(image via Circus of Dreams / Facebook, photos by Nick McManus)
Circus of Dreams Wednesday, December 6 at Bizarre Bushwick, 9 pm: $10 suggested donation
This performance art variety show, originally hosted by bearded street performer Matthew Silver, was one of the first shows in New York I saw that wasn’t a formal “theater” show, and it truly bewildered and impressed me. It was strange, daring, messy, stressful, loud, rule-breaking, sometimes all of those things, sometimes none of them. It made me realize that there was this whole community of performance I didn’t know about or thought wasn’t around anymore, and I found myself involved in the show first as friend of performers, then recurring door worker, then occasional performer. Since then, the host and producer has changed to show regular Lindsee Lonesome but the spirit has stayed the same. Tonight, after five years, Circus of Dreams will happen for the final time, and it truly feels like the end of an era. So, if you’re free, pop by Bizarre to see some of the show’s veterans and newbies alike take that scrappy stage for the last time. I’ll be at the door. Keep Reading »
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.”
Screaming Females, Future Punx, Snakeskin Thursday April 27, 8 pm at Brooklyn Bazaar: $15
There’s never not a good time to see Bushwick’s own sci-fi synth-punk sensations, Future Punx, in action, but this particular show has a lineup that’s especially motivating– the headliners Screaming Femalesare almost guaranteed to get your friends off the ashy bean bag. It’s definitely been a while since these DIY vets released a new album (2015’s Rose Mountain was their last) but in the grand scheme of things, they’re doing pretty dang ok. (I mean, Rose Mountain was universally beloved for one, and as long as the Females aren’t moving into early retirement right after one last go at the ol’ stinky-foot tour route, I’m willing to guess that they are (still) in it for the long haul.
Actually (in my book, anyway) it’s much more reassuring to see a band touring outside of the music industrial complex’s oppressive and ultimately really just kind of boring and predictable record-promote-release-tour model– it’s indication that said band might be motivated by things other than career/success/ladies/money/401Ks. Though you need only see the Females live to know that they’re passionate about what they do.
(Flyer via Babycastles)
Meat Market: Vas Deferens, Coatie Pop, Nandi Loaf, Pity Laugh, Little Pain Friday April 28, 8 pm to 11 pm at Pfizer (630 Flushing Avenue):$5 to $10, suggested donation
Ok, so the number one reason to get to Meat Market this weekend is that the title will automatically put everyone in a really gelatinous, tubular sort of mood– in short, loose. Which, duh, means great dancing. Secondly, the Pzifer building– if you’ve never been– is a massive, labyrinthian chip off the ol’ drug-manufacturing block, replete with medical, pill-pressing relics of yore, yes, but also the kind of double-wide elevators, expansive factory-sized corridors, and wide open spaces that come with the post-industrial territory. All of which make this a perfectly awesome place to throw a weird dance party.
Oh, yeah, the music (brought to you by the Babycastles crew), should be sufficiently out-there as well. For one, there’s Coatie Pop, who is a regular Mother Teresa. mean, I can only assume she’s charitable and worthy of sainthood because she dresses up like a nun and lights a bunch of mass candles for her performances. (Seriously, though, it’s cool looking.)
Even if you’re like me and otherwise haven’t really heard of anyone on this lineup, you can trust it’s gonna be sufficiently freaky since the show is happening in conjunction with E /\/ C O U/\/ T E R S, a performance-based art show curated by Vera Petukhova with some fabulous contributing artists including Angelina Dreem.
Laser Background, Operator Music Band, Norwegian Arms, Railings Friday April 28, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $10
Andy Molholt recently dropped a new album under the guise of his psych-pop project Laser Background, andit’s called Dark Nuclear Bogs, which to be honest is kind of perfect for our uncertain, heavily-armed present. If you’re pretty sure that SALT I and SALT II is the kind of stuff you load into novelty porcelain shakers, then all I have to say is, wow we are doomed.
If such dark pronouncements for the future make you restless, then perhaps you’d prefer to think about the (tiny) possibility of a Utopian outcome for our difficult species. We’ve got just the sound for that– but first we have a few questions: If you’re either a) completely unsatisfied with the breadth of Kraftwerk’s extensive catalogue or b) convinced that Kraftwerk is a new kind of vitamin B- and taurine-fortified processed cheese product from Kraft (“It Runs! It Jumps! The Only Thing It Doesn’t Do Is Melt!”) thenOperator Music Band is for you.
(Flyer via Facebook)
TechnoFeminism Saturday April 29, 10 pm to 4 am at OMG Pizza: free before midnight
Apparently you really can throw a rave at a pizza joint. Who knew? As long as you can stomach the smell of food whilst dancing/candy flipping, and are not prone to terrifying, mastication-induced hallucinations when you’re high as hell on water, then we fully encourage your attendance.
As you might have deduced from the name, TechnoFeminism boasts a “female” (in any way that might be expressed)-centric lineup, which is actually saying a lot for the hyper-masculine, DJ Man Man world of techno and electronic music. I mean, when was the last time that you went to a rave/dance party/what-have-you that was all, or even mostly, headlined by women, female-identifying musicians, and/ or even outspoken feminists? Yeah, we thought so.
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.
Mary Lattimore, Rosali, Energy Star, DJ Nina Tuesday February 14, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $10 in advance/ $12 at the door
If you’re anything like me, you will be spending Valentine’s Day alone. But cheer up, flying solo is not such a terrible fate– just think about all the stupid flowers you won’t have to carry around in some silly bouquet or whatever, and all that dumb perfume you don’t have to spray all over your body just to smell like the mall. Unlike everyone else, you’re gonna spend your V Day being aggressively single, which means leaving your apartment, head held high, and rocking your natural scent with pride, because you’re going to need all the pheromones you can muster.
Ereptile Destruction, Growler, Shitkill Tuesday November 22, 9 pm at Union Pool: $8
Once in a while, it helps to forget everything that’s happened to metal since nu metal hit, and take a trip back to our roots. Growler, a Brooklyn-based act that describes itself simply as “hard and loud” helps get us there, mainly by defying the trend toward increasingly humorless, doomed and/or blackened what-have-you. Lately, it feels like we’re so chin-deep in sludgy muck that it’s easy to forget where we started. Growler’s throwback sound plops us back in the early ’80s, with their high-pitched, falsetto, bordering on operatic vocals that recall Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
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.
Duchess Saysis the ’80s freak-wave/post-punk band you never knew you were dying for. Hailing from Montreal, they’re out to prove that Montreal’s really gaining on NYC right now in every way. And who can resist a band that sounds a whole like like what would happen if the Cars and the Slits had two babies, both born under the darkest of stars, then those babies mated with Halloween incarnate, then all the resulting offspring started a band. Yup. Picture that one.
Lazeyes, PC Worship, Gingerlys, RIPS Wednesday October 5, 8 pm at Rough Trade: $10 in advance/ $15 at the door
According to our social media stalking of Justin Frye, PC Worship will be playing some “new songs” at their Rough Trade show tonight.
But wait, aren’t all of the band’s live performances improvisational? How could music that lingers somewhere around deconstructed punk/avant-garde/drone/free jazz made with freaky-deaky instrumental sculptures (ew, I’d never say that Frye “hacks” his instruments) be anything but new-to-you?
Maybe it’s the scenery (Williamsburg) that’s making Frye feel lightheaded. He’s also encouraging showgoers to take a walk along the waterfront and “contemplate the exact moment Williamsburg ‘changed.””
OMG You’re a Girl Drummer?! w/ Milk Dick, Desert Sharks, Prima, Fraidycat, Rizzos Saturday August 27, 8 pm at Sunnyvale: $8
“Girl bands.” You know the term. In fact, you’ve probably even used it a few times– I know I have. It’s easy to do, and sometimes difficult to avoid, even for people who identify as feminists. But we should really stop saying it. All of us.
It happens because the image of an “ideal” rock n’ roll band has been hammered into us from day one, starting at the moment your crazy, mustachioed Uncle Frank threw on Exile on Main Street and started whirling his tubby hips around and around, sloshing beer onto your thin, porous baby skull for the first time (whether it dripped down your tufts of hair or just sat there on top determined how the rest of your life plays out– slumped over in a dark dive bar or squatting on an exercise-ball, bushy-tailed and bright-eyed at Generic Tech Startup X).
Siege, Ultramantis Black, Lunglust Saturday August 13, 7 pm to 11 pm at Sunnyvale: $15
The Acheron’s closing got you down? (RIP BBs.) Well, here’s your chance to thrash the pain away with a seriously brutal hardcore show happening this weekend at Sunnyvale (that new-ish kid on the block). As a fire-safe venue with lounge chairs, art installations, a killer backline and, like, legit permits n’ stuff, this may not be the punkest setting, but the place has good bones and great vibes. Oh, and Sunnyvale used to be a super nasty underground punk club too, so there’s that.