Well, that was fast: following last weekend's in-store performances by Television, the newly-opened Williamsburg branch of Rough Trade has canceled and re-located several upcoming shows in response to neighborhood noise complaints.
I made a last-minute decision to catch the first night of Kanye West's Yeezus tour stop in New York at Brooklyn's Barclays Center last night. The tickets, as with most mega star arena shows in 2013, were prohibitively expensive. But as the date grew closer, it began gnawing at me that I was going to pass on this, this guy, at this moment of peak power and controversy and insane ambition. I couldn't shake the feeling that, as much as $60 bucks for top section seats seemed sort of crazy, seeing the Tweets roll in from home would sting more. So, I caved, crawling to Craigslist over the weekend. Oh man, it was so worth it. With the technical craft of a major Broadway show and a sense of control-freak perfectionism that's vitally on par with West's hot air balloon of hubris and self-regard, the show was one of the best pieces of pure entertainment pageantry I think I've ever seen. (If you're on the fence about trying to get into the three remaining dates, and you have the means, you should probably do it.)
The photo at the top of the post was the semi-mysterious, but still effective view from the not-that-cheap top rows. From the floor, it looked more like this:
Last week, Death Grips released their fourth album, Government Plates, directly to the Internet with no advance warning. It’s latest sudden move from the experimental Sacramento rap group, who spent the summer increasing their infamy by refusing to show up for scheduled shows, canceling others, and claiming it all as an art piece on the nature of performance and audience expectation. It fit the band’s quickly built brand—agents of mayhem, who won’t conform to the established rules of the music business. But while Death Grips’ records and persona scream chaos, their fast rise has been all about careful control and wily media savvy.
Well, I guess the era of good vibes in the Brooklyn underground is well and truly dead? Process, the debut record from Yvette, released last week by local label Godmode, might have swung the final axe. It's one of the best debut records of the year, a concise yet epic collection of fearsome guitar sounds and locked-in beats that's the work of Noah Kardos-Fein and Rick Daniel, two guys reaching for a scale way bigger than you'd think they could generate by themselves. It won't make you remember a long-lost beach day, except maybe Normandy.
For those whose tastes veer exclusively melodic, "the best noise band in Brooklyn", might scan like punchline more than compliment. But Process is a vivd record, a human record, one that puts up a gentlemanly umbrella to let you get past its shower of sparks. It sounds enormous and sort of terrifying in bits, but never mechanical or impersonal. You never lose sense of the people who made it. As it moves along, wonder grows that there were only two of them.
Lou Reed died yesterday, at age 71. The impact he had on rock music, music in general, and pop culture beyond that, is deep and evident and probably doesn't need to be explained on the Internet by people too young to have been there. In brief: As the leader of The Velvet Underground and a solo artist after that, he was a pivotal influence on punk rock and a dozen other sub-genres that were extrapolated out from his work. The softest Belle and Sebastian song and the most terrifying industrial noise recording can both be traced back to him, which is mind-blowing. He was a brutal realist amid naive flower children, and for countless teenagers who came across his records over decades, an important voice through which to discover that life in the era of our parents' youth was just as messy and imperfect and romantic as it was in our own. He was one of the key figures who legitimized pop music as an art form with comparable import to a film, painting, or novel. His sunglassed face is the one you may still see, 50 years later, when thinking about the entire concept of New York City as the center of the creative universe.
Los Angeles brothers Ron and Russell Mael are the heart, brain, and collective trousers of Sparks, an extremely influential and almost totally inexplicable pop band that's endured for over four decades of continued original work. They first earned success as ex-patriots in the British power-pop scene of the early 1970s. They were a fixture on the BBC variety show circuit due to their massive hooks and irresistibly weird look—a 1970s rock fop frontman who happened to be brothers with a silent, scowling keyboard Hitler. Their 1974 album, Propaganda, is one of the best and most underrated of the entire glam-rock era. Their 1979 record, No. 1 in Heaven, produced by dance legend Giorgio Moroder, was only about 25 to 30 years ahead of its time. Those are but two highlights of a 22-album career that made a huge impression on artists as famous and widespread as Paul McCartney, ABBA, Morrissey, Kurt Cobain, and Arcade Fire. The first box set of their material, Sparks: New Music for Amnesiacs, the Ultimate Collection, was released this week.
Their current tour, called "The Revenge of Two Hands One Mouth", hits Webster Hall this coming Monday. It will feature the Maels playing alone as a duo, working their way through a recorded history that numbers overs 250 songs. We talked to Ron and Russell as they prepared in L.A. where, luckily, Ron had just narrowly avoided jury duty (having a Ron Mael mustache likely helps). We discussed their enduring career, their current shows, and the very different modern music industry in which they've managed to survive. Also, how no keyboard player in history has ever looked cool.
Back in September, over 50 chefs, restauranteurs, writers and more gathered in Williamsburg for the first annual Taste Talks Food & Drink Conference, a two-day celebration of the culinary cutting edge. We were joined by April Bloomfield, Mario Batali, ?uestlove and more to discuss everything from the state of the restaurant industry to how to brew the perfect cup of coffee. Plus, we spent a Sunday afternoon at the All Star Cookout pairing wines with culinary collaborations whipped up by chefs like April Bloomfield, Nate Smith, Eli Sussman, Dan Barber and more. Check out the complete recap video after the jump, and follow Taste Talks on Twitter for updates (and mouth-watering Twitpics) throughout the year.
It was nearly impossible to avoid developing deep feelings for Elliott Smith as a teenager in Oregon in the late 90s. There wasn't the machinery in place to rocket underground artists to quick ubiquity, then. Even on the local level, it was all much slower and less organized. But by about the fifteenth time you were recommended Either/Or in whispered tones, as if someone was offering you a deep family secret, it was clear that something was happening. I'm honestly not sure what the modern Internet age would have done to and with someone like Smith, so wide open and talented and doomed. In the face of callous YouTube commenters, constant Twitter gossip about if he looked clean or healthy at any given show, you could imagine it all going worse even sooner than it did. But it was no shock, then or now, that such pretty and personal music should be so meaningful to so many.
Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Smith's suicide, a sad occasion marked by many online tributes and, in the real world, a loaded charity show at Glasslands in Williamsburg, organized by The Bomber Jacket. It was memorable, to put it softly.
The first days of CMJ 2013, as detailed in reports from nights one and two, were remarkably clunker free. The brittle streak couldn't last forever, and night three was at least a partial comedown from Wednesday night's buzz. Bad vibes crept into the Lower East Side. I saw security guards get into shouting matches with badge holders denied entrance to Santos Party House to catch The Preatures, an apparently white-hot band I didn't know existed until two days ago. Some crummy trends emerged and sleep deprived concert goers lost it a little, were spotted sleeping on venue couches. But still, thanks to a late save from a couple purely enjoyable performances, the balance of quality remained unusually high.
Wednesday night, my second covering this year's CMJ Music Marathon, was utterly dominated by London post-punk band Savages. That they are capable of dominance is a surprise to no one. They were deemed the uncontested victor of last year's festival after a string of brutal, blissful shows, all of which I happened to miss. But the search for novelty, newness, nextness rules CMJ, in a way that doesn't even apply to SXSW anymore. With their world-eating size, the Texas festival has started to feel more centered around surprise Prince shows, or whatever. CMJ, without that kind of magnetic pull, is still all about the tiny unknowns, the shiniest new toys. So, when Savages were announced as a bold face name on this year's schedule, there was a palpable sense of underwhelm. "Really? Again?"
This attitude, as it turns out, is very stupid. I will not see a better set this week than the one Savages unleashed last night.
The CMJ Music Marathon has been discussed for years as a struggling entity, despite its holding on as the East Coast's closest rival to Austin's SXSW for a couple decades. Struggling to lure names as big as they once did, yeah, but also struggling to survive at all. So, it was more than a touch ominous when yesterday's first-day launch coincided with this New York Times article, suggesting trouble much deeper than blogger sarcasm. Long story short, the suit alleges that CMJ might owe a cool million dollars to Metropolitan Entertainment, a promoter they brought on in the late 00s to alleviate debt. According to Metropolitan's John Scher, the merger fell through but the debt payments remain unreturned. Soooooo, that could be a problem! But that has little to do with a 2013 festival that's already underway.
There are 1400 bands playing the city in every room possible, every day from mid-afternoon to early the next morning, right now. We'll be out there too, catching the small sliver we can manage, and reporting back here. Last night was pretty good!
"Andy Warhol predicted we'd all be famous for fifteen minutes. This was it." - Paul McCartney, from the side of a semi truck in the middle of Times Square, like somebody's charming, historical grandfather.
Paul McCartney, greatest living Beatle, just performed a fifteen minute surprise set of material from his upcoming album NEW in Times Square. He announced it himself through Twitter about a half-hour before he was scheduled to start, giving just enough time for a theoretical music blogger living in Williamsburg to get on the train and secure a spot about fifteen feet away. If you are going for short notice and maximum impact, probably the place to do it, hipness be damned. There were no oldies, no "Hey Jude" or even "Jet", but in this situation it's the height of entitlement to walk out grumbling. Confirming the flesh and blood humanity of a cultural icon is enough. It was a true kick! He could die next year, and we'd all be so sad. :(
Previously, we took you on a tour of Williamsburg's Best Photographic Locations, from the East River State Park to Juliette's restaurant on N6th. Today, we're heading north to Greenpoint, which the L Mag named the number one neighborhood in Brooklyn. Like Williamsburg, Greenpoint has an industrial past, much of which still remains even as more young restaurateurs and artisans move in and set up shop. This mixing creates some striking juxtapositions that make for stunning photos. So check out a few of these spots for your next photo shoot.
This just convinces me even further how repellent BDSM is. You must be mentally ill…
elvis costello perfomance link (the published one here is not working) http://videos.mediaite.com/video/Elvis-Costello-Radio-Radio-1977
I need a sweet baby