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August 2007
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October 2007

September 2007

Brooklynbretta Fest

Dsc08778My friend Neil Lipuma of White Shoe Records hosted the second annual Brooklynbretta Fest on Sackett Street yesterday, featuring a day-long lineup of local acts, along with BBQ and beer from nearby Union Hall. A great way to wind down a music-filled summer in the great outdoors.

Dsc08788The big discovery for me was the thrash-rock Man in Gray (pictured), a five-piece outfit fronted by the stunning Tina DaCosta (think a more sexy Karen O, without the original clothes.)

Dsc08790_2Tina DaCosta

Dsc08781Lead guitarist Bryan Bruchman

Dsc08794_2 Dsc08800Frauke

Dsc08822The Exeter Popes

Dsc08828Twice As Bright



Feastin' at the Buffet

Dsc04961I've known about whiteboy hip-hop duo Grand Buffet for a long time through my Pittsburgh friends, though I never had the chance to see them live before last night's midnight Dsc04978_2show at Dsc04967_2Mercury Lounge. Highly entertaining, with positive raps about politics, drugs, celebrity, and other American malaises. They've been around for over a decade, but have been starting to gain some traction on the indie scene, showing up on festival bills like Austin's Fun Fun Fun fest in November. They'll be back here to play Roseland on Oct. 13 with Of Montreal.

Dsc04988_3 Speaking of Pittsburgh, my friend Greg Hoy and his new outfit Twice as Bright will be playing today's free BrooklynBretta Music Festival on Sackett between 3rd and 4th Ave. Festivities kick off at noon and goes till 9p. Other acts include: Man in Gray, Frauke, and The Exeter Popes. Beergarden provided by Union Hall.

A New Season

Dsc04932The second season of the Wordless Music Series kicked off last Friday while I was down in Austin, but I was fortunate to catch the series' first-ever Brooklyn show last night, at the previously-unknown Brooklyn Masonic Temple in Fort Greene. The hall, which seems perfectly preserved from the early 20th Century, holds around 800, and was packed for last night's concert, headlined by rising stars Beirut. Dsc04933

But the hallmark of these concerts has always been a mix of contemporary classical with sounds from the indie rock scene, and so the first half was devoted to a performance of Osvaldo Golijov's The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind, about a 13th century rabbi who had hallucinatory, Kabbalistic visions. The work was performed by an ensemble of undergraduates from Bard College calling themselves Fifth Veil, comprised of string quartet with clarinet. The kids tackled the challenging music with serious skill, eliciting a raucous reaction from the crowd, one they were clearly taken aback by. Clearly, there's some fun stuff happening up at the Fisher Center these days...

Dsc04938_2Beirut followed after a 20 minute intermission, which normally would have felt excessive were it not for the understandably complex setup eight musicians require, many of whom play a minimum of three instruments. They include: Perrin Cloutier (cello and accordion), Jason Poranski (guitar/mandolin/ukulele), Nick Petree (drums), Kristin Ferebee (violin), Paul Collins (organ/piano/ tambourine/ukulele), Jon Natchez (baritone sax/mandolin/glockenspiel), and Kelly Pratt (trumpet/euphonium). Beirut is part of a swiftly-growing retro-trend towards exotic, orchestral rock, executed with acoustic, occasionally arcane instruments. (Arcade Fire being a notable example.)

But a band is only as good as it's lead singer, Dsc04946and 21-year old Zach Condon - who, in addition to writing all the band's music, plays ukelele, fugelhorn, and occasionally piano - is nothing short of brilliant. Most remarkably, he possesses a uniquely plaintive, wavering voice that soared above the near-cacophony surrounding him and sent the crowd to rapture. It took all of three songs for the seated audience to leap to their feat and rush the stage, as if it were a Bowery show. The band responded with an electric set, which more than one person said was one of the best they've seen.

Dsc04950Give props to series curator Ronen Givony for his programming foresight: I can't imagine a better complement to Golijov's Klezmer-inflected music that the Balkan noisescape of Beirut. (Givony announced from the stage that the concert was being filmed for indie music site Pitchfork, and will also be streamed on the WNYC website.)

If you missed last night's show, Beirut will be playing a second Wordless Music concert on Monday night, at the Society for Ethical Culture near Lincoln Center, supported by electric cellist Colleen, as well as acoustic music by Chopin, Scriabin, Bartok and others. Tickets $25 at the door or online.