Phony Ppl

Pride weekend and the city comes alive! In addition to that, summer is in full swing in New York City and everyone was outside this beautiful Saturday night. Thanks to some rainfall earlier in the day, the weather cooled down drastically to give us a break from that nasty humidity we are ever so blessed to endure. Mercury Lounge is a quaint little bar with a stage area in back. Phony Ppl played sold-out shows this weekend and the place was packed wall to wall. People were dancing, jiving, standing on chairs, benches – you name it. The drummer of Phony Ppl was in some type of plastic cage-like setup. 

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The entire group was energetic, lively, and seem like genuinely sweet people. You couldn’t help but want to be their friend after watching them perform. Their stage presence drew the crowd in,  with everyone tuned in to each other and moving as one being. It was beautiful to watch from above, as I was standing on a bench. I could see people of all ages and races dancing. After the show, a woman in the bathroom, probably in her 50s or 60s said to me, “I’m old, but I was dancing the whole time! Can you believe I was in that crowd? My first time seeing them, how fun!”

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Phony Ppl is a Brooklyn based quintet, founded in 2010. Current members are Elbee Thrie on vocals, Elijah Rawk on lead guitar, Matt “Maffyuu” Byas on drums, Aja Grant playing the keys, and Bari Bass on, well, bass. Their mantra is: a mix of people, time, and sound that’s been nurtured over generations in Brooklyn. This perfectly describes their eclectic genre-defying sophomore album, mō’zā-ik, which released last year. Phony Ppl does their own songwriting, arrangement, mixing, and production. Do not let this unique group of individuals go unseen, you must see them live. You can catch them playing Central Park’s Summerstage series in August! For more tour dates, visit here.

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Natti Vogel | Saro

What better way to spend a muggy summer night than to attend an inspiring show at an exclusive venue? I’m talking about Saro, a queer LA-based electronic artist with the voice of an angel. He played a stripped down, raw performance at the intimate members club that is Ludlow House. Unmarked, one could easily pass by the building thinking it was an apartment or hotel even. There was a gentleman speaking into the intercom stating his business, and I followed him in. Once inside, I made my way up to the third floor, where there is a gorgeous fully stocked bar. Of course, I was drawn to get a drink and opted for one of my go-to’s: a Moscow mule. No exaggeration, this was by far the best cocktail I ever had. It was perfectly executed, and I am always a fan of the garnishes. Once I had my drink in hand to help cool down my sweating, I made my way to the floor.

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There was an artist performing on the stage, which was set close to the floor. The stage was set up to look like the inside of an artist’s apartment, with pictures and paintings hung up on the wallpapered walls. Natti Vogel was performing when I arrived – a giant ball of energy and rawness. He was wearing what appeared to be boxer briefs, a tie-dye shirt, and opted to be shoeless, which I absolutely loved. I had the chance to chat with him briefly after his set while Saro’s performance was being set up, and he was such a warm, inviting individual who took his time to take notice of me. He was amused and skeptical when I told him I’d remember his name without writing it down somewhere. But here we are, and I distinctly remember him spelling his name out for me, “N-A-T-T-I”. Great memory on the kid.

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The lights dimmed, and visuals were put on stage. There was a guitarist in the background beginning to play, and out came Saro, accompanied by a woman and a man, both at his side. In sync, they dropped their heads and arms, to be filled with life and energy once the song begins. Saro has a light, angelic voice and completely floored me at how effortless he sounded. The man and woman started dancing contemporary style to his lyrics, and boy was that powerful. They interacted with each other and Saro, fully encompassing the space. I was right in the front where all the action was, though at times I was a little afraid I was going to get kicked in the head. All in all, it was a captivating performance. Between the dancers killing it emotionally, passionately, and with the fluidity of their movements, to Saro slowing it down to acoustic, emotional versions of his songs like “Rampart.” In celebration of his new EP Die Alone, which was released earlier this month, sultry Saro is an artist I highly recommend you watch live.

 

Calling All Captains at The Kinglsand

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Calling All Captains is a five-piece pop punk band hailing from Saint Albert, Canada. Consisting of Luc Gauthier on vocals, guitarists Brad Bremner and Connor Dawkins, bassist Nick Malychuk, and drummer Tim Wilson. Since forming in 2014, the band has been working rigorously to put out EPs, touring, and their debut full length album. They have a reputation for high-energy live shows, and this one at The Kingsland in Brooklyn lived up to that rep.

 

Your debut EP “Nothing Grows Here” has been recently released (February 2019). What can you tell us about the album?

Luc: We can tell you that it’s out now on Spotify and Apple Music and available for your listening pleasure. But more specifically, this album means a lot to us. For me, Luc, this is the first album that I’m singing on fully. We put a lot into this record and without the help of our producers, this album wouldn’t have sounded exactly the way we wanted it. Connor and I put the work in to writing, and it also is his first time singing on this record as well.

What’s your favorite song off the EP?

Connor: That’s a really tough question. They all mean something different, but I think my favorite would have to be my favorite to play which is “Out of My Head”, which has fast riffs and is really jumpy.

Luc: My favorite is definitely “Fools Gold”. That was one that meant a lot to me. We got back from our two week run across Eastern Canada. I wrote that in one day and I was going through a lot of things and was really happy with how things sounded. I stole Connor’s riff – sorry mate – he wrote something real nice and I just took it and made it into a song.

Nick: “Chasing Ghosts”. It was the first thing we did together with the lineup change and proved we still got it. So it was the evolutionary process and kind of cementing that we’re not done yet.

Luc: We back baby!

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How did you go about finding the artist or artwork for the LP cover?

Nick: So Kevin at Soft Surrogate and his wife does archive design, so we got in touch with them because they’ve worked with a ton of other Canadian artists. We wanted to keep as much of this album as we could in Canada because we are really proud of where we’re from. Although, for lack of a better pun, nothing does grow there. It is frozen nine months of the year, we’re very proud of it.

From the places you’ve toured so far, where was your favorite?

Nick: I’m gonna say Fullerton [California] because we got to hang out with our Equal Vision family and my girlfriend flew down and saw a couple shows. It was the gnarliest venue, dropping like a hundred bucks buying shirts and records inside the venue which was just incredible.

Luc: My favorite show was probably Odessa, Texas. It was so. Much. Fun. It was the best ever. It was the first time I’ve ever seen this: after the show everybody stayed at the venue. The soundman pumped on traditional Mexican tunes and the whole place was bumpin’. It was like a nightclub.

Nick: The venue was an abandoned retail store, too, it was cement walls, cement floor. It was gnarly.

Connor: I’m gonna say the shows we did in Florida were my favorite, and not only the shows, but I was looking for gators the whole time. I’m really into shit like that. Now here we are in Brooklyn, looking for rats.

Where are you excited to head next?

Nick: We got two weeks left and we are excited to get back home. We get home and immediately do our Western Canada tour. Our hometown crowd in the entire Western Canadian scene has been more than family to us than any of us could have ever expected. So to go back to them after this, and have the stories and memories I think is one of the coolest things we get to do.

Luc: We’ve never even played these songs for Canada yet.

Connor: I’m excited to go to Albany because we finally get to meet our manager, who we’ve known for a long time, but we’ve never actually met him. So I’m stoked about that. We’re gonna hang with some Equal Vision peeps, which is always fun. And the homies from Young Culture are coming out.

(Tim) What was it like getting rotator cuff tendonitis during tour? How did that affect the tour and the band?

Tim: Oh well, you know, it was a rough couple of weeks. The boys had to pick up literally all of the slack for me. For two weeks I was just a useless deadweight and they literally hulled around all my stuff – they wiped my ass! It sucked not being able to play, but I had a lot of positive support and the band really helped me out. Even the people back home and at the shows, people were really supportive. Luc ended up playing the drums and singing at the same time for two weeks.

Being from Saint Albert, Canada, what is the music scene like?

Connor: Edmonton, Canada is the best. Western Canada is awesome. We have some of the best shows of our lives just in the Western Canada scene. We haven’t done a ton out in the eastern and central parts of Canada, but when we do get some good crowds.

Luc: Hometown shows are the best, we have people flying off the stage. It’s actually dangerous.

Nick: We lost all three monitors in one song.

Luc: I had to listen for the stage volume. It was crazy.

Connor: We just have an ambulance outside now.

Nick: No, but we got very fortunate to be from such a loving and tight-knit community that goes from Edmonton to Vancouver to Calgary and everything in between. We’ve got people in every city willing to put us up and come out to these shows and sing along. We’ve made such a family between Western Canada it’s amazing.

Who are your musical idols?

Connor: We get asked this a lot and it’s weird because we are all over the place. I’m into all the old, classic rock stuff like Beatles, the Stones, Bob Dylan’s my boy.

Luc: I listen to weird shit, too. I listen to the heaviest music like Lotus Eater, Acacia Strain, but I also really mess with that trap stuff like Lil Pump. I love Lil Pump, he’s hilarious. But writing style, I’d have to say like Knuckle Puck, The Story So Far. I jam those dudes all the time.

Nick: I’m more or less the hardcore kid out of all of us. I appreciate the business mind as well as how Grayscale and State Champs write their music. For Grayscale to literally run their band as a clothing company that plays music to advertise is one of the smartest things you could ever do.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not doing music?

Connor: At home I worked at a furniture warehouse. I quit that to do this, but all I would do is move furniture and write music, go on tour, come back and move furniture and write music and go on tour.

Luc: Back home, I run my clothing company, Worthless streetwear. I’m also a traditional Métis dancer. Métis means half Native American and half French. It’s actually our own indigenous culture in Canada, there’s the Inuit, First Nations and the Métis. I’m part of the Métis and I’m very active within the community. I MC events and perform dancing all the time. I also quit my job to tour, and what I used to do was be an admin assistant/case worker for a company called Native Counseling Services of Alberta. We help with at-risk young adults aged 18-30 get back on their feet, try to get sober, basically making sure they have all the support that they need to move on to the next step of their life.

Nick: Well I got nothing that cool in my life, I play music, I’m a photographer and I’m a heavy beer connoisseur – there’s a brewery five minutes from my house that sponsors the band because we’re there so much.

Calling All Captains: You mean YOU’RE there so much!

Nick: But yeah, I’ve got a degree in graphic design, I’m dating a hairdresser who’s training to be a tattoo artist, so we’re creative all the time. We’ve got two hairless cats that I have to deal with, one just had surgery.

Connor: They lotion them and sunscreen them.

Nick: I love my cats, man!

Luc: They’re like little people.

Connor: ..All covered in lotion.

Nick: They get like super dry. We’re not human at all back home, everything is dry to begin with. And we found out that Edmonton is on par horizontally with Siberia. So we live where they exile people.

What’s your favorite home cooked meal?

Connor: Whatever’s cooked, man.

Luc: I would kill for some of my mom’s moose meat and mashed potatoes. We’re fortunate to know a lot of aboriginal hunters, so they go on hunting missions with the youth and it’s like a right of passage. In the culture, you share what you get, and they share the wealth. If anybody has a chance to try moose it’s good, definitely try it. You cook it up just as you would a steak.

Nick: I just miss my mom’s cooking. I don’t live at home like these two, so even when I’m home I don’t get homemade meals unless I’m making it. I do a ton of chicken and cauliflower based stuff. My girlfriend was vegetarian for a while, then I converted her back to meat, but we still eat a buttload of not meat.

When you’re touring, what essentials besides band gear are your must-haves?

Connor: Baby wipes and bananas. You gotta wipe down your whole body sometimes. I also just recently got into bananas. If you’re out there and you’re not sure about bananas, they’re fucking good. Give them a try.

Luc: Dry shampoo. Love that stuff. Spray all day. And probably 30 t-shirts. I just love having a different style all the time.

Nick: Beard oil and my phone. I’m tour managing this run so I’m organizing seven different bands and every show. I need so much information, I live on this goddamn thing. So it’s glued to my hip at all times.

Any music video ideas for your new songs?

Luc: Well it’s not gonna be in a house. All of our music videos are just in our houses: my house, Brad’s house, our old singer’s house, and my backyard.

Connor: If you guys have cool ideas, send them to us on Instagram or our email!

Make sure to catch Calling All Captains on tour here!

Check out the full article on Stars & Scars and for video content of Calling All Captains performing at The Kingsland!

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Bay Faction: Record Release show + New album

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This past December, alternative/indie group Bay Faction released their long-awaited album, Florida Guilt. Consisting of James McDermott on vocals and guitar, Kris Roman on bass, and Alex Agresti on drums, Bay Faction were formed in 2013 and have been making waves ever since. Their previously released tunes were unique and catchy, which first drew me to the band.  Florida Guilt is truly amazing all the way through, and I am not usually one to like the entirety of an album. It excites me to see how they continue to grow musically.

Opening song, “Faux Snow Globe”, transcends you to an eerie dreamscape, with haunting slowed riffs and James McDermott’s gloomy voice. “It’s Perfect” is bright and poppy, a total opposite mood from the first song. However, if you listen carefully to the lyrics, it is darker than you think. McDermott is singing about being with someone who already has a partner. Jealousy comes into play – “no more after this one”- or perhaps he is feeling guilty about the affair. “Donor” is one of my favorite songs of the album with lyrics like, “It’ll never work out / figure something else out / Baby it’s okay / I’ll go home early today / It’ll never work out.” Each song on Florida Guilt is different from the last and has the potential to become a favorite in its own right.

Bay Faction played a record release show at Elsewhere’s Zone One, a smaller section of the venue. The room filled quickly as eager fans piled in. The band sounded spectacular – as crisp as their studio recordings. They are currently on their February tour. Be sure to see these indie cuties if you’re in any of these cities!

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Recommendations: Florida Guilt, Soppping, Ur My Bug

For fans of: Swmrs, King Krule, 6lack, Arctic Monkeys