This August, Planned Parenthood withdrew from the federal funding program, known as Title X, to avoid a new policy that forbids referrals to doctors who can perform abortions. This year alone, nine states have passed some of the country’s strictest anti-abortion laws to date, with Alabama outlawing the procedure in almost all cases and Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio passing restrictive “heartbeat” bills.
“I have been passionate about publicly endorsing women’s rights to reproductive health and sexual wellness since the start of my career,” Cold Beaches singer/songwriter, Sophia Nadia, told AudioFemme.
The Chicago-based artists will perform at venues on the East Coast and in Eastern Canada, hand out informational brochures, and help to inform women about their healthcare options moving forward, as well as stop by local women’s health clinics to speak with staff and women about how Planned Parenthood’s defunding will affect them.
“When Trump got elected in the fall of 2016, I organized and played six benefit concerts for PPVA. I had the idea to interview representatives of local Planned Parenthoods in the states I tour,” says Nadia. “I want readers and listeners to see how different states face different political climates/fiscal obstacles so they can learn how to help those specific communities.”
“As a woman of color in a white male-dominated industry, promoting the significance of women’s health centers has grown to be an imperative part of my identity in the music scene,” Nadia continues. “Having firsthand witnessed victims of sexual violence being refused proper healthcare and seeing the societal pressures placed on womxn to have children, I am determined to do whatever I can to make a change.”
The tour, which spans from Nov. 19th through the 25th, will offer limited-edition merchandise, with 40% of the proceeds donated to Planned Parenthood. The artists will also collect donations for the organization at each tour stop.
“I believe strongly in the connection between art and activism. As artists, we have something rare, which is a public platform and listening ears,” says Emily Blue. “My personal goal with interviewing others is to lift their voices and spread awareness on some vital women’s issues. We are also using this tour to raise money for Planned Parenthood, an organization that has always helped me with my health and reproductive needs. I can’t wait to take this to the road, meet new people, and learn something along the way!”
As someone who’s spent little time in them, it is strange how familiar old churches smell. They smell like warm dust, wood, and maple syrup—like a childhood home you’ve never stepped foot in before. It’s a combination of aromas rarely found in the glass and concrete structures of New York City, but at Park Church Co-Op in Greenpoint, it is a scent that lingers low in the air and welcomes you in. On Monday night, the Co-op was glowing electric pink and blue, casting an artificial sunset against the furthest stage wall. Its edges bled to purple where the two colors met. A slight, boyish woman by the name of Franz Charcoal took the stage holding a mint green electric guitar. Franz played simple, minute-long songs that sometimes ended just when you were getting into them. At times these songs were so short, the audience would hesitate to clap at the end, thinking Franz was simply pausing before another verse. She never was. “Yeah, they’re pretty short,” Franz said after one such moment. “But there’s a lot of them.”
Despite the dimly lit stage, I couldn’t help but think that this Franz Charcoal person looked and sounded familiar. A bit like Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos. A lot like Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos, in fact. But if you were to ask the woman herself, she was Franz Charcoal, a “rascal” who plays brief, autobiographical songs about misbehaving in church, of all places. Her presence was playful and lightweight considering the heavy atmosphere of the church itself. When Franz left the stage, the crucifix hanging behind her was bathed in hot red spotlights like a scene from a religious horror film.
The following acts helped a great deal in bringing some levity back to the setting. Felicia Douglass (of Ava Luna) offered her crisp approach to electronic, soul, and poetic R&B, which at times sounded like the seeds of Prince songs. Palberta’s Lily Konigsberg, meanwhile, made great use of her comedic timing to compensate for the fact that she’d lost her voice the night before. “This is a 50-year-old smoker’s rendition of my songs,” she said. “I may cough. I don’t want to.” Her music retained its stark beauty despite being stripped of some of the synthesizer flourishes on her recordings, and the rasp in her voice was a welcomed bit of grit to an evening filled with such polite music. Alone with an acoustic guitar, Konigsberg still yields a lovely and entertaining performance, especially when punctuated by the artist spritzing her throat with mentholated cold medication. At the end of her set, she curtly and sweetly said, “Okay. I’m done.”
Told Slant’s Felix Walworth is the first performer to address the oddness of the church all evening. At one point he paused just before starting a song; “Sorry,” he said. “It’s actually profoundly strange to be up here.” And it was profoundly strange to be down in the pews, as well. Not only for their unavoidable religious context, but also because sitting in a church pew makes you feel like a child. When Walworth (politely) ordered the crowd to stand up and sing “Tsunami” with him, I felt like I was participating in a camp sing-along or a Sunday sermon. Sometimes the connotations of the space you occupy are too powerful to leave the performance alone, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it was, as Walworth pointed out, profoundly strange.
Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but in Brooklyn, the informal kick-off feels more like the first week of June thanks to the annual Northside Festival. Growing exponentially since its inception in 2009, Northside provides sensory overload in the best way possible, with hundreds of bands playing intimate showcases in various venues stretching from Williamsburg up to Greenpoint and out toward Bushwick’s borders. But in order to make your hunt for great live music a little easier, here are a few of our concert picks for the upcoming long weekend! See you on the dance floor (or in the mosh pit).
The renowned jazz saxophonist, producer, composer, and bandleader will take the stage at McCarren Park on Thursday night. Sandwiched on a killer bill between openers Jay Som and headliners Dirty Projectors, Washington might melt your face off with his searing tenor sax. If that scorching woodwind sounds familiar, it’s because he’s played with the likes of Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp A Butterfly, DAMN), Thundercat, and Ryan Adams. — Madison Bloom
If this goth-folk New Zealander doesn’t bewitch you with her stunning voice, we don’t know what will. Aldous Harding recently released her sophomore LP Party, and its mournful hymns will surely become all the more staggering within the high ceilings of the Park Church Co-op (she also plays Baby’s All Right on Saturday). Saps beware: you may want to bring Kleenex. — Madison Bloom
We’ve long admired shoegazey shredders No Joy, who released their four-track CREEP EP this February. They don’t just bank on head-banging distortion (though the dual guitarists’ hypnotizing ripples of blonde hair prove there’s plenty of that), deftly deploying well-crafted hooks with every ferocious track. They headline a bill featuring chilled-out Dutch power pop from Amber Arcades (fans of Camera Obscura or Still Corners take note) and Eartheater, the solo project of multi-instrunentalist Alexandra Drewchin that has to be seen to be believed (vacuum cleaners are often part of the show). — Lindsey Rhoades
A harmonium-wielding heir to Patti Smith, Shilpa Ray is no one to be trifled with. Her snarl alone makes for a compelling live performance – but when it’s paired with heartbreaking melodies and the occasional pedal steel, you really feel like you’re in the presence of the rarest and rawest of performers. — Madison Bloom
If you’re looking to hear something atmospheric, experimental, or just downright gorgeous, pop by National Sawdust for a set by composer and multi-instrumentalist William Basinski. Basinski is perhaps best known for his collections of dissolving tape loops entitled The Disintegration Tapes, and his contemporary work is very in keeping with that hypnotic, cyclical aesthetic. If you’d like to be lulled into a tranquil dream state, don’t miss this set! — Madison Bloom
Conversely, if you are absolutely not trying to chill out at Northside, and prefer to move your bod a bit more brashly, get thee to Terra Firma, where local noise duo Yvette will rev you up. This band is a must-see for anyone into distortion, shouting, and infectious, driving drum rhythms. — Madison Bloom
It’s hard to follow up a breakout debut, especially when it’s named Masterpiece. But Brooklyn band Big Thief aim to do just that with Capacity, which happens to drop the same day they take the stage at Rough Trade for a Northside appearance (they’re also playing Saturday at Park Church Co-op). Lead vocalist Adrianne Lenker is easily one of the best lyricists we’ve come across in recent years, her sweet voice often breaking into a raw moan as her bandmates’ backup fury blooms. — Lindsey Rhoades
We’re sort of obsessed with Jenn Wasner, whose soaring vocals first made our hearts pound as one half of Baltimore-based duo Wye Oak. Now relocated to North Carolina (after a tip from her pals in Sylvan Esso), Wasner’s still one of the hardest working women in indie rock. Last September, she released If You See Me, Say Yes, the debut LP from her solo electropop project Flock of Dimes. If you can stay awake long enough for the late show at Baby’s, definitely say yes to seeing Wasner live. — Lindsey Rhoades
Riding in on the brilliance of their new record Sincerely, Future Pollution, Timber Timbre are likely to knock your socks off on Saturday night. Expect spooky, swampy, synth-washed blues atmospheric and elegant enough to soundtrack the new Twin Peaks. — Madison Bloom
There’s a nebulous quality that the name Nightspace implies – one of liminality, of dissolution, of suspended time and identity. It’s appropriate then, that queer artist of color Bailey Skye would adopt such a moniker to create their glimmering electronic darkwave debut Birth/Decay. Beautiful and surreal, these six tracks offer throbbing post-gender post-punk that’s unlike anything else you’ll hear at Northside. — Lindsey Rhoades
Come hang out with us and listen to some of our favorite new artists! We’re co-hosting an awesome, five-hour daytime showcase with Glamglare featuring Blonde Maze, Gold Child, Letters to Nepal, Kinder Than Wolves, GIRL SKIN, and Josh Jacobson – you can read more about these artists here. Sets start at 12:15, so come say hi and hear some mind-blowing music!
This past year (for me, anyway) was full of attending various anniversary shows of bands I obsessed over in high school. It was nostalgic and exciting to see the bands I used to listen to nonstop perform my old favorites, songs I still listen to somedays when I’m riding my bike or underground on the subway. I’m a sucker for music that I have memories attached to, so it only makes sense that I sought out so many of these shows.
Here’s a look back at some of the anniversary shows that really touched my soul in the past year, as well as some 2017 shows that I’ve got on my radar.
The Spill Canvas at Webster Hall, August 2015
Okay, I’m cheating here because this a 2015 show, but it was just so fun and full of happy good vibes. There’s a certain magic to reliving your emo days while watching one of your old favorites croon sweet, heartbreaking lyrics onstage. Also, you may notice a trend in this list involving Webster Hall and anniversary/reunion shows.
As Tall As Lions at Webster Hall, December 2015
Easily the best show I went to in the last year. This was a reunion show as well as an anniversary show for their self-titled album. And although this show wasn’t in 2016, it practically was. Plus, it was amazing enough to resonate for years to come. I unfortunately missed out on seeing As Tall As Lions when they were still together, but this show made up for that.
The Hush Sound at Webster Hall, August 2016
Another show that went down in my personal history book was The Hush Sound’s Like Vines anniversary show, mostly because The Hush Sound was my favorite band in high school. I probably saw them play seven or so times, and I pretty much idolized (slash kind of still idolize) Greta Salpeter. Bob and Greta had so much fun chemistry that night, and overall, it was just a fun experience to relive that band’s live show again.
Simple Plan & Hit the Lights at Irving Plaza, October 2016
One of my biggest show regrets in 2016 is that I missed this show. Since I wasn’t there, I can only speculate about its glory, but I imagine it was incredibly fun. Hit the Lights was another band I used to groove out to like crazy, and what’s not to love about Simple Plan’s goofy music?
Taking Back Sunday & The Starting Line at Starland Ballroom, December 2016
Taking Back Sunday has been touring for their latest album Tidal Wave this year (I saw them at Irving Plaza, and it was…okay), and I also saw The Starting Line at Irving for their 10-year anniversary show of Say It Like You Mean It (which was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to). I was supposed to go to this show, and at the last minute had to cancel my plan, which is heartbreaking. This is going to be a show for many to write home about.
Jimmy Eat World at Webster Hall, December 2016
So this isn’t so much an anniversary or reunion show, since they’re touring for their latest album Integrity Blues, but I was still a bit surprised to see a show from Jimmy Eat World. I guess this sort of counts as a reunion show since they’re coming together again to make music to tour since 2013’s Damage, right?
New Found Glory at Irving Plaza, April 2017
A peak of anniversary shows to come, perhaps? New Found Glory will be touring in 2017, and can’t you just perfectly envision singing “My Friends Over You” alongside their live performance in the coming year?
Dashboard Confessional at Irving Plaza, January 2017
So I have a [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”][dashboard] confession: While I definitely liked DC in high school, I can’t say that I was totally the biggest fan. I was definitely an emo girl, but sometimes Chris Carrabba took it a bit too far and sad for me. So while this show is definitely one to look forward to in many ways, I’m not totally sure if I’ll be in attendance, swooning alongside others.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Set the scene in your mind: An intimate setting at Rockwood Music Hall complete with dimmed lights, a hazy atmosphere, and a collection of swooning, folky, country-esque music courtesy of Blue Healer. Can you feel the relaxation and good vibes? Great. Then you now understand exactly what it was like seeing them perform last Wednesday.
It was a mixture of synths and keys as well as heavy basslines and distorted upright bass. At times, the music had an older glam rock feel, surreal and ethereal, reverberating throughout your mind. Then it would transform to a folk, country-esque show complete with energetic synths — pop folk, if you will. A lot of their songs called to mind tracks of Melee and The Black Keys.
The trio hailing from Austin recently released their debut self-titled album and played an array of tracks from it (and also tracks not on it). They played their popular single “30,000 Feet,” which was full of airy vocals from frontman and bassist David Beck and otherworldly synths from keyboardist Bryan Mammel. They also slowed things down when they played “Only the Rain,” with synths that perfectly emphasized its gentle nature. When they played “Empty Bottles” is when I really felt The Black Keys vibes from them (never a bad thing).
Their last song, “Bad Weather,” was an empowering, anthemic note to end on. But fortunately, it also wasn’t quite the end, as the crowd pretty much begged for an encore, and Blue Healer happily obliged. So their real last track, “Like Diamonds,” ended up being a way more fun way to go out. It was energetic and upbeat, complemented by crashing cymbals and a big finale drumline as well as contagious energy from the band who genuinely looked like they were having the time of their life.
As a show I went into hardly knowing the band, I was pleasantly surprised and had a great time. It also helps when the band is skilled at their instruments and loves what they’re doing, too.
In high school, I heard from all my friends that Taking Back Sunday was the best show they had ever seen. They raved and bragged, and yet, I never saw them live myself. It was one of my biggest regrets—until now. On September 30, I finally saw Taking Back Sunday perform at Irving Plaza.
Now, my expectations were exceedingly high, so perhaps they were destined to fall short. But as thrilled as I was to relive my emo days, the first half of the show left me a bit bored and uninterested. Once they played the songs from Tell all Your Friends and Louder Now, I got my second wind and felt revitalized by the show. However, the first half had me feeling somewhat sleepy and disconnected.
TBS released their newest album, Tidal Wave, this year. And while I didn’t completely study up and try to memorize every song, that’s mostly because I was pretty turned off by it upon first listen. To me, it sounded like a forced attempt at punk, and the tracks I heard fell flat. But I missed the screaming, and I missed the broken hearts worn on sleeves. Mostly I missed the Taking Back Sunday of the early 2000s.
When they sang their older tracks, you could hardly hear frontman Adam Lazzara sing as he was drowned out by the enthusiastic crowd. “MakeDamnSure.” “Cute Without the ‘E.'” “There’s No ‘I’ in Team.” “You’re So Last Summer.” The old classics struck as if it were 2004 and we were all brushing up on Fuse before heading to the show. And, of course, the mic swings were there.
Overall, unfortunately, it wasn’t the best show I’d ever seen in 2016, but I’m confident that if I had seen in back in their heyday, it probably would’ve gone down in my concert-going history as an all-time best.
Seeing a show at the Market Hotel can feel like gaining access to a secret club. Though obviously, anyone can go, you’ll pass a few confused first-timers milling around Mr. Kiwi before they spot the side entrance on Myrtle. If the show is sold out, you have to wait on a narrow staircase as the bouncer waves patrons in a few at a time, controlling the flow of the crowd. But once you make it inside, you’re privy to a unique view of the JMZ, the tracks of which wrap around the venue’s walls of windows, silently racing past the bands.
It feels like a different world. That’s why it was the perfect place for last Thursday’s show, which featured three garage rock bands with a very vintage lean: Shannon And The Clams headlining, Big Huge opening, and in the middle, White Mystery.
A brother and sister duo from Chicago named after an Airheads flavor, White Mystery are Alex White on guitar and vocals and Francis Scott Key White on drums. Their seamless live performance is due to their bond as siblings as well as their rigorous tour schedule, which they’ve documented extensively on the band’s website in a dizzying, endless list.
Alex has a voice that is high and piercing, seemingly from another dimension: a shocking ray of pure sound that defies tone and pitch. She materializes riffs, chords, and licks from her Rickenbacker with an effortless air, incredible considering the power behind her playing. During “Sweet Relief,” she and Francis switched places, with Alex taking a seat at the kit to provide a bass drum beat to her brother’s turn at the mic during a fast-paced monologue. Rarely has a band been so determined to make sure that every single person in the audience was having the time of their lives. Looking around, it seemed like everyone was.
Before their show, Alex answered some questions via phone about touring, gear, and her role as Vice President of the Chicago chapter of the Recording Academy. Read our conversation below:
AudioFemme: When was the last time you played in Brooklyn?
Alex White: I think we counted that we’ve played Brooklyn almost 50 times in the last nine years. We’re from Chicago, so it’s kind of a blur, but I’m pretty sure the last time we played was at the Archeron.
You’ve definitely done a lot of touring.
For eight years, yeah. We’ve played almost a thousand shows.
In videos of your performances, I’m always surprised how full your songs feel considering there’s only two of you. As a duo, is it ever a challenge to fill space when playing live?
I would say the biggest struggle with being a two-piece is tackling the long drives when you’re on tour. That’s why for this one, we brought two people from Chicago with us to split up those drives. Filling up sound… being brother and sister, it’s natural to us. We have a musical dynamic where when Fran goes high, I go low, and vice versa. With good songwriting, you could be one person and make something sound really full.
Is the Rickenbacker your main guitar?
Yeah, although this year, I played this 1971 Gibson SG for a couple of shows. The Rickenbacker I got when I was 15 years old, and I bought it brand new. It’s definitely an awesome instrument. Rickenbacker still makes everything here in the United States… they’re very fine instruments and I’m 31 now so I’ve had it for, like, 15 years. It might also have to do with that full sound you were talking about- on that guitar, you can really squeak out a lot of different sounds on it.
Do you use a certain effects/pedal setup?
Yeah, actually, this year White Mystery released a guitar pedal called Fire Keeper. It’s a fuzz pedal I helped design with Daredevil pedals. That’s the only pedal I use. There’s a cool article in She Shreds about it.
I know you’ve previously listed a lot of classic rock influences like The Who, MC5, and T. Rex. Are there any particular artists you’re really into right now?
Yeah, I’ve been listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival quite a bit… kind of on repeat, you know? Where you find these songs that really work for you, like “Down On The Bayou” and “Fortunate Son.” I’ve also been listening to the Troggs a lot. They’re a 1960’s garage band and they were highly influential to bands like The Stooges. And now here we are in 2016 – way later – and they’re still such an influential band.
You’re the Vice President of the Recording Academy‘s Chicago Chapter. What does that job involve?
I got elected into the position, for the second time. The Recording Academy is an organization that’s for music professionals; engineers, producers, full-time musicians can join, and it has a lot of benefits. There’s MusiCares, which is a charity part of the music academy for musicians who are in need; like their instruments were stolen, or their house burns down. Quite a lot of it too is that we lobby Congress for musicians’ rights… Just trying to make sure that the musicians are able to continue making a living, so it can be an actual career and not just a hobby. And a lot of that has to do with fair pay. [/fusion_builder_column][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”][I] just try to be a good leader for that community. And for the Chicago chapter, that actually covers the whole Midwest, from Minnesota to Ohio, Michigan down to Missouri. We’re just trying to improve the quality of people’s lives, basically. That’s the goal.
NENA, who you may know from her world famous single, “99 Luftballons,” has recently come out with a new video for her latest song “Genau Jetzt” (“Right Now”).
The video showcases different people, both by themselves and interacting with loved ones. With NENA’s powerful vocals over the video, you don’t need to speak German to feel impacted by this pop anthem. It’s a track where you can go from feeling empowered and inspired to dancing around the room completely lost in the music.
NENA will be embarking on her first U.S. tour starting in September where she’ll hit San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. If you’re looking to experience this German pop legend and hear “Genau Jetzt” live, then this is probably exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
There’s nothing that makes you feel old quite like seeing some of your favorite bands from high school showcase 10-year reunion shows of albums you can sing in your sleep. But then again, maybe these nostalgic re-enactments are some of the highlights of getting older.
Recently my favorite band from high school, The Hush Sound, went on tour for the ten-year anniversary of their album “Like Vines,” and I was thrilled to catch them at Webster Hall on August 4. I’ve already seen The Spill Canvas this past year and have plans to see Taking Back Sunday with Th e Starting Line in a few months, so yeah, these are undoubtedly the days of my life now. (Go ahead, envy me.)
In high school, Greta Salpeter was essentially my indie rock idol, so being able to see that she’s still as amazing and talented as ever was unsurprising and inspiring. The Hush Sound swept the stage at Webster with the same energy they held at shows 10 years ago—I’m pretty sure the floor was shaking from all the dancing and jumping going on. The chemistry between Salpeter and vocalist/guitarist Bob Morris is undeniable; they play together as if they’ve been jamming and quipping out stage banter nonstop for the past ten years. As they laughed and made us guess what wine they were drinking (obviously it was a pinot noir), they rocked our teenage fangirl/boy hearts with some of our old favorites. “We Intertwined,” “A Dark Congregation,” “Don’t Wake Me Up,” “Magnolia”—have they ever composed even a “meh” track? Maybe “Lions Roar,” but I’m sure there’s someone out there that lost their mind when they played that one last Thursday, too.
After playing through the entirety of Like Vines, the night obviously couldn’t simply end there. Not before they jammed out other hits, which of course included “Crawling Towards the Sun” and “The Artist.” It was one of those performances where I found myself singing along to the guitar and keys parts when there weren’t lyrics to follow.
Salpeter’s tinkling keys were ringing in my ears as I left Webster Hall that night, in a total and complete Hush Sound-induced bliss. Now, if you need me, I can be found wandering the streets of New York with my iPhone 6 playing music that predates its conception.
Ryan Egan’s new video for his single “Finest Hour” showcases some groovy dance moves, hypnotizing falsetto vocals, and an overall air of mystery.
The video sees Egan decked out in a white turtleneck showing off simple yet perfected dance moves. Once the chorus hits, some shadowy background figures shimmy out from behind him and bust into their own more fluid moves. It’s the perfect contrast between black vs. white, light vs. shadow, simplistic vs. ornate. And Egan’s airy falsetto only reinforces the video as a mysterious yet enticing piece.
Thursday, January 14 saw Cardiknox opening for The Knocks at Baby’s All Right, making for a poptastic, dance-worthy night. They took the stage with an energy that didn’t leave until the last song was done, and I have a feeling it probably followed them to the merch table, too.
The show had a mixture of the old with an emphasis on the new as their upcoming album, Portrait, just became available for pre-order. This show was the first of Cardiknox’s tour with The Knocks, and it looks like it’s going to be a pretty successful tour if Thursday was any indication.
Frontwoman Lonnie Angle bounced around the stage as Thomas Dutton jammed out next to her. She hit some impressive falsetto notes, and Dutton made sure to follow up with equally impressive riffs. When they played their latest single, “Into the Night,” the crowd lost their minds, jumping to rival Angle’s enthusiasm. They certainly gave everyone there plenty of reason to dance, so it only made sense to react appropriately. There’s not enough concerts that make getting down and boogying into a priority, and Cardiknox are proof enough that we need more of it.
Until you can catch them on tour, listen to “Doors” below.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Rubblebucket completely rocked my and many other worlds on Friday, January 11 at Brooklyn Bowl. And you also probably won’t be surprised to know that attending one of their shows is an unrivaled live experience that stuck with me for days afterwards.
Opening with their slow yet jammy “My Life,” the group was greeted by jumping, dancing fans almost as soon as their fingers struck the first guitar chord. From there, people only proceeded to lose their minds in the best way possible. It was difficult to figure out who was having more fun at the show—Rubblebucket or their fans.
Lead singer and saxophonist, Annakalmia Traver, knows how to get down. No, seriously. Not only can she belt out spine-tingling vocals, but she could probably also exhaust an entire class of kindergarteners with her seemingly endless supply of energy. There was also an incredible amount of synchronized dance moves, whether it was Alex Toth on trumpet and Adam Dotson on trombone getting down together or the entire band sweeping the stage in rhythm. It’s rare to find a band that grooves together so seamlessly, and Rubblebucket has got a serious connection to each other.
Not only did they perform some fan favorites like “Origami,” “Shake Me Around,” and “On the Ground,” but they also regaled us with plenty of new music. Traver, Troth, and Dotson hopped off the stage during “Came Out of a Lady,” weaving their way through the crowd while keeping the song going. And during “Carousel Ride,” Traver donned a fluffy pink tutu and jumped around the stage, completely lost in the song. And that’s a perfect way to summarize pretty much the entire show: lots of singing, dancing, and an overall passion for music from both performers and fans.
Now, I know what you’re wondering—was there confetti? Of COURSE there was confetti! And balloons! And balloons filled with confetti! And costume changes! And an inflatable raft carrying Traver across the crowd! It was ridiculous and amazing, and now I kind of want it to happen at every show I go to from now on.
They closed out the set with their cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” and “Hey Charlie,” making for a very ska-inspired, dance-worthy night. But it didn’t quite end there. Toth and Dotson walked off into the crowd where they jammed out a bit more with a robot that danced overhead. It’s almost hard to find the proper words to articulate the aura around Brooklyn Bowl that night, but I haven’t really stopped smiling since Friday.
Any show at Terminal 5 is always a big one, so when I came to see the four-artist, co-headlined Wilderness Politics tour, I knew I was in for one hell of a party.
First up was LOLO, a young Brooklyn native with a lot of soul. Getting on her knees with passion, it was clear she was having the time of her life, commanding the stage with her ability to belt and hold some strong high notes.
The Griswolds have the look of your favorite early 2000’s pop-punk groups with a nice danceable flavor. They put out happy vibes with their upbeat songs. The energy during the quick set was irresistible — “If You Wanna Stay” was especially fun for dancing along.
Here’s what’s curious about The Griswolds — in spite of their incredibly fun tempos, giving the crowd all kinds of excuses to scream and dance, in songs like “16 Years,” lyrics like “I’m half the man I used to be/Tequila, lust and gambling/Oh, mama, I need rescuing” aren’t exactly the happiest upon closer listen.
In any case, there’s no need for anything flashy to enjoy a Griswolds show — they’re simply a group of charming Aussie guys wowing the crowd by having the time of their lives.
Journeys, the show’s sponsor, is holding a contest to win a pair of shoes hand-decorated by the band themselves. Enter here!
I was almost caught off guard when David Boyd burst out waving a bright red New Politics flag, displaying their tally mark logo.
Boyd (vocals) and Søren Hansen (guitar) originally hail from Copenhagen, but Boyd called Terminal 5 a hometown show, trying to get the New Yorkers to be the loudest crowd yet. They’ve been living in Williamsburg since ’09, and met current drummer “Long Island Louis” Vecchio here in the city.
Boyd, a breakdancer, made the most of the beats center stage to showcase his skills, even if it doesn’t quite match up with the pop punk sound.
For the crowd favorite “Fall Into these Arms,” Boyd came out to the audience’s hands to dance and surf the crowd right back to the stage, leading into the multitalented Hansen performing a powerful solo on the piano. “Girl Crush” brought the energy back up with Andrew McMahon joining the band on stage.
The former lead singer for Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, Andrew McMahon now performs solo under the moniker of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. The set design, consisting of grass platforms for the keyboard and drums, and some turf to top the piano, was a rare display of greenery in the city, though it felt a little more like a suburban backyard, minus the picket fence.
McMahon performed a diverse set of songs from his previous bands and solo work. Fans responded well to songs like Something Corporate’s “I Woke Up In A Car” and “Punk Rock Princess,” evident as everyone seemed to know all the words. It felt as if you could hear the echo of the audience for the duration of the set.
When I first walked into the venue, I was approached to have my cheek swabbed by volunteers of the Love Hope Strength foundation to register for bone marrow donation. McMahon took time out of the show to talk about his own experience with cancer, having been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2005. He announced that this marks ten years of being cancer-free, before performing the Jack’s Mannequin song “Swim” for “anybody who’s going through something.”
There certainly were crazier moments during the show, like McMahon crowd surfing his way down to the bar to get a shot of Jäger. The highlight, however, was the childlike joy that fell across the room during the performance of “Cecilia and the Satellite,” penned for his daughter. He brought everyone back to elementary school with a giant parachute, making for the perfect encore.
All photos shot by Ysabella Monton for AudioFemme.
When the drummer of Palberta sat behind the kit and stared at the set with incredibly exaggerated concentration, she almost gave off the impression that she didn’t really know how to play. Every beat looked like a painstakingly calculated move, one you might see in a beginning musician who requires complete focus to practice their scales or rudiments.
But this is Palberta, and they definitely know how to play. In fact, the members of the trio, Lily, Ani, and Nina, all took a turn behind the drumset during their August 14th set at Palisades, and all played the bass and guitar. They’re skilled enough that they don’t have to prove they have any skills, and can pretend they don’t know what they’re doing because they know exactly what they’re doing. So, they’ve disregarded most traditional structures, rhythms and melodies. They’re beyond giving a fuck.
Their songs may be short, and may include a section where the guitarist fake-cries into the mic, whining intelligibly while the others mouth along. Songs might borrow from the kid’s chant “One, two three, four/ I declare a thumb war,” or devolve into the creepiest nursery rhyme you’ve ever heard. Their movements and gestures seem choreographed down to their facial expressions, and are just as important as their music is; some interpretive-dance-like moves elicited cheers from fans, and during the end of the set, each member smiled sweetly at the crowd, grimaced maniacally, or remained stonefaced. By the end of the song they were playing, the audience broke out in shocked laughter as fake blood began slowly dripping from musicians’ mouths.
Their lyrics range from short, vaguely political phrases (“Hey dude, c’mon/ You don’t even know where the pharmacy is”) to barely intelligible. But even with the unexpected nature of their performance, and their frequent instrument swaps, there’s a some kind of consistency to their sound: some kind of quirky, improvisational punk.
At various times during Palberta’s show, I was convinced that the whole performance was joke, that I wasn’t cool enough to get the actual joke, that they were completely serious and then finally, that maybe this was the point of their music: Do these things really even matter? If you like what you hear, not really. Palberta isn’t for everyone, but maybe that’s because some of us are trying to hard to understand them.
I was sitting at my computer, experiencing one of the many downsides of being underemployed. Tickets for the sold-out Father John Misty concerts were going for well over $100 on Craigslist and Stubhub, and there weren’t many left. Then I saw the event post: Father John Misty, aka Josh Tillman, would be giving a short performance/interview at The Greene Space as part of the WNYC Soundcheck podcast on February 11th, for just $10.
We were somehow the first people ushered into the small studio space, and my boyfriend and I grabbed one of the few chairs in the room. My seat ended up being about five feet away from Tillman, which was amazing yet unsettling. I could hear his voice without the microphone, and see the tiny banana decal on his black velvet blazer. I was also nervous he might look directly at us, and when he walked past to step onstage, I worried I might trip him so tucked my feet under my chair.
The host John Schaefer introduced the show, and described the new Father John Misty album, I Love You, Honeybear, as a lush but subversive record with lacerating lyrics. Naturally, Tillman deadpanned “Prepare to subversively lacerated,” before playing the record’s title track.
When asked questions between songs, he wavered between hostile and conversational. He grimaced when Schaefer mentioned similarities between “I Love You, Honeybear” and Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” and cut off a question related to a F. Scott Fitzgerald quote by stating he couldn’t read. But when asked about the creation of his album, Tillman explained, “I think it was difficult just given the subject matter, which was bordering dangerously close to sentimentality… I think to some extent I was doing some kind of bartering, where I was like, I’ll let you be this exposed if you let me cloak this in impenetrable layers of goo.”
Later in the set, Schaefer talked about the band’s upcoming concerts and Tillman, suddenly friendly, rested his head on the host’s shoulder. “I’m sorry for my weird answers earlier,” he apologized, gazing at him with endearing puppy-dog eyes.
They discussed psychedelics before he launched into the set’s most animated performance, “The Ideal Husband.” The heels of scuffed tan boots twisted under his lanky frame as he sashayed his hips side to side and spun. During the bridge, he stepped off the stage, knocking the mic stand to my feet, and threw himself on my boyfriend’s shoulder. “I came by at seven in the morning,” he shouted, climbing over seats to embrace others. The woman next to us widened her eyes in fear as the guitar slung across his back came dangerously close to her face. “Seven in the morning, seven in the morning…” He picked up the mic stand and dropped it back into place, the song ending with its thud onstage.
Luckily, both the audience and artist were uninjured. Tillman found an empty chair in the first row to sing the final song, “Bored In The USA.” “Can I boo myself from here?”he wondered between lyrics. There was no recorded laugh track in this rendition of the song and he seemed to pause slightly where it should have been, then shrug when the audience didn’t provide it. The song was strange, maybe too exposed, without it. He blew out a lighter held up from the second row, and the set ended.
“Go forth and have a productive day,” Tillman told the crowd. I didn’t really have anything productive to do, but I didn’t care. Turns out the upside of being underemployed is you don’t have to make up any excuses to see Father John Misty at noon on a weekday.
If you didn’t make it to the soundcheck, the full performance is up on Livestream and YouTube. Check it out:
On June 18, Florida duo SALES played an intimate and charmingly awkward set at tiny venue Comet Ping Pong with local Maryland band Go Cozy as the opening act. The DC show was their second stop on their small east coast tour in preparation for the band’s debut album out later this summer. Their understated music fit perfect with the low-key atmosphere of the space.
I’ve been to my fair share of live shows in DC but this was my first time going to Comet Ping Pong, a full-time bar and restaurant known for its handmade pizzas. It was out of the way from my usual music stomping ground of U Street, tucked away in Northwest DC that was far from a metro stop but at least had one bus stop in front of it. The low-set stage was at the back of the restaurant, partitioned by a flimsy curtain. To say the area was intimate is an understatement; the exposed brick and open ceiling beams made me feel like I was catching a secret show in a hidden barn.
The band – comprised of Lauren Morgan and Jordan Shih – shuffled on stage with their equipment, setting everything up by themselves. There were some shy waves and forced small talk as the members tried to make themselves at home on the personal stage.
Both Morgan and Shih seemed uncomfortable in front of the modest crowd but at times, there were real moments of ease and calm that hit both musicians once they really got deep into a song. Unfortunately, their set was plagued by technical difficulties but they pulled on through, even if they had to restart some songs several times. The crowd was generous and forgiving, encouraging the band to keep going and dancing along. Morgan’s pizzicato vocals matched her precocious guitar playing and were a joy to hear live, her notes flitting up and down erratically but endearingly. At times, their songs felt one-dimensional – there’s only so much you can do with pre-recorded beats and two guitars – but the pair’s personal approach to songwriting translated easily to their live performance, making each track a sort of precious event. Both performers were focused on their music rather than the audience but there were moments of playful banter that seemed genuine. It was only their second show on this brief tour, and it seems likely that SALES will get more comfortable with each experience.