NEWS ROUNDUP: Kesha Vs. Dr. Luke, New Music, and MORE

New Motions Filed in Kesha / Dr. Luke Legal Battle

Kesha’s ongoing legal battle with Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald rages on, with a few new developments this week. Though a New York judge sided with Dr. Luke and Sony music following Kesha’s 2014 allegations that the producer had drugged and assaulted her, Dr. Luke is now suing for defamation, and other pop stars have been pulled into the back-and-forth.

Both Lady Gaga and Kesha made statements implying that Dr. Luke had also assaulted Katy Perry, though both Dr. Luke and Perry denied any assault had taken place back in August. This week, Kesha’s lawyers pointed out that this doesn’t mean an assault did not take place, in a response to Gottwald’s summary-judgement motion.

Lady Gaga’s 2017 deposition was also unsealed, and Gaga made some pretty powerful statements in support of Kesha, saying that as a survivor of sexual assault herself, she recognized Kesha’s “depression and fear” as evidence that something terrible had happened between the two. As Luke’s lawyers questioned her testimony, Gaga said they should be ashamed of themselves and that they were all a party to Kesha’s ongoing victimization; and her words are heartening for all survivors of sexual assault: “Well, you know, when men assault women, they don’t invite people over to watch. And when this happens in this industry, it is kept extremely secret, and it is compounded by contracts and manipulative power scenarios that actually include this very situation that we are all in right now…. How about all of the women that are accused of being liars and how she was slut shamed in front of the world, how about that?”

Of course, many have pointed out that while Gaga seems to support assault victims, her willingness to work with accused pedophile R. Kelly sings a different tune. Though Gaga has since apologized for the unfortunately-titled duet “Do What U Want (With My Body)” and removed the 2013 single from streaming platforms, critics say she still has to answer for her collaborations with Chris Brown and photographer Terry Richardson – both of whom have been accused of sexual assault.

Bottom line – though much of the entertainment world is having its Time’s Up moment, the music industry still has a lot of reckoning to do when it comes to the #MeToo movement.

That New New

Rico Nasty burst onto the scene in 2018 with her mixtape Nasty, and so far, 2019 looks promising as well; the rapper’s latest collab with Kenny Beats follows the equally infectious “Guap (LaLaLa).”

Brooklyn post-punks Weeknight have expanded their lineup from a duo to a quartet, opened a bar in Bushwick, and today released their sophomore album Dead Beat Creep.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard took a short break last year after releasing five (!) albums in 2017, but they’re back with a kitschy new video for “Cyboogie.” They haven’t released further details, but it’s likely there’s a new record (maybe even multiple records?) on the horizon from the Australian psych-rockers.

Yves Tumor released a powerful video tackling police brutality for “Noid,” one of our favorite singles from last year’s excellent Safe In The Hands of Love.

Stella Donnelly shared a video for “Lunch,” from her forthcoming Secretly Canadian debut Beware of the Dogs, which arrives March 8th.

Emily Reo will release Only You Can See It, her follow-up to 2013’s Olive Juice, on April 12 via Carpark Records, and has shared the first single, “Strawberry.”

Animal Collective’s Avey Tare (a.k.a. Dave Portner) announced his latest solo album Cows On Hourglass Pond with a new video.

Empress Of has teamed up with Perfume Genius to record a new version of “When I’m With Him.” The track originally appeared on last year’s album Us.

On the heels of last year’s studio album Marauder, Interpol have released a stand-alone single, “Fine Mess,” to drum up more buzz for the world tour.

Dua Lipa released an epic video for “Swan Song,” from the soundtrack to “Swan Song,” from new movie Alita: Battle Angel, which arrives in theaters on Valentine’s Day.

The Chemical Brothers will release their ninth studio album No Geography on April 12, their first LP in three years. They’ve previously shared singles “Free Yourself” and “MAH.”

The Mountain Goats will release their 578142268539th record via Merge on April 26th. It’s called In League With Dragons and is vaguely themed around a wizard doing normal things like attending a Waylon Jennings show and trying out for a baseball team.

Canadian punks PUP share their vision of a dystopian future in a clip for “KIDS,” from their forthcoming album Morbid Stuff, out February 5.

End Notes

  • Ariana Grande got a shitty, culturally appropriative tattoo and surprise! the Chinese characters don’t mean what she thought they meant. Kingsford Charcoal responded with the best troll ever. The singer released a new remix of “7 Rings” featuring 2 Chainz this week.
  • Tekashi 6ix9ine (rapper Daniel Hernandez) pleaded guilty to nine counts including firearms violations and racketeering stemming from his November arrest. His charges could have resulted in a mandatory minimum of 47 years, but his cooperation with authorities to identify members of his alleged gang may yield a lighter sentence. Tekashi was on probation for a 2015 incident in which he appeared in a sex tape involving a minor.
  • There’s an ABC drama in the works that’s based on John Mayer’s song “Heart of Life,” from his 2006 LP Continuum.
  • Cardi B and Offset are back together… for now. The couple welcomed their daughter, Kulture Kiari, in July, but split soon after due to Offset’s reported infidelity. Cardi recently starred in a Pepsi commercial set to air during this Sunday’s Super Bowl, despite having declined to perform in its halftime show out of solidarity with kneeling players.
  • Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and the National Radio Symphony Orchestra will release a live album titled Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs) on March 29 via Domino; check out the trailer and interactive website detailing the performance.
  • NPR is streaming Jessica Pratt’s new album Quiet Signs ahead of its February 8 release date.
  • LOTR director Peter Jackson is said to be making a documentary about the Beatles’ Let It Be.

HIGH NOTES: Music Videos That Will Vicariously Get You High

Sometimes, artists drop subtle drug references in their songs that you wouldn’t notice unless you carefully studied the lyrics. Other times, they put it right out there, with drug-inspired imagery splattered all over their videos.

If you want to vicariously experience a trip, consider these videos your pathways into the brain of someone on drugs.

The Dandy Warhols’ “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth”

Aside from the fact that the Dandy Warhols are dressed up as literal syringes while singing “heroine is so passé,” the colorful retro outfits, cartoonish background, and balloons look like they’re straight out of a trip.

Afroman’s “Because I Got High”

If you’ve ever failed at adulting due to illicit substances, Afroman feels you, and his enactment of all the dumb shit he’s done while high is undoubtedly good for a laugh.

Tyga’s “Molly”

In a very thinly veiled drug reference, Tyga pulls up to a party in a car as Siri announces “Hi, I’m looking for Molly.” The bright colors, wild dancing, and pills in the club suggest that Operation Find Molly succeeded.

Of Montreal’s “Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia”

This song may not explicitly reference LSD like “Lysergic Bliss,” but it sure looks like the video was made on it. Kevin Barnes’ reflection blurs and warps in funhouse mirrors as he sings about “counting wolves in your paranoiac intervals.”

Rihanna’s “We Found Love”

This tragic video captures the insurmountable joy of rolling with a significant other as well as the utter devastation of the comedown. The reference to “yellow diamonds” in the lyrics led people to speculate about MDMA references, and the pills and expanding pupils in the video leave no doubt.

A$AP Rocky’s L$D (LOVE x $EX x DREAMS)

The “L$D” in this song ostensibly stands for “LOVE x $EX x DREAMS,” but the video makes the double entendre clear. If you’ve ever wondered what an acid trip is like (and a good one, at that), look no further than A$AP Rocky’s journey through this glowing neon city.

Mike Posner’s “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”

Posner has said that this song is about a real experience taking a “mystery pill” in Ibiza, which made him feel “amazing” until he came down and “felt 10 years older.” Based on the creepy video, this seems like a trip that’s better off experienced vicariously.

Animal Collective’s “Brothersport”

I’m pretty sure this song is not about drugs, but the video, well, is a drug. Take a look at the cartoon dinosaurs, painted eggs, and singing tadpoles and you’ll see what I mean. But I can’t be held liable if you actually lose your mental faculties in the process.

ONLY NOISE: A Year In Song

Certain songs have a way of tangling themselves in our days, weeks, and months, eventually embedding themselves in our psyche, forever to be associated with the particular time and place in which they meant the most to us. Here, Madison looks back on 2017 by recounting the songs that dominated each month of the year – sometimes because of the anticipation of a live show, sometimes after crate-digging yielded a new discovery, and sometimes, maybe too often, because they helped mend a broken heart. – Ed.

January: Austra, “Future Politics”

This song represented two facets of optimism at the start of a bleak year. One was that my generation, once so blasé and apolitical, was finally mobilizing and becoming informed. The second was that pop music felt like it would be radicalized in 2017. Austra made me feel like dancing was an act of dissent, and while I know intellectually that is an illusion, it was a welcome notion after the election of Donald Trump. It’s difficult to resist this track’s rubbery drum pads and laser beam synths, qualities that made the title track from Future Politics seem like the anthem for an era of awareness when it came out. While I can’t say it solved anything, at least Austra’s lead single had us looking to the future in time when the present seemed unbearable.

February: Sam Cooke, “Get Yourself Another Fool”

Ah, February: a month synonymous with frigid weather, annual depression, and Valentine’s Day. The latter has always been the bane of my existence, though this past annum has been slightly less miserable now that I am no longer designing lingerie (a cruel profession as a single woman). In February 2017, I was feeling bitter and slighted, and so I nursed my wounds with Sam Cooke’s “Get Yourself Another Fool” from 1969’s Night Beat. Its dry piano and walking bass line provided the perfect poison for a biting break up song. Just what I needed to hear come February 14th.

March: Xiu Xiu, “Wondering”
Solomon Burke, “I’ll Be Doggone”

March was a bonkers month. I got laid off from a job that would rehire and fire me within the next two months. I met a dream man who would break my heart in the next three. I ate frankincense at a drag queen party. The freedom, romance, and fear of March 2017 can only be summed up with two songs, the first being the irresistible pop cacophony of Xiu Xiu’s “Wondering.” The lead single off of this year’s Forget LP was a perfect combination of wild fury and glittering disco melodies to get me through an unmoored month.

Mid-March I found myself jobless and smitten in the dream man’s dining room. He handed me a beer and cued up Solomon Burke’s 1969 recording of “I’ll Be Doggone,” a song that despite its age, followed me for the remainder of 2017. I played it while cooking, tidying, and getting ready for a night out. Sometimes I would blast it when no one was home just so I could sing along. It was without a doubt the best old song I discovered this year. The fact that its discovery can only be attributed to one person in my life is unfortunate, but that’s just the joy and danger of music and memory.

April : Happyness, “Falling Down”

I’d been anticipating Happyness’ sophomore LP ever since I heard their debut, so when this year’s Write In was more somber than expected, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. After about a billion plays however, the record clearly fell under the “grower” category. Throughout Write In’s many rotations on my turntable this spring and summer, I fell in love with its opening track “Falling Down.”

“Falling Down” sounds like a late night observation, seen through too many layers of smoke and booze. Its hazy build of rhythm guitar is lulling, and remains so even when the drums finally kick in. It is a song that takes its time, and when bassist Jon EE Allan unleashes his half-awake croon and the squealing synths take over, the wait really pays off.

May: Blanck Mass, “Please”

“Please” is not only the sonic outlier on Blanck Mass’ third LP World Eater – it might just be Benjamin John Power’s magnum opus. This song dominated my May (and the remainder of 2017, truthfully) after I saw Power perform it at the Red Bull Music Academy for Sacred Bones’ 10-year anniversary gig. I was bewitched by his set, and though I loved the abrasive, blood-curdling songs in Power’s repertoire, “Please” was a dose of calm and beauty amidst the chaos – its gorgeous vocal melodies conflicting with shrapnel soundscapes and a choir of AI angels. “Please” is at once sorrowful, joyous, and frightening, which suited the state of 2017 all too well.

June: Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians

Summer is a strange time to seek out no wave compositions while everyone else is listening to “Despacito,” but I did so out of pure necessity. June was the beginning of a hellacious summer, one that commenced with heartbreak and culminated in underemployment and family catastrophe. I needed a break from evocative music, from songs that reminded me of a specific person, place, or time. I was on a quest for a song that made me feel nothing, and I found it in Steve Reich’s lauded hour-long piece. Its wash of polyrhythms and blips of human voice made a mosaic of sound – something that let me focus on every individual tile and the whole picture simultaneously, creating a calm that is the closest I’ve ever come to meditation.

July: Ocean Music, “When I Went to California”

This song was unfortunately stuck in my head for most of July. It isn’t unfortunate because it’s a bad song – it’s a good song – but one tied to an ill-fated evening. It was the kind of night typically reserved for rom-com screenplays, only with a far worse outcome.

It was a Tuesday. I thought it’d be nice to take myself out to a neighborhood club I’d never been to before. A date with myself, the sad last stab of a single lady nursing heartbreak. I wore lipstick. The headlining band was called Ocean Music, and their name sounded vaguely familiar, though I could not figure out why. I particularly enjoyed their sleepy ballad, “When I Went to California” as I listened to their Bandcamp offerings. It was enough to get me out of the house midweek.

I sidled up to the bar, ordered a Tecate, and before I could take a sip a man said my name. Only, it was my name with a question mark behind it, like, “Madison?” This is never a good sign. It was the man who’d just dumped me, and he was the opening act. I had, though accidentally, gone to his show, a mistake made even more comically tragic considering my profession. I stayed for the entire gig out of politeness and then left without saying goodbye. This song played as I walked out the door.

August: Leonard Cohen, “On the Level”

I spent most of August in the kitchen of my sister’s Washington farm. As reciprocity for feeding, housing, employing, and entertaining me all month, I thought it was only fair to do the goddamn dishes. The wooden shelving across from her kitchen sink is home to a Bose CD player, which has been occupied by Leonard Cohen’s final album You Want It Darker since he died in 2016. “On the Level” is one of my favorite songs on that record, and I now directly associate with my sister’s doublewide cast iron sink. When I was alone on dish duty I would crank the volume on the Bose and belt, “They oughta give my heart a medal, for lettin’ go of you,” scrubbing our coffee mugs to the beat.

September: Benjamin Clementine, “Phantom of Aleppoville”

This stirring piece of music was on heavy rotation during my late summer walks. The only problem with listening to Benjamin Clementine’s avant-pop-jazz masterpieces while shuffling around in public is that they inspire immense urges to dance. I cannot tell you how many spontaneous bursts of limb thrashing I resisted while listening to “Phantom of Aleppoville” beyond the walls of my apartment. It was difficult to remain disciplined, especially midway through the song when Clementine bursts into tango piano flair and spirited shouts. I managed to keep it together in public, but if you looked close enough you would see my hips twitching ever so slightly.

October: Diamanda Galás, “Pardon Me I’ve Got Someone to Kill”

I can’t imagine a better artist to listen to throughout October than the High Priestess of Darkness herself, Diamanda Galás. Before I even thought of naming her the Queen of Halloween, I was just excited to see Galás’ Halloween night set at Brooklyn’s Murmrr Theatre. In the lead-up to All Hallows Eve, “Pardon Me I’ve Got Someone to Kill“ was the perfect song to sing at the Weinsteins of the world – a kind of feminist power anthem cloaked in black magic.

November: Animal Collective, “Leaf House”

In the weeks before Animal Collective’s Avey Tare and Panda Bear reunited at Knockdown Center, I needed a refresher course on their 2004 record, Sung Tongs, which they would be playing in full for the first time live. I must have listened to opening track “Leaf House“ a hundred times in November, following its dizzying rhythms through subway tunnels and side streets en route to and from work. During the rush hour grind this song seemed to mirror and quell the chaos of the city simultaneously.

December: Bill Evans Trio, “Come Rain Or Come Shine”

I bought Bill Evans Trio’s Portrait In Jazz LP as a birthday present to myself in mid November, but I didn’t really get around to listening to it in full until late November and December, during which time it never left my turntable. It would seem from these blurbs that I am partial to opening tracks on albums, and the same applies to this record. Its first song, “Come Rain Or Come Shine” is exemplary of Evans’ diverse, elegant, and downright gorgeous playing. Watching this video of his trio performing the song in 1965, Evans’ facial expressions make it plain to see his immense passion for the music he so effortlessly makes.

AF 2017 IN REVIEW: The Best Live Shows of 2017

Austra @Warsaw

This was my first show of 2017, unless you count sets by Janelle Monae, Alicia Keys, and Indigo Girls that dotted the Women’s March on Washington days prior. I may have been late to the game regarding Austra, a beloved Toronto band already two albums into their career, and it wasn’t even their music that first grabbed my attention. It was the striking artwork for their third record, Future Politics. On its cover, a woman leads a handsome mare, cloaked in Austra’s signature shade of red. As it turned out, the album was as slick and strong as its imagery.

I sought out this strength one night at Greenpoint’s Warsaw, where Austra moved the whole room to dance with abandon. Lead singer Katie Stelmanis was captivating, her soaring voice sounding miraculously better than on the record. If it weren’t for her obvious talents as a pop star, Stelmanis would have an easy time making it as a stage actor or Broadway diva. The band plowed through the new album’s heavy hitters like “We Were Alive,” “Future Politics” and “Utopia,” sprinkling older favorites throughout the set.

Just days after Donald Trump had been sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Austra made the Warsaw crowd believe that if we sweat hard enough, we could construct our own utopia right there on the dance floor.

Girl Band @Saint Vitus

Girl Band, Dublin’s all-boy noise foursome, rarely leave the stage without first inciting a small riot. They’re one of the few bands I’ve seen that can touch something primal in audiences, waking them from their New York, no-dance comas. This spring show at Saint Vitus was no different. The crowd was a little rigid initially, but once Girl Band slammed into “Paul” off of 2015’s Holding Hands With Jamie we all went wild. Daniel Fox’s warbled bass line whipped us into a swirling frenzy. We attempted to scream along with lead singer Dara Kiley, but our sweat and thrashing limbs did most of the talking.

Perfume Genius @Brooklyn Steel

This gig was without a doubt my favorite live performance of the year – and I almost didn’t go. Audiofemme’s own Lindsey Rhoades, who could not make it that evening, asked if I would go in her absence. “Sure,” I said, having no clue of the treat in store. I’d listened to the record, and was of course proud of the Seattle band’s success being from Washington myself, but the sheer magnetism of PG mastermind Mike Hadreas blew me away. He slinked and slithered through each song, howling like a hellhound one minute and whispering like seraph the next. In those moments onstage, Hadreas seemed to be Bowie’s heir apparent. He certainly had a Ziggy Stardust-worthy outfit.

Blanck Mass @RBMA/Sacred Bones

It didn’t hurt that as Blanck Mass’ Benjamin John Power was whipping up beats, Björk was head banging by the PA system… in a hot pink clown suit. But even without Our Lady of Iceland publicly endorsing the set, Power’s gut rattling music had me enraptured. Power always performs in total darkness, giving shape and weight to his intense soundscapes. You can almost feel his songs wrap around you like a python beginning to squeeze. When he cued up “Please” – my #2 favorite song of 2017 – I suddenly understood what it’s supposed to feel like when you get the good MDMA. I’d only ever had the bad shit.

Aldous Harding @Park Church Co-op/Baby’s All Right

I saw Aldous Harding twice within a week at 2017’s Northside Festival. The first time was at Park Church Co-op in Greenpoint. Harding wore an all-white suit, conjuring the combined spirits of Tom Wolfe, David Byrne, and Jerry Hall. She was otherworldly, contorting her voice to reach the vaulted ceiling, then summoning it down low, to rattle the wooden pews we sat on.

The second time was at Baby’s All Right, a far less romantic locale. Still, Harding bewitched me with her strange posturing and mythological voice. As she sunk into the lovelorn depths of “Horizon,” I was near tears. I closed my eyes. I mouthed the words, “Here is your princess/And here is the horizon.” And then a sharp splat cut through the room. The crowd parted like the red sea, and there at the center was not Moses, but a 60-year-old, portly man, barfing all down his t-shirt. After a period of bug-eyed shock, Harding laughed and returned to her set. I went outside to breathe better air.

Bing & Ruth @Basilica Soundscape

There was so much to see at Basilica Soundscape this summer, and yet the first band that played on the festival’s opening night is what stuck with me the most. Bing & Ruth’s David Moore seemed to be painting with his piano keys, while the accompanying cellist and clarinet player extracted color from their own instruments. They invoked a staggering beauty that went unmatched for the remainder of the weekend, in my opinion. Bing & Ruth make music that’s incredibly difficult to describe, but I feel lucky I was able to hear and feel it in person.

Sean Nicholas Savage and Dinner @Baby’s All Right

This was not my first Sean Nicholas Savage rodeo, but it was by far the finest, largely due to opening act Dinner’s inspiring performance. Danish singer/songwriter Anders Rhedin knows how to work a crowd, and does so with a divine combination of goofball and deadpan tactics. He had us sitting on the ground like school children, clapping like a gospel choir, and dancing like disco wildcats. It was a nice round of cardio before Sean Nicholas Savage began his vocal calisthenics. We swayed for Dinner, but we swooned for Savage.

Diamanda Galás @Murmrr Theater

I couldn’t have imagined a better Halloween. After walking a mile through Fort Greene, squeezing past trails of children in Halloween costumes, candy spilling from their cloth sacks, I approached Prospect Heights’ Murmrr Theatre. The stage and pews were cloaked in red light, and the baby grand piano was the requisite black. It was a fitting atmosphere for Diamanda Galás, the singer, composer, and pianist I recently crowned as the Queen of Halloween.

Galás was bewitching. Her piano seemed to awaken the ghost of Thelonious Monk and Satan himself, while her voice was alight with several spirits; some crooning, some growling, some downright shrieking. Galás is a medium above all else, and this last Halloween, she seemed to communicate with other worlds.

Swans @Warsaw

This was another show I almost didn’t attend. I’d already seen these noise dinosaurs two summers ago, and didn’t plan on showing up for their goodbye gig at Warsaw last month. But when a good friend got the flu and offered up his ticket gratis, how could I pass? I got to the venue in time for a plate of pierogis and kielbasa, and through some fortunate twist of fate, had a pair of earplugs in my purse. This was a very good thing considering Swans were playing at decibel levels strong enough for sonic warfare. As Thor smashed his gong, I felt like I was inside of a tank as it unloaded ammunition. Even my feet were vibrating.

Animal Collective @Knockdown Center

Nothing could’ve prepared me for how mesmerizing Animal Collective’s set at Knockdown Center was a couple of weeks ago. The evening’s objective was for Avey Tare and Panda Bear to perform 2004’s Sung Tongs in full. I entered Queens’ Knockdown Center full of skepticism; how exactly, were they going to summon that wall of sound with just two dudes?

I still don’t know the exact answer to that question, but the task was accomplished. After ample fiddling by roadies (one of whom sported a biker jacket and looked like he was named Butch) the stage was set, and the travel-sized version of Animal Collective settled into their chairs. What transpired over the next hour plus was a village of sound supplied by two men, four microphones, and some expert pedal work. Whatever their process was, it blew me away. I was wrapped in surround sound, every blip, crack, and whir massaging my body with the tiniest pulses.

NEWS ROUNDUP: New Singles, Bob Dylan, & Mitski


  • Quadruple Singles
    • There was a ton of great new music released this week. Here’s four of the best singles we heard:
  • The Strokes: “Threat of Joy” is the latest single from The Strokes’ upcoming EP Future Present Past.  They take an easy-going beat and infuse it with tense energy, the lyrics quietly seething. The EP will be released via Cult on 6/3; check out the single below.

  • HOLYCHILD: The shimmering “brat pop” duo are back with “Rotten Teeth,” which features Kate Nash. Their music sounds like it comes from whatever pop factory churns out radio friendly hits these days, but pulls at the stray threads of culture, exposing the darker side with lines like “I know I’ll never be the girl I want to be” and “Do we eat or just starve ourselves tonight?”

  • Cass McCombs & Angel Olsen: McCombs and Olsen teamed up on “Opposite House,” a faintly jazzy track that creates a mystical space for guitar riffs to flutter in and out of and gentle harmonies to float through. Look for its accompanying album, Mangy Love, on 8/26.

  • Dinosaur JR: On Tuesday, Dinosaur Jr. debuted “Tiny,” the single from Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, on Later… With Jools Holland. It’s classic alternative rock typical of the band.

  • Bob Dylan Celebrates 75th Birthday

    In honor of Dylan’s 75th birthday on Tuesday, Animal Collective released their own, remixed version of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Other artists honored the folk legend by covering his songs, such as Kesha. She sang  “It Ain’t Me” at the Billboard Music Awards and “I Shall Be Released” at Dylan Fest in Nashville.

  • Watch Mitski’s New Video for “Happy”

    On Monday Mitski released her music video for “Happy.” It takes a lot of twists and turns: a romance blossoms, then turns to heartbreak, with a gory ending that’s unexpected and somewhat terrifying. The song itself is a contemplative look at love and loneliness, and as a bonus, has an awesome saxophone part.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Parquet Courts, Bernie Sanders, & Animal Collective



  • Parquet Courts Debut New Songs

    The Brooklyn-via-Texas punks performed “Dust” and “Outside” on WFUV, and also announced an upcoming album titled Human Performance. “Dust” has a loping, cowboy Western feel, spacing tendrils of guitar riffs between suffocating lyrics: “It comes through the window, it comes through the floor/ It comes through the roof, and it comes through the door/ Dust is everywhere/ Sweep.” As you can see in the creepy video – which features dust personified- dust is a metaphor for the distractions of modern life. In a way, the song is a more subtle version of the band’s “Content Nausea.


  • Bernie Sanders Gets Musical Endorsements

    I’m not saying that anyone should base their vote on what celebrities think of the presidential candidates. But if they did, I think we know who would win; members of Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors  joined Bernie Sanders onstage to sing “This Land Is Your Land” during a Iowa City rally for the candidate on January 30th. If you live in Brooklyn, you may have also noticed a bunch of shows dedicated to raising money for Sanders. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has earned only the endorsement of Kid Rock, and the wrath of Adele and Steven Tyler for using their songs without permission.


  • Listen to Animal Collective’s “Lying in the Grass”

    On the cartoonish, slightly schizophrenic track, voices bounce around, occasionally running into a glitch or a saxophone lick as the song builds. Listening to “Lying in the Grass” is like following instructions to make an origami box, only to realize you’ve somehow made a crane. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but it’s kind of pretty, which sums up the track. Check it out below:


  • Johnny Cash Lives On, In Arachnid Form

    Fourteen new species of tarantulas have been recently discovered in the United States, and one of those, Aphonopelma johnnycashi, has earned the namesake of the country singer Johnny Cash. Why? It lives near Folsom Prison, and is jet-black, the color that Cash was known for wearing almost exclusively. It’s almost too perfect.


RIP Maurice White

Maurice White founded the incomparable Earth, Wind & Fire. He passed away yesterday from Parkinson’s at age 74, six years after he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. His band was one of the most renowned, universally liked musical groups- for a thorough obituary, see The New York Times.


  • Philly Musicians Bill to be Withdrawn

    Remember that bill we mentioned last week, the one that would require all performers coming to Philadelphia to register with the police? Maybe you even signed the petition to stop it. Well, a spokesperson for Mark Squilla, the councilman who proposed the bill, has said that he intends to withdraw it. That definitely falls under the category of “good news.”



LIVE REVIEW: Panda Bear @ MHoW


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All photos Lindsey Rhoades

Blame it on the Internet: to make as big a splash as possible with a new album release, bands will try a variety of approaches. Whether that’s U2’s latest LP showing up uninvited in everyone’s iTunes, My Bloody Valentine and Beyoncé suddenly dropping fully-formed albums without so much as a preceding whisper, or the Arcade Fire/Aphex Twin method of guerilla marketing, the last few years have seen an uptick on controversial album rollouts (or lack thereof).

One artist who completely bucks this trend is Noah Lennox, otherwise known as Panda Bear. As a founding member of Animal Collective, he’s ushered his textured electronic washes into more and more of the band’s experimental pop songs, and as a whole they’ve released albums every few years like clockwork. That’s allowed Lennox the freedom to take a different tack with his solo material – one of thoughtful but relaxed percolation over extended periods of time. And the biggest part of his process in vetting new material has always been in a live setting. At last Monday’s sold out Music Hall of Williamsburg show, the air crackled with the realization that this could be his last round of performances before finally outing his much anticipated fifth studio album.

His last LP, Tomboy, came out in 2011, after a succession of 7” singles leading up to its release. But he’d been playing that material live for over two years, since his breakout with Person Pitch in 2007. Even given this trajectory, folks have waited a long time for a new Panda Bear record. It’s clear from perusing setlists and YouTube videos of fan-recorded concerts that Lennox has enough to put to tape, but other than tentative, unconfirmed song titles, collectively alluded to under the cryptic heading Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, no official announcements have been made about anything.

Recently, Lennox posted a mix to his website that takes some of the more familiar songs from these live sets and gives them full-scale production, bright dubby beats, and blends them with samples – some sourced from other recordings, but mostly built from his own loops – all of it situated into a nest of sketches and songs that have influenced his most recent work. So it’s assured that something is afoot, but there’s really only one access route to his new music, and that’s to see him play it.


The set started with churning house-esque beats, swiftly merging into towering reverb and textured, multi-layer electronic arrangements. Shoegazey washes exploded into slowly burbling tracks while longtime video collaborator Danny Perez’s captivating projections swirled behind Lennox. Even the Tomboy songs seemed re-tooled to better reflect Lennox’s new sonic ideas, and just as he had with the mixtapes he made and traded with his high school buddies in what would become Animal Collective, he presented it all as a cohesive whole, playing a nonstop, immersive set for over an hour.

Highlights included a song that’s been referred to as “Dark Cloud,” in which Lennox chants vowel sounds though a sharp echo effect to create a rounding pattern of syllables between verses. The drippy percussion of “Sequential Circuits,” another new cut that he’s played live pretty extensively, melted into the thudding bass of the next track while a collage of women in alien make-up writhed through Perez’s video. Though much of Lennox’s lyrics are obscured it was possible to pick out lines here and there. He hit his higher registers by shouting them, adding a sort of ecstatic urgency to translate the emotional import of unintelligible passages. Elsewhere, Lennox let the mixes themselves emote, as with an achingly beautiful harp sample that threaded its way through gorgeous, contemplative “Tropic of Cancer,” which will hopefully make it onto the new record despite its more somber tone.

To take the set as a whole is to get the impression that Lennox is approaching perfection with this collection. This is why it feels so important to be in the crowd at a Panda Bear show; though there is nothing on stage but Lennox and his Korg, flanked by a couple of intermittently flashing strobes, and it’s hard to know how much of what he’s playing is pre-programmed and what sounds he’s creating on stage, the feeling of epiphany comes instead from knowing that Lennox is testing the water, watching things grow and change, gauging the way the songs act together and cause the crowd to react. Even if it isn’t totally spontaneous, there is magic there to witness.



Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks

Dave Portner is a busy guy. Under the pseudonym Avey Tare, he’s acted as “de facto frontman” of Animal Collective, arguably one of the most influential groups in all of indie rock, for over a decade now. The band’s prolific output represents just a fraction of his complete discography – he’s released collaborative projects with Eric Copeland, David Grubbs, and Vashti Bunyan, as well as his former wife Kría Brekkan. In 2010, he released his first solo album on Paw Tracks, the dark and deeply affected Down There, largely focusing on his feelings about death and illness with a murky sound to match. It’s reflective of a dark period of his life, but with the debut of his latest project, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, it seems like he’s come out on top.

Releasing Enter The Slasher House in April, with former Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman and ex-Dirty Projector Angel Deradoorian on keys, the record’s vibe swings to the poppier end of Avey Tare’s songwriting spectrum. Much like the campy B-movies the moniker recalls, Slasher Flicks is an endeavor concerned mostly with fantasy and escape rather than introspection. That’s reflective, in some ways, of Portner’s own migration from the East coast to Los Angeles, where he now lives with girlfriend Deradoorian. But more than anything, Slasher Flicks is about the simple fun of playing music as a three-piece, and though its more straightforward than much of Portner’s catalogue, the eleven tracks on Slasher House each bear his familiar stamp.

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks are soon to embark on a West Coast mini-tour that kicks off with a stop at FYF Fest. Animal Collective have also announced fall DJ residencies in New York, Philly, and D.C. Portner chatted with AudioFemme about the particular influences that play into this latest project, how he tackles songwriting and producing, and what’s next for Animal Collective.

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks

AudioFemme: Hi Dave! Thanks for chatting with us. You’re in L.A. right now, and you’re kind of on a short break from touring with Slasher Flicks – you were out for about a month after the record was released, did some shows around Pitchfork Fest, and then you’re going back out around the end of the month, including FYF. Do you like doing festivals?

AT: Festivals have never been my favorite thing. I definitely like the opportunity to do ‘em, but I feel like more than not they’re usually pretty stressful. So it’s kinda hard to go into ‘em thinking it’s gonna be a like great time or something, you know.

AF: I’ve often wondered what it’s like for bands, because as a person who goes to a lot of more intimate shows, I find festivals to be sort of the least desirable way to see a band.

AT: In terms of being in the crowd and stuff, yeah, it’s definitely not for me. In terms of playing you’re just dealing with all these people that are stressed out for good reason to begin with – just trying to move things along – and I feel like it’s just not the most personal musical experience.

AF: How has the rest of touring been, your headlining shows?

AT: Oh, they’ve been great. The tour was really fun. I just like the more intimate feeling, it’s really a lot easier to connect, especially if the crowd is feeling the music. In that sense it was good, it was just good to play with Jeremy and Angel every night. We had a good time playing and it was cool to just be able to drive in a van around the country. It’s been a while since I’ve actually gotten to do that, and see things.

AF: Do you mean like, on the road? Did you go to roadside attractions?

AT: Well a little. I mean I guess just first and foremost being able to see the landscape. I guess I’m used to bus travel lately and you don’t really get a lot of that, especially because you travel at night, mostly, on a bus. You don’t really see the landscape change, and I think that’s definitely one cool thing about the US and driving around, is there’s so much variety to see.

AF: So the album’s been out since April. Are you pleased with how it’s been received? How does it feel to be playing it live now?

AT: I think so. I’m not the type of person that’s too tapped into how the record’s doing. For me, especially, for this project, it’s supposed to be just a little bit more fun and laid back, just trying to just take some time away from working so intensely at music. I mean, I want it to do well, obviously, and I think it is, which is good. But yeah, the songs are tight, and it’s been good being able to play all of them live. When we were writing the record we played some shows before we recorded and there were some of them we kind of wrote after so it’s nice to just be able to play the whole record.

AF: Yeah, I actually went to one of those early shows, the one last summer at Glasslands.

AT: Yeah? That was a crazy one!

AF: It was great – exciting to see the songs develop and take shape. A lot of people have compared the songs to some of the more poppy, anthemic Animal Collective tracks. Did that come from sort of shifting the Animal Collective live sets to more of a “hit list” rather than amorphous jamming that comprised earlier tours? Did that shift influence the way you went into writing for Slasher Flicks?

AT: No, not really. I mean, I guess I write a lot of songs. So there’s definitely songs I’ve been writing over the course of the last year and a half or so that aren’t included on a Slasher Flicks record per se, but I think there is a specific style of song I started putting together for this record because I kind of knew I wanted to do it with a three-piece band. I’m always thinking like, well how can I produce this record, or how can this record be produced, to do something a little bit different than anything I’ve done before.

Down There, the last solo record I did was [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][this] very sort of inner, heady thing that I kinda just kept inside of me for a long time and I finally got out with electronics and was mostly just me in a bedroom. But I think I just wanted the Slasher Flicks songs to just be something that would be fun to play live, and easy to play live for a band. So I think that’s where it comes from too. I was also messing around with referencing a lot of stuff that I listen to actually which doesn’t happen a lot with Animal Collective. I mean, it does, but since things are dissected a lot more by each member of Animal Collective it turns out way different, usually, than I would envision it the way I first wrote the song.

AF: What kind of things were you listening to that influenced Slasher Flicks most heavily?

AT: It goes back to my love of old garage music, the heart of like psychedelic music, like 13th Floor Elevators, or Silver Apples or Love, or anything like that… late sixties, early seventies Kraut stuff. Also stuff like Steely Dan which I’ve grown to like a lot over the last four years. And even like jazz stuff, which I think doesn’t really come through so much on the record, but I think definitely in how jazz is presented on record.

AF: And maybe that collaborative style of improvisation?

AT: Yeah, yeah, and just sort of like the more freeform aspects, letting that seep in where it can.

AF: In terms of playing with Angel and Jeremy, how does their presence influence the material that you write, if it does at all?

AT: Well I think they just have their very own very specific styles which I’d been familiar with before asking them to play. Even if I’m writing most of the stuff, when I play music with people I like it to be as much of a collaboration as it possibly can be, because I think that’s what makes it the most fun and interesting for everybody involved. I’ve never really been in a band where just somebody is like always like “You do exactly this, and you do exactly this, it has to be this way, and just play the same thing the same way like every night.” I think just allowing the way they play and their styles and their ideas to come into it, also gave the record its own sound too. Jeremy has a really wild kinda crazy drum style which is unlike other stuff I’ve done before. And Angel is just a really good singer and keyboard player and the ability to have all that happen in a live setting was really key to being able to record the record like I wanted to do.

AF: You went to Culver City to record it, I read, and recorded in a Medieval-themed recording studio?

AT: Haha, yeah. I guess you could say it was Medieval themed. It just had that look to it. It’s called The Lair and this guy Larry built it. Larry from the Lair – he’s an awesome guy, this kooky, old studio head that has worked in all these different studios over the years in L.A. and finally decided to build his own. It’s strange because it’s only a word-of-mouth kinda thing, he doesn’t really advertise or anything for it. In this day and age, in the studio world, that’s kind of a tough road to go down. Because, you know, a lot of people are doing the home studio thing and the industry just isn’t making as much money. But he just built this whole thing himself, did all the woodworking, wood and iron doors and chandeliers. It’s not a huge place – in terms of studios it’s actually pretty small – but it’s real nice, and it sounded really good. He kind of modeled it after Phil Spector’s old studio in a way and so it has this tiled bathroom that is really good for these natural reverbs, which I like a lot. I don’t like a lot of artificial reverb when I record so it was cool to be able to use the bathroom in different ways to get cool room sounds.

AF: In terms of production, what were some of the choices you made specific to this project? When you listen to the record front to back it feels different from what I’ve heard on other releases of yours.

AT: Oh yeah? How would you say? If I may ask.

AF: It’s tough to say, not being a musician or a producer or having the technical background to discuss that. But I guess, to use a sort of writerly description of what I hear as a listener, you mention the reverb from the bathroom, and you can hear where that’s happening, but in other places the mix sort of flattens out, and then comes back in where all the different elements stand out sharply against one another, almost like there’s a ghost, like another member of the band kind of coming and going and distorting things slightly.

AT: That’s cool, that’s cool. I would say all that stuff definitely happens. I think for me the production is like a tool and like a member of the band in a way and I love being in the studio and making a record… I think listening to music should be fun, first and foremost. It’s emotional. People get a lot out of it in their own way and everybody hears everything different, but for me, growing up listening to music, what I got out of it was the fact that anybody could go into the studio and do all this crazy kind of stuff. Like you’re saying, things get all crazy and distorted here, but then it’s totally normal there, in another place. I think it’s just a fun thing to do.

It also definitely happens with Animal Collective too. I think probably even more so – things are just more deranged and distorted more with Animal Collective, whereas with Slasher Flicks it’s kinda probably the most straightforward drum sounds I feel like I’ve ever worked with. In general in today’s musical landscape, I think there’s just so much music out there that is reverb heavy and distant and I think there was a time in the seventies and sixties where everything was a lot like crisper and punchier and close-up. These days, for me musically, I’m interested in doing records that are a little bit more like that, but also really spacious and allow you to hear the room.

My friend and I were listening to the first ZZ Top record. And he was just kinda like “This just seems like music that sounds really good because it happened then and there at that time with these guys playing like they played.” And it doesn’t seem like a lot of music is like that any more, where it’s just a matter of three people coming together and playing a song in a certain way and that’s what you hear, basically. So I think more lately, I’m definitely interested in trying to do that. And I think maybe some of that ghostly sort of studio stuff that you’re hearing is also just us, kind of doing that and making sounds and songs shift as we play live.

AF: How do the connotations associated with slasher flicks – gory B-movies, having a graininess to it, being low-budget, for instance – how do you feel those sort of thematic elements make their way into the record?

AT: To me there’s always a visual side to music when I’m making it, [but] it doesn’t necessarily fit into the way the music sounds specifically unless you can tap into my head maybe. For me, the notion of the basic slasher flick brings to mind youth and teens and a party atmosphere and all this stuff that you kind of encounter in slasher movies. Like the “scream queen” and that sort of thing. That side of it is also in garage and psychedelic music. I’ve always kinda drawn a similarity between horror movies and psychedelic music, and I think it just has to do with these drastic shifts in mood and things getting really wild and then things getting calm – it happens in both of these art forms. That contrast, to me, in music is really important – having moments of super light stuff and having moments of dark stuff. It makes it all work.

I think there’s something about the cheap [special effects]. Now we look back on it like it’s cheesy and rudimentary or something, but the time, in the seventies and eighties, it was new. Now it’s an art form to me. It’s something that’s not going to be recreated unless people are doing “retro” stuff, and it just seems like people wouldn’t even want to recreate that kind of thing, especially in horror if they want to be effective. Just that kind of cheap thrill – like fake blood – there’s something about it that just fits into the music, too.

AF: I think it’s very interesting to draw a parallel between those visuals and the music, because a lot of these movies, too have incredible soundtracks. You have Goblin doing Suspiria, you have these weird synthy interludes that are so off the wall and creepy noise effects and theatrical sounds and the like.

AT: It’s definitely those kind of movies that got me more into music when I was in high school, like the soundtrack to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I mean, it works effectively with the movie but I’d never really experienced anything that was just sort of noise like that, you know? It got me into sound music, people banging on pots and pans and industrial tools being used in music. It made me go out and discover bands like Faust and stuff like that.

AF: When you have a new idea for a song or sound, does it automatically get filed as “Oh, this is good for Animal Collective” or “This is a Slasher Flicks thing” or “This is really something else?”

AT: Yeah, usually. Especially with Animal Collective, at least the last few records, we sort of start talking about ideas before actually going into it so it gives me an idea at least, of the types of songs I’d probably write.

AF: Almost like a little bookmark or something.

AT: Yeah. And then, other things, sometimes it’s like I’ll know a song has more of an electronic sound so I’ll have to use it for something that’s a little bit more electronic, or this song I’m writing could be really good sample-based. It usually works that way and then they’re all kind of like grouped together after a while.

AF: Do you feel like you have ideas for the next records you want to do? Either for Slasher Flicks, or Animal Collective or something else altogether?

AT: I’m kind of in a middle world right now, I’ve got a lot ideas floating around with Animal Collective and on my own too, but everything’s just sort of coming together. This year was mostly meant to be more like a year off, just because I did so much touring last year. As much as I love just working on stuff I think it’s also trying to like not focus too intensely on it right now. But probably by the end of the year the ideas will become a little bit clearer.

I feel like people that I play music with just are doing a lot of different things. With Animal Collective, at least, we plan to take this year off. Brian had a baby, actually, and Noah is working on a solo record. We take this time to have those individual moments and there comes a time when it just feels natural to get back together and start working and I know we’re talking about that time but it’s hard to say exactly when and exactly what it will be.

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks West Coast Tour Dates:
08/23 Los Angeles, CA – FYF Fest
08/24 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
08/25 Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst Atrium
08/27 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
08/28 Seattle, WA – Neumo’s
08/29 Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret

Animal Collective DJ Set Tour Dates:
08/02 Miami, FL – Grand Central $
09/10 Philadelphia, PA – The Dolphin ^
09/12 Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl ^
10/02 Philadelphia, PA – The Dolphin %
10/03 Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl %
10/05 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall %
11/12 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall %
11/13 Philadelphia, PA – The Dolphin %
11/14 Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl %

$ DJ set featuring Animal Collective members Deakin and Avey Tare
^ DJ set featuring Animal Collective members Geologist and Deakin
% DJ set featuring Animal Collective members Geologist, Deakin, and Avey Tare[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

ALBUM REVIEW: “Enter The Slasher House”

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks

Avey Tare has put out some nine-odd albums with pioneering psych-electronic quartet Animal Collective, but this decade, he’s focused more on solo work than he has on the band that originally made his bones. His latest creation, Slasher Flicks, feels like a deliberate push towards something new, in part because it’s really more super trio than it is side project, featuring ex-Dirty Projectors multi-instrumentalist Angel Deradoorian and Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman, who recently collaborated with Dan Deacon. Enter The Slasher House bears obvious family resemblance to Tare-fronted Animal Collective tracks, with similarly off-kilter harmony and a grab bag of digital effects and reverb.

With a name like Slasher Flicks, you might expect the album to sound cartoonish–and you’d be correct. It’s more funhouse than b-movie horror, though. The album is packed with bouncy synths, surreally poppy hooks, and rhythms that appear to operate at the whims of a metronome gone psychotic. Often, the latter is a highlight. Hyman skillfully controls his ear-catchingly angular drum lines, which never shy away from being the focal point of the tracks on this album. In fact, sometimes they’re the scaffolding the rest of the music hangs around. On songs like “Outlaw” and “Catchy (Was Contagious),” the strength of the drum beat leaves Tare’s singing in the dust.

Slathered in production and reverb, the vocals come across a little wimpy. When the songs are at their most instrumentally complex, Tare’s voice seems faint and watery, as if he’s singing from far away or his voice has been unceremoniously inserted to echo the melody. Tare’s anxious, yelling vocal style is easily recognizable, but his presence on this album doesn’t match the authority he cultivated in Animal Collective. Instead, the vocal melody defers to the rest of the music, or we lose it altogether.

The exception to that comes with “Little Fang,” a fantastically catchy number that brings all this group’s elements into synch. A pop hook and an irresistible bass lines serve as the big draws for this track, but lyrical repetition (“You’re always crashing into teeth,”) bolsters its blissfulness. Somehow, despite all the clicks and crashes of its oddball underbelly, the song comes across as sweet and summertime-simple as a Beach Boys single. Sadly, the magic balance “Little Fang” nails doesn’t stick in place for the rest of Enter The Slasher House – the bubbliness soon gives way to manic obnoxiousness, and the angularity of the rhythms turn toward chaos.

Check out the terrifying video for “Little Fang” below!

i know what you did last year.

For some, 2011 was just a year where seemingly every other girl/gay man in Brooklyn decided to shave a random swath of hair down to the scalp. But for me, it was a collection of moments that have inspired me to whole-heartedly evaluate the way I experience music and actually make something out of my passion.

i know what you did last year.
a collection of tracks representing the highlights of a year’s worth of live events.
by tiny_owl on 8tracks.
click band names in the text for youtube videos of select performances!
My meditations on this began out of a repugnance for getting older. I had tickets to see Washed Out with openers Blood Orange and Grimes, but the night of the show, a Monday, everyone bowed out, citing the old “have to be up early for work” excuse. It dawned on me that while I was still serving tacos in a tiny Mexican restaurant, these people, my friends, had careers, and that these careers were so important that they could not waste hours of sleep to see a once-in-a-lifetime lineup play to a packed house, everyone with dancing shoes on. I wrangled a friend who, like myself, had few daytime responsibilities, or at the very least could handle being a bit sleepy the next day. We had a phenomenal time, but even so I was bummed. Was I somehow immature or unaccomplished because I enjoyed this sort of thing? On Thursday, aheart-to-heart with a friend who had bailed resulted in the followingconclusion: the two of us were at different places in our lives, andapparently I was not the adult.
The thing is, it didn’t really matterto me. If being an adult meant forgoing unexpected Bastille Dayfireworks over the Hudson after a free tUnE-yArDs performance so thatI could efficiently alphabetize files in a cubicle for a steadypaycheck, then I was content to sling salsa for at least a few moreyears. I wouldn’t trade losing my shit over those first hauntingstrains of Dirty Beaches’ “Lord Knows Best” billowing throughGlassland’s papery clouds to change a dirty diaper, because Alex Zhang Hungtai is the coolest dudewho ever lived, and that night he vowed to “croon the fuck out”which is exactly what happened.
I wouldn’t want to miss the chance tojump on the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage for Star Slinger’sclosing cut “Punch Drunk Love” or to witness Phil Elvurum on thealtar of the gorgeous St. Cecilia’s church, his soft voicereverberating angelically around the cathedral. Or to have folk heroMichael Gira kiss my hand after the Swans show, which was theloudest, sweatiest, and single most transcendent rock-n-rollexperience I’d ever had. Nor would I miss the incredible stageset-up as it virtually came alive to Animal Collective’s ProspectPark set, even as the heat and hallucinogens caused teenagers allaround me to pass out. Had I not decided on a whim just a day before the show, I would never have seen Dam-Funk shred akey-tar as we sailed around Manhattan on a ferry, the sun settingagainst the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty waving hertorch over the deck. I braved the pollution of the Gowanus Canal tosee a Four Tet DJ in a garden that managed to be verdant despite allthe toxins pulsing through the ground.
This was my fourth year at CMJ, and itstands as one of my favorite events because in that moment, you’reright with those fledgling acts, waiting to see a performance thatwill build their buzz or totally break them. This year, at a TrashTalk performance replete with band members flinging themselves frombalconies, a friend of mine well into her twenties found herself in acircle pit for the very first time. Later that week, I watched PatGrossi of Active Child strum a person-sized harp, its stringspractically glowing as they vibrated against his fingertips.
Fiercely loving music is one thing thatdoesn’t get boring for me. As I age, it doesn’t get old. Seeing aParty of Helicopters reunion performance at Death By Audio inFebruary proved that. I used to see them religiously when I lived inOhio. In my veins was the same blood that was present when I wastwenty, and every muscle, every cell, remembered what to do – Idamn near gave myself whiplash, working myself into a frenzy.
And despite spending hours researchingobscure bands for music supervision projects I freelance, I stilldiscover bands just by attending shows. While dancing my ass off atthe 100% Silk Showcase at Shea Stadium, I discovered a whole label’sworth of material harkening back to club jams of the nineties, andthe Amanda Brown vs. Bethany Cosentino debate was forever settledin my mind in favor of the LA Vampires frontwoman; Brown is avisionary while Cosentino is just cute.
In roughly fifteen years of attendingrock concerts, I’d say I had the best one yet. I’ve decided thatsince growing up is not worth the trade-off of giving up live music,or changing the way I experience the music that I love, that I willhave to marry the two. While this trajectory began years ago, thisis the first time I’ve felt any sort of mission behind the fandom. Iam the person people call and ask “are there any good shows goingon tonight?”, the person with extra tickets who drags friends alongto see bands they haven’t heard of, the person who brings a hugegroup of old friends together for a show, the person who barring allthat will go to a show alone and still have a blast. I am one of thethousands of people who log on to Ticketmaster at 9:55am forRadiohead tickets and still won’t get any. I’m the person at thefront of the crowd, snapping a few quick pictures for those whocouldn’t make it, and then dancing like a thing possessed for therest of the set. For me, it’s dedication. It’s all part of beingsomeone who was there.