Archive for September, 2010

Yes, that’s right, a FREE SHOW! Just show up at Webster Hall at 8pm, and join The Rumble Tour with




I had the privilege of writing a review of The Gay Blades’ new album, Savages, which is due out October 5!

I love Mehanata Bulgarian Bar. Last summer was my first time there, and although basement-turned-sauna was as miserable as it gets, seeing Outernational for five weekends  in a row  shaped the experience at the venue into purely positive. Besides, the bar represents, supports, and showcases international music, a fun alternative to the usual Lower East Side hipster scene.

Arriving early, I met with a  friend of mine and discovered that Outernational had “graduated” from the basement to the ground level.  Laser beams flickered green and pink, spraying dashes  and dots over the surface of the room as Gogol Bordello,who Outnerational will be playing with in New Orleans in two weeks, blasted from the speakers. Being the first two to arrived, we were put to work; there was not a pre-determined door person, so we volunteered for the task, dividing the duties and feeling slightly empowered. Plus, I felt super cool with my obnoxiously bright “bouncer” flash light.  Initially, it seemed like a simple task, but one guest list soon divided into four different parties (Couch Surfing, Comedy Central, bachelorette, birthday…) besides the show, and everyone had names with fourteen syllables. It was truly an international house.  Meanwhile, Outernational treated the growing crowd to an acoustic set, encouraging the audience to dance, stomp, clap, and shout along. The best aspects of acoustic sets are the clarity of each instrument and  lyrics, which are the keys to appreciating ON, who are passionate musicians and protest poets.  They serenaded and stood up with originals, “Sir No Sir,” “Whirlwinds,” “Que Queremos,” Underground” (new!), and “Fighting Song,”  “and some covers,  like Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees.” Thanks to the band, the packed house was finally in the dancing mood, just in time for DJ Uproot Andy to take over. For the next four hours, heavy Latin beats, remixes of  some hip hop staples, and Eurohouse vibes swelled as  the tropical humidity, BAC, adrenaline, and numbers pouring into the bar rose exponentially.

Taking a short break, I attempted to take some band photos on our favorite stoop on Ludlow before proceeding to an apartment junk food party to recharge. returning to Mehanata around closing to pick up some remaining gear, a spontaneous jam session broke out bewteen Mintek and a trumpet player friend of the band’s for an “after hours” style party.

Remember, Outernational will be heading down to Atlanta, October 7 and New Orleans, October 8  with  the one and only Gogol Bordello. If you’re around, I envy you.

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More photos!

Musings: TAB the Band and Slash at Terminal 5 9/14

Posted: September 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

Check out the review of TAB the Band with Slash in The Deli!

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There is good, and there is good. The Dig are good. The Rock Shop in Park Slope was bustling with drunken buffoons, sword swallowers, and burlesque dancers when I arrived. A bit confused, especially when the door boy had no idea that there was a free show and almost forced me to pay a $5o cover, I was informed that a beer festival was in the works.  Well, that explained all the red, sweaty faces stumbling up the stairs to the rooftop.

Anyway, when all the pale and dark samples ran out, many beerfest goers were replaced, and it was time for music that drunk and sober people could enjoy. The Dig, looking more fresh-faced than usual after a bit of a break from touring, hit the stage with song after song from Electric Toys and a few brand new tunes that I’m looking forward to owning. Blues driven, bassy riffs and ethereal key board and guitar chords kept the audience was enthused, who moved and cheered at every point of the set. By the end, they demanded one more song which The Dig  satisfied, even adding  an extra encore. Get your tickets for the Mercury Lounge on October 16!

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WWRSD?: Outernational TONIGHT at Mehanata Bulgarian Bar 9/25

Posted: September 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

Need I repeat myself?

OUTERNATIONAL tonight at MehanataBulgarian Bar 113 Ludlow St. between Rivington and Delancey




Be there. Read more about the band and our adventures here.

Let me just start with a fun fact. Today is my 3/4 birthday. I’m almost allowed to rent a car! That aside, here’s what’s happening in the music world:

THE DIG at The Rock Shop in Park Slope. FREE SHOW, 21+, 10PM. More deets!

Also, if you’re up in the Williamburg area, go check out my buddies The Wicked Tomorrow at CAMEO (the back of Lovin’ Cup) at 10:30 PM. 21+, $10

There are actually nights in New York when you are bored, if you can believe it. Last summer,  I had one of those days. I was itching to get out, see live music, and just explore my soon-to-be home. A random selection off resulted in one of my better life choices: a show at Mercury Lounge with The Dig. Mercury Lounge was/is my favorite venue in the city, and I figured, even if the music wasn’t great, at least I was sheltered by something great. As it turns out, The Dig instantly became a top choice of mine. Their bluesy roots, rock vibe, and danceable songs were pretty much what I was looking for, and to top it all off, the four were some of the nicest guys I had met in the city.  Making and friends and finding great music; that’s why I came to NY.  I’ve been able to see them perform in NY and Boston, and my mom has seen them in LA. If you haven’t already, do check them out. You can get an introduction here!

Constantly in and out of the city, on tours, and becoming a big deal around the big apple, The Dig are always a band I try to see when they’re in town. This summer they released Electric Toys which, if I had my own “Rocker Stalker Charts,” I’d place in the Top 5. They play again at Mercury Lounge on October 16. Get your tickets now before it sells out!


As you saw from my earlier post, Outernational had a gig September 22 in Brooklyn at the Bellhouse, and according to guitarist Leo Mintek, “This was closest to home we’ve been in the last year.” Let’s just get the basic lowdown and some photos and video. Sound good? Peachy.

Brooklyn based Cerebral Ballzy opened the night. First of all, that name has to go; I’m a fan of puns and crude jokes, but this one just isn’t working. Second, their singer could barely keep his eyes open, and after spewing incomprehensible lyrics at a machine gun pace  on topics such as, “puke,” “girls,” and “being bad,” I wanted to spew too. Finally, I know the night was all about leftist perspective, and as a completely politically apathetic person, that’s not what bothered me. It was the fact that Cerebral Ballzy sucked ballzy. See, I can be funny too!

Next up, Outernational swung the sound the other way. I always call them a “fusion band” because I can’t define them as purely rock, hard rock, punk, reggae, dub, ska, rap, or funk, because they include all the above.  Also, the quintet takes pride in constructing danceable, melodic songs that contain poetic and powerful lyrics. They’re the type of band that can be enjoyed purely for their music AND be used to take a stand. The set was back-to-back, a marathon of songs, including “Here is the Rose,” “One for the Airwaves,” “Que Queremos,” a cover of their idols, The Clash’s, “The Guns of Brixton,” and “Fighting Song” (in the video below).

Third in the line up were The Menzingers. What is a “menzinger?” although musically catching and appealing, also covering the Clash with “Straight to Hell,” had vocals that were, well, a little generic. They alternated between two guitarist on vocals, one who played lefty, making the count for left handed instrumentalist three for the night, in the style much like their tour mates Anti-Flag.

Headliners, were, naturally, Anti-Flag. Not to repeat myself, but even though I’m not any particular “wing,” I did have a blast during their set. I steered clear of the body bashing but definitely absorbed plenty of the energy radiating from the stage; it’s no surprise these guys have been around for 22 years and still have such great appeal. Continuing the theme, AF also did a Clash tune, “Should I Stay, or Should I Go?” Not to mention, Justin Sane (Ah, so clever!), who I had met at a previous ON engagement, was just insanely attractive (I know, I’m late to jump on the bandwagon.). In a conversation pre-show, outside with Outernational’s Miles Solay  and his prom date from high school, Sane revealed that he had been to three different proms. No surprise there.

After the four bands had kicked the Bandshell’s butt, it was time to pack up and add more to my roadie resume. With the help of my two gal pals, we passed the test of packing equipment into Outernational’s van; I was even called “diesel” at some point during the process…Then I broke a shoe, and there was some after hours dancing at Santos Party House with DJ Uproot Andy…who will be DJing after Outernational’s Saturday gig at Mehanata bulgarian Bar!

Check out the rest of my photos and a video of Outernational’s “Fighting Song.”

WWRSD?: Emily Greene at The Living Room Tonight 9/23/10

Posted: September 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

In  attempt to broaden my horizons in what types of show I go to, I’ll be hitting The Living Room at 154  Ludlow St. in the LES tonight to catch jazzy, piano-playing Emily Greene. 10:30 PM set.

Also, I’ll be flyering the downtown area for CMJ…remember WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2010 at 1pm, Arlene’s Grocery! Lots of rock, so please roll on by! I’ll be shamelessly promoting this event til the very last second…so get used to it!

CMJ 2010 Artist Line Up!

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

CMJ is quickly approaching and the ever-growing artist list is already enormous! Some of my favorites made the cut! Glance through THIS LIST and get excited!

I would go see  Brooklyn-based Outernational at their  TWO  shows this week.

TONIGHT at 7PM  the Bellhouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn, opening for Anti Flag. Get the scoop!

SATURDAY, September 25 ACOUSTIC at at Mehanata Bulgarian Bar. Doors at are 8pm. More details here.

Outernational and I have history. Another gem I dug out of the enormous list of artists at CMJ 2008, Outernational stood tall at Crash Mansion “Downstairs,” so tall, in fact, that vocalist Miles Solay almost hit his head as the band jumped up and down during “Fighting Song.” December of that year, I made another trek to NY from LA during a winter storm to finally meet the quintet, and Solay and guitarist, Leo Mintek, showed me around backstage at their Music Hall of Williamsburg (It was my first time in Brooklyn!) gig with The Slackers.  After a late evening, we settled on meeting the next afternoon at the Off Soho Suites lobby; the hotel was kind enough to let me conduct business there despite already being checked out. Mintek established himself as the official spokesman, as the rest of the crew was tied up in other obligations. Study some ON history here!

When the ice had defrosted and spring rain arrived, I bounced back to NY for some time, and coincidentally, ON was set to play Bamboozle Festival  2009 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.  Bamboozle could have been more of a nightmare if not for my “dreamboats,”  Outernational. Jumping off the bus, I scampered through the May showers to pick up my ticket the band had left me. I approached the entrance and was quickly halted and commanded to hand over my umbrella. I whined, “Are you serious? It’s torrential out here! What are we supposed to do?” The security man in yellow replied, “I don’t know; you just can’t bring that in here. It’ s  a weapon,” to which I sneered, “Yeah, my fist is a weapon, too.” Fuming, I threw down my umbrella by the gate and grabbed a stray piece of cardboard for makeshift shelter. Sliding through the mud and soaked up to my knees, I made it to ON a few minutes before their 2pm slot. Mintek, bassist Jesse Williams, and trumpet/accordian/keyboard player Jesse Blum (“Dr. Blum”) saw me in my cold misery and quickly welcomed me under their backstage “tent,” handing me a plastic bag for my camera that was on the verge of shorting out. Thank goodness. The band jumped onstage, and I wandered back into the precipitation with my stylish cardboard overhang, a little less self-conscious when I saw people walking by with plastic bags wrapped around their heads and trash bag ponchos. I felt better for another half hour, until the set was over. The band, tired and freezing, decided it was best to depart Bamboozle but didn’t leave me hanging. Mintek handed me his “artist badge” just in case it could “get anything.” It was the thought that counted; I, however, could not handle my almost frost-bitten toes and left a couple hours later.

Spring turned to summer, and I was back in LA for a bit before making my real move to NY. Again, ON and I crossed paths, this time at the Vans Warped Tour in Ventura. The night before I had stepped off the airplane and received a message saying, “Hope you still make it tomorrow! There’s a ticket for you!” I smacked my forehead realizing I had completely forgotten about Warped Tour, or had probably blocked it out due to previous experiences. Coming to my senses, I realized I couldn’t miss ON’s awesomeness. Once again, Mother Nature interfered, bringing the coldest day I had experienced out by the CA coast, and to make matters worse, Outernational’s set was changed from first to last. Huddling under their merchandise booth and holding up the supporting poles against the wind, we finally escaped after their finale…

Time flew, and back in the city, it was sweltering summer, and time for series of sweaty Mehanata Bulgarian Bar residency shows, and as the seasons cooled again into winter, it was the time of the season to plan something for my birthday. I couldn’t come up with anything other than booking a show, “24K Bold,” with a friend of mine, to celebrate aging and NY music, and ON happily contributed their talents in acoustic form. That week was also their send-off show at Highline Ballroom where we started a tradition of a “family” meal at the 24-hour diner down the street.

The band was setting out on a  6-month tour, and it was hard to believe that I would  be seeing them only once at SXSW 2010 during that time.  A show I was co-hosting at SXSW at Hyde Park Bar and Grill, an out of bounds, Austin version of TGI Firday’s,  was an interesting sight for ON, or for any band for that matter. The quintent glanced at the space, and Williams commented, “We’re gonna have to do acoustic; my bass amp will blow this place up.” I had been stuck at the same restaurant for days, so I joked, “Please blow it up. PLEASE.” Concluding over a dinner of hearty chicken fried steaks that acoustic might be more appropriate, ON serenaded families and even inspired an older couple to waltz…foxtrot…or something.   Packing up quickly for their next gig, one of several collaborations with their producer, Tom Morello, and his new project ,Street Sweeper Social Club/SSSC (who I saw the summer before at a private Kenny’s Castaways show thanks to Outernatinoal), ON swept me away to the special appearance as their “manager” for the evening. Usually not a celebrity approacher, I thought this might be my one chance to speak to Mr. Morello and get a photo-op with the guitar hero. He had shooed another girl  away who asked for a picture right after he exited the stage. A bit intimidated, I waited for him to cool down, then tentatively asked, “Hey Tom, do you think I could get a photo with you?” Luckily, Jesse Williams was there to vouch for my friendship with ON, and Morello relaxed and said, “Sure!” I thought it would be clever to point out that we were “rivals,” Yale and Harvard  graduates in one picture, and he exclaimed, “Really? What year ?” and I said, “2008,” at which he laughed, “Wow, you’re a youngin!”  The next Austin morning, I awoke to 30-something degree weather and one jacket. Terrified by the fact that my entire day was scheduled for the outdoors, I braved the  wind at the Rachel Ray Showcase at Stubb’s BBQ where ON and SSSC once again hit the stage. As soon as I could, I dove for cover in the band van, as they packed up, and we dined picnic style on Stubb’s. As a final gesture of caretakers, ON drove to another venue that also happened to be the American Apparel flea market. It was miserably frigid and the band collectively voted to head back to town. Before we left, however, I demanded five minutes to hit the AA shops; I was given literally five minutes. Sprinting back to the van in the last ten-second countdown, we headed back to downtown…

It was unacceptable in my book that I wouldn’t see the band until the end of the summer, so I planned for a trip back to LA to host the band at my house and catch them  in Las Vegas and LA’s The Viper Room.  April of this year was like a family reunion and the most fun slumber party one could think of. I convinced my parents to make a trip up to Vegas to meet Outernational before they came to LA. Long story short, LV was no where near as glamorous as anyone had hoped; the band that was scheduled  to play with ON experienced a scare when their bassist was hit by a car in the venue’s parking lot, and no one was in the mood to play. As a result, ON and company, explored Sin City, still a bit down about all the disappointing events. Cut to my house. Four of the five pulled up in their van, trailed by their U-haul, run-down, and suffering from, what Williams deemed, “Van-itis.”  The highlights of the week were: a gig at the world famous Viper Room, my favorite venue in LA, a midnight Mexican dinner with Tom Morello afterward, followed by a dance party at Le Deux; boogie boarding alone after the rest shied away from the icy Pacific; multiple family meals and non-stop eating; and, jam/song-writing sessions in my living room that bore a  song that you can hear at gigs now!  I also learned several factoids about Outernational: they love string cheese, artichokes, and cake; they have great team work; Miles and Leo wake up really early, especially when auditioning drummers via Youtube; only three of them drive the van; Jesse Williams and I have a passion for Pirate;s Booty, fake band names (Bang Island and their debut Swimming in Sweatpants), the movie, Speed, and vinyl; Dr. Blum is an advice column incarnate; and, we all love yelling the  name of the imaginary band member who was lost in Texas during SXSW, “Frank,” out the window as we drive…anywhere.  I was really upset when I found I was leaving a day before my guests. At 9AM, William awoke to see me off, and my separation anxiety set in immediately. I don’t know how it happened, but my airplane malfunctioned on the runway, and we were forced to return to the gate and rebook flights for the next day. I got one more day of quality hang out time!  Saturday was the real deal, though. I went back to NY, and ON continued on their  tour. Even after parting ways, the gents still passed through LA, borrowing my car and visiting my parents. My mom even referred to them as “the boys,” and made sure she saw the next two LA gigs.

After counting down for four several months, Outernational had their homecoming show at, of coures, Highline Ballroom with their punk-legend tour mates, GBH. A bit of post-show jamming backstage, “La Bamba” and “Tequila,” worked up appetites and brought us again to our favorite diner…

I’ll stop. That’s enough. That brings you up to speed. To summarize, Outernational is not only a phenomenal band (ask anyone who’s seen or played with them), but they are part of my family. I’ve met some great friends through them (Rebekah and Jon, you rock!), and I’ve learned what it means to stand behind your music and message.


Rocker Stalker