Sunday, February 26, 2012

01/10/09 NYC Winter Jazzfest @ various venues, New York, NY

For the Manhattan portion of my ambition birthday celebration, I started a tradition at the NYC Winter Jazzfest and I haven't missed one since.

The highlights were Marco Benevento Trio, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (sans Reed Mathis), Burnt Sugar and a late night DJ set by A Tribe Called Quest beat master Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

The next day I completed the 5 boro birthday bash with a trip to Staten Island's beer lover paradise Adobe Blues for an intoxicating breakfast.

01/08/09 Brooklyn Freestyle Sessions w/Mobius Collective @ Rose Live Music, Brooklyn, NY

For my 26th birthday and to kick off an incredible year of music in style, I decided to go all city over the course of a long weekend. Tonight was the Brooklyn portion of the festivities - a jam session at one of my favorite Williamsburg haunts.

The next night took us to Boogie Down Bronx for a graffiti art gallery opening featuring work by several of my friends, after which we wound down back in Queens at L.I.C. Bar.

??/??/08 various artists @ various venues, New York, NY

Lest we forget all the friends' bands in back rooms and dirty bars.

12/31/08 The Danger continued @ warehouse, Brooklyn, NY

The early hours of 2009 were spent much as the early hours of the year prior - in a sweaty warehouse dancing the night away. It was no match for 2008 though. The Danger never really recaptured the fleeting devil-may-care whimsy of One Night of Fire, try as it might.

12/31/08 Samson & The Folkadelics @ The National Underground, New York, NY

This was my debut on the microphone as I kicked some rhymes as the Folkadelics jammed. I wish they would have played straight through midnight though. Countdown over house music? Never again.

12/31/08 The Danger Masquerade Ball @ Pussycat Lounge, New York, NY

To round out 2008, we reluctantly went with The Danger's massive year end blowout, despite having been burned at their Halloween warehouse event. Stifling crowds and an early end, along with missed connections on multiple fronts left a sour taste, but previous successes beckoned us back.

This event was certainly a spectacle employing every cranny of the Pussycat Lounge's three floors, which seemed to be in the midst of renovations. Brass bands blared, limbo lines lurked, go-go girls gallivanted and spirits soared.

But the crowds swelled to an uncomfortable level well before midnight and we departed for a comfier locale.

12/27/08 Disco Biscuits @ Nokia Theater, New York, NY

Set 1: Jam > Orch Theme > Tricycle > 42 > Orch Theme > 42, Uber Glue
Set 2: Jam > Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On1 2, Rock Your Dance1 3, Tamarin Alley, Reactor > Mindless Dribble4 > Reactor, Spraypaint4 > Little Shimmy In A Conga Line5, Bernstein And Chasnoff
Encore: Digital Buddha
1with Tuphace on vocals
21st time played (Funkadelic)
31st time played (Tuphace)
5ending only
This was the Biscuits' first New Year's run at Nokia, which has become their NYC home.

The first set was pretty solid and they had a very nice jam to start set two. The guest vocalist threw off the momentum a bit, but they recovered for a decent show. Nothing mind-blowing though.

12/12/08 The New Deal/Hippocampus/Otherwise @ The Warehouse, Hartford, CT

Having spent much of 2008 seeking out warehouse parties, I took a trip across state lines to Hartford's short-lived former warehouse venue, The Warehouse. The New Deal was one of those bands that guarantees a dance party every time making the two hour trip worth our while.

The opening bands were not shabby either. Otherwise played an electronic-infused dub reggae in a smaller side room and local jammers Hippocampus graced the mainstage with a standard yet effective noodle-heavy set.

It's a shame the venue is no more. It had great New England brews on tap, a spacious outdoor smoking area, pool tables, local art, ample dance room and most importantly a great vibe in a location far from Hartford's seedier side. The next time I saw tND in Hartford was at the grimy Webster Theatre.

10/24/08 Rob Da Bank/The Whip/Luciano/Late of the Pier @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

I went to this show mainly because Pete Tong curated it, but I ended up leaving before the better, later half of the line-up came on. The most memorable part was when one of the opening bands played percussion with a pair of 2x4's.

09/27/08 Sex Mob w/DJ Olive @ Abrons Art Center, New York, NY

Some of the shows that might have once been scheduled at Tonic shifted to the more regal Abrons Arts Center. Here, Steve Bernstein's ridiculously tight combo Sex Mob performed their 2006 album Sexotica with help from jazzy turntablist DJ Olive.

09/13/08 Lightning Bolt/Growing/Krallice @ 979 Broadway backyard, Brooklyn, NY

This Todd P back to school party took place at a vacant lot under the JMZ line. The trains constantly rumbling overhead complemented the drone metal of Krallice and the more ambient drone of guitar/electronics glitch experimentalists Growing.

The Bushwick lot was perfect for the art school punkfuckery of Lightning Bolt, who elected to situate their sparse set-up in the midst of a rowdy all-ages crowd nearly to their detriment.

09/07/08 Stumblebum Brass Band @ private party, Queens, NY

I stumbled on the Stumblebum Brass Band in a subway station and I eventually got around to checking them out when they came to Maguire's Pub conveniently located within walking distance of my job. That night we ended up barhopping with the trio. Sometime before or after or next barhopping adventure at The Magician (after a thwarted loft party), I finally got the Stumblebums (or the brass two thirds anyways) to come rage a Baller BBQ. This was the 4th edition, subtitled Hello Goodbye, hello to my new roommate and goodbye to my friend who was about to move to Israel.

09/05/08 Soulive/Lettuce @ Highline Ballroom, New York, NY

This late summer throwdown featured two of my favorite modern funk jambands, with enough shared members and collaborators so as to be neatly interchangeable. Throw in the Shady Horns and it's always a dance party.

08/31/08 Team Robespierre/Ninjasonik/Whales & Cops/PoPo/DJ C-Lo @ Office Ops, Brooklyn, NY

This sparsely attended party provided skyline backdrop photo ops and not much else save for a Man Man side project performance.

Things kicked up a notch with an appearance by local hip hoppers Ninjasonik. Their entourage ensures a beer-soaked mosh pit whenever and wherever they perform. Team Robespierre ostensibly put on a show but I'd be hard presses to recollect it.

We followed the Ninjasonik crew to the after party at Happy Endings, an LES hipster hangout that still features the tiles of its previous life as a day spa.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

08/24/08 Agents of Mayhem (Molitz, Gutwillig,Travis & Hann)/EOTO/DJ Logic @ Spiegeltent, New York, NY

This jamband supergroup concocted by Particle's Steve Molitz featured Disco Biscuits shredder Jon "Barber" Gutwillig along with String Cheese Incident offshoot EOTO (Michael Travis and Jason Hann). DJ Logic spun intermittently and joined in several jams. The venue was the magical circular Spiegeltent inside Spiegelworld on the north side of South Street Seaport. It was the traveling beer hall's final NYC season.

The Agents of Mayhem was a nod to Yippie Abbie Hoffman's prankster ways. The band fittingly pranked the entire crowd when Barber was "arrested" onstage. Much of the crowd scattered after Barber got led off stage in handcuffs. Someone yelled, "If they got Barber, no one's safe!"

Those who remained began chanting "Fuck the police!" Our collective jaw dropped when the "cop" came back, guitar in tow. Barber explained, "He's a Biscuithead." The officer then led the group through a appropriate and rousing rendition of "Come Together".

They also covered the hit song of the summer, MGMT's "Time To Pretend".

08/20/08 Bachelor Sound Machín @ Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY

"Like the best garage of yore this quintet of Mexicans in NYC have found a way to turn their idiocy into art—channeling the traditional sounds of Veracruz through the Dada outbursts of punk."

This performance preceded a screening of the excellent film Duck Season at the Socrates Sculpture Park, home to eccentric public art and breathtaking sunset views.

08/17/08 Aesop Rock w/El-P, Rob Sonic/Chin Chin @ McCarren Park Pool, Brooklyn, NY

I made it to a fair amount of Pool Parties while they were still going, but I undoubtedly would have made it to many more if they did not take place in the relatively early Sunday hours when I was often still on Saturday night.

But even after a lengthy Saturday, I had to drag myself to Williamsburg once again for a free show by one of my favorite lyricists in backpack rap, Aesop Rock.

Overcast skies early kept the crowds away and allowed me to hit up the inflatable slip 'n' slide for the first and only time.

The opening band Chin Chin played a Lite FM disco R&B that someone likened to the band on The Loveboat. Afterwards a DJ spun the kind of block rocking beats that inspire B-Boys to show their stuff, which those in attendance did, busting out an array of gravity-defying handsprings and spins.

Finally, Aesop Rock hit the stage with a couple friends in tow. His verbiose grandeur is actually better suited to the studio, but hip hop rarely translates well live anyways. The block party feel and old school beats were a fitting end to a long weekend of musical adventure.

08/16/08 The Homosexuals & others @ Rubulad, Brooklyn, NY

While failing to find a roving street party akin to The Danger's that night, I did find a multilevel warehouse wonderland much like the Lunatarium of lore, from which the Danger sprung. Our next stop was the long-standing, but now defunct artistic living/performing/projecting/dancing/eating/etc. space for a performance by veteran punkers The Homosexuals, which appeared to feature only one original member along with my friend's cousin on bass.

The space featured nooks and crannies and weirdness befitting the hundreds of creative minds that had past through over the years. Upstairs featured the main stage, bar, side stage and lounge and a ladder to the rooftop cinema if you could find it. Downstairs featured two expansive dance floors with DJs spinning funk and hip hop and soul until well after dawn. Nearby, a multilevel structure resembling an indoor tree house beckoned the weary into amorphous cuddle puddles.

We would return several times often with friends in tow. It was always a revelatory experience, but would never match the thrill of discovering a new playground for late night dreamers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

08/16/08 Pandamonium & private karaoke party @ New York, NY & Brooklyn, NY

After the Central Park show, I headed downtown for a roving party convening at Union Square. Ever since the previous summer's Night of Fire, I had been (and still am) craving a comparable subway party. It is no small feat to wrangle throngs of party people via MTA to a second location, all the while maintaining appropriate levels of camaraderie and bacchanalia.

This event was called Pandamonium and initially appeared to be aiming for the whimsical with its crudely constructed cardboard panda masks and other panda-centric accoutrement.

It was only once we arrived in Williamsburg that we were privy to the anarchistic nature of the gathering. Buckets of canned beer spilled into the streets and fire dancers spun on busy intersections. Soon the crowds began marching and tossing debris into the streets. When police helicopters began circling overhead and SWAT team vehicles lurked, we knew it was time to head elsewhere before things took a turn towards the outright illegal.

Back in Manhattan, we gorged ourselves on Jack Daniels and Domino's in a friend's private karaoke room birthday bash. Drunkenly warbling "Don't Stop Believing" may have been an appropriate climax to any evening, but this particular pleasure packed evening, we were just getting started.

08/16/08 Battles/Black Dice @ Central Park SummerStage, New York, NY

Unfortunately the bus back from Boston came in a little late and I missed Gang Gang Dance's opening set. But I still caught two of the best experimental noisemakers in music, while my girlfriend headed home to nap.

Black Dice was delightfully weird. Their nonsensical swirl of glitchy blurps and bleeps is an acquired taste, but this performance initiated me into their wonderful squelch and today they are one of my favorite groups.

Battles are possibly even weirder, but strangely melodic and certainly virtuosic. Since departed de facto leader Tyondai Braxton led the group through prog math metal arena rock with skillful aplomb against the syncopated symmetrical clatter of his cohorts.

08/15/08 Deer Tick & others (Paradosaurus Wreck) @ Dilboy VFW Hall, Somerville, MA

Having avoided Boston for nearly the entirety of several friends' collegiate careers, my brilliant and talented friend finally cajoled me into a weekend there.

The lure of an art happening thrown by nerdy hipster weirdos was too tempting to pass up. Deer Tick was just beginning to make waves on the national scene with the gritty country fried twang of their debut album War Elephant, although given the group's New England roots, their inclusion in this DIY event was not entirely surprising. They were icing on the cake.

Deer Tick went on early and played most of the album including my favorite track "These Old Shoes". Echoes crashed around the low ceilings and slate tiled floors. The rest of the music varied between utterly forgettable and disturbingly strange.

The art element involved projections on catwalk models clad entirely in white. It worked better in concept than in practice.

The event ended, as things in Boston are wont to do, a little after midnight, which was just as well, since we had a bus back to NYC Saturday morning for an incredibly packed day.