May 18, 2015
by Jayson Green (of Violent Bullshit, Orchid, etc)
Jon Fine of Bitch Magnet, Don Caballero, 'Your Band Sucks', etc
Unlike most rock memoirs, Jon Fine's YOUR BAND SUCKS: What I Saw At Indie Rock's Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear) is not a tale of triumph. It's something much more relatable. His band, Bitch Magnet, never made it big. They never defied the odds and overcame. None of that mattered. They did it anyway. YOUR BAND SUCKS is a true window into why we make art at any cost even when it seems like the world doesn't care. Jon has been making weird, loud fucked up rock music for over thirty years in bands, along with Bitch Magnet, like Vineland, Coptic Light and Don Caballero. You can hear Jon talk about it in person with Ted Leo at McNally Jackson in NYC Tuesday May 19 at 6:30 PM. After that he'll be touring the country talking with people like Mark Arm of Mudhoney and Clint Conley of Mission of Burma. All of his live dates are listed at the end of this interview.
I recently sat down with Jon over a Meat Hook sandwich in his old neighborhood Williamsburg to talk about his truly excellent book.
BrooklynVegan: I was surprised when I read the book. I thought it was going to essentially be an anecdotal history of independent rock music...
Jon Fine: ...like Our Band Could Be Your Life.
BV: Exactly, or Please Kill Me, but this is not that. It's an intensely personal memoir about your obsession with rock music. Did you know right away that's how you wanted to structure it?
JF: I knew it was going to be a memoir, but the other books that have been written as memoirs about this time period were written by people who were famous. I knew I was not and kind of had to make a virtue out of that. I was interested in the bands that I knew, and I really liked, who weren't the big bands. I mean no one knows these fucking bands. People kind of know Slint very vaguely, but Bastro, Slovenly...you probably hate these bands.
BV: I hate some of them, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you like the bands or even if you know the bands because it's not about the bands necessarily. It's about you and your relationship/addiction to music.
JF: That was kind of what I was hoping for. To me this was a very interesting moment in American culture. This isn't the kind of book that gets into it like "and on this alternate version of 'Rocks Off' is the 8th take that they did in Montreux and you can hear Keith nodding off..." (laughs). You don't need that level of interest.
It's a really personal book. I couldn't think of any other way to write it. I didn't want to write a history because that's kind of been done, but at the same time I wanted to bring other people into it. I just really wanted to know what it was like for these other bands that were in this middle to lower tier with us. Most of them eventually have to stop doing it. The other rock memoirs from this genre, like Dean Wareham, Bob Mould, Juliana Hatfield they all kind of end with them still "doing it" in a fashion. With a lot of these bands in the book, we all had to stop because it wasn't an option to support yourself. I'm not talking about getting rich; I'm talking about paying rent and feeding yourself. Whether it's Anne Eickelburg of Thinking Fellers, or Mark Robinson of Unrest, or Justin Chearno and Scott DeSimon of Pitchblende, you hit this wall in your thirties. I just find that really interesting and not just because it happened to me. I hope other people do too.
photo: Title Fight at SXSW 2015 (more by Amanda Hatfield)
Gainesville punk festival The Fest returns for its 14th year from October 30 - November 1, and today they added a bunch of more bands to their lineup. Additions include Title Fight, Modern Life Is War, another reunion show from The Progress, Into It Over It, Pet Symmetry, As Friends Rust, Pianos Become the Teeth, Smoke Or Fire (playing Above the City), Bigwig, Loma Prieta, TWIABP, Cayetana, Superheaven, Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), Told Slant, War On Women, Pujol and many more. Full list of additions below.
The newly-added bands join Desaparecidos, The Menzingers, mewithoutYou, The Jazz June, Beach Slang, Iron Reagan, Modern Baseball, Lagwagon and many more.
Tickets go on sale June 1. Lineup additions below...
photos by P Squared Photography
Mac DeMarco / Chelsea Wolfe / Flaming Lips / Fuzz @ Levitation Fest 5/10/2015
"Who wants to hear the most muthafuckin' psychedelic song of all time?" That was Mac DeMarco bassist Piece McGarry asking the crowd during the final day of Levitation Fest (5/10). The three-day event used to be known as Austin Psych Fest, so of course the crowd wanted to hear it. They immediately launched into a cover of Coldplay's "Yellow." Between Mac and the main stages' closer, The Flaming Lips, Levitation 2015 ended on a light note. And a thankfully dry one, as reports earlier in the week called for Sunday to have heavy thunderstorms and maybe even tornadoes. Instead, it just felt like it was going rain the whole time (aka hot and muggy).
Most people on Sunday were excited about the 13th Floor Elevators reunion but lots of great sets happened, including A Place to Bury Strangers, Fat White Family, Sean Lennon's The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Nothing, ZZZs, Chelsea Wolfe (subbing for Melody's Echo Chamber), and a sweaty closing-fest set from Ty Segall's proto-metal trio Fuzz.
Jay Z at Terminal 5 - 5/16/15 (via @mirsadness)
Jay Z's intimate "B-sides" shows happened at Terminal 5 on Saturday (5/16) and Sunday (5/17). Jay promised a night of older songs and deeper cuts, and he followed through on that promise with "Young Gifted & Black," "Streets Is Watching," "Friend or Foe," "Show U How To Do This," and a lot more. He did do some big hits like "Clique," included a few freestyles, brought out Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, Young Jeezy, Jay Electronica and more, and held a moment of silence for the late BB King. You can watch a video of the full night 1 set and check out the setlist, below.
As New Yorkers who ever need to commute between Williamsburg and Manhattan surely know, the L train hasn't been running between those two boroughs on nights and weekends since late March. Luckily, it finally ends this Friday (5/22), but the struggle has been real for almost two months and Jeffrey Lewis feels it too. He's recorded a new song called "Train Song" which isn't a Vashti Bunyan cover, but an ode to the pain inflicted on us by the MTA with a chorus of "No L, no L, no L, no L, the MTA fucked us and made our lives hell." Nod along in agreement below...
by Bill Pearis
Cold Beat (photo by Abby Banks)
San Francisco's Cold Beat, the band featuring Hannah Lew (Grass Widow) and Bianca Sparta (Erase Errata) who made one of my favorite albums of 2014, will be playing their first East Coast shows next week. The first stop is NYC Popfest, where they were just added to the May 31 Littlefield show with Club 8, Eternal Summers and more. Tickets are still available. All dates are listed below.
That is not the only change to the Littlefield Popfest show. Russian band Palms on Fire dropped off, and Canadian band The Holiday Crowd has been added. Additionally, #POUNDSIGN#, who were originally playing Sunday night, are now part of the Friday (5/29) show at Cameo that also features The Loft, The Catenary Wires are more (tickets). And The Loft's Pete Astor will now also be doing a solo set at the free daytime show at Baby's All Right on Saturday, May 30. Updated schedule is listed below.
If you'd like to go to NYC Popfest for free, we're giving away a pair of passes that will get you into every event. Details, plus Cold Beat and Holiday Crowd album streams and Popfest schedule, below...
by Andrew Sacher
American Nightmare at Saint Vitus - 5/17/15 (photo via JC Photo & Media)
Following American Nightmare's set at Asbury Park's Skate & Surf festival on Saturday (pictures here), the hardcore greats announced a last-minute intimate late show for Brooklyn's Saint Vitus on Sunday night (5/17). It sold out very quickly (naturally), and the place was as PACKED as I'd ever seen it. And the fact that it was such a late show on a Sunday didn't stop anyone from making it a totally wild night.
American Nightmare went on some time close to midnight, following an opening set by Brooklyn locals Sick Feeling (ex-Ink & Dagger), and there was hardly a moment of downtime in their 45 minute-ish set. At least half the crowd was just one constantly-moving sea of people, and I don't think more than 20 seconds passed in any song without a stage diver. The band is pure fury -- you certainly wouldn't guess they haven't made a record in 12 years -- and Wes Eisold is a no-bullshit kind of frontman. He never smiles, no jokes in between songs, no preaches, no encouraging the crowd to dance a certain way or sing a certain song. Not that he'd have to -- basically the whole front half of that room was screaming every song back in his face the entire time. And AN were giving that crowd plenty to scream to. "AM/PM," "Crime Scene," "Farewell," "Love American," "Hearts" and plenty more favorites were played in their all-killer set.
UPDATE: unARTig uploaded a video of the full set. Watch that, with their setlist and a few more pics, below...
photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Bill Pearis
FKA twigs @ Brooklyn Hangar 5/17/2015
"Hot" is perhaps the optimal word to describe FKA twigs' Sunday night NYC show, her first of three performances of the spectacle that is her "Congregata." The Red Bull Music Academy show, which was as much a dance performance as a concert, was sexually-charged and happened at Sunset Park's Brooklyn Hangar which was a sweltering sauna. Everyone on and off stage was sweating. Onstage specifically, there was also vogueing, krumping, contortionism, a wall of lasers, an electric neon violin... and FKA twigs (Tahliah Barnett) at the center of it all.
At the end of the performance, Barnett would claim that there wasn't a concept for the show other than "wanting to convey to you how I was feeling at the time" she made LP 1, but it was clear that every second and every motion was thought out. "Congregata" is a physically demanding show, and at one point she was vaulted into the air multiple times for "freeze frame" moments. Between moments like that, the male dancers, the costumes (some of which were Alexander McQueen), the show echoed both Madonna's Truth or Dare and Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation aesthetics. Musically, FKA twigs is coming from a very different place however. It started simply but the wow factor came with those vaulting moments, the laser wall (which, with a bedazzled bustier, turned her into a discoball), and individual spotlights for the dancers including a roster of voguing legends, like Benjamin Milan and Leiomy Maldonado whose acrobatics in stilettos were beyond impressive.
FKA twigs vogue fam<3___last night was a legendary night, to share the stage with some of the real pioneers of voguing.... bringing the NYC vibe with all love no shade... Creating history as an artist by showing the art form how it should be shown<<3 // @fkatwigs @dashaunwesley @wond3rwoman1 @javierninja84 @ineedderek @alexm718 @dannip18 // #FKAtwigs #congregata #houseofmugler #houseoflanvin #houseofninja #houseofmilan #houseofprodigy #houseofladydi #benjaminmilan #voguing
As for the music, about half of LP 1 was performed. Her four-piece band was mostly percussion and mostly in silhouette. The crowd shrieked for a number of songs, as well as for twigs' high-end hiccupy coos. It was only when she spoke to the crowd at the end of the show that she broke character, talking about how everyone in her show are her friend, some very long time friends (and not flavors of the month), and about her first-ever show at Santos (when she was just "twigs") and last year's Webster Hall show that made her realize she could take her shows to another level. The night ended with a curtain call for the band and dancers, who were each given another chance to strut their stuff.
FKA Twigs performs "Congregata" again tonight and Tuesday, both of which are sold out. For those going, last night doors were a little late, not opening till 8:15 PM or so, and the long line (which went around the corner) moved slowly. It's likely they'll fix some of those problems for the next two shows, but the Sunday's show didn't start till around 9:45 and went till about 11:15 PM. Brooklyn Hangar is not the most conveniently located venue, but Red Bull Music Academy is offering a $20 voucher on Uber (Thousands of people, including twigs' fiance Robert Pattinson found their way there all right). Dress appropriately... did I mention it was hot?
photos by Drew Gurian / Red Bull Content Pool
Bjork / 23 Wall Street / Lotic / crowd / Forest Swords
Boutique electronic label Tri Angle Records celebrated its fifth anniversary with a party on Wall Street during the ongoing 2015 Red Bull Music Academy NYC residency. A ton of the label's artists were there, including Evian Christ, Forest Swords, Holy Other, The Haxan Cloak, Vessel, Hanz, Boothroyd, Lotic, mssingo and Rabit, and a very special guest showed up... Bjork!
The NY Times says:
The showcase gathered 10 acts, nearly all of them laptop-equipped lone D. J.s, in an apt environment: subterranean and desolate yet high tech. It was the rough concrete basement of 23 Wall Street, the former headquarters of J. P. Morgan. Smoke billowed and strobes flashed around the larger of two stages, and strings of LEDs sent streaks across a low ceiling in a smaller room; both had surround-sound systems. Lucien Smith's nine-minute video with scenes of 1980s New York City, "A Clean Sweep," was showing in the vault. [NY Times]---
It wasn't the first time Bjork teamed up with Tri Angle Records, but of course still very exciting. Her DJ set included her collaborators Death Grips, as well as Kate Bush, Jeremih, Brandy, Total Freedom, Cut Hands, Haxan Cloak, Vessel, Lotic, Rabit and more. Here's what she wrote about it:
i would like to wish tri angle label an incredibly sublime birthday and thank for having been invited to dj at their party . couldnt possibly been more honoured than to play in that company !!! the mix i played was my present to them : merging together some of my fav beats last year with some of my fav vocalists doing some of their best songsYou can listen to it, with the full list of artists she included in the mix, and more pictures from the Tri Angle anniversary show, below...
Failure's first album in 19 years, The Heart Is A Monster, comes out June 30 via INresidence (pre-order), and today we continue rolling out the band's in-studio diary they kept of the recording process. We already posted part 1 HERE, and part 2, written by Greg Edwards (also of post-Failure band Autolux), can be read below.
Failure also announced more summer tour dates today, though nothing in NYC at the moment. Those dates are listed below too.