Friday, December 26, 2008

Away from NYC!

I am spending the "holidaze" in my hometown of Pittsburgh, dubbed "America's most livable city" by its official city website, A much quieter, quainter city than the Big Apple, it has nonetheless been an interesting time here so far.

An excursion downtown (the so-called cultural district of the city) on Christmas Eve made for a festive merry-making night at half the cost of NYC standards.

On Christmas itself, I walked around my neighborhood with my friend to see what would be open, looking in hopes of finding some brunch options. The neighborhood, Squirrel Hill, is predominantly Jewish, so we felt assured that we would encounter several open stores to explore. Lo and behold, the two open stores we found during our 20-minute walk: Starbuck's and Rite-Aid. After standing in the winding line at Starbuck's for 10 minutes and barely moving an inch ahead, we gave up and continued our search, to find that Rite-Aid was open all day on Christmas. Here we bought a dozen eggs, iced tea and other amenities; and upon check-out, we had a distinctly Pittsburgh experience wherein the cashier related a significant, summarized portion of her life story in explanation of why she didn't mind working during the afternoon on Christmas. Oh, Pittsburgh.

I also rode on the Pittsburgh Port Authority (the public transportation system) here on Christmas, which was surprisingly in use on this holiday. My favorite experience of the public transportation here was the light-rail system, the T, which is a two-car train that goes through downton Pittsburgh and neighborhoods south of the city. It is, frankly, adorable compared to NYC. That about sums up Pittsburgh. Most livabe city? I'm not sure about that, but it is laidback and a nice occasional getaway from NYC.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Meow Meow Cabaret

I saw Meow Meow at Highline Ballroom yesterday. A cabaret singer tour-de-force, Meow Meow graced the stage with equal parts humor, sexiness, enchantment, bawdiness and political commentary.

She sang in French, German and English, and her repertoire included original songs as well as covers by such artists as Radiohead (she did a jarringly heartfelt, almost heart-breaking rendition of their song "Fake Plastic Trees") and Laurie Anderson.

Meow Meow's performance focused largely on economic issues; after her first song, she was stripped of her dress and jewelry and sang in her underwear, slip and tights. She went on to mock-complain that she could and should be performing on Broadway, but was left to perform at Highline Ballroom, in the middle of the old Meatpacking area, starving and under-appreciated.

Meow Meow performed a large portion of the show with a little girl she referred to as the orphan Isabel. "Much cheaper than adopting from China," she purred, leaving Isabel to sweep around the stage for comic effect. Yet Isabel, a girl of no more than 12 years of age, also exhibited a talented voice and some impressive tap-dancing skills. During quite a few of the songs, Isabel's innocent, youthful sound complemented Meow Meow's older, smokier, more sophisticated voice nicely.

The humor, the political commentary and the gorgeousness of the performance all combined for a spellbinding couple of hours with Meow Meow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

CSS and SSION at Webster Hall

I saw the Wednesday evening, 12/17 show at Webster Hall, featuring CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy) and the opening band SSION. See SSION's (pronounced "Shun") Myspace page for video clips. They are an over-the-top glam/punk/pop band that fit perfectly as the opener for CSS.

SSION below, and CSS clips follow.

CSS put on a good show, with the lead singer wearing a patterned full bodysuit. Unfortunately, I wasn't so impressed with their new songs, as taken as I am with the songs from their self-titled album, Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS). CSS pictures and videos below:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

NYC Christmas Prep and Bright Bikes

I missed Santacon last night. And despite all of my efforts, I was not able to get in touch with any of the participating Santas to at least observe their ruckus-making debauchery around the city. Well, at least I'll be able to find pictures of their "conference" online. (Here, in fact, is one flickr site that features 2008 NYC Santacon pictures.) And I had several other worthy causes that took precedent over Santacon. Yes, I did just day that.

I went to the Eyebeam workshops in Chelsea yesterday afternoon after a delicious brunch. There, I was able to observe and partake in strange and unusual workshops, where adults and children alike were busily engaged in their crafts and electronic projects. Workshops included snowglobe-making, Tickle-Me-Elmo reconstruction (minus the fur, a scary sight...!), and tranformation of standard bicyles into "bright bikes." I didn't have my actual bike with me, but I purchased a large strip of reflective vinyl (that tapes right onto the bike), which effectively makes your bike exude a glow-in-the-dark white light when under the glare of a bright light. This is exactly the kind of bicycle bling I need to stay visible when riding at night! Also, I enjoyed a long interlude at Eyebeam in the "video womb," a little installation room with full carpeting that offered a meditative, trance-like experience with live video projections from the fabric screen above.

Pictures of Eyebeam below:

(The "elves" at work making the re-furbished Tickle-Me-Elmos without fur)

(the Elmos without the fur, rolling around, psychotic robotic laugh machines)

(Yes, that's Elmo on top of the tree. At Eyebeam)

(a Bright Bike above; when not looking directly from the light source, the bike appears black; the vinyl tape makes it reflectively shine white!)

I gallery-hopped for a bit in Chelsea after the Eyebeam extravaganze. One interesting exhibit featured photography from China, with citizens wearing t-shirts with "Chinglish."
Oh, the United States, with our cultural and linguistic imperialism. Isn't it jarring how the political statement of this t-shirt clashes so much with the colorful image?

And, finally, to end on a positive (?) note: my night yesterday ended with a chocolate party. Being the (quasi-)vegetarian that I am, I didn't try the centerpiece chocolate of the evening:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Cheer - From Crafts to Santacon

I am not sure where my Saturday will take me, but here are some holiday possibilities:

- The Secret Project Robot Gift on Grand holiday sale. This holiday craft fair from local designers will be held at Secret Project Robot, at 210 Kent Ave, at Metropolitan. Why is it called "grand" if it's on Metropolitan and not Grand St.? Touché. Their blog provides pictures of some of the wares and links to the designers who will be present. The event is going on from 11 am-7 pm.

Eyebeam, an arts organization in Chelsea, is hosting DIY holiday workshops from 1-6 pm Saturday, as well as a holiday bash starting at 6 pm. From their calendar:

December 13, 2008
Sat., Dec. 13, 1PM – workshops | 6PM: Holiday party

Cost: Free. Calling all makers, residents, fellows, and friends … If you haven’t yet experienced everyone’s favorite holiday gift-making event, here’s the scoop: For one day and one day only, Eyebeam becomes an all-ages, mutl-workshop electronic craft-making fair, with entertainment, decorations and plenty of holiday spirit.

I hear there is going to be a workshop where I can apply unobtrusive-looking stickers to my bike, which glow in the dark when a light shines on them. I may just have to bike over here...

And, last but not least, is Santacon: a so-called convention open to the public, starting at 10 am. The catch is that you must dress up in a Santa or holiday theme, come prepared with money, your ID and metrocard, and be ready for a holiday ruckus-making time with hundreds of other Santas. The secret meeting location will be announced Friday, December 12th at 10 pm. I would like to at least run into this mass Santa spectacle at some point on Saturday...

Monday, December 8, 2008

East Village Bar/Restautant: Death & Co.

Now that the chill in the air has become a regular feature of NYC life, I find that I am more inclined towards cozy nights in lounges and at home than bar-hopping or trying to squeeze as many music shows as I can into my schedule.

That said, I wanted to highlight this bar/lounge/restaurant I came across as an under-the-radar gem in the East Village: Death and Company. The name of the place is a reference to the Volstead Act of 1919 and the Prohibition era, when, as Death & Co's website states, "It was thought that to drink alcohol was to live a life shadowed by death. It was thought by some that these were death and company."

As such, the lounge has sought to refine the perfect cocktail and has a menu with elaborate cocktail concoctions, as well as a wine list. They also have a delectable culinary menu.

The lounge does not permit photography, but I snapped a couple of pictures before realizing.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pseudo-Hibernation and Partying in Bed-Stuy

I'm not really hibernating. I rode my bike last night when it was half rain, half snow. I biked from Williamsburg to a party in Bed-Stuy. That's kind of the opposite of hibernation. But I have been less motivated to go to more costly, large-scale bashes lately.

I could have gone to BowieBall and had a decadent, costumed adventure in the Village. Instead, I chose to save some money, stay closer to home and get my biking on.

I have to say, after living in NYC for about 5 years, this is the first house I have been to here that really had a "co-op" community-living type of vibe. The house featured: at least 4-5 bathrooms, 5 floors including the basement, 12 people living together (did they all have their own rooms? I'm not sure), and a backyard with a campfire set-up. Yesterday evening, it also featured a live DJ, two separate rooms with dancing, a "kissing booth" and alcohol for purchase.

The entire house was shared by the people who lived there. I am not sure I actually even talked to anyone who lived there last night...

I only have a few pictures, as I did not want to be the one obnoxious person snapping flash photography in a room full of people I mostly didn't know. As it was, when I snapped a couple of pictures by the fire, some guy was confused by my flash and thought the fire was exploding or something. Good times.

(slogan by the "kissing booth")

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Art After Dark at Guggenheim & The Rub

I have been neglecting my blog lately... and I can't say that it's because I have been insanely busy hopping around the city doing and seeing things. I have just recently returned from a Thanksgiving break in the suburbs of Boston; now, after more than my share of feasting and ample family time, I am back in NYC and ready to jump back into the maze of the city!

I am considering going to Art After Dark: First Fridays at Guggenheim, to enjoy the one-a-month event when the museum is open late and features a music program. This Friday, the Guggenheim (located at
1071 5th Avenue, at 89th Street) features The Rub, a DJ collective from Brooklyn that spins hip-hop, disco, soul, funk, and more. I have a feeling I have danced to their mash-ups before...

So the Art After Dark event at the Guggenheim is from 9 pm-1 am and is $25 for non-members. I also have a feeling I once snuck into one of these events for free, not to give anyone any hints... !

The Rub plays again on Saturday at Southpaw, for free. This event is from 10 pm-4 am, and they recommend you get there early to avoid a long line!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Girl Talk Performance Footage

I enjoyed seeing Girl Talk much more than I had expected to, actually. Originally skeptical of how someone who is sampling and layering music all on his laptop could put on a good performance, I was very soon dispelled of my skepticism to watch the dance party on stage while taking part in it myself to his very fun, danceable mixes.

Pictures and videos below.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Amjad at BAM -- 2008 Next Wave Festival

I will be seeing the performance of Amjad tonight, a dance performance at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House. The performance features the dance company La La La Human Steps and choreography by Édouard Lock.

In an interview with the Star, "La La La Takes Romantic Steps," Lock reveals, "Amjad is a name, applicable to both a man and a woman. It's a little wink to my own ethnic heritage." It is a ballet that deconstructs Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. The production is a contemporary interpretation of and response to these works that highlights the exoticism of the stories and problematizes such issues as gender, narrative and culture, all in a visually stunning production.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tonight: Murder by Death and William Elliott Whitmore at Southpaw

I am at least a little ashamed to admit that I have never before seen a show at Southpaw before. For what it's worth, I tried once before but was not ready to brave the lines on the particularly chilly night I attempted entry there.

Anyway, tonight, with doors at 7, features the musicians Murder By Death, William Elliott Whitmore, and J Roddy Walston & The Business. It should be a fun, folky, bluesy evening and is very reasonably-priced, at only $14 for the show cover.

I am particularly interested in seeing Williasm Elliott Whitmore and hearing his soulful blues songs performed live. Free songs are available for download at

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Girl Talk: DJ? Artist? Musical Thief?

I am seeing Girl Talk, whose real name is Gregg Gillis, next Saturday at Terminal 5 (whose shows, November 15th, 16th and 18th, are all sold out, but you can try to buy scalped tickets at the venue, located at 610 W 56th St, or from such sites as As of now, I have three tickets and am still seeking the two lucky winners to go with me ... I am seeing Girl Talk with Prefuse 73, another experimental band with catchy hooks, on Saturday, Nov 15th.

So what exactly is Girl Talk's music? Gregg Gillis, in an interview with Aural States, says he first became interested in experimental music and, although he samples music much like a DJ would, considers his music much more of a "sound collage." He uses an audio program called Audio Mulch and his shows are simply him and his laptop, both of which apparently rock out pretty hard during a show. He is more interested in de-constructing and re-combining music than sampling the music as such, and especially leans towards mixes of hip-hop with rock and pop loops. Gillis describes his musical project as purely aesthetic rather than political and says he also simply wants to support pop music. This is exactly what he sees himself as doing: distilling the catchiest hooks and riffs of the tunes that he hears and then layering and sampling them to create his own songs, or "sound collages."

New York Times has an article, Steal This Hook? Girl Talk Flouts Copyright Law, which discusses the controversial, possibly illegal aspect of Gillis's work. His music, available at at a pay-what-you-want fee, has been pulled off of iTunes and other CD distributors' stocks because of its potential liability. Gillis, stating that his use of the clips falls under fair use license, has not yet been sued for his use of such short samples of songs. As the article explores, on the one hand, companies may not want to sue him in order to not look bad as well as not to set a precedent in Gillis's favor. He may or may not be technically legally able to use such samples, but that he so far has gotten away with doing so with relatively few repercussions is itself setting a precedent that tells copyright law that it is too restrictive on creativity and can, in effect, be loosely interpreted.

Gillis's music, through his Girl Talk project, is paving the way for creative license with the music of others, for better or for worse. His musical mash-ups are truly the conglomeration of diverse music samples, from bhangra to classic rock to contemporary hip-hop, creating a sound that is at once uniquely his and an appropriation of various musical genres and decades.

It should definitely be an interesting performance.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Masquerade Ball at Galapagos

This was the first event I have attended at the re-located Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO. Having dropped by the venue only once previously, during the Art Under the Bridge festival this summer, I knew that it had a welcoming ambiance and an intimate set-up; but I had not yet spent an evening there.

The Halloween Masquerade Ball, a 1920's Victorian-era themed party, was ablaze with live jazz music, masked and costumed attendees and live performances. There was face painting available, providing an almost instant transformation to shimmering, retro, masked style. And, if you weren't sitting in one of the few booths or on the floor by the stage to watch the performance, you were most likely mingling by the entrance or the bar.

Although the Halloween Masquerade Ball did not have a particularly large turn-out, it provided an experience both mellow and exhilarating, providing ample opportunity for chatting, dancing, and sitting back to watch the performances.

See pictures below.

Also, Galapagos Art Space is right off the water; a walk less than half a block away yields amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the water.

Friday, October 31, 2008

CMJ and Music Networks

Just wanted to post a link to a Flavorwire post (the new blog from Flavorpill), entitled: "Idolator Is Wrong: Why a Music Conference Called CMJ Will Affect What You Listen To." Agreed.

Also, speaking of music and blogs: I recommend checking out the Hype Machine, which follows music blogs and provides an aggregate resource of mp3 listening samples and reviews. You can even find mp3s from music blogs to download, as well as lots of great insider tips on bands and songs you might be interested in based on your musical tastes. I will sure be checking it out more often!

Now, on to Halloween preprations.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

More Halloween Parties!

In addition to the previous Halloween parties I listed, I am considering checking out the following. I am sure they both will offer an evening of glorious, costumed revelry!

The Danger Party in Bushwick, this Friday, and the Halloween Masquerade Ball at Galapagos, in DUMBO, this Saturday.

From The Danger website, on the "Promised Land" Halloween party this Friday:

A classic deep-Brooklyn party in a massive 112 year old warehouse of towering steal and brick. *This is a space you haven't seen before.* Expect the epic. We've taken over the expansive remnants of a lost industrial age; a building steeped with urban history with towering ceilings and impossible broken beauty.

Enter at: 215 Ingraham St., Bushwick, Brooklyn

Take the L train to Jeffereson, walk one block north on Wyckoff to Flushing, then walk two blocks up Gardner to the warehouse. Listen for the music.

And, the press release from Galapagos Art Space, on the Halloween Masquerade Ball Saturday:

Saturday, November 1st,

Doors 9pm, show 10pm, $10

Gemini & Scorpio and Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Orchestra
cordially invite you to

Halloween Masquerade Ball

The Music: Michael Arenella's Dreamland Septet will cut loose with an authentic all-night 1920s hot jazz programme. Freebass, a DJ & live bass duo, will close the night with their infectious live swing remix dance set.

The Mischief: A ghoulish menagerie of haunting proportions, with magic, burlesque banshees, fire dancers and special guests, including: Greek Goddess of burlesque, Pandora; delightful tasseled and fringed vintage tap dancing by The Minsky Sisters; Harlequin ballerina go-go dancing by The Love Show dancers; and sexy fire hooping antics by The Gyronauts. Plus, fantastical face and body painting by All-Seeing Mystik Painteresse Elyzabeth. Hosted by burlesque's charming reprobate Bastard Keith.

Costume suggestions: Victorian-1940s evening attire, Venetian carnivale, masked villains.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fujiya & Miyagi and Walter Meego

I saw Fujiya & Miyagi last night at Mercury Lounge, who went on, as advised by Bowery Presents, precisely at 9 pm. They were astoundingly polished live. Formed in 2000, the band is an English band comprised of four members. They use synths, programming, beats and drums, in addition to vocals, to create their sound. With clever electro-pop songs, Fujiya & Miyagi's music is an inectiously good time.
(Fujiya & Miyagi, above, at Mercury Lounge)

After Fujya & Miyagi's hour-long set, I was in for a pleasurable surprise: the band who followed them, Walter Meego, is another electro-pop experimental band that proved to be a sugar-coated fun time. Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, they just released their debut album, Voyager, this year. Walter-Meego has received very high acclaim so far, and has had several songs featured on Ugly Betty, as well as a song featured on a Heineken commercial. Again, though I'm a little ambivalent about such corporate reliance, I do think it's helped give the band publicity; and with their sound, they are destined for rising fame!

(The lead singer of Walter Meego, Justin Sconza, above. At Mercury Lounge.)

Walter Meego is playing tonight, Thursday, at Le Royale in the West Village at 9 pm, Friday at Club 205 at 1 am, and Saturday, 2 pm, at Piano's. I strongly recommend checkin them out for some disco-electro fun. They even have their own blog here.

Fright Fest 2008!

As Halloween approaches, I have several events in mind for some fearsome, horrific fun. There is, of course, the Village Parade. But beyond that, where to go, what to do?

I am sure almost every venue will be throwing some sort of Halloween-related party or generally spread the spirit of gloriously spooky costumed revelry. Let's take a look at some of the prominent and not-so-prominent events that hold that extra-special blood-curdling appeal.

First up: The Central Park Pumpkin Festival! This Saturday, 10/25, from 3 pm to 7 pm, at the Central Park Naumberg Band Shell, by the East side of 72nd St, will be an afternoon-long festivity with free pumpkins, music and costumed fun! Appropriate for all ages.

Next Up: Lady Gaga at Highline Ballroom, at 431 W. 16th St, between 9th and 10th Ave. She will be performing alongside Semi-Precious Weapons and nightlife icon Amanda Lepore. The event is this Tuesday, 10/28, and is only $10 in advance from Doors are at 9; event starts at 10; and dressing/glamming up is mandatory!

The Halloween Robot Rock Masquerade at Le Royale, at 7th Ave South and Leroy St. With advance tickets at only $20 and a two-hour vodka and beer open bar, it sounds like you get more than what you pay for!

See the GBH site for RSVP info. Le Royale is a small-sized dance bar with 2 floors, with chic West Village style.

Webster Hall, at 125 E. 11th St., hosts an annual "Webster Hell" Halloween party and is apparently the official NYC Parade Afterparty, this being its 35th year.
All 4 floors will be open, starting at 8 pm. There will also be a titillatingly terrifying performance by Demon Queen and her demonic dancers. Tickets are available online, at $35 for standard admission. At 2 am is their famous costume contest, with the grand prize of $5,000. There will definitely by some extraordinarily scary, haunting costumes here.

The Delancey, at 768 Delancey St, between Clinton and Attorney, hosts a Zombie Prom night Thursday, October 30th, for only $10 and the Witches Ball (price tba) October 31st. Both parties are in the downstairs section. This is somewhere I recommend hitting up or some low-cost unpretentious, ghastly fun.

The Space Monster Mashup Ball on Halloween, starting at 9 pm, is a space-age, out-of-this-world costume party with a galactic fashion show. Hmm, how to make my sailor costume space-aged? Where can I get an astronaut helmet...(or how can I make one?)? The party is at PINK, at 199 Bowery (at Spring St), goes til 4 am and will also feature prizes and Space Pirate punch. Advance admission is $20 and can be purchased from the site's website, or for $30 at the door if the event does not sell out. Lookin' intergalactically stellar!

On Saturday, November 1st, Public Assembly -- at 70 N. 6th St. in Williamsburg -- is having a "Holla-Ween 2!" party, which marks the 2nd anniversary of the Crooked Disco parties, is only $5 with RSVP and has an open bar. Sounds too good to pass up!
The open bar is from 10-11 pm; there will also be free candy there AND a $100 costume contest.
For more info, see the Crooked Disco site.

And, of course, you can always roam the streets of NYC and follow your instincts in your hunt for blood for your Halloween thrills.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More CMJ: Princess Superstar, Moby, Matthew Dear & More!

I am overwhelmed by the amount of upcoming shows, tonight, tomorrow night, this weekend...

Here are some more recommendations:

This is tonight. I am thinking of checking out Fujiya and Miyagi at 9 at Mercury Lounge (see my last post), but if it is too packed to get in, and/or afterward, this is another extraordinarily promising event. See Princess Superstar's Myspace here. She is another really funny, clever female electro-rapper, and I expect it will be a good show.

And, above, this Saturday, is Matthew Dear's Big Hands, at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Also, take note, Princess Sperstar, along with Moby and Holy Ghost, will be doing their same thing again (live show for the former and DJ sets for the latter two) Thursday night at (Le) Rouge also, for $10.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CMJ Music Festival! Oct 21-25

Tonight marks the opening of the CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival, which is going on through October 25th and features some really well-known up-and-coming music, as well as films and panels. The ironic thing is that, while I had known about the upcoming CMJ festival for some time, I had completely coincidentally passed by the CMJ registration session today, which was going on around the NYU campus by Washington Square. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to scope it out and/or register, as I was on my way to a panel sponsored by NYU's SCPS Publishing department on the Media and Privacy. More on that in another post. Thus, with CMJ now lodged more firmly in my brain, I returned home after the panel and found several e-mails in my inbox regarding CMJ shows.

Obviously, I need to check some of it out: and I recommend CMJ-related events to anyone looking to see some of their well-liked indie bands and/or discover & check out new music/film/etc. So, apparently when you register for the CMJ Festival, you get priority and discounted access to all of the shows. Check out the CMJ site for more info about registration, but beware, registration ain't cheap: it starts at $275 for an individual student badge. But, there is a LOT of music going on, as well as the panels, film and comedy. For a full list of the artists, see the CMJ list here.

I am tentatively planning on seeing Fujiya and Miyagi tomorrow, Wednesday, October 22nd, at Mercury Lounge. But, if I am not feeling up to it or do not arrive in time to get a ticket, I am considering scoping out Webster Hall on Thursday, October 23rd, which will be featuring Crystal Castles and has Fujiya and Miyagi as an opener. (It is, however, sold out, so lurking on Craigslist and/or around Webster Hall will hopefully - fingers crossed! - yield a ticket.)

Wednesday night later, at 12:30 am, also features another band I would love to see, and I recommend checking it out to anyone up for seeing a show that late on a weeknight. Beach House is playing at (le) Poisson Rouge, at 158 Bleeker St. This is a relatively new venue I have heard great things about and haven't yet had the pleasure of checking out. And tickets for this show are only $10(!).

Also, the Muslims (I know, not a politically correct name) are a band that has been getting some good attention. They are playing apparently several shows in the next couple of nights, including at the Cake Shop, Mercury Lounge, Piano's and Don Pedro's on Thursday, October 23rd. Mind you, the first three of these venues are all on the L.E.S. and Don Pedro's is in Williamsburg (or Bushwick, depending on who you ask). But I looked at the times more carefully: The Cake Shop show is at 2:30 am, so technically is a late late Wednesday night show (I think? Unless it's a late Thurs show...); and the Piano's party is at 1 pm and part of the Brooklyn Vegan party. I am considering seeing the Muslims for the event Thursday (if I don't see Crystal Castles), where they will be performing with several other bands that evening at Don Pedro's for $5, alongside a 3-hour open bar with Southern Comfort drinks.

I also just found this artist as a recommendation from the Brooklyn Vegan website: Little Boots. She is adorable, with a good voice, dance-pop grooves and some intelligent song lyrics! She has a few gigs going on this week. See her Myspace page for show and DJ set dates.

(Little Boots video above)

I could continue going on, but I'll stop there and hope I've whetted your appetite for some up-and-coming music. Check out the CMJ site for full listings!

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Happy-Go-Lucky": Movie on Pursuit of Happiness

I saw Mike Leigh's movie Happy-Go-Lucky last night. A British film by the director of Secrets and Lies and Vera Drake, it is, as director Leigh calls it in an interview with The Star, an "anti-miserabilist" film. That sums it up succinctly: the film is about a cute, diminutive cheerful woman, "Poppy," who manages to stay keenly optimistic despite the woes and unfriendliness she encounters in her life.

An English film, it was just recently released in the US and has received astounding reviews and substantial acclaim already. Besides its sentimentality and optimism in a markedly cynical and difficult time, what is striking about the film is its really jarring, realistic quality. Though I found the film slow at times (at a full two hours, it was on the longer side), I found myself forgetting that the film is fictional and the characters are, indeed, simply characters. In an interview with New York Magazine, Mike Leigh elaborates that Sally Hawkins, the actress who plays Poppy, was intended to be at the center of the film before he had worked out the plot details. It is Leigh's unconventional directorial process, wherein he determines the actors before the roles, and the actors improvise and work out the nuances of their characters and their lives, that gives the film its highly realistic, personable quality.

A review of Happy-Go-Lucky in New York Magazine by David Edelstein describes Poppy's outlook as much more than mere whimsy, but rather a deep "design for living"; and I would agree with this reviewer. It encourages us to go out and seek our inner-Poppy. The film is testimony that it is possible, even with unsettling and discouraging circumstances, to maintain a positive outlook in life.

See the official movie site here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Upcoming Dance Shows

I don't see dance performances enough, but I love them. Here are some highlights of upcoming dance performances.

The Joyce Theater at 175 8th Ave, at 19th St., is a convenient location to see reasonably-priced shows. Currently the performance there is Ballet Hispanico, which runs Tues-Sun evenings, 8 pm (Sun, 7:30 pm), and weekend matinees at 2 pm, until October 19. Tickets are available from $19 and up. Also, a suggestion to those looking to really see a show on the cheap: the Joyce is generally looking for ushers, an opportunity which simply requires wearing black, showing people their seats and giving out programs, and which allows you to see performances free of charge. I believe they generally require two weeks' notice for ushering interest.

Ballet Hispanico, above. You can also visit their website here.

Other upcoming shows at the Joyce are the ODC/Dance Company, an international contemporary dance company, performing from October 21-26, and Eiko & Koma, performing from October 28-November 2nd, with a special Halloween performance! And, for a more intimate and less costly show, I recommend heading to the Joyce Soho, a venue with only 74 seats and featuring emerging dancers and choreographers.

Finally, for a Brooklyn performance experience, I recommend the BAM Next Wave Festival. From October 23-25, at 7:30 pm, Awakenings, a performance by an Australian dance trope, promises to seamlessly intertwine Aboriginal politics with dance for a mesmerizing, mythical experience. The show is at the BAM Harvey Theater, at 651 Fulton Street. See for directions and other performance recommendations.

So go out already and see some art, catch a dance performance, and enjoy the city!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yelle Re-Cap

Yelle was a fabulous time! She struck me as a French, electro-pop version of Lady Sovereign: another one of those cheeky white rapper girls, with more attitude and energy than one would expect from a skinny young white girl... And, though I basically did not understand Yelle's lyrics, a girl next to me was kind enough to translate the general gist to me; and, from what I gather, her songs mostly are about looking good, boys, ragging on other girls, and having fun.

Pictures - and videos! - from the evening follow.

(above shirt slogan: "DANCE OR DIE"; I purchased one for myself!)

You can also see more pictures on

Also, see this link to a video and interview on Yelle's American success, with footage from the Oct. 18th show.