Ludlow Studios was packed to the brim with people for the private one-night only event to celebrate and ogle Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett’s art work. The crowd included everyone from stylish hip kids furtively scanning the room for Barnett’s messy brown mane to appear somewhere in the crowd, loafers who weren’t sure exactly what all the hoopla and video cameras were all about but knew for certain there were infinite free mezcal cocktails to be guzzled, and the nearing-the-top-of-the-hills sponging around to see what the kids are into these days. I’m not old, but this event made me feel old, particularly because up until I heard word of this event, I had no idea who Courtney Barnett was.
Gigawatts Fest is happening this weekend, which is great and all — I need my pop fix as much as the next guy. But sometimes I want to be surrounded by sounds that whinge, “I’mmmmmmm differentttttt.” If that’s you, too, get thee to these smaller shows where you’ll find acts that don’t exactly qualify as festival material, if you catch my drift.
If you had a chance to swing by Our Wicked Lady in the hours before their grand opening then maybe you found the loopy singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco throwin down dogs whilst a couple of his new tracks bumped on the boom box. Or perhaps you were stuck behind double-paned office windows, miles from anything resembling summer or fun, let alone new music. Stir not in jealousy, though, for the release of 25-year-old Rockaway resident Mac Demarco’s new “mini-LP” is just on the horizon.
It’s getting to that point in the summer where doing much of anything besides moving that lawn chair to the kiddie pool and cracking open your daily 40 seems interminably arduous. For hell’s sake, you’ve been wearing the same sweaty tank top, bucket hat, and cut-offs ensemble for, like, weeks now, dude. Pull yourself together and get to some of these combination music-food-shopping-booze-drink affairs. You’ll realize economy of movement as well as restoration of dignity.
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For the city’s DIY scene, the year 2014 was anything but static– openings, closings, you know the drill. And while one little venue might seem like it’s simply joining the list of short-lived venues and tragic casualties, in all probability, Nola Darling is just getting started.
If we had to pick one emoticon to describe Kid Congo Powers’ attitude about his own three decades-long career, we’d go with the shruggy guy (i.e.¯\_(ツ)_/¯). He’s surprisingly humble and when he speaks about the past, it’s with what we imagine was the same wide-eyed amazement he had way back when The Cramps asked him to come on board. By some estimations, Kid Congo’s been a part of at least 420 bands over his three decades-long career, including legendary acts like The Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and this writer’s personal favorite, The Gun Club, of which Powers was a founding member.
Well, we can’t say we didn’t see this one coming. Having just opened MP Taverna on Driggs and North 10th Streets (pretty much ground zero for Williamsburg’s shiny new condos) chef and restauranteur Michael Psilakis is now getting into the business of venues. What better way to connect to the neighborhood and a now nearly mythologized North Brooklyn cultural movement and indie rock scene? The Hall, a new music venue that boasts a mission to “put the focus back on supporting local arts, musicians, creatives, students and neighborhood residents,” won’t officially open till later this month. But we attended a preview event last night to see what we’re in for.
Due to some scheduling snafus, I was able to keep coming back to Throw Vision‘s music again and again before we finally met in-person this past weekend. And to my surprise, it only became harder to pin down one label for their music, because my reactions kept multiplying. At once it’s dark stuff and, as they themselves admit, a little moody, but also bright, airy, and ambient. That’s because Throw Vision is the average of four people with very different musical tastes and abilities. And the result isn’t any one thing, but rather a complex arrangement of things.
See boy-girl indie pop due from Brooklyn. Yes, you may be thinking, yes, I’ve been here before. But Laura & Greg, despite what might seem like a dry-as-bones band name, make some really fresh tunes. And their new album, Forever For Sure has arrived just in time for the sweltering summer, a time when sweet, minimal jangles that float light as a feather are not only in order, but a necessary respite from the darkness we’ve been treating our ears to the rest of the year. Sweet as they may be, the pair definitely, thankfully doesn’t qualify as twee. Rather, they’ve got serious style, thanks to Greg’s visual art background, and it’s as apparent as ever in their new music video for the album’s title track which, don’t forget, you’re seeing here first.
Eric Sosa and Michael Zuco are partners in life and now they’re about to be partners in business as well. The couple, who recently got engaged, decided to hold off their wedding in lieu of opening up a new bar on Bed-Stuy’s bustling Franklin Avenue. “We’re going to a give it a year so we can get this place on its feet,” Sosa explained. When it opens in a couple of weeks, C’mon Everybody will join a gaggle of new restaurants and bars along the Franklin Avenue strip south of DeKalb. But Sosa and Zuco are offering more than just booze and the possibility of good times. C’mon Everybody will be one of the few places in the area with a space dedicated to live music. “We’re going back to that sort of underground New York nightlife scene in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s,” Zuco explained. “We’re all really influenced by that era, and the decor reflects that without being too kitschy or over the top.”
In a matter of a few years, Jon Fine, formerly of the band Bitch Magnet, went from an indie rock lifer cavorting from Williamsburg warehouse party to coke-soaked dive bar and barely making enough to make rock bottom rent on his train-side apartment to contributing on air to CNBC and writing columns for BusinessWeek. Clearly, those were different days– that same Williamsburg apartment would cost a small fortune to rent now and Fine suffers from permanent hearing loss, though he’s happily married and is the author of a new book Your Band Sucks. Fine’s memoir traces his rise to indie fame as the guitar player for Bitch Magnet to ultimately, what he calls, “the failed revolution.”