Friday, May 10 at Warsaw was a sold-out show. The weather was warm and on this night, the rain stayed away in our favor. Headlining was The Drums, an indie pop band from Brooklyn! The show started at 9, opening with Tanukichan, an indie band from California. I had arrived just in time to when The Drums started performing due to our ever so reliable public transportation. Warsaw is a fairly smaller venue, being one floor and quite flat. Since my friend and I didn’t arrive early, we managed to squeeze ourselves into the side so we could see the stage through the heads of tall people. I was a bit disappointed in how this venue was constructed because if you weren’t in the front, there would be no way to see the acts on stage if anyone was taller than you in the slightest. We got lucky in the spot we found, only to have passersby trying to get to the bar and food area, which I didn’t mind at all.
The crowd took me by surprise – there were a plethora of older men, older than I have seen at a show especially with a newer band like The Drums. (Formed in 2008) I love seeing bands I love get loved by everyone. However, this show was an all-ages show, and that was clear. Once I got blocked by a tall person who wasn’t moving, I decided to go a little further into the crowd, only to be surrounded by cringe teenage girls and couples. They were all over the place and very sloppy which is totally fine until you start stepping on people around you and spilling your drinks everywhere. Then it gets infuriating the lack of awareness to personal space. The show was sold out, but it wasn’t smashed to the brim. There was breathing room and room to dance around so there was no reason for being that obnoxious.
The Drums played a lot of their newer songs off the Brutalism album. As singer/songwriter Jonny Pierce told the crowd, “My past albums have been sad, so I decided to make this one happy! Enough of the sad.” He played songs off all his past albums as well, which I prefer to the newer. The sound system in this venue didn’t travel well, only if you were close to the stage. The sound would have loud humming at points when Jonny sang because the levels were too high. That didn’t phase Jonny, because he is a true artist and musician. He is so quirky on stage with his spooky yet wavy moves. The Drums played for over an hour and did an encore. This was my second time seeing the band, the first being at Elsewhere, where my experience was much better. That being said, I would rate this show 6/10 mostly because of the venue and crowd. I look forward to seeing The Drums again because they are just that good and I highly recommend checking their music out. Jonny is a talented musician and so unique, he is an inspiration.
Published at WMSC Radio.
Slow Caves at Brooklyn Bazaar
I had the pleasure of photographing Colorado natives Slow Caves. They are an indie rock band consisting of Danish-American brothers Jakob and Oliver Mueller and their childhood friend David Dugan.
Mad Liberation Festival
Mad Liberation is a 3 day, 2 night, camping, music & arts festival. Set deep in the vast pine barrens of South Jersey, it is a highly anticipated platform for artists from all over the globe who defy limitations, definition, and identity itself to realize their full potential in live performance for a captivated audience. I interviewed festival founder John Mould to find out more about this exciting event!
How long have you been doing this festival?
John Mould: This will be the 4th annual installation of the event!
What experience in event/festival planning have you had prior to this, if any?
John: I worked putting music live on air at William Paterson University’s radio station for a few months before we started the festival. People naturally started hanging out and they became full-blown shows. Besides that I have no experience, just jumped right into producing the fest.
What are the must-haves when curating a festival?
John: When curating, you need to have a strong sense of what you want to do musically overall, then what artists are going to elevate this event and the festival prices for different tier artists. How to recognize an artist’s value and how to properly communicate with huge booking agencies that will burn you if you sound like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Why the Pine Barrens?
John: We started in Upstate NY in what we thought was the middle of nowhere. The police came more than once. We needed a place we could get rowdy late into the night, far away from any houses or people who might make noise-complaints. We wanted to do it in Jersey. The Pine Barrens called our name.
I love your message of a community built on love. Can you elaborate more and it’s importance?
John: We put a strong emphasis on community because we want this to be a place of intention. A place people come to embrace each other and get down to a whole lot of music they might not be used to. A respite from the alienation of everyday life. The community plays the biggest part in the overall atmosphere of the festival and we want to make sure everyone is coming out for the weekend with good intentions. This plays a huge role in harm reduction for us as well. Bystander intervention is everything: you see something you know isn’t right, do something about it! When our guests take care of each other, make sure everyone is having a good time, healthy, feeling okay; we all elevate together!
What can we expect to see on the festival grounds?
John: You can expect a ton of crazy-sounding music and wild people (characters really) having a great time, spreading a whole lot of love and getting down everywhere you look. Maybe a few “YERRR’s” too.
Can people get involved with sharing their art or music at this festival?
John: Anyone can get involved! We offer vendor slots for people interested in selling their art, we love to have people painting live, and we low-key appreciate unplanned pop-up performances if they are done with good taste and don’t interrupt any planned acts.
Who are you most excited about performing this year?
John: Eartheater, I have no idea how to describe her so I won’t try.
What should festival goers bring along with them in attendance?
John: Tent, pillows, blankets, sleeping bag, swimwear, flashlights, sunscreen, bug spray; everything you could possibly need for camping!
With so many festivals starting up soon going throughout the summer, what separates yours from the rest?
John: There isn’t really any camping festival I’ve seen doing anything like us, drawing the kind of crowd/community we have and curating the way we do. The only festival combining punk & jazz (and everything in between) the way we do is Afropunk in Brooklyn; taking nature and the campout experience into account and the fact that we run into the early hours of the morning: we’re still completely in our own league. I’m still looking for competition.
More at Stars & Scars mag
Interview: Rachel Lynn
I interviewed NYC-based singer/songwriter Rachel Lynn. She is a classically trained vocalist and touring musician who creates original soulful pop music.
What 90’s pop and Motown music inspired you to do your own music?
Rachel Lynn: When I first started exploring music as a young person, I immediately realized that I could feel moved by many different genres of music; I didn’t have to pick just one kind of music to stake my fandom upon. So, the budding singer in me sang along to Amy Grant and Mariah Carey CDs, while I simultaneously found a deep emotional connection to Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World. I had a love affair with The Offspring and Green Day, of course. I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom listening to Dookie front to back, just in awe, feeling like those songs needed to be written. Then, I’d immediately follow that up with the greats, Celine and Whitney, completely mesmerized by what they could do with their instruments.
My love of old soul blossomed from listening to oldies in the car with my dad when I was growing up. Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, Diana Ross, and Sam & Dave are some of my favorites. There’s just indescribable magic in this music—watching old performances of Sam & Dave was (and still is) just mind-blowing to me, and that magic has always inspired me to perform. Artists like Allen Stone, Amy Winehouse, Marc Broussard, and Leon Bridges are great examples of musicians who have put their own contemporary spin on the magic of old soul, and they’ve proven to be incredibly inspirational for me as well.
My music is definitely pop music at its core, but I hope that with “Didn’t I” and the upcoming EP, listeners can feel the inspiration of these influences.
Are there any other influences that inspire your music writing?
Rachel Lynn: I’m always keeping an ear open to what new artists are doing, and I find that I draw inspiration from so many artists because there’s something extraordinary to take away from most musical experiences. Specifically, I’ve been very inspired by Donna Missal, Terra Naomi, and Nina Storey. They’re all badass women who have been pursuing their crafts for a long time, honing and writing and working and writing some more. Donna has an incredible ability to push and pull and build and go past where you think she (and you) can go; she’s been monumental in influencing my ability to grow a song to its most climactic point. Terra can vocally dance so lightly and effortlessly; it creates an incredibly emotional experience that I’ll forever attempt to capture in my own music. Nina Storey is a powerhouse of fun; her energy and positivity are unmatched, and I feel that listening to her sweet, soothing voice will always be a part of my self-care regimen.
What music are you releasing this year? Anything you can tell us about?
Rachel Lynn: This year I’ll be releasing an EP that features the single, “Didn’t I.” You’ll get a bit of R&B, a bit of 60’s pop, a bit of rock; I’m really hoping to showcase my influences more than I have in the past.
At what age did you start your classical training?
Rachel Lynn: I was participating in children’s choirs and voice lessons early on, but I started studying more seriously in high school as I prepared to go on and pursue my music education in college.
Tell me about donating all your proceeds from your song “Seeing Red” to animal rights organization Mercy For Animals.
Rachel Lynn: “Seeing Red” is a song that revolves around my relationship to veganism and the animal rights movement. It seemed only appropriate to give the song a real purpose by making it an avenue for the support of animal advocacy. That said, all proceeds from the single will be donated to Mercy For Animals on an on-going basis.
I love performing at events and fundraisers that support this cause, so I’ve been a part of a few events at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, and last year, I performed at the NYC Veggie Pride Parade and NYC’s first animal rights music festival, CanILive Music Festival. I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be back at both events this year!
Your song “Didn’t I” was released recently (3/1). How does this song compare to the rest of your music?
Rachel Lynn: I think it shows tremendous growth, which I feel is the goal for every artist as they release new music. I was able to better articulate my vision for this song, and right from the start, my amazing producer, Ali Culotta, and I were on the same page. She was really able to elevate the music to meet the vision we discussed, and I’m really proud of what we created.
What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about being a musical artist in NYC?
Rachel Lynn: My favorite thing about being a musical artist in NYC is the endless amount of inspiration. The hardship that inspires me probably doubles as my least favorite thing about being an artist in NYC. There is no shortage of struggle, no lack of hustle, and it takes a lot from you. I can’t imagine doing anything else though, so even though you’re sort of constantly giving from your well (and you’re expected to do so), it’s important to try to replenish yourself as much and as often as you can.
What are your hobbies when you’re not doing music?
Rachel Lynn: My new hobby is making insane amounts of sushi! If you’re making sushi at home, I don’t know how you can not make inappropriate amounts, but maybe there’s someone out there controlling themselves. I also love listening to podcasts (Radiolab, Savage Lovecast, Bearded Vegans, to name a few). I journal religiously, and I’ve recently gotten very campy about collaging in my journal with stickers and magazine cut-outs. It’s wildly fun and oh-so-therapeutic.
What are your upcoming goals?
Rachel Lynn: This month was so incredible; playing five shows in four cities, telling my story to new people, and sharing my music with new audiences. More of that, please.
Is there anything you do before going on stage to shake jitters or get yourself pumped up?
Rachel Lynn: Vocal warm-ups are a must; obviously, I feel more at ease when I’m vocally ready to go. I also really enjoy having a quiet moment with myself before going on stage. It’s nice to just collect my energy and connect with myself before becoming intensely vulnerable during a performance.
What’s your message to people who hear your music?
Rachel Lynn: Thank you for listening! I hope that it resonates with you and brings you some sense of joy or comfort.
Article on Stars & Scars magazine.
Interview: The Haunt
Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, alt-rockers The Haunt just wrapped their European tour. Teenage siblings Anastasia Grace and Maxamillion Haunt merge together for an eclectic sound, combining alternative, indie, rock and roll, garage, and blues. As a victim of bullying, Anastasia had a vision for their music video “All Went Black” which went viral with over 100,000 views. The group partnered with the Stop Bullying Now Foundation to help contribute to putting an end to the epidemic of bullying among today’s youth, empowering them through counseling, life skills training, open communication, and creative outlets. Next up, The Haunt will release “Why Are You So Cold?,” a powerful song that summons the band’s notorious haunting eeriness that burrows into your soul. To learn more about this captivating group, read what I asked them below:
You recently toured Europe. What was your favorite destination and why?
The Haunt: I think collectively our favorite destination was Milan, Italy. We have Italian heritage, so we were already very interested in the country, but when we got there it exceeded our imaginations. It’s a truly beautiful place with lively, wonderful culture and warm-hearted people. Anyone who gets the chance to visit Italy should definitely take up the opportunity.
Where do you plan on touring next?
The Haunt: We’re open! Right now, we’re working on a bunch of different things, such as recording music and videos, writing, and all that jazz, but we’d love to tour anywhere that would have us. We’re dying to visit Asia – Japan specifically.
What’s it like being so young and touring other countries?
The Haunt: It’s not all that different from touring in the U.S., honestly. The biggest difference, aside from the slightly increased energy in some European crowds, is the fact that we lost weight on the European tour, whereas we gained weight in the U.S. LOL. I can’t tell you what the reason is for that, but it’s a thing.
What’s like being a young musician?
The Haunt: I’d say that people automatically want to look down on you just because you’re young. Some other bands think they know more about this business than we do just because we’re young, but the truth is we’ve been doing this for four years, which is much longer than most other bands can say for themselves. It’s really fun winning people over, proving to them that we’re genuine musicians and not some gimmick. I think over the recent years, the climate has changed on young musicians, and it seems like now is one of the most accepting times in the general public for younger acts, and we’re really excited to be coming up in this time period.
What’s it like working together with family?
The Haunt: Exactly as you’d expect it to be. Lots of arguing and fighting but just as much love. It’s not always easy working on something as personal as art with your sibling, but the process has led us to become best friends, which we definitely were not before the band started.
Do you guys play any instruments?
The Haunt: Anastasia plays piano, ukulele, and, of course, sings. I (Max) play piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, synth, and also sing. We’ve been taking music lessons since we were really young, about five years old.
Your self-titled EP was released last year and is spectacular! What can we expect from your upcoming music?
The Haunt: Thank you! The EP was a blast to make, and we were really excited at the response it got. We have a new album on the way. It’s currently titled AREA51, and we’re really excited to share the first single “Why Are You So Cold?” in the next few months. It’s something new and different, so look out for it! 🙂
What do you like to do when you’re not making music?
The Haunt: I (Max) draw a lot, and write short stories. It’s my second passion. Anastasia loves musical theater and has been in a few school musicals, including being Wednesday Addams last year.
Who are your favorite artists to listen to?
The Haunt: We have a really diverse music taste. I’ve always loved more modern rock stuff, like Catfish and the Bottlemen, Royal Blood, K. Flay, Arctic Monkeys. Anastasia’s always loved older classic voices, such as Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, and others. Our favorites mix in bands like The White Stripes, The Kills, Cage The Elephant, The Dead Weather. Bands that make modern versions of blues rock. We love that stuff.
What’s the music scene like in Fort Lauderdale?
The Haunt: The music scene in Fort Lauderdale is better than you’d expect. Collectively, the music community here was really good to us. There’s a lot of talent here; the sounds that come out of South Florida are very diverse, and that definitely helped us shape who we are as musicians.
The masks for your “All Went Black” video were terrifying and unique! Where did you get the inspiration for that?
The Haunt: Terrifying and unique is a good assessment. The masks are symbolic of an adolescent society that has been less than kind to each other through recent years, leaving young people feeling insecure, judged, ridiculed, and fearful to be themselves during a time where it’s most important for them to find their value. We wanted to shine a light on that aspect of adolescence and hope to do whatever we can to improve that reality.
To listen to more of The Haunt’s music, click here.
Article on Stars & Scars mag: Stars & Scars
Bay Faction: Record Release show + New album
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!
Recommendations: Florida Guilt, Soppping, Ur My Bug
For fans of: Swmrs, King Krule, 6lack, Arctic Monkeys
Nana Grizol at Brooklyn Bazaar
Loamlands, an alt-indie band from Durham, North Carolina opened the show last night at Brooklyn Bazaar. Kym Register, guitar and vocals, swooned the crowd with her velvety smooth yet powerful voice. She sounded like a modern Stevie Nicks. (The band gets compared to Fleetwood Mac all the time.) Register sang with so much power and soul, her songs with themes of being vulnerable, the LGBTQ community, and the general intolerance of being yourself. Register spoke of embracing being sad at the show, for it is very important to feel your feelings wholeheartedly.
With elements of country, classic rock, and folk, Loamlands has a unique sound of their own. Will Hackney, lead guitarist and sometimes vocals, played like a guitar god last night. He seamlessly finger-picked his guitar without the use of a pick and the skill level alone was impressive. Sliding to and fro with a slide as well as finger-picking was like hearing an angel play. Loamlands played songs off their 2016 album, Sweet High Rise like “Restless One”, “You the Mountain”, and “What Kind of Love”, a song about being in an abusive relationship and fantasizing about killing the abuser.
Check out Loamlands album, Sweet High Rise here.
Nana Grizol, originating from Athens, Georgia, is the headliner for this tour with Loamlands. They consist of Theo Hilton, lead vocals and guitar, Matt Cathcart on drums, Jared Gandy on bass, and Robbie Cucchiaro on trumpet, euphonium, and tambourine. Hilton had a powerful voice on him and accompanied with the brass by Cucchiaro, Nana Grizol put on a spectacular show. They played slow, sad songs as well as their upbeat tunes, all brought out more with the brass instruments flowing through each song, adding to the mood.
Hilton spoke about how the gay community has been so supportive of him, but before that emergence, he grew up in a small town surrounded by straight people. At the show, he spoke of political justice and criticizing political leaders, followed by their popular song, “Mississippi Swells”, a song about oil refineries in the Mississippi watershed. Nana Grizol played songs from all three of their albums, including songs like “Tambourine N’ Thyme”, “Atoms”, “Cynicism”, and “Bright Cloud”. Both bands played an incredible show, and would highly recommend catching them on tour because nothing beats a live set! Get tickets here.
To view my article on Stars & Scars, with video content, go here!
Diet Cig at Elsewhere
‘Twas the first day of March, but rain took plunder.
Diet Cig was the headliner, and they took the thunder!
Great Grandpa was one of the openers for the sold-out show, originating from Seattle, Washington. With grunge influence, vocalist Alex Menne sings and screams their “snack rock” sound complaining of social constructs, entitled guys, and zombies. Menne introduced a song by feeling the need to tell the crowd not to touch anyone without their permission. These “words of wisdom” had the crowd silent, with only a few people vocally supporting the gesture. Knowing that this was a standing show and people would obviously be touched was an unnecessary ploy to shove down people’s throats.
The band played songs like the slow, melodic tunes of 28 J’s L8r, a song explaining Menne stopped smoking weed because she thought her friends were zombies going to eat her to good old-fashioned grunge jammers like Teen Challenge with lyrics: “And I drip when I swell/out in my empty room/I only wanted you so bad”. Alex’s vocal range was impressive, from soft soprano to shrieking from yelling, all smoothly transitioned into one another.
Other band members include guitarist and vocalist Patrick Goodwin, bassist Carrie Miller, drummer Cam LaFlam, and guitarist Dylan Hanwright. Great Grandpa’s songs are all completely different from one another in sound either in tempo or mood, but the differences from one song to the next to create some sort of beautiful planned chaos: but that’s grunge isn’t it? Their newest release, Plastic Cough came out July of last year and can be found here. There’s still time to check them out on tour, playing in Philly on Saturday.
Diet Cig took the stage and spoke of being consensual, friendship, love, and telling your ex off. Alex Luciano, vocals/guitar, was covered with so much glitter, you could see it all the way from the back of the venue. She posted on the band’s Instagram about bringing extra glitter for her-she wasn’t kidding. Luciano began the show with Sixteen, a song about her boyfriend at the time with the same name as hers and how he slut-shamed her. She danced around on stage with her infamous high kicks, yelled at the lights tech to let her see the crowd’s “beautiful faces”, and sang with so much soul you can feel it.
Diet Cig is a pop-punk duo from New Paltz, New York, with Noah Bowman on drums and Luciano on vocals and guitar founded in 2015. Their first EP, Over Easy, was released soon after, with songs of the scene days and problems young adults face. The band’s message is about empowerment, rebellion, and vulnerability. With cutesy delivery, you would think that young women and teenage girls would be their main demographic, but at least half of the crowd at Elsewhere was males, if not more. Luciano criticised the white-cis-male multiple times throughout the night. She seemed to throw feminism into everyone’s face.
Both bands’ stage presence was impeccable.They had high energy, commanded your attention, and criticized the bad in the world from being touched inappropriately to our politicians’ corruptions. What these bands stood for was having fun with rock and roll while not taking shit from anybody. Though both Great Grandpa and Diet Cig were excessive with their feminism and peace agendas, their performances were sensational. Catch them and Spook School until March 3 at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. Tickets can be found here.
To see videos from this show go check out Stars & Scars!
Tall Juan at Trans Pecos
Originally advertised as a Surf Curse show at Trans Pecos, a frequent venue for the band, turned out to be a show for Surfbort. Regardless of the miscommunication, the show was sold out and the music did not disappoint.
Surfbort, a Brooklyn-based “freak music” band with lead singer Charlotte Wimberley, kicked ass with their high energy and punk presence. She belted out stronger than most males, danced around on stage and even in the crowd! In between songs, she and her bandmates spread little blurbs of positivity and love as well as anti-governmental messages. Everyone loved it.
The venue, as small as it was, was packed to full capacity and everyone was moving whether you wanted to or not. Moshing, pushpits, two-stepping, and skanking all around. You couldn’t keep your feet on the ground because the music and energy were so infectious, raging with the rest of the crowd was the only option.
Their latest EP, Bort To Death came out September of last year with songs “Hippie Vomit Inhaler”, “Back to Reaction”, “Bed Bugs”, and “Hideaway”. Punk influence, catchy melodies, and organized chaotic instrumentals woven through every song. Hearing these songs live and becoming a part of the music was an epic experience. Other than one douchebag in the crowd throwing elbows, everyone was having a fun time in the pit. Surfbort is playing at Elsewhere Hall in Brooklyn, NY on April 12 if you want to have a good time listening to good live music with good people!
The headliner, Tall Juan seemed to have packed show even more than it already was once they hit the stage. Argentinian born and Queens-raised, the band’s sound stands out on its own. Tall Juan sounds like a cocktail of the Ramones and the Black Lips with a Latin twist. They started off the set with high energy songs, amidst people trying to crowd surf whenever they could from the front to the back of the venue, giving us a break with slower tempo songs everyone seemed to know the words to. Fans cussed in Spanish and English for people to dance and mosh, which was hilarious because the frontman, Juan Zaballa seemed like the purest soul. They covered “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges and their rendition of it was killer!
Joya Nedo, released in October 2017 soon after their previous album, Olden Goldies, Tall Juan has been producing a lot of new groovy tunes. Their new EP is a continuation of their growth as artists and quality of sound. Their next show is in Los Angeles, so unless you’re planning a trip to the west coast next week, keep an eye out for their return.
To see more of this review on Stars and Scars site, click here.