It’s hard to imagine now how groundbreaking Radiohead’s Kid A was. I’d seen Radiohead in a small Dallas club when “Creep” was hot, and ran to see them all-grows-up at MSG in 2001—but equally jaw-dropping was the opening act, Kid Koala. For music dorks-slash-turntable geeks, Kid Koala executed skillz that were technically mindblowing, while playing actual music that was swoonable for audience members who weren’t hawk-watching the camera trained on his decks.
Posts by Bradley Spinelli:
“I was the best friend of several superstars,” Danny Fields told the crowd at Spoonbill Studio yesterday, explaining how he went on to sign Iggy and the Stooges, manage the Ramones, and become one of the godfathers of punk.
Fields is a wonderful, weaving raconteur, with wandering recollections of a time when being in the right place and meeting the right people was all there was to it. Set up with prompts by Sacha Lecca, deputy photo editor at Rolling Stone, Fields started at the “beginning,” which meant hanging around the San Remo on Bleecker and falling into Andy Warhol’s orbit. His role was “kinda shadowy,” a witness to it all. “Suddenly some of us were very rich, very famous.” The Velvet Underground, Edward Albee.
The New York Burlesque Festival blows into town this weekend for the amazing 15th year in a row. Did festival producers and co-founders Angie Pontani and Jen Gapay ever think it would survive this long? “I don’t think I ever even thought about it!” says Pontani. “In the beginning we were lucky to go year to year. Looking back, I can’t believe it’s been 15 years and how much burlesque has grown and changed. It’s been an amazing evolution to have a front row seat to.” Gapay adds, “I remember joking with Angie about the festival’s 20th Anniversary during the fourth or fifth year, and I don’t think either of us were expecting the scene to last this long, but I’m sure glad it has!”
Watching New York nightlife, it’s always wonderful when a performer you admire and enjoy goes from scrappy potential to screaming success. Lady Rizo, an inspiring singer and hilarious re-contextualizer, appears back at Joe’s Pub this week with victory in her step to celebrate the release of her new album, Indigo, which at first spin runs the gamut from Broadway tunes to Kurt Weill to neo-soul to a noir soundtrack.
The Red Room above KGB— the former black box that you were probably dragged to by college friends doing DIY theater in the early aughts— has become a swanky, prohibition-themed bar. Every bit as tuxedo as the KGB is shirtsleeves, it boasts warm lighting and art deco details, with a tiny stage and a copper bathtub. “The Green Fairy” event showcases a monthly absinthe tasting paired with era-appropriate entertainment: August’s episode features live piano by Chris Johnson, absinthe history by Kellfire Bray, and Nelson Lugo on the Victrola during breaks. Ticket prices drop for those in “vintage, evening wear, unmentionables or intimate attire,” encouraging you to help create the ambiance.
Even on Memorial Day weekend, when half the city seemed to be out of town, Gramercy Theatre drew a boisterous crowd to see Honor Among Thieves supporting Ten Ton Mojo. The scene was something out of a different New York era, with denim, leather, and tattoos more than well-represented, dudes throwing devil horns, and a whole lot of yelling. Honor Among Thieves has a decidedly old-school sound, straight-ahead rock and roll, what could be called pre-grunge or post-grunge and particularly appealed to the ’80s metalheads in the crowd. If the “Brooklyn Sound”—wall-of-reverb, loud-QUIET-loud, introspective grunginess—has become so ubiquitous in the past few years as to become the landscape, a band with the balls to un-ironically throw up a slamming cover of a Stone Temple Pilots song stands out.
Michael J. Seidlinger and I met a couple of years ago at a bookstore event in Greenpoint. As the publisher of DIY press Civil Coping Mechanisms, the reviews editor of Electric Literature, and a published writer in his own right, he spends a lot of time dropping by events at bookstores. The next time I saw him, he was on a Brooklyn Book Festival panel with Salman Rushdie.
This month, Seidlinger is conducting #FollowMeBook, perhaps best described as a social media experiment. He created a bunch of impossible rules for himself, but the gist is: one month to get from New York to California, staying only with social media connections who can host him for free—no hotels!—without ever staying anywhere for more than two nights. The idea spun out of conversation with writer/editor Janice Lee about a road trip to nowhere, and grew until it became an idea for a book whose social media obsession dovetails nicely with Seidlinger’s recent novels The Strangest and Falter Kingdom.