Yoko Ono, Yo La Tengo, Sharon Van Etten, Bill Callahan & more played ‘Other Music Forever’ farewell (pics, review, video)
Bowery Ballroom photos by Sachyn Mital
Beloved NYC record store Other Music closed its gates for good on Saturday (6/25) but had one last hurrah on Tuesday, with the sold-out "Other Music Forever" farewell show at Bowery Ballroom featuring five hours of music from 11 different artists, including a few surprises.
Things actually kicked off in the late afternoon at Other Music, which had been mostly cleared out save for a few remaining CD shelves along the walls. The remaining stock was being sold on tables on E. 4th St, priced to move. Inside there was OM's last-ever in-store, featuring drony, jammy duo 75 Dollar Bill who were joined by a number of guests for a few songs. Things then took to the street where Matana Roberts led a Second Line parade, featuring a couple dozen musicians and a couple hundred people, heading East to Bowery where it then headed down to Delancey and over to Bowery Ballroom.
People then filtered into Bowery for the big show which was hosted by Janeane Garofalo (until she disappeared midway through the night) who riffed extemporaneously on Brexit, Julius Caesar, Game of Thrones and other subjects as the bands set up. Highlights from the night:
~ John Zorn's Simulacrum were first up, somewhere between metal, jazz and blues with John Medeski's organ playing pulling things into Deep Purple territory. Zorn didn't actually perform with them on stage, but was on hand to introduce the members afterwards.
~ Psychic Ills didn't say a word to the audience, just coming out and laying down their Spacemen 3-style psych for four songs.
~ Matana Roberts was the first act of the night to offer up a tribute to Other Music, saying that when she sent her music to labels she got "what is this music?" reactions, but "Other Music never asked that. The supported me when no one else would." She performed a solo sax piece written just for the occasion.
~ Bill Callahan popped over in between his early and late shows at Baby's All Right to play a few "deep cuts" for the very appreciative crowd and noted that he first saw the woman who would be his wife at Other Music, even though he didn't speak to her then. He closed his set with Smog's "Dress Sexy at My Funeral" which was a fitting, funny choice.
~ Yo La Tengo opened their set with a cover of Rolling Stones' "The Last Time" (also very appropriate) and brought out OM co-owner (and Antietam drummer) Josh Madell to play bongos on "Ohm."
~ Ira Kaplan said YLT would be back in a few, and returned with surprise guest Yoko Ono, 83 years young. If ever there was a crowd that "surprise Yoko Ono performance" would send electricity throughout, it was here.
~ I will admit to missing most of Julianna Barwick's set.
~ Sharon Van Etten told a very funny story about her father going to Other Music and asking if he could buy the SVE lightbox window display they had up at the time. Other Music declined but then mailed it to him as a present. "Other Music always believed in me." She was terrific as usual.
~ Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos really seemed happy to be there. "I can't believe we actually get to play this. It's absurd!"
~ Helado Negro, armed with a full band, played one of my favorite sets of the night: funky, genre-defying, and led by the very charismatic Roberto Carlos Lange.
~ Daptone's Menahan Street Band kept things groovy and sounded great, followed by OM's Josh Madell saying a few words of thanks to the crowd and inviting up all the former staffers in the house, including co-owner (and spotlight-adverse) Chris Vanderloo. It was a nice moment.
~ Things finished up with The Tallest Man on Earth, who actually asked if he could play (not the other way around), and told the crowd about how Other Music sold his LP on import before he had an American record deal, and how when he saw it on the shelves at the store he felt like he'd made it. He brought out Sharon Van Etten for a song at the end of the set which was a very nice end to a long, fun evening.
Other Music, you will really be missed. A gallery featuring lots more pictures from Other Music Forever, plus a few videos, below.