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.
The great giver of free things, House of Vans, has announced they’re teaming up with Rooftop Films (the latter just dropped their 20th-anniversary summer programming) for two undeniably sick events happening next week. The super group of summertime chill times are calling the almost back-to-back affairs “cinematic music events,” and for the low, low price of $0 you too can see two music-centric documentaries followed by performances from Danny Brown, The Casualties, and more. It’s all happening at House of Vans. Read on for more deets.
Diamanda Galas: Death Will Come and Will Have Your Eyes
Thursday May 12 and Saturday May 14 at Red Bull Music Academy at 258 W 118th Street
Believe me when I tell you that this one is worth the trip uptown. The Red Bull Music Academy Festival is back, and as usual their title isn’t the only thing that’s a bit of a mouth full. They always seem to be asking a lot of their guests, most of whom probably don’t wanna take some class on the anatomy of so-and-so and would just like to please hear some dang music. If you count among the purists, here’s at least one show on the month-long list of festival happenings (through May 22) that qualifies as required listening.
Honey, The Men, Foster Care, JJ Doll
Friday May 6, 8 pm at Alphaville: $8 in advance/ $10 at the door
The season of leisure is (sorta, almost) upon us, but before you can pull out your pastel polos and Adidas flip flops n’ white socks (predicting that a health-goths-in-hot-weather with ’80s Beverly Hills golf club vibe will dominate Riis Park Beach Bazaar this summer), you gotta ease into that seasonable mindset of giving very few fucks. Without the zen attitude, you’re just another banker boy who spills mustard on his Comme des Garcons tennis shoes and makes his French bulldog Daisy pay the consequences. In my opinion, the best way to avoid wanton animal abuse is to eliminate all possible stress factors– that means lining up your go-to tunes for the summer far in advance so that when it comes to making an all-day playlist on the fly, you’ll be ready to go.
SUUNS, Eaters, John Congolton and the Nighty Nite
Thursday April 28, 7 pm at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall: $15
The Marlin Room inspires a sense of foreboding in me: visions of an antechamber filled with clamoring sea beasts who’d like nothing more than to pierce my and your flesh with their Samurai snouts, then placidly inspect our writhing, tortured remains with their lifeless, black membranes-for-eyes. But I’m sure that people have made it in and out of shows at this Marlin Room before. Right? Could be a trap, or it could be worth it. If you can get past all this, then by all means go see Suuns and friends.
Friday April 22, 8 pm at Aviv: $8
It’s true that I inevitably run into some semantic obstacles when I try to enlighten people about the New England Patriots. Yeah, not the football team or whatever, but the weirdo punk band. But trust, the Pats are worth the hassle. OK, so they’re from Boston, but hear me out– these guys are ratchet as all hell, and know how to whip even the blandest room into a professional-grade brain-screw. Expect spineless (in a good way) noise without seeming end or beginning, interspersed with small grasps at reality or familiarity– try and hold on to them and within a blink’s time they’re gone. This is the attention-shattered ecstatic floundering of a band truly unhinged.
The Pats recently dropped some new tunes on the net for the first time in two long years (along with some heady new artwork depicting their googly-eyed Steal Your Face skull), which bodes well for a new record release. But all you need worry about right now is the Pats’ impending appearance in NYC, and since they’re about halfway through their April tour– the point where, deep into the bender, everyone begins to lose their mind, but still manages to have some semblance of fun– there’s a good chance it’s gonna be a real banger.Raw Pony, Shop Talk, Anna Banana, Shockwaves
Wednesday April 20, 8 pm at the Silent Barn: $8
The frontwoman of this Columbus, Ohio garage punk outfit has a bellowing range of vocal talents, from quivering falsettos to dips and whirs and extends and holds, all of which she utilizes at her whim, without paying any attention to the laws of physics, which can feel something like the worst roller coaster ride you can imagine. And that’s awesome stuff for punk. It’s all so worthy of our girl Kathleen Hanna (who’s back not only performing but landing perfect splits) and the same unbridled energy, and combined with the Raw Pony‘s bare-bones slacker psych, makes for a real interesting and, uh, real raw rock n’ rolling. Pairing nicely with the old-school vibes are the actual Ramones incarnate, Shockwaves.
Did we mention that you’re not likely to get even one second to breathe at this show? Shop Talk keep the waves a flowin’, with their frenzied take on clunky, bass-whopped folk punk. The band occasionally veer close to the edge of wide-eyed Mountain Goats earnest storytelling garble, but something manages to pull them back. Maybe it’s the snappy guitar and bass interplay that won’t take a backseat to no one. But for now (considering their relative newness and bitty online catalogue of just two songs) it’s hard to say for sure.“Becoming New Objects”: Genesis Breyer P-Orridge & Edley O’Dowd, Victoria Keddie, Sam Vernon & Abby Dobson, Bonnie Baxter, Deli Girls, Maria Chavez (DJ)
Friday, April 22, 7 pm at Trans-Pecos: $12.
It’s part II of the Queens International Concert Series’ Trans-Pecos iteration, and duh, the fact that industrial music legend Genesis Breyer P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle is headlining with h/er Psychic TV drummer Eddie “Edley” O’Dowd– the guy who encouraged P-Orridge to start the band up again– is reason enough to get to this show. (And if you haven’t seen P-Orridge’s ongoing exhibition at the Rubin Museum, get to it already.)
But obvi the rest of the lineup is pretty stellar too, what with the Deli Girls (who’ve recently been mixing iconic reggaeton beats and other dance items into their fourth-dimension dischord deluge). And then there’s noise magician Bonnie Baxter (Kill Alters, Shadow Box) as we rarely see her– unadulterated by neither her ambient project nor her avant-noise moniker. Whatever that means, we’re looking forward to it.
Interestingly, a slew of visual artists are on the lineup as well. There’s Victoria Keddie of E.S.P. TV, the psychedelic cable access show and roving analogue video collaboration/ live broadcast experiment, as well as Sam Vernon, who works mainly with collage.Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, Porvenir Oscuro
Tuesday April 26, 9 pm at the Acheron: $10
You’d think we were SOL when it comes to party punk done right, given the enormous wave of saccharine garage rock flooding the interwebs and venues around these parts. But a hometown outfit, Hank Wood and the Hammerheads– a band you’ve probably seen paired up with the Dawn of Humans crowd– prove that you can wriggle to an organ and potentially get the wind throttled right out of you. Performances are usually a sweaty affair but as far as the tunes are concerned, think of The Cramps, with an acid-soaked guitar or two thrown in there plus a hefty dose of hardcore spittle screaming, all fronted by a corn-pipe smoking hillbilly pirate.
Speaking of hardcore, Porvenir Oscuro (that’s “dark future” en español for those of you who don’t speak Google translate) does a rather excellent job of it– slippery slide guitars, chanty lyrics about exorcisms, calls for “no more” and other things that are beyond the realm of the aforementioned Spanish cheat sheet.KHF, Compactor, Madame Deficit, Spreaders, Fetishes (DJ)
Tuesday April 26, 8 pm at Palisades: $8
You know what Tuesdays are great for? Disappearing from the dang world. And while it’ll be far too early in the week to do something really escapist, this lineup at Palisades might do the trick without pulling you too far out to sea. It’s all about compromise, people.
Spooky noise from KHF will cap off the night with some seriously spaced-out, extended meditations on being and nothingness. Madame Deficit is back again to introduce some actual ghosts into the space with her horror show of a set (read more about LC von Hessen’s project here here.) And if you have ears when you walk into this thing, you certainly won’t have them after staying for the Spreaders set, which is best described as an onslaught of relentless wire-crackling, fuse-busting, and conductor-harnessing power electronics. Sick stuff.
James Chance and the Contortions, Gary Wilson with Tredici Bacci, Horse Lords, Eartheater
Friday, April 29, 8 pm at Market Hotel: $13
Excuse me while I have a fangirl moment here, but when I found out that James Chance and the Contortions were playing Market Hotel I just about had an aneurysm. One of the weirder musicians out of the New York City no wave scene, James Chance, of course, fronted the outfit with his freakaleak saxophone skills, super-hyper screetching, and bleeding-throat acrobatics– a spirit reminiscent of James Brown. Chance’s devotion to jazz seeps through his music, and for that reason his live tracks, as documents of funky improvisational exercises, noisy meltdowns, and legitimate, Dr. Jekyll-worthy freakouts, are a new listener’s best bet.
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.
“Have you been to one of our shows lately?” Reverend Billy asked me. The answer was– no, I have not. Not ever. In my chat with the eco-activist, author, and radical preacher who “prays to life on earth,” I was curious to know what in heaven’s name a Reverend was doing on the calendar at a Bushwick DIY venue like Market Hotel. But Billy’s explanation brought everything together for me. “They’re a little like mosh pits,” he explained. “It’s a punk gospel for life. It’s a laboratory for getting going again.”
A teaser like that is hard to turn your back on, and so is the Reverend’s larger environmental message: consumerism and “nation-state allegiances” stand in the way of our relationship with the Earth. As the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent, there’s a new kind of urgency to changing our ways, and Reverend Billy believes that calls for physical, direct action are the only way to foment radical change. But when he’s not putting his body on the line to preach against the further slaughter of the earth, the Reverend is hosting shows like the one happening this weekend at the Market Hotel. “I’m trying to preach here,” he said, exasperated. “And along with the choir, we’re trying to inspire activism in our audience.”
In typical House of Yes fashion, when I stopped by last weekend to check out the brunch scene, there was little to distinguish between the meal-eating in the decadent, shimmering dining room and the festive party atmosphere in the adjacent performance space. It was Easter Sunday, and of course the DIY theater collective was hosting an all-ages fundraising bash next door where costumes stayed true to the holiday’s pagan fertility themes.
Taylor Hoodlum Stevenson, Motorkiller, Boy Harsher, Soren
Friday April 1, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $8
The super-’80s Knight-Rider-esque dark electronica of Montreal’s own Taylor Hoodlum Stevenson has two main thrusts, er, so to speak. The first is led by aggressively cheesy/ hilariously weird rock-star vocal stylings– a kind of frontman-ery that demonstrates this dude has mastered and parodied that special testosterone-laden snarl popularized by the likes of Billy Idol– who himself bastardized what was once an oozing, sexed-up panther walk (perfected by Marc Bolan), and re-birthed it as an enormous, walking crotch-grab. The other side of Taylor Hoodlum Stevenson, the one that saves his music from treading too far into Weird Al territory, is his apparently very serious take on “horror disco,” which employs the analogue, lo-fi bits of Italo, Kraut, and proto-techno music we know and love, and pumps it up with modern danceability that’s cut with a late-late-late capitalist decadence– so rest assured, we can all dance to it without feeling like we’re breaking any cool codes.
Cellular Chaos, ONO, Paint Thinner, Weeping Icon, Maximum Ernst
Thursday( March 31, 8 pm at Alphaville: $8
If real nasty, real legit, real rock music– something that rings almost of another era– is what you’re craving, then be sure to hit this Cellular Chaos show next week. You’ll be treated to a band that’s actually spewing straight-up, not-lame rock complete with real urgency, real instruments, and the sort of sweaty, underground-weary belly roar that you can never, ever fake. It’s too bad this particular species of music is in danger of becoming extinct right now– thanks to some truly demented mutations of the form, all too often manifesting as either that commercial-grade, cock-rock slop played in close proximity to vintage orange amps, a pair of leather pants, at least one divorce, and male-pattern baldness or, on the other hand, pip-pop compositions dreamed up by a pair of twee Grimaces wearing matching, hand-embroidered overall numbers, and Colonel Sanders’ ties whose highest aspiration is providing the OST for a Volkswagen commercial (sorry– is it too soon?). But there’s hope– Cellular Chaos spawns none of those rock n’ roll bastard children.