Friday, October 31, 2008

CMJ and Music Networks

Just wanted to post a link to a Flavorwire post (the new blog from Flavorpill), entitled: "Idolator Is Wrong: Why a Music Conference Called CMJ Will Affect What You Listen To." Agreed.

Also, speaking of music and blogs: I recommend checking out the Hype Machine, which follows music blogs and provides an aggregate resource of mp3 listening samples and reviews. You can even find mp3s from music blogs to download, as well as lots of great insider tips on bands and songs you might be interested in based on your musical tastes. I will sure be checking it out more often!

Now, on to Halloween preprations.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

More Halloween Parties!

In addition to the previous Halloween parties I listed, I am considering checking out the following. I am sure they both will offer an evening of glorious, costumed revelry!

The Danger Party in Bushwick, this Friday, and the Halloween Masquerade Ball at Galapagos, in DUMBO, this Saturday.

From The Danger website, on the "Promised Land" Halloween party this Friday:

A classic deep-Brooklyn party in a massive 112 year old warehouse of towering steal and brick. *This is a space you haven't seen before.* Expect the epic. We've taken over the expansive remnants of a lost industrial age; a building steeped with urban history with towering ceilings and impossible broken beauty.

Enter at: 215 Ingraham St., Bushwick, Brooklyn

Take the L train to Jeffereson, walk one block north on Wyckoff to Flushing, then walk two blocks up Gardner to the warehouse. Listen for the music.

And, the press release from Galapagos Art Space, on the Halloween Masquerade Ball Saturday:

Saturday, November 1st,

Doors 9pm, show 10pm, $10

Gemini & Scorpio and Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Orchestra
cordially invite you to

Halloween Masquerade Ball

The Music: Michael Arenella's Dreamland Septet will cut loose with an authentic all-night 1920s hot jazz programme. Freebass, a DJ & live bass duo, will close the night with their infectious live swing remix dance set.

The Mischief: A ghoulish menagerie of haunting proportions, with magic, burlesque banshees, fire dancers and special guests, including: Greek Goddess of burlesque, Pandora; delightful tasseled and fringed vintage tap dancing by The Minsky Sisters; Harlequin ballerina go-go dancing by The Love Show dancers; and sexy fire hooping antics by The Gyronauts. Plus, fantastical face and body painting by All-Seeing Mystik Painteresse Elyzabeth. Hosted by burlesque's charming reprobate Bastard Keith.

Costume suggestions: Victorian-1940s evening attire, Venetian carnivale, masked villains.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fujiya & Miyagi and Walter Meego

I saw Fujiya & Miyagi last night at Mercury Lounge, who went on, as advised by Bowery Presents, precisely at 9 pm. They were astoundingly polished live. Formed in 2000, the band is an English band comprised of four members. They use synths, programming, beats and drums, in addition to vocals, to create their sound. With clever electro-pop songs, Fujiya & Miyagi's music is an inectiously good time.
(Fujiya & Miyagi, above, at Mercury Lounge)

After Fujya & Miyagi's hour-long set, I was in for a pleasurable surprise: the band who followed them, Walter Meego, is another electro-pop experimental band that proved to be a sugar-coated fun time. Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, they just released their debut album, Voyager, this year. Walter-Meego has received very high acclaim so far, and has had several songs featured on Ugly Betty, as well as a song featured on a Heineken commercial. Again, though I'm a little ambivalent about such corporate reliance, I do think it's helped give the band publicity; and with their sound, they are destined for rising fame!

(The lead singer of Walter Meego, Justin Sconza, above. At Mercury Lounge.)

Walter Meego is playing tonight, Thursday, at Le Royale in the West Village at 9 pm, Friday at Club 205 at 1 am, and Saturday, 2 pm, at Piano's. I strongly recommend checkin them out for some disco-electro fun. They even have their own blog here.

Fright Fest 2008!

As Halloween approaches, I have several events in mind for some fearsome, horrific fun. There is, of course, the Village Parade. But beyond that, where to go, what to do?

I am sure almost every venue will be throwing some sort of Halloween-related party or generally spread the spirit of gloriously spooky costumed revelry. Let's take a look at some of the prominent and not-so-prominent events that hold that extra-special blood-curdling appeal.

First up: The Central Park Pumpkin Festival! This Saturday, 10/25, from 3 pm to 7 pm, at the Central Park Naumberg Band Shell, by the East side of 72nd St, will be an afternoon-long festivity with free pumpkins, music and costumed fun! Appropriate for all ages.

Next Up: Lady Gaga at Highline Ballroom, at 431 W. 16th St, between 9th and 10th Ave. She will be performing alongside Semi-Precious Weapons and nightlife icon Amanda Lepore. The event is this Tuesday, 10/28, and is only $10 in advance from Doors are at 9; event starts at 10; and dressing/glamming up is mandatory!

The Halloween Robot Rock Masquerade at Le Royale, at 7th Ave South and Leroy St. With advance tickets at only $20 and a two-hour vodka and beer open bar, it sounds like you get more than what you pay for!

See the GBH site for RSVP info. Le Royale is a small-sized dance bar with 2 floors, with chic West Village style.

Webster Hall, at 125 E. 11th St., hosts an annual "Webster Hell" Halloween party and is apparently the official NYC Parade Afterparty, this being its 35th year.
All 4 floors will be open, starting at 8 pm. There will also be a titillatingly terrifying performance by Demon Queen and her demonic dancers. Tickets are available online, at $35 for standard admission. At 2 am is their famous costume contest, with the grand prize of $5,000. There will definitely by some extraordinarily scary, haunting costumes here.

The Delancey, at 768 Delancey St, between Clinton and Attorney, hosts a Zombie Prom night Thursday, October 30th, for only $10 and the Witches Ball (price tba) October 31st. Both parties are in the downstairs section. This is somewhere I recommend hitting up or some low-cost unpretentious, ghastly fun.

The Space Monster Mashup Ball on Halloween, starting at 9 pm, is a space-age, out-of-this-world costume party with a galactic fashion show. Hmm, how to make my sailor costume space-aged? Where can I get an astronaut helmet...(or how can I make one?)? The party is at PINK, at 199 Bowery (at Spring St), goes til 4 am and will also feature prizes and Space Pirate punch. Advance admission is $20 and can be purchased from the site's website, or for $30 at the door if the event does not sell out. Lookin' intergalactically stellar!

On Saturday, November 1st, Public Assembly -- at 70 N. 6th St. in Williamsburg -- is having a "Holla-Ween 2!" party, which marks the 2nd anniversary of the Crooked Disco parties, is only $5 with RSVP and has an open bar. Sounds too good to pass up!
The open bar is from 10-11 pm; there will also be free candy there AND a $100 costume contest.
For more info, see the Crooked Disco site.

And, of course, you can always roam the streets of NYC and follow your instincts in your hunt for blood for your Halloween thrills.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More CMJ: Princess Superstar, Moby, Matthew Dear & More!

I am overwhelmed by the amount of upcoming shows, tonight, tomorrow night, this weekend...

Here are some more recommendations:

This is tonight. I am thinking of checking out Fujiya and Miyagi at 9 at Mercury Lounge (see my last post), but if it is too packed to get in, and/or afterward, this is another extraordinarily promising event. See Princess Superstar's Myspace here. She is another really funny, clever female electro-rapper, and I expect it will be a good show.

And, above, this Saturday, is Matthew Dear's Big Hands, at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Also, take note, Princess Sperstar, along with Moby and Holy Ghost, will be doing their same thing again (live show for the former and DJ sets for the latter two) Thursday night at (Le) Rouge also, for $10.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CMJ Music Festival! Oct 21-25

Tonight marks the opening of the CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival, which is going on through October 25th and features some really well-known up-and-coming music, as well as films and panels. The ironic thing is that, while I had known about the upcoming CMJ festival for some time, I had completely coincidentally passed by the CMJ registration session today, which was going on around the NYU campus by Washington Square. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to scope it out and/or register, as I was on my way to a panel sponsored by NYU's SCPS Publishing department on the Media and Privacy. More on that in another post. Thus, with CMJ now lodged more firmly in my brain, I returned home after the panel and found several e-mails in my inbox regarding CMJ shows.

Obviously, I need to check some of it out: and I recommend CMJ-related events to anyone looking to see some of their well-liked indie bands and/or discover & check out new music/film/etc. So, apparently when you register for the CMJ Festival, you get priority and discounted access to all of the shows. Check out the CMJ site for more info about registration, but beware, registration ain't cheap: it starts at $275 for an individual student badge. But, there is a LOT of music going on, as well as the panels, film and comedy. For a full list of the artists, see the CMJ list here.

I am tentatively planning on seeing Fujiya and Miyagi tomorrow, Wednesday, October 22nd, at Mercury Lounge. But, if I am not feeling up to it or do not arrive in time to get a ticket, I am considering scoping out Webster Hall on Thursday, October 23rd, which will be featuring Crystal Castles and has Fujiya and Miyagi as an opener. (It is, however, sold out, so lurking on Craigslist and/or around Webster Hall will hopefully - fingers crossed! - yield a ticket.)

Wednesday night later, at 12:30 am, also features another band I would love to see, and I recommend checking it out to anyone up for seeing a show that late on a weeknight. Beach House is playing at (le) Poisson Rouge, at 158 Bleeker St. This is a relatively new venue I have heard great things about and haven't yet had the pleasure of checking out. And tickets for this show are only $10(!).

Also, the Muslims (I know, not a politically correct name) are a band that has been getting some good attention. They are playing apparently several shows in the next couple of nights, including at the Cake Shop, Mercury Lounge, Piano's and Don Pedro's on Thursday, October 23rd. Mind you, the first three of these venues are all on the L.E.S. and Don Pedro's is in Williamsburg (or Bushwick, depending on who you ask). But I looked at the times more carefully: The Cake Shop show is at 2:30 am, so technically is a late late Wednesday night show (I think? Unless it's a late Thurs show...); and the Piano's party is at 1 pm and part of the Brooklyn Vegan party. I am considering seeing the Muslims for the event Thursday (if I don't see Crystal Castles), where they will be performing with several other bands that evening at Don Pedro's for $5, alongside a 3-hour open bar with Southern Comfort drinks.

I also just found this artist as a recommendation from the Brooklyn Vegan website: Little Boots. She is adorable, with a good voice, dance-pop grooves and some intelligent song lyrics! She has a few gigs going on this week. See her Myspace page for show and DJ set dates.

(Little Boots video above)

I could continue going on, but I'll stop there and hope I've whetted your appetite for some up-and-coming music. Check out the CMJ site for full listings!

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Happy-Go-Lucky": Movie on Pursuit of Happiness

I saw Mike Leigh's movie Happy-Go-Lucky last night. A British film by the director of Secrets and Lies and Vera Drake, it is, as director Leigh calls it in an interview with The Star, an "anti-miserabilist" film. That sums it up succinctly: the film is about a cute, diminutive cheerful woman, "Poppy," who manages to stay keenly optimistic despite the woes and unfriendliness she encounters in her life.

An English film, it was just recently released in the US and has received astounding reviews and substantial acclaim already. Besides its sentimentality and optimism in a markedly cynical and difficult time, what is striking about the film is its really jarring, realistic quality. Though I found the film slow at times (at a full two hours, it was on the longer side), I found myself forgetting that the film is fictional and the characters are, indeed, simply characters. In an interview with New York Magazine, Mike Leigh elaborates that Sally Hawkins, the actress who plays Poppy, was intended to be at the center of the film before he had worked out the plot details. It is Leigh's unconventional directorial process, wherein he determines the actors before the roles, and the actors improvise and work out the nuances of their characters and their lives, that gives the film its highly realistic, personable quality.

A review of Happy-Go-Lucky in New York Magazine by David Edelstein describes Poppy's outlook as much more than mere whimsy, but rather a deep "design for living"; and I would agree with this reviewer. It encourages us to go out and seek our inner-Poppy. The film is testimony that it is possible, even with unsettling and discouraging circumstances, to maintain a positive outlook in life.

See the official movie site here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Upcoming Dance Shows

I don't see dance performances enough, but I love them. Here are some highlights of upcoming dance performances.

The Joyce Theater at 175 8th Ave, at 19th St., is a convenient location to see reasonably-priced shows. Currently the performance there is Ballet Hispanico, which runs Tues-Sun evenings, 8 pm (Sun, 7:30 pm), and weekend matinees at 2 pm, until October 19. Tickets are available from $19 and up. Also, a suggestion to those looking to really see a show on the cheap: the Joyce is generally looking for ushers, an opportunity which simply requires wearing black, showing people their seats and giving out programs, and which allows you to see performances free of charge. I believe they generally require two weeks' notice for ushering interest.

Ballet Hispanico, above. You can also visit their website here.

Other upcoming shows at the Joyce are the ODC/Dance Company, an international contemporary dance company, performing from October 21-26, and Eiko & Koma, performing from October 28-November 2nd, with a special Halloween performance! And, for a more intimate and less costly show, I recommend heading to the Joyce Soho, a venue with only 74 seats and featuring emerging dancers and choreographers.

Finally, for a Brooklyn performance experience, I recommend the BAM Next Wave Festival. From October 23-25, at 7:30 pm, Awakenings, a performance by an Australian dance trope, promises to seamlessly intertwine Aboriginal politics with dance for a mesmerizing, mythical experience. The show is at the BAM Harvey Theater, at 651 Fulton Street. See for directions and other performance recommendations.

So go out already and see some art, catch a dance performance, and enjoy the city!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yelle Re-Cap

Yelle was a fabulous time! She struck me as a French, electro-pop version of Lady Sovereign: another one of those cheeky white rapper girls, with more attitude and energy than one would expect from a skinny young white girl... And, though I basically did not understand Yelle's lyrics, a girl next to me was kind enough to translate the general gist to me; and, from what I gather, her songs mostly are about looking good, boys, ragging on other girls, and having fun.

Pictures - and videos! - from the evening follow.

(above shirt slogan: "DANCE OR DIE"; I purchased one for myself!)

You can also see more pictures on

Also, see this link to a video and interview on Yelle's American success, with footage from the Oct. 18th show.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yelle at Webster Hall, tonight, 10/14

I am seeing Yelle, the French pop-princess superstar extraordinaire, tonight! Ok, I don't actually (yet) own any of her music, but she seems like a blast. What's not to like about quirky French pop music?

See the Flavorpill write-up here, which cites Cindy Lauper as a source of inspiration, and go here for tickets (or just hang around Webster Hall to try to score one). Tickets are only $20 a piece.

Her Myspace page provides samples of her music to the uninitiated. And, Wikipedia gives further background information, including the fact that her real name is Julie Budet and her musical name Yelle comes from YEL, a feminine acronym for "You Enjoy Life."

Notable Art Happenings!

As always, there is an almost endless, inexhaustible amount of arts and entertainment in NYC. Below are some highlights!

Banksy, a well-known British street/graffiti artist, has an exhibit up in the West Village at The Village Pet Store Bar and Grill. It will stay up through Halloween, October 31, 2008. This is apparently Banksy's first show in NYC (apparently there have been many shows purportedly with Banksy's works previously, which have all been revealed as fakes... ), as well as his first time using animatronics. There is no graffiti or street art in the so-called "store," but rather a bizarre combination of "animals" to behold.

The gallery/store is open daily from 10 am-12 am., at No. 89, 7th Ave South, between W. 4th and Bleeker St. The entire store also is viewable through the storefront window.

Banksy's site can be seen here.

In other art happenings, the Williamsburg Gallery Association offers free events every second Friday of the month. I also recommend the Live With Animals gallery in Williamsburg, on the corner of Kent Ave (210 Kent Ave.) and Metropolitan Ave. The gallery is open 2 pm to 7 pm, Sat-Sun, and the current exhibit is Against Nature, by Sebastian Mlynarski. The exhibit, up until October 26, features photographs that examine and confront the difficult relationship between humans and nature. The evening of Sat October 18th features an evening of art and music, with Bill Bronson performing a piece inspired by the exhibition.

October 24-26 features the NY Art Book Fair free to the public, at Phillips de Pury & Company, at 450 W. 15th St. at 10th Ave, 3rd fl. A list of exhibitors can be seen here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Of Montreal at Roseland Ballroom

Before seeing of Montreal at Roseland Ballroom yesterday, I had seen them once previously, about a year or so ago. Having seen them before, I knew that the band gloriously lives up to its quirky, innovative sounds and general sense of free-spirited fun.

Rolling Stone Magazine discusses lead singer Kevin Barnes and his band in an article, "The Surreal Life," which reveals that Barnes has a darker side that has often affected his music. It discusses, for example, that Barnes contemplated suicide after realizing his wife was pregnant. Was this his fear of having to assume the responsibilities of a father and an adult? Regardless, the act of him attempting suicide by hanging himself was re-enacted onstage last night. Disturbing.

The odd thing was that otherwise the performance was generally supremely fun-filled. With large-scale video backdrops, (some directly from their music videos), choreographed costumed dancing and theatrics, and even a white horse onstage, of Montreal's performance was a non-stop colorful tour-de-force.
Brooklynvegan has a more critical review of the show, but has an amazing slew of images that much more precisely give an insider view to the theatricality of the performance.

Wikipedia describes the band's and Kevin Barnes's history a bit more in-depth.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Columbus Day weekend events

I don't really know what I will be doing over the Columbus Day weekend, but here are several highlights:

This weekend is the
4th-Annual Bed-Stuy Alive! Festival.
Also, Saturday night, 10 pm, features a free performance at the BAMcafé, featuring Spanish singer Rosalía. The event is described on the BAM Café Live website as follows:

"In conjunction with BAM’s New Voices from Spain series (2008 Next Wave Festival), BAMcafé Live presents an artist on the smoother, sexier side of Iberia’s burgeoning music scene: the keen-eared, classically-trained guitarist/singer Rosalía. Steeped in Spanish folklore, Latin rhythms, and jazz, Rosalía’s guitar lines are lush and sinuous, guiding the listener/vagabond into the most unlikely nooks and crannies of modern Spanish culture."

I recommend getting there early; space fills up fast!

ISSUE Project Room will be having musical events every evening, featuring highlights of experimental music and videos from the 80's, 90's and 2000's, every evening, tonight through Saturday. Each event is $10 and begins at 8 pm. Sunday they are hosting an event at Spiegeltent.

And tomorrow, Friday, I will be seeing
Of Montreal at Roseland Ballroom. There are also a LOT of other big shows on Friday; again, many of which may already be sold out, but go after tickets if you want 'em! Beck is playing again, Man Man (not sold out yet!) is playing ... and check out ohmyrockness
for more suggestions.

Review and Pictures of Beck and MGMT

The United Palace Theater, where MGMT and Beck played, is way up in Harlem, on 175th St. to be exact. Getting there was no problem; getting home afterward was a little more of a hassle, but definitely worth it. The United Palace Theater is gorgeous.
Inside was seating, featuring a little less-than-preferably low ceilings but great views of the stage. I arrived mid-way through MGMT's performance. They had spotlights on stage but otherwise put their energy into the songs and not into visual appeal for the audience. I was satisfied that I arrived in time to hear their live performance of their songs "Kids" and "Electric Feel." I am excited to hear future releases by MGMT and see how they develop. (MGMT describes their musical style as "Healing/Easy Listening/Soul" on their Myspace page; somehow, that combination works for them, though I would be more inclined to call their genre folk-pop.)
(MGMT, above)

There followed a brief intermission as the stage was prepared for Beck.

And Beck's performance lived completely up to my expectations, playing music from his older albums as well as his more recent releases. He and his bandmates put on a good performance; for the most part, they stuck to their musical roles and let the video backdrop behind them provide the visual complement to their music.
Everyone, or almost everyone, was standing during their performance. And a lot of us, like myself, were also dancing. Good times.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday Music Events!

I am really stoked that I will be seeing both Beck and MGMT tonight. I think it is going to be an absolutely amazing show! I have been a fan of Beck's for years and have never seen him perform before; so tonight's show will be quite the treat, especially with MGMT opening for him! They are playing at United Palace Theater in Harlem, a venue I have also never been to previously. So, the evening ahead is looking quite electric!

(Beck, above)

The Beck/MGMT shows are sold out, but playing for three consecutive nights, so checking out or, or trolling the area for an extra ticket prior to the show may yield you your very own lucky ticket to the event. But if you are not intersted in scavenging for a ticket and are looking for a fun electro-experimental show or an interesting evening in Brooklyn, musical or otherwise, I recommend the show below.

Barbara Morgenstern is apparently a musical superstar in Germany; to the American ear, she offers German-tinged electro-experimental music. See her Myspace page here.

Barbara Morgenstern
Berlin underground favorite Barbara Morgenstern has come across the ocean to New York. Come hear a bit of what the Berlin scene is creating, and see why it's as interesting as it appears to be.
Buy tickets here!

Barbara Morgenstern is playing at Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO. The show is at 8 pm; tickets are only $10!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Madonna's 'Sticky and Sweet' Performance

I saw Madonna in her Sticky and Sweet tour last night (yes, Madonna on a Monday!), and I have to say, I am blown away by that woman. If I had half the energy now that she has at 50, I would be a happy lady. Madonna's sheer unflagging energy onstage, from her double-dutch jump-rope dancing and general high level of physical exertion and ability, to her enthusiastic shouts to the crowd, was phenomenal. The show began somewhere around 9:30 p.m., a large video candyland projection introducing us to the spectacular spectacle of the evening which momentarily was eclipsed by a swiveling of the stage, revealing Madonna's dancers and then Madonna herself, sitting at the throne.

A NY Times article on Madonna's previous performance in New Jersey gives a more critical look at Madonna's performance, in an article entitled, Aerobic, Not Erotic: The Concert as Workout, emphasizing how cold-hearted and driven her performance and general aesthetic was, a feat basically of sheer willpower. I would have to say I disagree; the erotic and aerobic are not incompatible, especially in Madonna' case. While her performance was an odd mish-mash of both music and theatrical effects, with themes ranging from hip-hop to club kid to Europen gypsy and spiritual, Madonna's show offered barely, if ever, a dull moment.

In one break from her live onstage performance, the audience was treated to a large projection of her very politically-oriented video, "Get Stupid":

Upon the video's closing, the audience erupted into loud applause. Madonna also made it clear during the performance, "Palin is NOT invited." She did, however, thank everyone there yesterday for attending her "party," and proclaimed that sitting down wasn't allowed during her show. "This is not the Streissand show," she said. Yes, Madonna is still going strong: with her attitude, her looks, her energy, and her performances. She is a worthy icon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Of The Kills and Margaret Cho

It's been a busy week. While getting over my cold this past week, I continued with my plans; and perhaps, in this more sickly, weary state of mind, I was more critical than I would otherwise be, though I am not entirely sure that's the case.

The Kills, who played at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday, were great, lively performers. The Kills, a boy/girl duo (Alison "VW" Mosshart, the female lead singer, as well as guitarist, and Jamie "Hotel" Hince, lead guitarist) were both rockstar musicians with frenetic energy on the stage and humble performers who continuously graciously thanked the audience. Mosshart especially was apologetic and sincere in her remarks to the crowd; after I initially wondered if she might be under the influence of something after seeing her flying around the stage, she gravely apologized to the crowd, saying she was actually a bit sick and would get through the performance as best as she could. Huh. If she hadn't made these remarks referring to her poor state of heath, I would have been left suspecting exactly the opposite; so I give her credit in her truly stellar rockstar performance.
The Kills' live music set lived up to my expectations.... with one exception. They were not a full band. While apparently they receive a lot of comparisons to The White Stripes as an indie boy/girl band, The White Stripes play all of their instruments, while The Kills rely on a drum machine (and other pre-recorded music, possibly?) for their song beats. This somehow makes their music seem a bit less impressive and, well, more inauthentic, to me. But I am still hooked on their riffs, their energy, and their attitude. Their bio can be read here, which gives an intriguing account of how they started out working together as well as how they avoided approaches from major record labels.

And, a video to share with you:

Of Margaret Cho at Radio City Music Hall: The sheer crowd and lustre of Radio City Music Hall promised a good night for Cho.
(Radio City Music Hall, above)

As I expected, she included a substantial amount of comedy about the presidential campaign, staunchly emphasizing that Palin is not a feminist. I was proud of her opinionated contribution to the campaign, as well as of the audience's enthusiastic response to her remarks. As for the rest of her act, suffice it to say that she is very LGBTQ friendly and also very adult-themed. She was a strong crowd-pleaser and a good beginning to a Saturday night, if a little over-the-top!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Recommenations of (Semi-)Underground Dancing/Music/Cultural Venues

For those of us seeking alternatives to the traditional clubs, or even to what I like to call the “dance-bars” (those places without an actual so-called cabaret license, which is the license to permit dancing in private spaces; you can read about it here), there are many semi-unknown, not very largely publicized venues in the city to be found for a night of bustin’ a move and/or catching upcoming artists, musicians and DJ’s.

Spiegeltent, located in the South Street Seaport, is one such venue. Only up until November 2nd, the place hosts evenings of salsa, AfroBrazilian and other music and dance parties. Spiegeltent hosts parties from Wednesday night to Sunday afternoons. If you are looking for a good, cabaret-styled show, I also recommend checking out the shows at Spiegelworld!

Another place I recently discovered is a bar called rehab. Located in the Lower East Side (LES) on Ave. B, where club midway once resided, rehab is a venue featuring live bands and other performances. Wandering into the place expecting to find a simple bar, I was delightfully surprised upon discovering a live band and an enthusiastic dancing crowd. This is a place I recommend if you find yourself in the LES or the East Village without a specific plan or destination in mind, or if you simply want to check out some lesser-known bands. Rehab also features a regular reggae party on Sundays.

And from here, we move on to Brooklyn, my borough of residence and where I know most of the edgier music and dance venues to be found. Crooked Disco is, just as the name suggests, a disco party. The party often features live performances in addition to disco, electro, breakbeat, and other jivin’ dance tunes brought to you by the DJ. Crooked Disco is hosted both at Galapagos Art Space (in DUMBO) and Public Assembly (in Williamsburg).

Galapagos Art Space and Public Assembly also feature a diverse slew of other events, from theatrical performances to film screenings to lectures. They are both worth checking out; their events cater to a wide variety of audiences!

For an experience reminiscent of a (dirty/fun) college house party, try the Glasslands in Williamsburg. The performances of many up-and-coming bands in this venue, and its small size, are its high points; but be ready to accept an evening in an overcrowded place where very possibly most people seem (and maybe are) younger than you and there is a very distinct aroma of mildew in the air. These drawbacks aside, it is a fun venue to visit every now and then, especially if you are previously familiar with the band playing there. Visit for listings of events at Glasslands along with musical shows across the city.

Finally, let me briefly name a few places where free or cheap musical performances may be found, often of the experimental and jazzy variety. In Williamsburg, Zebulon is a bar which boasts of free live music performances nightly. Shows begin at 9 pm, if they are on time. Though some of the bands are more experimental than, say, conventionally musical, there are some big names who perform here. Improv and free jazz, as well as poetry and comedy, are some of the features to be enjoyed here. Their website features a full calendar of up-and-coming events.

In Park Slope, ISSUE Project Room is a venue that features experimental music, interdisciplinary and multi-media performances, as well as art exhibitions, dinner events, literary readings and film screenings. Located at 3rd St. and 3rd Ave., at the Old American Can Factory, ISSUE is an artist-centered venue that boasts a board of such notable people as Steve Buscemi, Jonathan Lethem and Moby, among others.

(ISSUE Project Room, above)

Similarly, The Stone in Manhattan’s East Village is a space devoted to innovative, avant-garde and experimental music. Located on Ave. C and E. 2nd St., The Stone is under the artistic direction of well-known musician John Zorn.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, or whomever you are, is only the tip of the iceberg of the musical, cultural and dancing opportunities and venues in the city.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Black Kids: Poppy Cure-esque Fun

So I saw the Black Kids perform at Webster Hall on Wednesday. The Black Kids, with songs like "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You," are full of youthful pop tunes. I first heard of the Black Kids in Spin Magazine, with their article promoting the Black Kids as an up-and-coming group. Reggie Youngblood, the band's songwriter, leading singer, and guitarist, admits that the Cure was a major influence in his musical stylings: that much is transparent in the music. I have to think that it's kind of ironic that I have previously complained that the similarly-named band, The Black Keys, also strikes me as a clearly derivative band. Yet, acknowledging their derivative sound and moving on, you find that the music's quality is appealingly addictive.

The Black Kids played a short set, only an hour long. They played their album songs, as well as a cover of a Magnetic Fields song, and one song not on their album. Why such a short set? They don't yet have a larger repertoire of songs. But, that said, they played a solid performance. The crowd (see picture below) was packed. I found myself watching their set from the balcony, where, while I did not consistently get a clear, unobstructed view, I had space to enjoy the music and see the event from a bird's eye view.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Upcoming: The Black Kids, The Kills and Margaret Cho

And that's this week alone!!! I will be seeing the Black Kids tonight at Webster Hall. (See their website here and their Myspace page here.)
(The Black Kids, above)

Then, Friday night, I will be seeing the Kills at Music Hall of Williamsburg (see their website here and their Myspace here.) They play Thursday and Friday, and both shows are already sold out!
Then, Saturday, I am seeing Margaret Cho at Radio City Music Hall. (There are still tickets for her!) I am so excited!! I actually saw her years ago at Oberlin and remember her raw energy and humor.

And that's it for now.