Electronic Feed

Winter Jazzfest 2019: The "Half-Marathon"

By Dan Lehner 

Theo-westerlies
Theo Bleckmann and The Westerlies at SubCulture

Winter Jazzfest’s famous marathon, a two-night musical expedition that lasts eight hours and stretches almost the entire width of Manhattan, had apparently become so popular that a third needed to be added to sate the voracious appetite of New York creative music fans. No less crowded than the full marathon has been - and likely will be when it returns next weekend - fans packed into clubs and performances spaces along Bleecker St hoping to grab a seat, or at least a window between heads, to see new acts and old favorites.

Ghost Train Orchestra’s reputation as a historicist band with modernist proclivities was in full effect during their tribute to one of New York’s most iconic and idiosyncratic composers: Louis Hardin (better known as Moondog). GTO’s episodic tribute to the Viking of Sixth Avenue brought to light the warm, approachable dualities of his Hardin's music: attractive melodies that seemed to belong to no one genre in particular, with themes that were approachable but buoyed by snaky polyrhythms and counterpoints. Horns, strings, vocalists and blocky percussion broke down barriers between indie rock, Native American music and bucolic American classical, with particular stylistic provinces supplied by the exuberant avant-rockisms of guitarist Brandon Seabrook and the probing, history-laden soloing of clarinetist Dennis Lichtman.

Pianist Marta Sanchez’s music was a similar dance between the complex and the simple. Sanchez was both sensitive and spry in her solo development, setting themes into forward motion but darting in delightfully unexpected ways. Her compositions, particularly the way her band performed them, also had the same sort of layered development, with tunes like “Cascadas” wringing all the tricky underlying rhythmic subdivisions of 3/4 time and soloists like Jerome Sabbagh soloing around the melody to let the band envelop him. Much of the material was brought to life in particular by drummer Daniel Dor, milking different rhythmic and stylistic possibilities and squaring the often spiky and complex counterpoint of Sanchez’s music with it’s gentleness.

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Two Feet at Brooklyn Steel

by Katie ZepfTwo feet 1
Hailing from Harlem, Two Feet (a.k.a. Zachary William Dess) merges both indie rock and electronic, with a heavy focus on the bass. I had previously seen a short set from Dess at the Governor’s Ball in June, and so was excited to see him headline his own show at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Steel last Saturday (10/27).

Playing to a crowd dressed in Halloween costumes, Two Feet was joined on stage by Geoffrey Hufford, who played both keyboard and percussion. Dess' set featured songs from his new album A 20 Something F*ck, along with popular singles from his EPs First Steps and Momentum. While most of Dess’ songs place a focus on instrumentals over lyrics, fans still knew every word to every song he played. Mid-show, Dess put his own take on Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”, infusing electro beats into the soulful song.

Compared to his set at Gov Ball, I could see how Dess’ confidence as a performer has grown. He was much more interactive with the audience, and wasn't afraid to move around stage and take risks with his setlist, spontaneously adding in a few tracks that he admitted he had never played live.

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Summer 2018 Music Preview

Celebrate Brooklyn
Hard to believe it's already June, and while this year's Gov Ball has already come and gone, the music is just starting to move to the great outdoors. Below is a preview of some of our favorites - check out our Summertime list on the right for updates throughout the summer. 

Celebrate Brooklyn: (June 5-August 11) NYC's best outdoor music venue celebrates it's 40th year with another stellar lineup that kicks off with Chicago rapper (and Microsoft shill) Common on 6/5. Other free shows include Aimee Mann (6/21), Branford Marsalis (6/29), Kronos Quartet (7/14), and a stellar closing weekend with Godspeed YOU! Black Emperor (8/10) and The Breeders with Speedy Ortiz (8/11). Benefit shows this year include a killer double bill with Grizzly Bear and Spoon (6/20), The Decemberists with M. Ward (6/13), and Courtney Barnett with Julien Baker and Vagabon (7/25). 

Northside Festival (June 7-10): Northside is now a decade old, and the clubs will be jammed across Williamsburg and Bushwick with the latest in cutting edge music, alongside stalwarts such as Caspian, Deerhoof, and Liz Phair. Sunday afternoon brings a Block Party to Bedford Ave, with bands and vendors running all the way to Metropolitan Ave.

NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks (June 12-17): What were you doing when you were 11 years old? Well, if you're Jordan Millar and Camryn Cowan, you're having your music played by the New York Philharmonic at this year's parks concerts, courtesy of the Phil's Very Young Composers program. (They also play music by Bernstein, Saint-Saens, and Rimsky-Korsakov.) The Phil visits all five boroughs next week with conductor James Gaffigan; details here

SummerStage (June 2-September 27): This sprawling series returns with a wide spectrum of music performed in parks across all five boroughs, most of it free. Highlights include a Canada Day celebration headlined by Broken Social Scene (7/1), Afrobeat scion Femi Kuti and Positive Force (7/29), a New Orleans fest with Trombone Shorty, Galactic, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and (8/8), and Angelique Kidjo covering The Talking Heads (9/27).

Make Music New York (June 21): Celebrate the longest day of the year with this citywide musical happening, with performances on street corners, plazas and parks from sun-up to sundown.

Warm Up at MoMA PS1 (June 30-September 1): NYC's best tea dance enters its third decade at MoMA PS1, with an architectural installation featuring large-scale, interactive mirrors - and hopefully some misters. Tickets include museum admission. (LI City residents get in for free.)

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Governor's Ball 2018 - Friday Recap

by Katie Zepf

Gov Ball 2018 - 1
The eighth edition of the Governors Ball Music Festival kicked off on Friday, drawing a capacity crowd once again to Randall’s Island. Launched in 2011 by Founders Entertainment, the festival draws in roughly 150,000 patrons every year, making it one of the most anticipated and popular music festivals in NYC. In addition to the music, which plays out across four stages, there are food trucks from across the city,
including Brooklyn-based ice cream shop Van Leeuwen, local burger joint Bareburger, and the popular John’s Juice, which sells fruit juices served served straight from the shell (think watermelons, pineapples, etc.) Gov Ball also displays countless murals painted by New York City artists, and there's even a mini golf course if you wish to take a break from all of the music madness.

The first act I saw on Friday was Sir Sly, an indie rock trio from Los Angeles appearing on the Honda Stage. With lead singer Landon Jacobs on guitar, Jason Suwito on keyboard, and Hayden Coplen on drums, the band delivered a short set of songs from their first two releases, You Haunt Me and Don’t You Worry, Honey. Jacobs used a vocoder that allowed him to sing with different added effects, though he also sang with his natural voice. Playing to a large, yet intimate crowd, the band played in front of a projected anime show, with Jacobs dancing wildly throughout the stage. Sir Sly finished with their two biggest hits from Don’t You Worry, Honey: “High” and “&Run.”

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