Archive for October, 2010

WWRSD?: Crash Kings and Anberlin at Irving Plaza 10/30

Posted: October 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

So it’s the eve of All Hallow’s Eve, and people are already dressing up. I prefer to save my costume for the real day so that I can comfortably enjoy the pre-Halloween festivities. Tonight, before I transform into Alice Cooper, I plan to rock out to Crash Kings and Anberlin at Iriving Plaza. The doors are at 7pm, show at 8pm! Tickets are still available at the door; costume optional.

Last Night Rocker Stalker said…: CMJ 2010 WEEK RECAP

Posted: October 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

This year’s CMJ Music Marathon was indeed a marathon. Although the festival technically ran from October 19-23, many bands extended the extravaganza through the weekend. The preparation for CMJ was many-fold. Not only did I take on the fun task of writing up more than a dozen bands beforehand, putting together a jam-packed (haha literally) schedule, and  running around to hear all the music my eardrums could handle, I decided to add my own showcase to the mix…more on that later. To say the least, I rocker-stalked ‘til I dropped. 

Tuesday morning arrived, and I leapt out of bed like it was the first day of school, except I was less afraid of being faced with grade-grubbers and disciplinarians. I did fear, however, that I would face some unfortunate bands in the coming days, and as a disclaimer, I WILL assert my right to free speech in this blog about said bands. Anyway, I scurried off from Brooklyn to Washington Square Park, the CMJ headquarters for the week, where I picked up my badge, CMJ “Bible,” and a snazzy pinstriped goodie bag full of free music, flyers, and my favorite, YouTube socks! I’m lazy at times, so  I managed to hit only one panel on the rise of American hardcore, where I ran into Josh Weinstein of decibel.!  Not a shocker! But, even more despicable than my poor attendance, I had to bail early to catch an early show at Arlene’s Grocery. I arrived at the Grocery for Penrose, a band of three brothers who played good ol’ rock ‘n roll that leaned heavily on the blues, very heavily. My first reaction to discovering the singer/guitarist/keyboardist, bassist, and drummer were all related was, “That’s convenient!” but I also concluded that, “These guys aren’t too bad. These blues brothers have potential!” Next up was Midnight Spin, who I got to know through the Deli’s assignment back in April for the “Best of NYC” issue. Their interview and gregariousness struck a good chord in me, and I love seeing a band that radiates fun.  On my way out, I encountered two of the boys of Blackbells who convinced me to stay for some friends of theirs, The Dance Party from LA. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood, but I didn’t really feel like it was that much of a dance party. As a result, I escaped to The Living Room. I was faced with an obstacle, though. Just a few days before CMJ, I misplaced my wallet, and therefore was living on a college ID for entrance into venues. The bouncer at The Living Room, however, gave me a hard time about not having a driver’s license, ending in a screaming fest outside the venue.  Leaving in a huff, I walked to Le Poisson Rouge for the New Zealand Showcase, hoping to run into Flight of the Conchords. Just kidding. I was there for Street Chant and Ruby Frost. Street Chant was a trio of youngsters, two girls and a boy, who produced some great, grungy aggressive rock. While Ruby Frost was another “sheila”-fronted band, she and her three kiwis were much more poppy and glittery. After my international stint, I headed back to more familiar musical territory at Bowery Electric. Upon arrival, The Eastern Sea from Austin were preparing to play. Their upbeat, folksy rock demeanor was a nice change of style and pace. Following them were resident rockers, Reckless Sons, for their first of three CMJ shows, who know that if you’ve got it, you flaunt it. Another Austin band, The Frontier Brothers were next, and lead singer/guitarist Marshall “Galactic” made a statement with sequined suspenders, and along with the rest of the band who impressed with their sparkling energy. Back to NY bands, Reckless Sons hit the beautifully lit stage, embodying the idiom, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”The Shake followed with a spirited and solid series of songs, and Lily and the Parlour Tricks impressed with tri-part harmonies and doo-wop beats.  The crowd inched closer to the stage and sweat to closers, Black Taxi’s set away, who are known around town for their particularly expert dance-rock formulations. Photos of day 1!

The second day, but I made an early journey to the Lower East Side to host my “Se7end Deadly Bands Showcase” at Arlene’s Grocery. My heart was pounding with excitement and anxiety, a sensation amplified by an over-consumption of caffeine. Reality struck when The Courtesy Tier walked in, ready to sound check. Breathing deeply, and with the help of my mom’s company and the first band’s optimism, I got the show on the road, right on time. Pleased that there were a dozen or so people at 1:30 in the afternoon, my nervousness started to subside as The Courtesy Tier filled the room with their haunting, bluesy rock cadence. It’s always hard to believe that two people can create such a powerful sound, but the following duo, decibel., reaffirmed the observation, this time, with a more experimental edge and aggressive spirit. My Austin amigos, The Frontier Brothers, again brightened up the afternoon with their lively   demeanor;  people were mesmerized by Brett Moses’s bouncing jazzercise moves while playing keys and singing. Up next, Black Taxi impressed as usual, but even more spectacular was their “set by request.” I yelled out song names, a couple of my favorites, “Shoeshine” and “Be My Friend,” got played, but some of my other suggestions were shot down by Ezra Huleatt (vocals, keys, trumpet, etc.) who joked, “Something we’ve played in the last two years!”  Blackbells took the stage next, showcasing their retro-rock with an alternative and psychedelic twist, and electro-pop quintet AM to AM took the sound of the afternoon in yet another genre direction. Closing the afternoon, power rock trio, Lights Resolve, attracted a huge crowd to Arlene’s, ripping through several new songs that will be on their first, full record due out in January (I can’t wait!)  in addition to “oldies” from their first three EP’s.  Long story short, I hadn’t smiled that hard in a long time. The day had ended in a success, and I felt like the luckiest lady around. THANK YOU to everyone who played and attended! After, I headed to Black Taxi’s second gig of the day, at Gallery Bar, which was exactly how I imagined it: a rectangular, white-walled room with the band set up in the center with a simple PA system, and of course, a bar. The short but sweet set was again by request and up close and personal. Did I mention how much I love that band? I hit Rockwood Music Hall for Deadbeat Darling but left, fed up with how packed the venue was, and found my way to the Studio at Webster hall for BRAHMS. DJ trio with a few keyboards and a guitar, they were perfect for an underground dance party but not for my exhausted state at 1AM. Perhaps, I need to revisit the electro-trio? Day 2 photos!

The third day, I rose again to hit the shows, this time staying closer to home. Afternoon bands at Spike Hill, Williamsburg included female-fronted Vagina Panther (Don’t ask…), The Gay Blades, and The Shake. The sound at Spike Hill can be hit or miss, and for The Gay Blades, unfortunately, it was a miss. I had seen these guys before, and their new album, Savages, is superb, so I was a bit disappointed about the overwhelming reverb that drowned out the vocals. Following the trio, The Shake restored sound stability, luring people back toward the stage for a solid set, highlighting a couple new tunes. The Shake are currently preparing for several shows, “The Shakedown” at The Red Door, beginning November 13. After a quick bite at Spike Hill, I went down the road to Public Assembly’ “back room” where experimental but catching Ava Luna was performing. A mix of three female vocalist, a male singer/guitarist, a keyboardist, bassist, and drummer, Ava Luna definitely epitomized indie Brooklyn bands with their avant-garde…everything. Hopping over to Manhattan, I stopped by The National Underground to see decibel.  quake the downstairs cave of a venue, and bluesy-rockers, Hollis Brown,  upstairs. Across the street, a line was already forming an hour beforehand outside Rockwood Music Hall’s exquisite Stage 2 for Black Taxi’s show number four.  I was planning to go to Ace of Clubs where one of my other prized bands, Lights Resolve, was appearing, but I wasn’t so sure about the exact set time. Quickly texting LR’s singer, Matt Reich, I was informed that they were setting up and I had ten minutes to get there.  As Black Taxi played the last notes of “Ticket,” I sprinted to the next venue, arriving just in time as the trio deafened listeners with superb tunes that will make up the band’s 2011, first full-length record, Feel You’re Different. Third day in pics

Day four, I was dragging, but Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers at the lovely Knitting Factory in Brooklyn got me back on track. Shilpa, although petite, has the voice of a giant, growling and screaming amidst her exotic vocals and furious harmonium pressing. Her happy hookers matched Shilpa’s dynamic energy, blasting through songs available on the band’s freshly printed 7” ! After a short stint in Williamsburg, I was back in the city for a show at Crash Mansion hosted by ReThink Pop Music. I happened to arrive right as Penrose were setting up, and when they began their set, I was hit with a wall of distorted loudness, which put a damper on their initial appeal at Arlene’s Grocery a couple days prior.  After the trio, reliably rocking Reckless Sons took the stage, bringing back some hope for the Mansion’s notorious acoustics (I guess it was a common theme for this year’s CMJ.). I think my favorite newer song is “Whipping Boy.” Subsequently, Miniboone appeared onstage to delight with bouncy riffs and high-flying spirit.  Heading back toward my neighborhood, in an overcrowded vehicle, I passed through Williamsburg’s Cameo Gallery to see international rockers, Hypernova, New Yorkers via Tehran, and one of my favorites, vintage-inspired heavy rock trio, The London Souls.  Day 4

The official final day of CMJ was as packed any other day. I collaborated with The Shake crew to cheer on some fellow NYC bands beginning  at  the Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, where Apollo Run impressed with piano driven melodies, elaborate bass orchestrations, and a variety of catching beats, all performed while delivering tri-part, awe-inspiring  harmonies. Further east on Houston, another trio, New Madrid, took the lounge out of Parkside Lounge with fiery and sultry, self-proclaimed “bilingual rock,” the two languages being English and Spanish. Out the door and off to The Studio at Webster Hall, I entered the already sweaty basement venue where reggae-tinged rock quartet, Deadbeat Darling, were performing their poetic pieces  from their Weight of Wandering, and debuting several new musings. After DBD, My Dear Disco, a bevy of youngsters from Michigan, whose disco-infused electro-pop, burst with energy and strobe lights. Moving right along, Black Taxi (Yes, again. I’m proud to say I caught all five shows.) strutted their stuff and   followed a set list this time; Ezra Huleatt bounced around, his body painted with “toothy animals,” like alligators, and Billy Mayo’s guitar chops never sounded better. And, of course, it wouldn’t be “dance” rock without the infectious rhythm section, Krisana Soponpong on bass and Jason Holmes on drums. The night wasn’t over yet, believe it or not, and I took a long walk to Fontana’s where Outernational we gearing up to play a late night show for the BLOOD ‘N’ BONES INTERNATIONAL ROCK N’ ROLL N’ POST-PUNK SHOWCASE.” The show turned into an early morning show, as it ran almost two hours late, but it was worth staying up  for one of the “future rockers’” best gigs to date (I’ve seen at least 30…).  Even more astonishing was the “stand in” drummer the guys had met the DAY before. Mr. Rick Smith had already mastered the part and the parts in 24 hours. Check out the offical, final day of CMJ here!

Because so many bands extended CMJ until Sunday, I forwent my day of rest. An all-acoustic afternoon extravaganza at Pianos, hosted by CitizenMusic Presents, satisfied my curiosity about some of the bands I knew in acoustic form. But first, some new frequencies to my eardrums were The Jenkins sisters, three country/bluegrass singers/instrumentalists, who traded vocal duties and  who braided their long pigtails together; it was something out of the Powerpuff Girls. Another folksy and melancholy band followed with Joe and the Coats. As I mentioned, I was anticipating seeing familiar acts without their amps, and Apollo Run transformed their set with grace, using bongos, baby grand, and subbing ukulele for bass. Next was something unexpected, but Nick Schupak (He’s going to be a frequent cameo in my tales.) and Jon Merkin of The Shake sang and played guitar together as The Wicker Men. Despite a heinously out of tune guitar, Schupak handled the spotlight with humor, and actually, wasn’t too shabby of a singer. Naturally, the closing suppertime band was The Shake, but a much more subdued and swinging version of themselves. I downed a bunch of Diet Cokes to prepare myself for the long evening ahead, the final stretch. A party at the McKibbin Lofts, “The Musicberg of Williamshall,” hosted the punky and outrageous Wyldlife, Shapes, and Etta Place, and the jumpy Static Jacks. In between, there was some vanilla cake that I ate even thought I was afraid it was laced. Calming my paranoia, The Twees, the organizers of the event, charmed with sweet pop-rock, and last but not least, Reckless Sons (They came in second place for my most seen band.) vocalit Matt Butler made his way in and out of the crowd, taking advantage of the stageless room,  and guitarists Anthony Stella and Cass Dillon upped their showmanship. A last minute decision to play one of the band’s “classics,” “Blood,” proved to be the best decision of the night, as a few improve moments became a full out, rock out, jam session finale. All in all, it was a fun night out in Bushwick and satisfying close to CMJ 2010. View the wind down…



Posted: October 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

yes, it’s that time of the season…CMJ starts today, and the music marathon lasts til October 23…RockerStalker is on a mission to find some great new music!.   Blog to you soon.

OFF THE RECORD! WTF is Up with My Love Life? Guest Blog: PART 2!

Posted: October 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

You wanted the rest of the juicy tips and details?

Go ahead, take a look!

The other night, my friend and fellow music enthusiast, Lily, who is super  legit around NYC  and a publicist for some pretty awesome bands, invited me to see her latest catch, Jump Into the Gospel. Because we both like “bands that don’t suck,” I immediately took a listen and indeed, JITG was one of those non-sucky up and coming bands.

Arriving at The Studio at Webster Hall Wednesday night,  I was faced with the unfortunate but typical situation of a not so pleasant accompanying band, Dear Comrade.

Dear, Dear Comrade, please tell me you have day jobs? Or, at least have other projects going? Sorry.

Jump Into the Gospel finally took the stage, and the first thing that hit me was how amazing their hair was, especially lead vocalist, Louis Epstein’s  that was a cross between the ‘dos of  Robert Smith, Edward Scissorhands, and a “skater chick” (We discussed what we requested from our hairstylists when at the salon… and when I told him, “You guys are like a whole new type of hair band!” he laughed, saying he had “grown up listening to Poison, so I guess it makes sense!”)  Besides the eye-catching first impression, and most importantly, JITG’s music was the best of the night. Fun, quirky, and energetic electro/synth-pop, JITG is a band you should keep your ear on.  You can check out more about the gig on The Deli! They’ll be back around NYC soon, playing Pianos on November 5.

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The Shake were all about new last night: new song, new guitarist, and I think maybe some new clothes? Although a quiet evening in Williamsburg (Tuesday at 8pm at Spike Hill isn’t as happenin’ as you would think.), Jon Merkin (vocals/guitar), Jeremy Stein(bass/vocals), and Dan Kirschen (drums) debuted their newest member, Mike Serman on guitar as well as a couple new songs,including “Kill My Name”  (see the live performance here!), and tracks from their The Shake Go Crazy.

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December 2009, I was headed to Santos Party House to see Black Taxi, who have become my family away from home over the last two years. But, being the musically curious person I try to be, I saw The Shake listed on the bill and decided I’d check them out, especially since it was the celebration of their The Shake Goes Crazy release. The four burst onto stage, and my immediate responses were, “Woah, these guys are YOUNG!” and “Woah, these guys can rock!”  A couple days later, I received a friend request from guitarist Eliad Shapiro…by mistake. Apparently I resembled someone else who had attempted to high-five him during the show. Either way, it was a good conversation starter. We soon realized that we shared music tastes and friends around the city. The next month, we once again convened at a Black Taxi show, this time I was introduced to The Shake’s singer, Jon Merkin, and their manager, Nick Schupak, who is a force to be reckoned with in the NYC music scene and head honcho of CitizenMusic Presents. Fast forward to SXSW 2010. After meeting so many bands in NY, I felt the need to put together a showcase, boasting NY bands in Austin. Collaborating with Schupak, we put together “NYC in ATX” and another, and he did a third, all at Hyde Park Bar and Grill, off the beaten path from the downtown Austin main drag. I finally met bassist Jeremy Stein and drummer Dan Kirschen of The Shake, and we all bonded over Hyde Park’s infamously wonderful french fries, green hair spray on St. Patrick’s day, and all the other great bands in the line ups. Late night adventures through Austin and a dangerously packed Seabring that got six of us back to our hotels, provided a whole lot of entertainment. After surviving our travels out west, The Deli Magazine collected the “best of NY” bands for a mini-festival, during which The Shake performed at Public Assembly in Brooklyn. It also happened to be Eliad’s birthday the next day, and I felt there wouldn’t a better occasion to bring a cake and candles on stage. Nick and I balanced the decadent chocolate pastry as the audience sang “Happy Birthday.” Cute, right? Since then, although not that long ago, a lot has changed.Presently,  Eliad is attending  law school at Cornell (Smarty pants!), and Mr. Serman has taken over guitar duties.October marks CMJ season, so be sure to check out The Shake  four times during October 19-23. You can see their line up here.

A fan of heavy rock? Or, bass that will vibrate your brain? I’ve got just the shows for you.

Tonight, Vinyette will be playing alongside NYC rockers Social Hero at Ace of Clubs in NoHo. Music starts at 8, 21+, $10…all the details here!

Down the road, The Dig, will be rocking Mercury Lounge at 10pm. this is their send off show for a one month tour with LA”s The Henry Clay People. $10, 21+. If you can’t make the show or can’t get in, be sure to pick up a copy/download The Dig’s newest, Electric Toys!

Breaking news!: Lights Resolve are the champions!

Posted: October 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

Lights Resolve are quite the handsome and talented trio. Not only will they be headlining The Deli CMJ alternative rock stage on wednesday at Arlene’s Grocery for my “Se7en Deadly Bands” Showcase, but they were the winners of the magazine’s contest for  free studio time at Stadium Red Studios!

Check out the blurb on LR, and for all you special RockerStalker readers, get a special look at my interview with lead singer/guitarist  Matt Reich.


It is an exciting time for Lights Resolve; your first full-length record is being released. What challenges did you have to overcome to finally get to this point?

Matt: I don’t think any of us individually have ever, in our whole career as artists, wrote and recorded a full record.  Whatever bands we have been in, we have always done EP’s.  We don’t cut our fabric to this year’s fashion though, so we recorded an LP at the least popular time to do it in history. I am certain, though, that this body of work is the most cohesive unit I have ever worked on.  Everything makes sense and was well thought out, though there are spastic moments of impulse on the record that keep things super fresh.  Challenges to get to this point?  Writing a lot of music and lyrics and making enough money to do this on our own terms without somebody’s voice in our ear; we saw our vision out to the very end.

Where do you get your lyrical inspirations? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?

Matt: On this record, I took everything from my personal life, as trite as that may sound, it’s true.  There’s a lot of self-deprecation but also a little bit of hope thrown in there.  You can only pray that people can relate to the record with whatever struggles they are personally going through; I know music and art have helped me through most.  We also took the album’s title from an older song we have called “Dreaming of Love.”  The words, “feel you’re different,” took on so many meanings since then to me (about feeling fearlessly, [being a] fearfully unique/individual, and also about your ever-changing general perspective of things).

How did each of you arrive at being a part of Lights Resolve? What are the benefits and difficulties of being a trio?

Matt: Neal and I started playing together when we were freshmen in high school.  We started this band in 2006 with the bassist of our old band.  When he dyed his hair rainbow and went off to tour with The Veronicas we found The Duke [Luke Daniels] hidden in a rat cave on the east nook of the Manhattan River.  We had to convince his rat family that he was better off in a van touring the country than pretending to be rodent scum.

Having only three people on stage is a challenge because every note is heard very clearly.  We tend to use this to our advantage to cover the frequency spectrum.  I’m usually playing guitar up high while The Duke covers the low end, my vocal sits in the middle and Neal provides a map that brings it all together.  I think if you use the negative space well and everybody connects, a three-piece can sound larger than a band with far more people.

You have toured with numerous platinum artists. What and from whom did you learn the most?

We’ve definitely taken something away from each artist we’ve shared a stage with.  Whether it’s stage presence, flow of the set, technical ability, etc. we have been a sponge around every person we’ve toured with.  I think the most we’ve ever been hazed was by Handroll, the stage manager and tech for The Used.  He beat the rookie out of us, with love and daggers, of course…literally.

When you are out on the town, what characteristics do you notice make the most successfully memorable bands?

Matt: I think any band that steers away from the pack makes the most impact on me.  Either that, or virtuosity always gets me and makes me think I have a long road ahead.  This is good though because it pushes me harder, and what is art without struggle?

What is your funniest tour story?

Matt: I can’t go into detail, but involves an avocado, an ice pick and The Duke’s left phalanges.




The Deli Issue 24…

Posted: October 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

is OUT! If you’re not in NY or you can’t find it around town, download it here!


WWRSD?: Mike Del Rio at The Studio at Webster Hall 10/12

Posted: October 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

Mike Del Rio will be hitting the Studio at Webster Hall stage this evening for a suppertime set. He and his band take the stage at 7:30 PM sharp!

This CMJ pre-party is only 5 bucks, and with that low price, you also receive a free copy of MDR’s “FEEL GOOD!” sampler. And, for all you kiddies, it’s all ages!

Questions? Answers here.