GHE20GOTH1K's last show reminded everyone what the movement was all about: unrestricted expression.Read More
Raw and seductive, SALES' live shows prove they're worth the hype.Read More
Written and Photographed by Soyon Jun
Opener The Great Void started off the show with moody retro synthesizers, reminiscent of dark '80s synth pop. Frontman Josh Ascalon’s vocals had a palpable energy, and showed a debt to post-punk revivalism. Keytar-wielding Future Punx followed, reappropriating the sounds of past decades - disco, post-wave, and punk - in a modern context, creating an irreverently neostalgic and retro-futuristic sound. A sequence of projections backlighted the set, bathing the band in fluorescent green light and shining white words that recalled the aesthetics of 1970s science fiction films: Star Wars, Electric Dreams, Back to the Future.
Known for his live-audience engagement, colorful stages, and references to 90s sitcom, Dan Deaco began his headling set in-character with comments on body shaming and a nod to Seinfield. The show featured his trademark mix of alien-sounding sonic references and highly-processed samples, a combination Deacon has described before as “psychedelic rambling [...] oscillating without any control.”
Written by Michael Getzler
It was the kind of weird that just built on itself. We were all in pyjamas; there was ice cream; we were in the lobby of an undergrad dorm. It was freezing out. It was almost Valentine’s Day.
It was the kind of music that could not be stopped.
The “venue” didn’t particularly lend itself to the occasion, with people passing back and forth outside on their way to their rooms, the printer, or to the treadmills, not caring about how much noise they were making. On top of that, a good chunk of the crowd had obviously only showed up for the free ice cream and fondue. Then there were the microphone problems, and at one point, the light fixture that fell down right in front of the performers like some kind of metaphysical pun about bringing down the house.
And you know what? It was a kickass show.
Eden Becher opened the night perfectly, starting with a cover of Vance Joy’s “Riptide.” It was exactly the right kind of music in which to take shelter from the subzero February night. Eden’s manner of singing – haunting and soulful yet always with a smile – was captivating, and she was able to reign control over the crowd with her original songs, all about love and longing.
Next up was Liberty Styles, a jarring and cacophonous break from Eden’s cool and cozy brand of slow-and-sweet. Liberty makes music by looping and layering her voice while tap dancing over it. She recently added a guitarist (Sam Klein-Markman), a keyboardist/flutist (Maurice Marion), and a talented freestyler (Jonah Hemphill) to her act. People were dancing on chairs, flailing around, needing to move to this arousing mix of sounds and dancing and rapping and spoken word.
It was clear these guys haven’t played too much together, but their raw chemistry was pretty astounding. Jonah Hemphill and Liberty each have their own way with words, but what a way it is! I would not have thought they would mix well together, but they sure as hell made a convincing argument to the contrary.
The last act, Big Lizard, was an unknown entity coming in, something that didn’t change much after their set. To be honest, they stuck out among the crowd; they dressed less conventionally, seemed a little older, a little rougher around the edges. They rapped alongside Nico West’s guitar playing, and the mix wasn’t so much coherent as it was striking.
When I think about it, that choppiness is what made the night so special. Each set had an entirely different feel, and it was an atypical venue, but good music is good music and it’s been a while since I’ve had such pure fun at a show.
Listen to Eden Becher's music here: https://soundcloud.com/edenbecher
Listen to Liberty Style's music here: https://soundcloud.com/libsty
Written by Vivi Hyacinthe
“Y’all like hip hop?”
Ajo calls out to the crowd at her feet. Everyone is up and dancing to reggae hits, compliments of Nola Darling’s house DJ, and we reply enthusiastically. If the first act of the night was anything to go by, we’re all excited for a great night of music from a fantastic lineup.
“How about R&B?”
Chicago native Ajo, a talented rapper and singer, greets the crowd with Humbled, a slow burner that combines an infectious beat with Ajo’s soulful vocals and beautifully honest lyrics.
“Never be afraid to speak the truth / it comes out in everything you do / so if it’s love, then let em know / if you’re fed up, tell em, then let it go,” she sings.
As an artist, Ajo delivers the truth of all the hurt in the world and offers it up to her audience as a sugarpill, something to ease the pain. The ballad goes perfectly with the theme of the most recent Slackgaze zine, as Ajo sings of the pain of taking a risk, letting go of your defenses, and falling either in love or on your face.
Through further research (read: stalking) after the concert, I stumbled upon the makings of a smooth new anthem Ajo calls Endeavor. The opening bars set a nostalgic vibe; the percussion in the intro lifts you out of the here-and-now, back into a hazy summer afternoon.
In a powerful first verse Ajo lets us in, coming clean about feeling passive and being underestimated: “do you ever feel bigger than your body gives you credit for?” she asks. It’s a sentiment we all can relate to. Whether it’s femininity or youth or even your own self-confidence that’s holding you back, we all seem to wear our imperfections out in the open. Sometimes we are made to feel weak and alone, but this song aims to remind us that we are far from it.
With verses that draw from her talent in both singing and rapping, Ajo inspires us to make the most of the time and talents we have by diving in to risk headfirst without regret.
Illustration by David Finley BuschRead More
By Vivi Hyacinthe
As a self-aware ‘mainstream’ music lover who is only vaguely aware of what terms like ‘dive bar’ and ‘health goth’ mean, I never thought I’d have found myself in a repurposed Chelsea art studio, jamming out to live performances from the comfort of a beanbag. I was a big fan of Columbia alumna Taylor Simone’s work when I first heard it last year, so the chance to see her perform for price of $5 immediately had me hooked. But when I saw the event on Facebook, titled ‘Slackgaze zine release party,’ my first thought was that someone had misspelled ‘zone.’ Even when I arrived at the venue on Friday night, it took me a good half an hour to figure out that it was pronounced ‘zeen’ as in magazine rather than ‘zine’ as in ‘Valentine.’ It took me another hour to realize that said zines were on sale by the door for another well-spent $5, and after a performance by one of the featured artists, OSHUN, I was thoroughly sold.
Nola, Darling is the Manhattan base of music and art curator Wimpy J Slacker. A treasure of a hole in the wall, the venue definitely defies your expectations in the best way possible from first glance. When I turned on West 22nd St, I thought that, like all of the other concerts I’ve been to, I would see a line of people at the door waiting to get in. Instead, the entrance was so inconspicuous that I walked past the door twice and had to employ some serious counting skills to get my bearings. On the inside, Nola, Darling exudes an apartment style vibe, with a uniquely-decorated foyer leading to a larger back room where the magic happens. Only a few homemade geometric decorations separated the crowd from the stage. Since we were some of the first people there, my friend Tyler and I staked out a couple of bean bags and watched the artists warm up and test mics. I was in awe. There was no annoying security procedures. No repulsive hot dog smell that bigger venues have, desperate for more money wherever they could get it. Even later in the night, when the crowd was at its most full, I had enough room to stand and dance freely rather than being crammed in between thousands of fellow Kanye-lovers. The open and welcoming space created a relaxed, friendly house party vibe without all of the strenuous pressure of trying to keep your balance among the crazed masses.
Enough of my complaining. Let’s get to the part where I tell you why this was probably my favorite concert experiences yet: every single one of the performers was a woman of color. Wimpy J had brought them together in conjunction with the most recent Slackgaze zine, which specifically focused on the topic of pain in art. In many ways, the concert was a celebration, but in many more ways it was a conversation. The talented women that took the stage that night rapped, danced, and sang authentically, unafraid to show us the humans that were perched behind every verse. They spoke of student debt and Ferguson and young love and fear and the real world, the one that we lived in. Before and after their sets, they joined us in the crowd, dancing to each other’s music and supporting each other. Perhaps it was their literal proximity to me, or it might have been their unmasked and unashamed approach to their art and style, or maybe it was even their relatable ages, ranging from 19-24 that made me feel more connected to them than any other music artists thus far. From its curated art to its easygoing vibe, my Slackgaze experience showed that sometimes going out of your comfort zone is just as easy as ending up right back in it.
Listen to Oshun's music here: https://soundcloud.com/oshunnyc
Listen to Taylor Simone's music here: https://soundcloud.com/taylorsimone
Like Slackgaze on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slackgazezine?ref=br_tf
By Michael Getzler
“Cats have nine lives, the Beatles were together for nine years...And this is our ninth show at Glasslands.” Steve Marion, known onstage as Delicate Steve, could not have better captured the sense of fate in the room than he did with this sentence. Glasslands Gallery, a huge part of the Williamsburg music and art scene since 2006, closes at the end of this month, and for most people in the room on December 18th, myself included, this was the last time they were ever going to be there.
There was a note of solemnity in the air that I have never encountered at a live show before. People paid unwavering attention to the stage, as if afraid to miss even a second of what was going on. I could not help thinking as I approached the bouncer (who was giving the most cursory of glances at IDs – after all, they are probably not too worried about losing their license at this point), or as I ordered a Tequila Mockingbird, that this would be the last time I would ever do this, in this place.
Don’t get me wrong, though, this was a fun show. Delicate Steve played an infectious live set, each guitar riff penetrating to the core. My friends and I were humming and whistling “Sugar Splash” for the rest of the night.
Jason Bartell, the guitarist of Fang Island, opened the night with a sound similar to Delicate Steve, heavy on instrumentation. His style was a bit more intense and repetitive than Steve, who opts for a more melodic, wavering kind of music. It was almost like falling into a trance.
The second act of the night was Celestial Shore, and sandwiching such a lyric-centric artist between these two instrumental acts was brilliant. Their song “Creation Myth” was delivered with the highest degree of wryness, punctuated by lines like “We evolve. Slowly count the days. It’s happening to you.”
By Caleb Oldham
David Byrne has talked about how the architecture of a venue influences the music that fills it. Gothic cathedrals, for example, call for different sounds than an underground rat cellar.
Brooklyln Bazaar is a weird venue. It's a Williamsburg playground decked out with a flea market, an arcade, food stands, a mini putt-putt course and a concert hall. It was all a bit overstimulating so when I went to go see Rat King last night, instead of focusing on what Byrne might have to say about the architectural aspect of space, I couldn't help but observe the space between the spectators themselves and how it developed throughout the show.
A group called 86 started off the night with some haunted beats over distorted guitar. Deep, dark bass with some warped vocals made for a set that turned the crowd into head nodding, introspective islands. Even when people were getting into it they made room to dance it out.
Yung Gutted turned the crowd into one wave, casting a bassy warbly dream net over the venue, but with trap beats and a golden flows of rhymes.
Then Show Me The Body came on.
Show Me The Body's music is as direct and powerful as their name is. It stares you in the face and commands you with a rhythm that rips you apart. Their energetic frontman Cashwan shreded his distorted banjo while barking over a hard snare and funky bass and the crowd got violent. Great moshing all around.
With the space between spectators broken and the violence of the music transferred into heavy shoves and pogoing, Rat King took the stage at around 12:30. The crowd showed their love for a group that seemed at home on a NYC stage. By the end most of the front row had joined the band members on stage and everyone blended into a bouncing, chanting blob.
Rat King erased the space between artist and witness, yelled "Rat!", and ended the show encore-less.
By Caleb Oldham
A converse store is where you go to get shoes, overpriced clothing, and a reminder that online shopping is always the move. But last month a converse store is where I went to get doused in the funky, rocking, fire-spitting waves of one of Brooklyn's most exciting up and coming groups Phony Ppl.
There's always something great about seeing 6 people who are technically very talented at playing their respective instruments jam together. More often than not however, it seems that the truly technically talented specialize in a specific genre and get classified under the umbrella of a jazz band or a metal band or something of the like. The fact that that Phony Ppl music has been described as "vintage astral funk, colorful world music, and dusted-out hip-hop/R&B" should tell you that they're a group that gracefully avoids the genre trap.
Playing to somewhere around 40 people, the group was capable of evoking the smooth soul of Al Green and the raw energy of Rage Against the Machine in the space of a single song. The sheer uniformity and depth of the group's talent was put on display during a break down near the end of the show, when each member of the band was introduced and given the spotlight. The audience lit up every time a member of the group tour into his solo. At one point I turned around and saw someone actually looking at shoes. "How can you buy shoes AT A TIME LIKE THIS" I thought. That poor person was missing out on a band that's about to explode with the release of their debut album this January. I can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for us. Based on what they threw down in the converse store for us, it’ll be good.
Download Phony Ppl's music at http://phonyland.bandcamp.com/