when they’ll be playing Le Poisson Rouge (along with Savak) following an 8 pm screening of the new BTS installment.

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‘A Strange Story’: How 160 Bleecker Went From Slum House to Bohemian Bastion

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

Evening in one of the courts in the Mills House, no. 1." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1902.

Evening in one of the courts in the Mills House, no. 1.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1902.

At the end of the 19th century, Ernest Flagg had a vision. Educated in the École des Beaux-Art in Paris, the young architect came back to New York in 1890 wanting to “reform the barbaric housing standards of the day.” Then he met banker and philanthropist Darius Odgen Mills, and before long Mills House No. 1, an inexpensive hotel for working men, opened in Greenwich Village in 1897.

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Music: Os Mutantes

os_mutantes

It’s almost impossible to map how influential Os Mutantes has been. The Brazilian psych band founded in the late ’60s, when Brazil was controlled by a brutal dictatorship, was an important force in the Tropicália movement, melding American psych rock influences with traditional Brazilian guitar music while resisting totalitarian control. See them reunite at Le Poisson Rouge.

Read more here.

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Shows: Flashback to the ’90s and Tropicália Nostalgia

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Welcome back to reality. Now that summer’s officially over (the days seem shorter already, don’t they?) you’re going to need a serious hangover remedy for those months of self-abuse. If that sounds painful, it doesn’t have to be. Good shows will help get you back on your feet and distract you from the literal spiral into darkness happening right before our eyes. This week, see what a Kiwi guitar-pop legend is up to these days and don’t miss a certain Tropicália squad’s reunion.

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Caitlyn Jenner Has Become a Muse For Mixologists

11041258_844937295555694_8058926355490696239_oShe likes the nightlife, baby, so it’s no surprise that Caitlyn Jenner has inspired some new cocktails.

Have a look at the drinks menu that Williamsburg’s Trophy Bar launched this week and right under the Paris Is Byrrhning you’ll see a Call Me Caitlyn, consisting of gin, egg white, absinthe, and lemon juice.

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Shows: Noise Rock Savagery and a Beloved Venue’s Punkerversary

10411717_970867636257786_8329522161874932290_nIt’s that time of the week again. Scrambling to see what’s happening this weekend? Well, we don’t blame you for allowing yourself to check out of existence for the majority of the work week — attention spans are getting shorter and shorter as we hurtle toward holiday. Just kidding, we don’t get months off work to enjoy what little nice weather we’re blessed with each year, this isn’t freaking Europe. But at least you can pretend like something as blissful is on the horizon. We need something to keep us going and frequently lying to yourself works just as well as actual hope, for a brief time anyway. But you know what else helps to keep this awful world seem less so? live musical acts. So consider our weekly offerings after the jump.

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Your Comprehensive Guide to a Nasty Week of Punk Festivities

(poster by Alexander Heir)

(poster by Alexander Heir)

It’s finally almost here, New York’s Alright 2015! Get excited for this year’s all things punk fest where tons of related official and unofficial happenings are being held in and around Bushwick, Greenpoint, East Williamsburg, and the Lower East Side. And you can stop screaming now, this isn’t a festival in any traditional / horrendous sense of the word, meaning you can put all your eggs in a basket marked “no” as in no you aren’t going to find anyone looking “Coachella as fuck” at this event. Or maybe you will. I haven’t turned on any TVs in a while so there’s a distinct possibility I’ve just been asleep at the wheel and Coachella hats are the new normcore. Well, normcore be damned — it’s time to break out your spikes, boys and girls (but only if you like saxophones).

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