Posted in music | tour dates on October 5, 2011

by Bill Pearis

Lotion

The fifth annual Royal Flush Festival happens at Knitting Factory Brooklyn from October 13 - 17. Hosted by arts/comics/music mag Royal Flush, details are still a little sketchy on the fest's website, but bands include Art Vs Science, Kid Savant and Glitter Freeze. (Not sure about films this year.) Most excitingly, for this writer at least, is that the Royal Flush folks have coerced '90s-era indie rockers Lotion out of retirement for their first show in 12 years on Monday, October 17.

New York City in the 1990s was not the hotbed of local music it is today and apart from Soul Coughing and D Generation and Luna there wasn't a whole lot going on here. What there was of a scene, it mostly happened at Luna Lounge which served as a music industry hangout and place to catch local bands for free. Among them, Lotion were tipped Most Likely to Succeed. They were one of the first "Cute Band Alerts" in Sassy, their debut Full Isaac was named Album of the Year by the Village Voice (though not in the Pazz & Jop poll), appeared on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, perhaps most famously, got reclusive author Thomas Pynchon to write the liner notes for their 1996 album Nobody's Cool.

Lotion toured with Pavement, Mercury Rev and others and got compared to R.E.M. a lot, which I never quite understood, but they did make some amazingly crafty, complex pop over the course of three albums, all of which are worth seeking out. (They're all out of print but used copies are affordably-priced.) Their live shows were legendary, especially at Luna Lounge which could be loose and boozy and filled with covers. After 1998's The Telephone Album (their best if you ask me), interest fizzled and the band ceased operations a year later.

Singer Tony Zajkowski and drummer Rob Youngberg formed Honeycomb in the early '00s. Honeycomb were equally pop-friendly but added a multimedia element to their shows that made them unique. Honeycomb won some big Best Unsigned band contest around that time, and snuck out an album in 2008 but the project ended shortly after. Zajkowski and Youngberg have formed a new band, Spellbender, that are still gearing up for their live debut.

I don't think Lotion's last show back in '99 was intended that way, so here's your chance to see them. A few choice Lotion cuts (via YouTube) are below.

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Lotion - She is Weird City

Lotion - Marijuana Vietnam

Lotion - Rock Chick

Lotion - Feedback Queen

Lotion - Blind for Now

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Comments (29)

woah.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 9:19 AM

ah, spinart records...bill, do you remember zero hour with space needle?

we're indie rock bros!

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 9:25 AM

Luna Lounge will forever be one of my favorite places. The owner only booked good bands.

The music scene in the '90s were much better. Today, bands only care about how many people follow them on Twitter. You didn't have the distraction of the internet back then. You did not have to venture into a shithole like Bushwick to see a band.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 9:38 AM

Sweet Diesel shows at Brownies were way, way better. Just sayin'...

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 9:45 AM

wasn't the lower east side a shithole in 90s? i'll take shithole any day over what it's like there now.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 9:46 AM

you used to walk around the LES and fear getting mugged. same with williamsburg

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 9:49 AM

"New York City in the 1990s was not the hotbed of local music it is today " Agreed, except I think you mean local 'white' music.

The 90s saw the last few years of the golden age of hiphop (ATCQ, De La...) and the international rise of locals like Wu, Biggie, Mary J, etc...

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 9:57 AM

LES was fun in the mid to late 90's, but still had that definite element of danger. Niagara used to be great times. That tiki bar downstairs had it's fair share of fun...

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 9:59 AM

To tell you the truth, I've never heard of these guys. But, I dig the sound though. I'd take this reverb indie stuff over the shit out today - any. fucking. day.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 10:02 AM

Indie pop was big back then. Fountains of Wayne, Scout, so many ...

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 10:10 AM

SPACE NEEDLE!!!!! These comments make me want to find that box of cassette tapes that i bring with me from one apartment to the next.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 10:21 AM

hell yes

Posted by Count Funkula! | October 5, 2011 10:26 AM

there's a ton of shit on the comments section but its nice to see that other people knew what it was like seeing a great band at the cooler or the spiral.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 11:11 AM

I moved here in the 90s because of the music scene. There were great shows all the time at Coney Island High, Wetlands, ABC no rio, Brownies, Irving Plaza, etc. and the larger venues as well. I grew up in CT and used to go to 3 or 4 shows a week in the early-mid 90s. I'd come to NYC on a regular basis because the 'better' shows would sometimes be here! Moving here seemed the obvious thing to do since it was such a huge part of my life. Maybe the difference is that I mostly went to punk & hardcore related shows? Does that stuff not count since it was more underground then? Shows used to be PACKED in the 90s. I work at venues in Brooklyn & Manhattan now and I hardly see any shows today as crazy as they were then other than some reunion shows here and there. The major difference seems to be the crowd. The people are calmer now, have less energy and just stand around. Major change from the early 90s.

Posted by Pico | October 5, 2011 11:20 AM

1120...i was going to see warzone at coney island one night, dj's at palladium the next night, pavement at the academy ballroom, braid at the cooler, and the wretched ones at wetlands.

it was a great time. you had to be out to get it. you had to talk to friends, read fanzines, hang out at the record shop...now, everyone is told whats good...everyone has an opinion. there's a ton of crap music because everyone can record now and distribute it.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 11:32 AM

Pop Fly Superstar played their first and last show at the Spiral. When is that reunion?

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 11:35 AM

Power pop at it's finest. And to the poster re, Sweet Diesel, they too were the best and have also been doing some reunion shows as of late. Brownies in the 90's !!!!

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 11:37 AM

there were a ton of NYC indie bands in the 90's...DUMMY

Posted by STOOPZPOOMZ | October 5, 2011 12:20 PM

Yeah, but I seem to remember that Lotion had the best posters. Beowulf forever!

Posted by Conrad | October 5, 2011 12:48 PM

remember beastie boys playing at Coney Island High circa 1998 under a different name? that was awesome

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 12:50 PM

right on, 9:57 and 11:20

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 1:02 PM

9:57 and 11:20,

i was writing specifically about the indie rock, and i clearly forgot a few heavy hitters and beloved smaller bands but overall not anywhere near as happening as it is now.

also, no disrespect to Brownies where I spent a lot of time but usually it was to see nationally touring acts. Loved Coney Island High and the Cooler too (and even Tramps, despite the poles)...the Spiral notsomuch.

b

Posted by bill p | October 5, 2011 2:06 PM

Honeycomb did release a record - Worldwide Electric Inventor's Kit - available on iTunes.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 5:25 PM

"but overall not anywhere near as happening as it is now."

The problem is that what is "happening" now sucks compared to the not "happening" bands of the '90s.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2011 6:01 PM

Seeing Lotion @ Luna or around the corner @ Mercury Lounge was fantabulous in the 90's. I hope they don't mind me saying, but they are also the nicest bunch of guys (with the BEST music). They've been my favorite band since 1994, and YES I do listen to new stuff. Looking forward to the festival...

Posted by HeidiW | October 5, 2011 10:02 PM

les late 90's was the best ever in Luna Lounge, Kitty in the Tree, Longwave, Motel Girl, Orange Park, that scene kicked ass, Clara Venus/

Posted by tommy | October 6, 2011 7:12 AM

Sooooooo glad to hear about this reunion. These guys are incredible. I've been a fan since the first album and still listen to them all the time. One of my top 5 favorites. Lotion lives on!

Posted by Shane | October 7, 2011 2:03 AM

Last year at the beach, only Jim was a fag.

Posted by Bradlee | April 21, 2013 5:24 AM

I play Nobody's Cool all the time. Really like that album a lot.
Does anyone anywhere have some live audio or video of Lotion they can trade with me? I really need to hear some live tracks. I'm down in Virginia and never got the chance to see them live, and never heard about the reunion show in 2011 or i would have been there in a heartbeat.
send me a note if you have some info.
thanks
fredhic at aol

Posted by fred | September 30, 2014 6:57 PM

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