Filed under: 21+, CTIndie Posts, Festival, Music, Show Reviews, Shows | Tags: Boy Genius, Cafe Nine, Elm City Popfest, February Records, New Haven Music, NHM, Steven Deal, The Wee Bees, Veronica Falls
(Originally published on May 25, 2010 on CTIndie.com)
On Friday, May 14th I made my way down to New Haven’s workhorse of a venue, Cafe Nine, to catch the first night of Elm City PopFest. Having attended the first Elm City PopFest this Fall I held high hopes for the evening.
(photo by Bob Rock)
After an initial difficulty finding parking nearby “the Nine” (a sure sign of solid attendance), I arrived just in time to miss the first song by openers, The Wee Bees. Although this was only their third show as a band, the quintet seemed to lock in relatively well on stage together; there were no obvious flubs or flaws that distracted the audience from the songs. While I wholeheartedly agree with some previous descriptions of the band’s music as “’80s- and ’90s-inspired shoegaze-meets-jangle pop,” I’d also argue that the Wee Bees also possessed a slight jazz influence, especially the singer/rhythm guitarist, who repeatedly changed guitar tunings throughout the set. Although the changes definitely helped vary the band’s sound, the tuning breaks themselves affected the overall flow of the set. During such interludes other Wee Bees began to tell jokes to fill in the time, which I feel initially worked well to break the ice a bit with the crowd. By the fourth tuning/joke break though it became more of a distraction than anything. Despite the interruptions, the Wee Bees even mix of mellow and upbeat indie pop was a decidedly good way to open the night and the festival.
(photo by Bob Rock)
Next up on the night’s billing was singer/songwriter Steven Deal. Deal’s brand of punky power pop has long been lauded in local press and I was excited that I finally got to catch one of his shows. In addition his backing band included some pretty accomplished local musicians in guitarist Chris Cretella (Goose Lane) and drummer Dave Parmelee (The Vultures, Atrina). From the get-go though, it seemed the crowd was not as excited as I was. Although each song and performance was solid through and through, Steven Deal & co. repeatedly failed to connect with the audience at large who at times seemed overwhelmed by the band’s volume and velocity. To me the lack of response by the crowd was unfortunate, as the band was putting a lot of energy into the performance especially Deal who, at one point, literally had to take a breather before diving into the next song. After a particularly energetic take on Deal’s “Caitlin’s Crying,” which he described as being written at the Cafe Nine bar “twenty years ago,” the band launched into a great cover of The Damned’s “New Rose,’ which also went over everyone’s head. It seems to me that on another night and another billing, Deal would have went over much better.
(photo by Bob Rock)
After a brief equipment change, the UK’s much anticipated Veronica Falls took the stage. Almost instantly, Cafe Nine was packed, with a significant crowd (for Cafe Nine) gathered near the stage to see the band’s first U.S. show. Where the Wee Bees were a bit mellow at times, and Steven Deal a bit hyper-charged, Veronica Falls relied heavily upon texture as well as a relentlessly driving beat. Somewhere in between the chords of non-stop guitar strumming and infinite floor tom, melody began to sneak out, usually led by a mix of male and female vocals from all four members.
(photo by Bob Rock)
(photo by Bob Rock)
Although they definitely weren’t hit-you-over-the-head power pop, with each chorus and melodic lift the songs slowly became hummable, working their way into your subconscious whether you liked it or not. Bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine immediately sprang to mind, although the band was a bit more thrashy than all three. There was a palpable energy throughout, especially in the drums which seemed to get louder and more driving with each song. In terms of stage presence, the band seemed slightly awkward, even nervous at times (which makes sense given it was their first show stateside) although this didn’t seem to impede upon their performance. By the end of their set, the band finally seemed to lock in, even managing a few smiles. The crowd reaction to the band was strong, with several audience members even requesting an encore, although to no success. Overall, Veronica Falls impressed me, so much so that I would highly recommend them to anyone wanting to check out some great new music from the British Isles.
(photo by Bob Rock)
Last but not least on Elm City PopFest’s opening night was NYC’s Boy Genius. Somewhat of an honorary New Haven band due to their frequent appearances in the Elm City as of late, Boy Genius did not disappoint. Even from the beginning, the band was on fire, ripping through their set of catchy melodic pop tunes with abandon. The band seemed particularly happy to have guitarist Mr. Ray Neal (formerly of Miracle Legion, a.k.a., one of the band’s biggest influences) joining Boy Genius for their set, which without a doubt directly impacted the band’s stage presence and energy. Even as the crowd dwindled slightly due to the late hour (the band didn’t hit the stage until after 12:30), the quintet (including Neal) only seemed to strengthen in intensity. After a series of rockers, the band ended their set with a particularly long but particularly awesome jam (dedicated to one Jason Devin), thus sealing the first night of Elm City PopFest with a bang.
(Originally published on May 25, 2010 on CTIndie.com)
(photo by Bob Rock)
Despite some initial ups and downs, Elm City PopFest’s first night ended strongly and, overall, was a resounding success.
:: Begin Transmisson ::
As of June 1st, the NHM Google calendar (see under SHOWS at left) will be listing ALL shows at New Haven area venues. Formerly, the only shows listed were those that included at least one New Haven area band on the billing. All other rules (original music only, no DJ only billings, etc.) still apply.
In addition, NHM will continue to increase its contributions to CTIndie while at the same time decreasing the amount of unique posts on this blog. Thereafter NHM will continue to function primarily as a shows calendar & resource page. Links to blog postings created by NHM on CTIndie (author tag ‘BR’) will also be posted here, both as a means to promote CTIndie and as an informal archive.
Finally, NHM will continue to expand its Twitter presence, primarily as a means of promoting area shows. Please follow us for daily updates.
Additional updates will be posted as they develop.
:: End Transmission ::
Filed under: All-Ages, CTIndie Posts, Music, Reunion, Shows | Tags: Brutally Familiar, Feet First, Heirloom Arts Theatre, New Haven Music, NHM, The Black Noise Scam, The Havnotz, The Pist
(Originally published on May 13, 2010 on CTIndie.com)
This Friday, May 14th at Danbury’s Heirloom Arts Theatre marks the most recent return of one of Connecticut’s most beloved punk bands ever, The Pist. Although only active for a little more than three years in the mid-’90s, the Pist made a name for themselves far and wide for their direct but effective songwriting and for their almost unrivaled pure punk rock fury. Following their breakup in 1996, the Pist reunited for a handful of shows in 2001 and 2007. This reunion features the core unit of Al ‘Pist’ Quimet, Bill Chamberlain and Brian Marshall, along with Gerry Stopper (of Broken) filling in for bassist Rick Abbott. Further shows have already been scheduled through the summer, taking them from CT to LA and back. For those not familiar with the Pist, check out some of their recordings online, or better yet, go to this show!
Opening for the the Pist will be New Haven’s newest punk champions, The Black Noise Scam, who follow the Pist with their simple, in your face approach to the punk rock canon. Also performing will be New Haven’s M13, which features several members of old school punksters Brutally Familiar (as well as Al Pist himself on bass), NYC’s Feet First, who will be joining the Pist at future tour dates, and CT’s Havnotz, who will be bringing the punk fury, mohawks and all.
Fans of old school CT punk, or just about anyone worth their weight in punk rock, would be well advised to check this show out.
The Pist Reunion Tour Dates:
May 14th – Heirloom Arts Theatre – Danbury, CT.
May 15th – Club Hell – Providence, RI.
May 29th – Chaos In Tejas Fest – Austin, TX.
June 5th – Club Europa – Brooklyn, NY.
June 25th – Sub/Mission – San Franciso, CA.
June 26th – TBA – Los Angeles, CA.
June 27th – TBA – Los Angeles, CA.
July 30th – TBA – Chicago, IL.
July 31st – TBA – Minneapolis, MN.
If When You Go:
@ Heirloom Arts Theatre
ALL AGES / 7pm / $8/$10
Filed under: 21+, All-Ages, CTIndie Posts, Festival, Music, Shows | Tags: Allo Darlin', Artspace, Boy Genius, Cafe Nine, Elm City Popfest, Eula, February Records, Horowitz, Midstates, New Haven Music, NHM, Panda Riot, Roadside Attractions, Steven Deal, The Butterflies of Love, The Fictional West, The Field Recordings, The Procedure Club, The Secret History, The Tyler Trudeau Attempt, The Wee Bees, Veronica Falls, Women's Basketball
(Originally published on May 11, 2010 on CTIndie.com)
Elm City Popfest returns this weekend for three days and 17 bands of indie-pop revelry. Following the success of the first Elm City Popfest this past November, festival organizer and Tweefort/February Records founder Danny Goodwin had to dig deeper this time around in order to top the original. Effectively doubling in size, this installment of Elm City Popfest offers a range of local, regional, national and even international talent. Also, in addition to Artspace (the original home of ECPF), there will be shows held at New Haven’s Cafe Nine. And as with the last ECPF, a portion of the proceeds generated by the festival will go to the aforementioned Artspace, a non-profit downtown gallery, venue and exhibition space. So what’s all the fuss about you ask? Well, here’s the breakdown…
Day One, Friday, May 14th @ Cafe Nine
Kicking off the festival will be a free, four band blowout at New Haven’s Cafe Nine featuring locals The Wee Bees and Steven Deal augmented by the UK’s Veronica Falls and NYC’s Boy Genius.
New Haven’s own The Wee Bees, featuring former members of Manchester By The Sea, The Caligulists and The Inclined Plane, start the evening with their brand of ’80s- and ’90s-inspired shoegaze-meets-jangle pop sound. Although its only been two months since their live debut at March’s Artspace Underground, The Wee Bees have quickly established themselves as one of the better ‘new’ bands in New Haven.
Following the Wee Bees will be one of New Haven’s more established singer/songwriters, Steven Deal. Having toured the country fronting bands like Bleached Black, Chopper, The Absolute Zeros and The Naomi Star, Deal recently returned from a 10+ year songwriting hiatus to deliver his debut solo album ‘Radio Twelve’ this past January. Backed by a band featuring members of The Vultures, Goose Lane, The Naomi Star and Requiem In White, among others, you can bet Deal & co. are going to rip it up well.
Next up on the billing is UK’s Veronica Falls. Making their stateside debut at this show, Veronica Falls has received a relatively heavy amount of press for their recent Captured Tracks 7″ ‘Found Love In A Graveyard.’ Described as ‘a bit of goth, ..some surf..and a heavy dose of shoegaze with pop vocal harmonies,’ Veronica Falls should fit in quite well with the evening’s lineup. Be sure to check these guys (and gals) out.
Last but not least will be NYC’s Boy Genius. Now a veteran of several Tweefort/February Records shows, Boy Genius have shown that they can write a good tune and play it well. Joining Boy Genius will be none other than Mr. Ray Neal, best known for his work with seminal Elm City jangle-pop band Miracle Legion. Ray most recently joined the band for a song at their April performance at Rudy’s. For this show, Mr. Neal will be performing with Boy Genius for their entire set, surely something that does not happen everyday.
For fans of jangle-pop, shoegaze or just plain good music, Elm City Popfest’s first night should do the trick, starting off the festival well on a fittingly upbeat and memorable note.
Day Two, ‘DAY’, Friday, May 15th @ Artspace
Day Two sees the festival moving up Crown Street to Artspace, a great downtown gallery/space that has been at its current location since 2002. Here the Popfest truly begins to ‘pop,’ as nine bands perform throughout the day. Separated into distinct ‘Day’ and ‘Night’ billings, both offer up some great bands no matter how you cut it.
Starting off the ‘Day’ portion of the festivities will New London’s Roadside Attractions. One of several New London supergroups now prowling Connecticut clubs, Roadside Attractions combine a unique blend of jazz, americana, pop and even folk into a sound that must be heard. Currently promoting the release of their new EP ‘Whispers’ on New London’s Cosmodemonic Telegraph label, Roadside Attractions start off the day strong.
Next up on the schedule is New Haven’s The Fictional West. Riding the release of their ‘Giant Clouds’ single earlier this year on Tweefort Records, the Fictional West count as influences artists like U2, The Smiths and The Magnetic Fields. With a mix of serious and satirical lyrical themes, the quartet has, however unwittingly, done well in re-creating late 80’s indie-pop. As the Sugar Sours blog accurately pointed out, ‘No lie, the Giant Clouds single sounds like it could have been sent in to NME and gotten lost in the post for 20 years.’
Following locals Roadside Attractions and the Fictional West, Elm City Popfest goes all windy city on us with the arrival of Chicago’s Midstates and Panda Riot. Currently on tour together, Midstates and Panda Riot collectively bring a psychedelic edge to the proceedings. Midstates (also known as Midstates & The Choir of Ghosts), approach their music with a more ‘space-pop’ bent whereas Panda Riot have seemingly perfected ‘swirl-pop’ a.k.a. shoegazer inspired indie-pop that at times is almost danceable. In either case, the tandem should feel right on home at ECPF.
Following the Chicago invasion, Elm City Popfest returns to its roots with an always anticipated hometown performance by EULA. Quite possibly the hardest working indie-rock band in New Haven, EULA has continually sharpened its lacerating brand of indie-pop/shoegaze/punk into an ever finer point over the past few years. Each show by the band seems to top the last, not an easy feat by a band that plays as many shows as they do. Still coming off their opening slot supporting post-punk legend Mission Of Burma last Fall, one would be ill-advised to miss this performance by EULA, and that means you.
Finishing off the ‘Day’ half Day Two’s festivities is Danbury, CT’s The Field Recordings. Garnering a substantial amount of press since their debut last year, The Field Recordings are a indie rock/pop trio that, from all accounts, seem to vary their live sound depending on the context of the billing. On record, the Field Recordings sound a bit more edgy than one would expect. Regardless, they’ve been creating some of the most interesting indie rock coming out of Connecticut lately and are well worth the price of admission alone.
Overall, the ‘Day’ portion of ECPF, Day Two covers the indie-pop bases well. Despite the fact that it starts at 2:30 in the afternoon, you’d be hard pressed to find a better lineup anywhere in the state, no matter what the start time.
Day Two, ‘NIGHT,’ Saturday, May 15th
After about an hour interlude following the conclusion of the ‘Day’ billing, part two (a.k.a. the ‘Night’ billing) of Elm City PopFest, Day Two kicks off featuring Procedure Club, The Secret History and The Butterflies of Love.
New Haven’s own Procedure Club starts off the evening’s festivities with their noisy brand of too rough to be cutesy, too cutesy to be rough, drum machine indie pop. Procedure Club have created a significant buzz lately, especially following their performance at the last Shaki Presents @ BAR show this past December. Having recently signed to Slumberland Records, you can expect their debut album to be released this June. In the meantime, check them out at ECPF before they become huge.
Next up on the ECPF evening showcase is NYC’s The Secret History. Featuring former members of My Favorite and Mick Ronson’s daughter, the Secret History have made a name for themselves writing some mighty catchy pop songs ‘about ghosts and monsters and sometimes Italy’ (at least according to the band’s MySpace page). The band’s debut album was recently released this past March on Le Grand Magistery so be sure to check it out.
Closing out Day Two of the ECPF will be New Haven’s own The Butterflies of Love. Although relatively inactive in recent years, the Butterflies reformed for the Mark Mulcahy ‘Ciao My Shining Star’ tribute shows. The quintet liked the shows so much that they decided to play more, including this headlining slot at PopFest. A favorite of the late John Peel, The Butterflies of Love have released several records on the Fortuna POP! label in the UK to much acclaim over the years. Having had the opportunity to see them during their original run some years back, I’d have to say it would be well worth the wait to check them out.
In the end, Day Two of Elm City PopFest creates one the best original pop/indie rock billings seen in New Haven in quite some time. With the mix of great local, regional, national and even international artists contributing, there’s plenty here for everyone.
Day Three, Wednesday, May 26th @ Cafe Nine
Although 11 days separate Day Two and Three, this ‘follow-up’ show (as its being advertised) certainly does not diminish the quality and/or energy of the festival. Performing will be the UK’s Allo Darlin’ and Horowitz, as well as Brooklyn/New Haven’s The Tyler Trudeau Attempt and Women’s Basketball.
Kicking off the evening will be the UK’s Allo Darlin’ and Horowitz. A late addition to the PopFest lineup, Allo Darlin’ ‘can turn a room in a famous punk venue into a joyous, jumping, sweaty, pop-mosh pit. Or bring a room of 500 to hushed silence with the few strums of a ukulele and a love song about cooking.’ Such all-encompassing command of the audience is hard to come by and, in addition tho their rock solid pop songs, a major reason to check this band out. Following Allo Darlin’ are fellow Brits Horowitz. Bringing a more fuzzy, danceable bent to the typical indie-pop model, Horowitz have received some pretty glowing press praising the band’s flare for super-sweet vocals and melodies, a sure sign that they do indeed belong on this billing.
Closing out the night (and the festival), will be the two projects of singer/songwriter Tyler Trudeau. First up will be the Tyler Trudeau Attempt, an amalgam of New Haven scene veterans (including myself). Although I am not at liberty to really comment on the Attempt (y’know, since I play drums in this band), the New Haven Advocate is and has said of the band: ‘TTA looks back to the roots of punk and finds something immensely energetic, often hilarious and always political. On top of that, it’s catchy as hell.’
Trudeau’s newer project, Women’s Basketball, will be making its much anticipated live debut at ECPF. What initially started out as a one-off, purely-for-fun project has quickly gained a lot of press attention. The band’s debut album ‘An Octopus, But Like, An Octopus With Massive Wings and Junk’, released earlier this year on Tweefort Records, has in particular gained a lot of positive reviews and its easy to see why. With an omnipresent drum machine beat and often tongue n’ cheek lyrics, Trudeau breaks free from his own songwriting conventions to create a fun, catchy and often more engaging (and revealing) record than his main band’s previous EP (which I didn’t play on). It should be interesting to see how this all plays out live but, knowing Trudeau, it will probably come off well.
So that’s it folks! Surely one of the better festivals in recent memory. But enough of me telling you what to do, its time for you to check it out for yourself on Friday May 14th, Saturday May 15th and Wednesday, May 26th. Don’t miss this one!
Elm City PopFest Lineup:
Day One – Friday, May 14th
9:30 The Wee Bees (New Haven)
10:30 Steven Deal (Milford, CT)
11:30 Veronica Falls (UK)
12:30 Boy Genius (NYC) feat. Mr. Ray Neal (of Miracle Legion)
@ Cafe Nine
doors 9pm / FREE / 21+
Day Two (DAY) – Saturday, May 15th
2:30 Roadside Attractions (New London, CT)
3:15 The Fictional West (New Haven)
4:00 Midstates (Chicago)
4:45 Panda Riot (Chicago)
5:30 EULA (New Haven)
6:15 The Field Recordings (Danbury, CT)
doors 2pm / $5 / ALL-AGES
Day Three – Wednesday, May 26th
9:00 Allo Darlin’ (UK)
9:45 Horowitz (UK)
10:30 The Tyler Trudeau Attempt (Brooklyn/New Haven)
11:15 Women’s Basketball (Brooklyn/New Haven)
@ Cafe Nine
doors 8:30pm / FREE / 21+
For more information on Elm City PopFest, check out the official festival blog at http://elmcitypopfest.wordpress.com.
Filed under: All-Ages, Music, Reunion, Shows | Tags: Asbestos Records, Make Do And Mend, Mellow Bravo, New Haven Music, NHM, Reunion, Spring Heeled Jack, The Organ Beats, The Pietasters, Tip The Van, Toad's Place, We Are The Union
In case you might have forgot, tonight marks the first of two shows at Toad’s Place for reunited ska-punk heroes Spring Heeled Jack.
Opening for the group will be Connecticut’s own Tip The Van and Boston’s The Organ Beats and Mello Bravo, which together with S.H.J. should make a great billing. According to late word from the show’s organizers, tonight’s show is completely sold out. Don’t fret though because tickets are still available for tomorrow night’s show featuring openers The Pietasters, We Are The Union and Make Do And Mend. According to Asbestos Records head Matt Flood, new merch from the band, including some reissues, will be available at each show:
‘Also we’ll definitely have copies of Both Static World View, and Songs from Suburbia available for sale at the shows .. with highly improved artwork from New Haven’s own Todd Rogers (also a long time Tune Inn Employee). The records are limited to just 500 copies each, theres’ a handful of copies available at www.asbestosrecords.bigcartel.com if you can’t make the shows. They’ll be a limited hand screened & signed show poster by Rob Dobi (limited to 200 pieces) available at the show as well as some classic tshirts.’
If you’re looking for a trip down memory lane when the Tune Inn was the place to be in New Haven and everybody was in a ska band, as well as some kick ass music from some kick as bands, look no further.
If When You Go:
TOMORROW NIGHT, May 8th
Spring Heeled Jack
We Are The Union
Make Do And Mend
@ Toad’s Place
doors 8pm/show 9pm
some tickets still available
$20 advance/$23 day of show
Filed under: 21+, CTIndie Posts, Music, Shows | Tags: Cafe Nine, Kimono Draggin', New Haven Music, NHM, Straight To VHS
(Originally published on May 5, 2010 on CTIndie.com)
Kimono Draggin’ have long been producing some of the most original music on the local scene. Zappa/Beefheart fans to the bone, Kimono Draggin’s brand of intricate avante-art-rock builds upon their influences and then some. On their latest discs ‘We Are The Dudes’ and ‘Space Orphans,’ the trio careens from song to song in a blur of bouncy melodies, off-the-wall musicianship, complete band freakouts and tongue and cheek arrangements. Each song is an adventure of sound and insanity, the listener never quite sure where they’ll end up once the band takes hold. Live the band translates surprisingly well given the complexity of their material, often surpassing their studio recordings with sheer energy and unpredictability. If you’ve yet to catch Kimono Draggin’, its high time you did.
Although not quite as acutely weird as Kimono Draggin’, New London’s Straight To VHS should fill out the billing well. The band’s reckless garage-rock (and really what other kind of garage-rock is there?) contains an inherent energy that is hard to describe but easy to experience. Released earlier this year, Straight To VHS’s self-titled EP is definitely worth a listen, especially lead-off tracks ‘Hey’ and ‘Self-Titled’ which rank up their with the Estrogen Highs as some of the best pure garage rock Connecticut has seen in a while. For fans of rock n’ roll at its most primal, Straight To VHS most definitely brings it home.
Overall this show should be a flippin’ mess, and you
should will kick yourself if you’re not there.
Consider this a warning.
Filed under: 21+, CTIndie Posts, Music, Shows | Tags: Cafe Nine, Closely Watched Trains, Kaboom, New Haven Music, NHM, You Scream I Scream
(Originally published on May 4, 2010 on CTIndie.com)
Closely Watched Trains has been riding a wave of critical acclaim since the release of their self-titled debut on Twin Lakes Records last year. The New Haven Register singled out the album as the best local record of 2009, describing it as “an amazing blend of ebullient folk and rock. The band shows no fear of experimenting with different genres, all the while keeping things entirely cohesive. It is, simply put, from beginning to end, a killer disc that features many songs perfect for a Wes Anderson film.” Without a doubt the band likes to keep things fresh, breathing new life into folk and roots rock with a wide range of instrumentation and arrangements.
If your looking for something a bit weirder but no less interesting, Brooklyn/Providence based You Scream I Scream should fit the bill. Featuring a range of fuzzed out guitars, synths, keyboards (did I mention toy piano??) and percussion, You Scream I Scream shares C.W.S.’s love of unique instrumentation, arrangements and catchy-as-hell songs. Where You Scream I Scream departs though is in their knack for locking into some pretty funky, almost danceable grooves on some songs. Although they might not scream as much as their name suggests, You Scream I Scream will definitely suck you in.
Opening the night will be New Haven’s guitar and drum duo Kaboom. Self-described as “low class music for high class people,” Kaboom can best be described as a mix of garage-rock, stoner-rock and overt-’70s style raunch (Spinal Tap anyone?), all in duo format. Needless to say, it should be interesting how they translate live.
If When You Go:
Friday, May 7th