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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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Protests Continue Against Demolition of East Village Tenements For Hotel

City Council Member Rosie Mendez addresses the crowd (Photo: Michael Garofalo)

City Council Member Rosie Mendez addresses the crowd (Photo: Michael Garofalo)

Update, Oct. 20, 6:13pm: This post has been updated to include comments from the mayor’s office and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Elected officials, community activists, labor union members, and preservationists gathered on East 11th Street yesterday to protest a development plan that would demolish five 19th Century tenement buildings to make way for a 300-room hotel. The protest, organized by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and other local groups, attracted several dozen demonstrators who called for Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt the demolition of the buildings.

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Yer Week in Gigs: The Teaches of Peaches and the Lure of Boone’s Farm

Peaches (Image via Rough Trade)

Peaches (Image via Rough Trade)

Peaches
Monday September 12, 8 pm at Rough Trade ($30) and Tuesday September 13, 7 pm at Webster Hall ($25)

About a year ago, Peaches– aka Jessica Hopper, the Canadian electroclash artist best known for her transgressive, hyper-sexual, feminist dance music– broke her six-year silence with a new album, Rub, which Pitchfork declared had “arrived at a moment when the world needs Peaches most.” 

That might be an even more appropriate thing to say now, as feminism, women’s rights, and the possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman President of the United States have taken on a whole new feeling of urgency. Though we’ve come so far in the fight for women’s equality, we’re still knee-deep in a cesspool teeming with indignity, unequal pay, unpaid labor, obstacles to reproductive health, and widespread abuse– sexual, physical, and psychological. And we’re just talking the privileged Western world, baby.

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Parsing Out a Pair of Proficient Pop Players, Peaches or Porches?

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(Photoshop by John Ambrosio, images via Peaches, Porches)

Now, I know that my excellent Photoshop skills have no doubt tricked you into believing that this (see above) is simply your average, un-doctored photo, but— and you’ll have to just take my word on this— it’s actually a composite of two promotional photos. The image on the right was used in ads for indie band Porches’ latest album, Pool, whereas the hotdog’d one on the left was used by performance artist/electronic musician Peaches.

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It’s #KanyeIceCreamWeek, So I Waited Nearly an Hour For This Panda Cone

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

If you were among the thousands who gathered outside of Webster Hall this morning for a surprise Kanye West show that never happened, and if you were among those who stalked Kanye through the streets of the East Village to no avail, and especially if you were the guy who broke some poor dude’s windshield, you probably woke up feeling pretty empty inside. How to remedy that? With deep introspection and maybe some community service ice cream, of course! Luckily, it’s the second annual #KanyeIceCreamWeek, which means you can start the cycle of masochism all over again at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream.

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Shimmy Up to these Four Shows for Your Listening Pleasure

(Flyer via Alphaville/ Facebook)

(Flyer via Alphaville/ Facebook)

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.

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This Here Sonic Crystal Ball Reveals Five Killer Shows in Your Future

(Image via Webster Hall/ Facebook)

(Image via Webster Hall/ Facebook)

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.

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LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Back From the Dead’ Show Really Took the Cake

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Sprung on us just last week, LCD Soundsystem’s instantly sold-out shows at Webster Hall on Sunday and Monday were warmups for their much-hyped reunion appearances at festivals like Coachella, Bonnarroo, and Panorama. But last night, the band didn’t warm up so much as it blazed through crowdpleasers like “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” and “Us v Them.” Frontman James Murphy announced in January that a new record was forthcoming “sometime this year,” but they didn’t play anything off of it, instead choosing to, well, shut up and play the hits.

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Two Injured By Punches and Bottles During a Gang Assault Near Webster Hall

via NYPD

via NYPD

Two men in their twenties were assaulted near Webster Hall on East 11th Street at 2:20 a.m. last Friday. The New York Police Department is looking for four men in connection with the event, who allegedly attacked the two victims with bottles and punched them, but didn’t steal any property.

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Jennifer Herrema Talks Royal Trux Reunion Part Deux, Happening Next Week at Webster Hall

(Photo by Nine Gouveia, courtesy of Drag City)

(Photo by Nine Gouveia, courtesy of Drag City)

Legendary skuzz rock duo Royal Trux are getting back together, if only for a moment. The former bandmates are set to play at Webster Hall on December 19 for the second time since their one-show reunion back in August. Until then, Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema, once a power couple in romance and rock n’ roll, hadn’t seen each other in 13 years. “But when he walked in the door it was like everything was the same,” Herrema told us. “It all just went back to the same thing — the chemistry, everything. It was as if no time had passed.”

We caught up with the perpetually-imitated, never-repeated Jennifer Herrema– who’s been based in LA for a while now– about what precipitated the reunion part deux, and how Royal Trux may be broken up, but a new fan seems to be born every day.

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Week in Shows: Ultimate Trolls Unleash the Beast and Coke Weed Nod to Freeing the Innocent

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Wolf Eyes (Photo via Ad Hoc)

It’s the first week to get back out there and prove you’re an actual human being, not a ghost or a witch or even Sexy Donald Trump. Take off your mask and get back into the swing of things with two record release shows, a band of metal dads, and enough Trip Metal to make you quit Instagram forever. Find your trip outta here below.

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