Mm hmm yeah tell me more of your opinions. Glockabelle photo by Nate Dorr.
My mom was a drummer in a 90s girl band, which played everywhere from my hometown of Baltimore to CBGB to Woodstock ‘94 (I was five; I stayed with my grandparents and got the chicken pox. It was almost exactly like seeing Trent Reznor covered in mud). At one gig, two roadie dudes waited eagerly to meet the band’s drummer. “Where is he?” they asked. Instead of correcting them right away, my skinny blonde mother, set up the drum set as dudes looked on confused. They had just had it when she asked them to scamper down to Rite Aid to grab her a box of maxi pads. When she finally went on stage, their jaws dropped as they realized they’d been helping the drummer the whole time. (Also, pro Brokelyn tip from mom: maxi pads make great low-budget drum mufflers).
So this was back in the 90s; you may think women’s visibility in music has improved, but, no — even here in New York City, one of the most progressive cities in the world, women have to wade through the daily muck of harassment, especially as they’re first getting their start on stage. Hell, even Bjork and Solange have to wade through the bullshit, often not getting credit for their work the way a guy would. We rounded up a sampling of the best local (and people who play locally a lot) lady musicians to collect musings on trying, and failing, to be taken seriously as a musician and a woman.
Here’s some shit people have said to lady musicians, and what they had to say back. (more…)
The rent may be too damn high, but music is practically free these days. If that’s not enough to cheer you up, we’ve made a special playlist about living large on whatever you can find in your couch, a time-honored NYC tradition. We’ve got some Velvet Underground, some Liz Phair, and of course some Cee Lo. Twenty years ago, we would have had to mail every single reader a mix tape to share this playlist, and do you have any idea how much broker that would have made us?
The years may have passed, but these girls will never stop being CrazySexyCool
You might remember them as the powerful R&B lady trio that brought you “No Scrubs” and “Unpretty.” Or you might just know T-Boz and Chilli from their endearingly irrelevant talent-seeking TV series R U the Girl. But whatever your degree of familiarity with the powerhouse Grammy-band TLC, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear that they’re on the rise again—kind of. As it turns out, the band is having to use a crowd-funding campaign to garner funding for their next move.
The Violin Femmes: Suzanne Davenport (l to r) with Elaine Yau, Anya Szykitka and Donna Gail Horton. Via FB.
The Violin Femmes (get it??) are one of those street musician acts you see hitting the strings in subway tunnels, wearing funny clothes, in both the heat of summer and the dead of winter. But they’re not your average amateur buskers — they’re all serious adult music students led by an established professional. They just happen to prioritize the joy of playing and performing over making dough.
The group of four-ish, 40-plus women were brought together by pro violin player Suzanne Davenport, who moved to NYC from Germany in 2002. Why, in a city rife with musicians struggling to make ends meet by stacking up whatever meager door fees they can wrest from obscure venues, would her group be happy to take time out of their working lives to give away the priceless gift of music for a song? We asked her for some insight into the life of the playing-for-free musician: (more…)
Franky doesn’t give a shit if you know what a bodega is.
Taylor Swift was elected mayor of Times Square last week and we don’t remember voting for her but whatever. Despite the rage aneurysm Dave gave himself, I can’t spend much time worrying about what a lady who released her album through a Target exclusive has to say about New York, because talking too much about these things only makes them stronger, like some sort of blonde X-Man whose mutation is the power to summon a smothering tidal wave of thinkpieces.
Anyway, we asked you last week what your real NYC anthem was, and you came through big time, with a greatest hits collection of jams so good, we put them into a Spotify playlist to share with you. It runs the Gotham gamut, from Sinatra and Gershwin to Jay Z and the Beasties, from LCD Soundsystem and the Ramones to Black Star and the Julie Ruin. Pump it through your headphones the next time you’re stuck behind tourists with Target bags on the Manhattan sidewalk and need to remember that the city is big enough to have a song for every person. (more…)
The New York media varsity internet outrage squad was in full effect this week declaring the new Taylor Swift song “Welcome to New York” as alternately the gentrification anthem no one asked for and the wispy blonde straw that finally made loving New York “basic.” But for us, arguing that a song by a 20-something white pop lady ruins a city of 8 million diverse people seems about as useful as declaring that Disney’s Frozen has slandered the Norwegian blue collar labor market beyond repair. It’s an empty, pretty thing by a lady who makes empty, pretty songs.
So this is not going to be your New York City anthem, unless maybe you’re a 22-year-old college grad whose visions of moving to the city are all frozen yogurt shops and Chop’t salad lines. But it brings up a good point: we all do have a New York City or Brooklyn anthem of some kind. Whether you grew up here or moved here to do the dream-chasing thing, everyone’s got a song they cue up on the iPod for that tracking shot while your plane is pulling back in over the city skyline after a particularly torturous family or business visit in some Other State, the song’s refrains drilling into your head the question with no good answer: “why did you ever leave in the first place?” So what’s your anthem? (more…)
Bands in Brooklyn take playing secret underground venues with DIY equipment as a badge of honor. The Yellow Dogs had no choice when they were in Iran, where they could only play their banned music in a hidden former trash room turned studio under Tehran, with styrofoam insulation and a World War II era gas can for a mike stand. You might not have been lucky enough to know about the band, a Williamsburg warehouse dance pop outfit, before Monday’s horrific shooting massacre, but you can help pay tribute and raise money for families of the deceased on Monday at Brooklyn Bowl, which is hosting a memorial featuring Nada Surf, Dirty Fences, The Men and many more. (more…)
Nearly every director that was interviewed for the forthcoming book Welcome to the House of Fun: Directors Recall Creating the Golden Age of Music Video says that he/she never had enough time or money to shoot their videos. Many of those turned out to be pretty disposable, but some directors turned budget challenges into creative juice and created great videos. To coincide with our anti-VMA party at Last Exit on Sunday, we partnered with Brokelyn to identify some vintage videos with tighter budgets than David Lee Roth’s spandex pants, to prove that you don’t need a $30,000 Kickstarter to make it happen. (more…)
The stage at The Knitting Factory, as seen from the front bar. Via BrooklynVegan.
“Sold out show” is the micro-concert-economics version of a caste system. The Haves get in, thanking their lucky Favstars they were smart enough to buy tickets months ahead of time. The Have Nots crowd around the entrance, hoping someone will throw them some scraps of extra tickets, most times resigning themselves to having a sad Spotify concert for one at home. A few weeks ago, some friends and I were attending a sold-out Foxygen show at Knitting Factory, rocking along to the band’s awkward stage banter. If you’ve been there, you know the front half of the Knit always has a particularly fishbowl feel, with wide windows behind the bar showing off the stage behind.
I popped out to the front bar for a breather and was surprised to find that, while we were all cramped in the sell-out crowd in the back, the front bar not only had its window blinds open, but was broadcasting the entire concert over its loudspeaker. Which was a shock to me. Is this fair to the ticketholders who paid full price? Is it fair to the band even? (more…)
We’ve been bumming hard about this summer’s palpable dearth of free concerts, but it looks like there’ll be free music at at least one venue other than the House of Vans, and they’ll be helping a cause, too. Sixpoint Brewery has teamed up with concert listing site My Social List to present a free show series in Rockaway Beach this summer, and they’re soliciting City Harvest donations to help with Hurricane Sandy relief. (more…)