Monthly Archives: August 2010

NY4: Fulton St Local

1. Washington Square Park
2. Prospect Park
3. Central Park
4. Battery Park
5. Bryant Park

1. Cherry Coke
2. Pepsi Wild Cherry
3. Cherry Zero
4. Coca Cola
5. Dr Pepper Cherry (which does exist for some reason)

Things to buy for a dollar
1. Pizza slice
2. Arizona Fruit Punch
3. Hot Dog
4. Can of mac and cheese
5. The gratitude of a homeless person with a particularly good yarn

Ways to make money
1. Alphabetise, box and move the files of a Korean immigration law firm.
2. Have your brain scanned for the purposes of market research.
3. Promote a new political social networking platform at the Personal Democracy Forum.
4. Hassle people to pay you money for stuff you did before you moved to New York.
5. Empty the coin jar.

Subway lines
1. C
2. F
3. A
4. L
5. G (downgraded due to stabbing)

Semi-famous people encountered
1. Singer in the Dead Weather/Kills, Chelsea Hotel, 23rd Street, Manhattan, getting out of a taxi.
2. Member of White Rabbits, Lorimer St/Metropolitan Av, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, walking home.
3. Ced Gee, Ultramagnetic MCs, producer of Nas, Kool Keith, etc, selling bootleg CDs on 6th Av/4th St.
4. Member of YACHT, Jay St/Borough Hall C stop, Brooklyn
5. Antone Hill, boxing champion 1978-1980, Ludlow St, Manhattan, asking for change.

Block parties that took place directly outside 3 Quincy Street half a decade ago.
1. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party

Subtle differences
1. Keys turn the opposite direction.
2. Taxi drivers have no idea where they are going.
3. If you tell someone “I’m here for 3 weeks”, they don’t know if you mean you’ve already been there for 3 weeks, if you’ve got 3 weeks to go, or if you’re there for a total of three weeks, even though Irish people seem to understand automatically from inflection maybe.
4. Flies are confident in their ability to land on you, bite you and fly away before you can swat them.
5. Even the most legitimate businesses are pretty much trying to get extra money out of you either by friendliness or by underhandedness.

Major differences
1. Heat
2. Absurd amount of free stuff to do all the time.
3. Multi-ethnicity
4. Leaving bars before being kicked out of bars.
5. The call to prayer coming from the mosque on Fulton Street on a Friday night, and any deli employee who has ever run at full tilt past me to get to said mosque in time.

Homeless people
1. Pigeon man, Washington Square Park
2. Man with spiel about how Michael Jackson ran New York City even though he had no muscles, Madison Square Park
3. Heinz 57, East Broadway
4. George Clinton-type man, Washington Square Park
5. Guy who lives in the empty lot behind Salvation Army, Brooklyn

Do you guys like comedy?
1. No.
2. No.
3. No.
4. No.
5. No.

What Bedford-Stuyvesant residents do when it’s hot
1. Wait on materials

Groups of people waiting on materials
1. Salvation Army volunteers, who sit outside listening to music and making inexplicable crashing sounds from 4am until 7pm
2. Anyone who has ever sat outside the Putnam Candy Store, which cannot possibly be a legitimate business.
3. The old people who play dominos on Downing Street.
4. The gentlemen who smoke weed in groups of about ten, 24 hours a day, on Grand Av.
5. The stoop rats, who are 15 year old girls who occupy the stoop of the house my flat was in about 60% of the time.

Fulton St/Washington Av Dramatis Personae
1. Guy from Kings Pizza.
2. Guy from Putnam Deli who is apparently there all the time, whether at 3pm for a roll, 5am for a Colt 45 or 8am for an orange juice.
3. DVD Man, who sells pirate DVDs in the laundromat and urinates on Salvation Army when he thinks no-one is watching (caught rapid, DVD man).
4. Chinese guy with the dyed red hair who is way too badass to work in a Chinese restaurant, and knows it well.
5. 8 year old kid who works in the deli on the far side of the street even at 3am.

Completely inappropriate music that has been put on during hangovers
1. Parliament – Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)
2. Erykah Badu – Annie Don’t Wear No Panties
3. Rusko – Woo Boost
4. Sharon Jones & Dap Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights
5. J Dilla feat. Busta Rhymes – Geek Down

Summer jams
1. Best Coast – Boyfriend
2. Wavves – King of the Beach
3. Caribou – Sun
4. Roots Manuva – Witness (One Hope)
5. Devo – Gut Feeling

Amount of times I was asked what my spirit animal was by a go-go dancer that had no reason to be in the apartment after 6am other than drunken ebullience on the part of my friend
2 (it’s an otter)

Free press
1. The Onion
2. Village Voice
3. The Brooklyn Rail
4. The L Magazine
5. Stolen New York Times

Giants players I was 20 feet from having snuck into pitchside seats at the end of the second half of the Jets-Giants preseason game that was also the opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium
1. Justin Tuck
2. Osi Umenyiora
3. Brandon Jacobs
4. Mattias Kiwanuka
5. Mario Manningham (Eli got his head split open and went home early)

Completely redundant/broken pieces of furniture, Apt 4A, 3 Quincy St.
1. Bench press
2. Cooker
3. Television
4. 3 foot stereo speakers
5. Me

Amount of gigs I’ve been to in New York excluding free jazz gigs

Amount I have paid for this privilege

Estimated average daily pizza intake over the three month period
c. 1.8 slices

Quotes from Withnail & I
1. “Matter!”
2. “I am inclined to agree with Withnail. We are drifting into the arena of the unwell.”
3. “You’ve got soup. Why haven’t I got soup?”
4. “Have we got any umbrication?”
5. “Eat some sugar.”

Ways co-inhabitants have tried to defeat the dreaded night sweats
1. Boxers in the freezer
2. Hugging a two-litre bottle of ice.
3. Developing alcoholism.

Reasons none worked
1. Melted too quickly, not cold enough.
2. Left a pool of water in its wake.
3. Alcohol doesn’t actually make you sweat less, it just makes you more likely to fall asleep.

Greatest lies told to the landlord
1. Clearing the remnants of a broken pane of glass out of the frame, leaving the other pane of the double-glazing intact, and acting like nothing happened.
2. Claiming for some reason that he had to come before mid-day if he was coming because we were going to Chicago.
3. “Two people live here.”
4. That the aforementioned two inhabitants were in New York for internships and had enough savings to pay the rent already upon arrival.
5. That we had tried to get the gas connected so we could cook food, but that they had refused to come.

Ways there are of knowing


Just a deadbeat summer.


In the most recent issue of the L Magazine, Todd Goldstein from ARMS says the following:

The C-word – chillwave – or whatever… I think some of it is so boring, The sounds are beautiful, and I think that’s what makes people excited, but they’re not actual songs, you know?

Now, ARMS are terrible, but there is some truth in this. A couple of days after the Grizzly Bear gig that cause me to leak effusion out of every journalistic pore, I returned to Governor’s Island with a crew to chill on the fake beach and see Neon Indian.

Chillwave is something that completely passed me by. It’s actually difficult to talk about it in terms that aren’t completely ripped from Hipster Runoff (who invented the name, to Pitchfork’s chagrin). I enjoyed Deadbeat Summer in the two weeks it sat on my car-shop €15 mp3 player, and I didn’t hate it when I heard it after that, but in general I’m with Mr. Goldstein. It’s the reason I get unreasonably angry with people who think Person Pitch is better than any Animal Collective album, too. Because something sounds nice when you’re barely paying attention doesn’t make it good music (though that’s unfair to Person Pitch, which is a great album in its own right).

So, in surroundings that, as evidenced by Morning Benders, Caribou and Grizzly Bear gig visits, would make almost anything seem a little transplendent, Neon Indian was shown up. The hype that surrounded the Neon Indian-Washed Out-Memory Tapes-general chillwave rise to “relevance” was the most self-aware imaginable, and it was factual proof that irony, while not in itself disagreeable, can end up lumping you with baggage you don’t want.

Five bands played this show. Miniature Tigers, Prefuse 73, Dom, Nite Jewel and Neon Indian. None of the above did anything to merit even listening to after the fact. Miniature Tigers were the best. Dom, easily, were the worst, and barely even knew their own set. But it was Neon Indian’s name on the top of the bill, and it was their show to disappoint.

Governor’s Island, as the name implies, is an island.It is thus relatively difficult to leave. It was full to capacity (c. 3.5k), or close, at about dusk. There were less than 500 actually in front of the stage by the time Neon Indian ended. Democracy doesn’t work a lot of the time, but when ears don’t hear what they want, feet walk, and that’s what happened.

There was some merit in sitting on sand, away from generally bored and sarcastic friends, and trying to ‘chill hard’ to Deadbeat Summer, while it lasted, but no amount of talking around it would make this a good gig. It might be easier to hear ten tracks of pseudo-tropical gloop on an iPod while you’re refreshing Facebook than it is to listen to (for example) Adebisi Shank, but it’s definitely not as rewarding, and there’s nothing like big speakers, a big stage and a big crowd to show that up.

Tissue and bone it was a tryst.

Sorry Brooklyn Vegan, again. Some day I will buy a good camera.

If you’ve read a couple of these reviews, you’ve probably noticed that I go to almost exclusively free gigs. Well, no. Completely exclusively free gigs. It takes a freak accident or a ridiculously generous friend who can’t get out of work for that trend to be bucked. Owing to the latter, against $40 odds (that’s about 10 days of staying alive), I found myself on the ferry again to Governor’s Island.

There’ve been some incredible shows. Caribou on Governor’s will be one of those hazy, reverie-type memories for as long as my memory lasts. Sonic Youth was like a Greek statue, a perfect museum-piece of what a Sonic Youth gig in Brooklyn was going to be like in my head. HEALTH was loud. But this one was the best.

I got to the island slightly late, because it turns out time is linear rather than cyclical, as I had previously thought. As I queued at the “Will Call” stand, Gang Gang Dance put down what sounded like a pretty intense set for a first support. I made my way past the drinks wristband guy, confident in the knowledge that the $1.30 in my pocket wasn’t going to buy me anything worth having, and crossed the fake beach one more time to take up residence in front of Hamilton Leithauser and the Walkmen.

Bows + Arrows is the only Walkmen album I ever paid any attention to, and even though I liked it a lot at the time, it’s been scrolled past consistently for nearly five years now. Still, open mind. They’re a strange band to watch.

Since Bows + Arrows, they’ve slowed down and calmed down a little, but there’s still the feeling that Leithauser is an overstuffed straw doll, bursting at the seams and malfunctioning sadly a little even when the melodies are happy. You can take Hamilton Leithauser’s hands out of his tailored trouser pockets, but you can’t take the hands-in-pockets out of Hamilton Leithauser. They play okay, with a little bit too much of what seems like self-regard on the slower ones, and they criminally skip P4K’s 20th best track of the 2000s.

None of that, nearly 400 words in, is relevant to why this was the best gig of the summer and one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. That was what came next, after a rain shower, some crew panic, a feud between poncho-wearers and “Williamsburg pansy pricks” with umbrellas and a delay of at least a half an hour. Grizzly Bear.

It’s been long established that Grizzly Bear are an awe-inspiringly tight and excellent live band, but this was something else. They came out and opened with an almost unrecognisable version of Showcase from Horn of Plenty that sounded like what Radiohead probably wish In Rainbows sounded like live, spotless, skewed and gigantic. Then it was into Southern Point and no more surprises till the encore.

Scale changes the experience at shows, and even though it was wet, the twin key factors of volume and lights, not to mention the downtown Manhattan skyline, made it two gears beyond anything I’ve seen them do before. Knife and Two Weeks are the obvious hits, but they seemed like the least impressive things tonight, possibly because they’re made of nothing that has physical effect when pumped out of bus-sized speakers – Two Weeks has no guitar at all and a drum part too intricate to really break up, and Knife is strangely subdued. Crowd singalongs, though, might have made up for the slight dip in energy.

Grizzly Bear’s variation on the Loud-Quiet-Loud formula (Quiet-Quiet-Loud-Quiet-Loud-Loud maybe?) is exponentially more pronounced on stage when they’re actually playing off each other. It’s Chris Bear on drums and Daniel Rossen on guitar who take this to its extreme. The troughs (or oases of calm, would possibly be a better way of putting it) are cowing. Foreground is as fragile these things come. But the peaks are almost destructive. The set’s packed with songs that show this off: Lullabye, the Friend version of Little Brother, I Live With You and While You Wait For The Others all feature impeccably loud, rhythmically untrustworthy wig-out sections.

Without going further down the internal thesaurus route, it’s hard to describe exactly how good this was. I tried taking some notes on my phone, but they’re just garbled nonsense. It’s rare that an entire set, start to finish, is completely captivating, even when it’s a band whose entire catalogue you know well. It was just a perfect combination of set, untouchable talent, location and the fact that I hadn’t even expected to be there until the day.

The set closed with While You Wait For The Others into the second half of On A Neck On A Spit, and even though it was 12.5 songs long, it seemed almost like a cheat, like when a band shows up and plays a 25 minute set. The encore was, again, an unrecognisable Horn of Plenty song, Fix It. After that, it was just three minutes of staring at an empty stage and fighting both sides of an internal Socratic dialogue on whether it was the best live show I’d ever seen.


Showcase (Horn Of Plenty)
Southern Point (Veckatimest)
Cheerleader (Veckatimest)
Lullabye (Yellow House)
Little Brother (Friend)
Knife (Veckatimest)
Fine For Now (Veckatimest)
Two Weeks (Veckatimest)
Ready, Able (Veckatimest)
I Live With You (Veckatimest)
Foreground (Veckatimest)
While You Wait For The Others (Veckatimest)
On A Neck, On A Spit (Second Half) (Yellow House)
Encore: Fix It (Horn Of Plenty)

Skip this one.

via Fader, I was at least one mile further away than this.

XX in the Park
Came late, 20k plus there
Sat outside, pretty good.


110 pounds of super soul and excitement.

No-fi photography back in play. Sharon Jones glowing white, Dap Kings less so.

One of the major culture shocks of the New York summer for me, apart from the mouse and the 24 hour availability of beer and the hipsters and corner boys and free gigs and infinite pizza diet, has been the amount of funk music forced through my ears. I live with three other people from home. Two have musical taste with a reasonable overlap with mine. One cannot tolerate two consecutive songs without the word “uh!”

Not just at parties, or in the evenings, but first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Sometimes it’s murder, but it does sink in. I find myself thinking things like “wow, nice sousaphone” even though I don’t know what a sousaphone looks like.

This flatmate with the funk, though, from the minute his feet hit the ramp at JFK, he was giddy about one gig in Prospect Park. The Budos Band on support, and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings headlining. Both bands are on a sort of update-the-funk-and-soul label out of Bushwick, Brooklyn called Daptone. And you know how it is with free gigs in Prospect Park. You go to them.

So, Budos Band. It’s funk, but it’s Afro-funk. Not that they are African, but Afro-funk is a strain of funk music, I have learned – and the best one. They groove, instrumentally, with a big meaty horn section led by the baritone sax. A baritone sax is like an alto or tenor sax, but massive and lower. No messing around with Budos. They are as tight a band as I have seen, but I don’t go to see bands who play instrumental groove stuff often, so what would I know.

You’re probably intuiting that I have no idea how to talk about this, so I’ll try keep it short. Budos were good, but as guitarist/leader of the Dap Kings Binky Griptite put it eloquently in his two minute long crowd-hyping groove introduction, the star of the show is… Miss Sharon Jones.

She is tiny, curvy and covered in sequins, but her voice is like something straight off a scratchy 60s soul record. Not Motown, grittier than that. She sings songs, people dance.

It’s a show, though, not a concert. There’s Miss Sharon Jones telling the Brooklyn crowd that, though she was born down South, she “came up” in Brooklyn, and naming the elementary, middle and high schools she went to. There’s Lee Fields, another Daptone-associated artist, coming out for as kitsch a his & hers duet as you will ever see. There’s a groove-free song where Jones shows gospel roots, called “Mama Don’t Like My Man”

And there’s the Soul Train, which is basically Sharon Jones doing a variety of dances of different ethnic origins and then doing the whole “feel it in my feet – and then way up to my knees” thing. It’s cheesy as all fuck, but it’s captivating. By the time they finish with 100 Days, 100 Nights (the hit, if hit status is determined by how many times Duffy puts something on on his iPod) it’s been nearly two hours of legitimately old school groove soul. Not even retro, that implies some kind of self-awareness that SJDK don’t pay much attention to. It ain’t nothin’ but a party.

Oh, and much as this blog’s official stance on popularity is that it is incidental and unrelated to musical merit… 20,000 Brooklynites can’t be wrong.


Do the Kurt Cobain and blow your brains out.

There is a story I wish I could tell you about something that happened at YACHT at the South Street Seaport. It’s a spectacularly unlikely tale that would make you laugh, think and question whether it ever really happened. But I can’t tell you that story, unfortunately.

I can tell you that YACHT aren’t very good, though. If you know YACHT, then you pretty much know that they’re camp as Dachau, with not a whole lot going on except DIY disco and some slogan shouting.

I’ve heard reports of them being a lot of fun, and I don’t deny that in certain situations, they could be a lot of fun. But on this day, at this place, with these climatic conditions and this geopolitical balance, YACHT weren’t a lot of fun.

Their songs are, for the most part, fluff, and despite the fact that maybe two or three could have been worth attention, everything was marred by a drummer who couldn’t keep time to what were obviously quantised beats, and a generally pretty low tightness:trying to make people have fun ratio.

Thumbs down to YACHT. Worth it only because of the thrilling, secret story I can’t tell you.

So Cow at South Street: video evidence that it happened.

Here’s a short film of the South Street Seaport day I didn’t even review a few weeks ago. If you look closely at about 3.20 (I think) you might see your humble blogger making a fool of himself in a crowd largely less pleased to be hearing Greetings.