[NHM] New Haven Music

All The Trimmings Benefit @ Heirloom Arts Theatre, November 27th

(Originally published on November 17, 2010 on CTIndie.com)

‘Tis the season for good times and giving, and there will be a whole lot of both going on Saturday, November 27th at Danbury’s Heirloom Arts Theatre with the ‘All The Trimmings’ Benefit concert featuring The Stepkids (CT), Mother Brother (CT), Black Churches (MA), Diztrict Allstarz (CT), Ovlov (CT) and Vinyette (NY).

Organized by Matthew Vitti (of Mother Brother) and Amanda Bloom (of The Mercurial), the event had its beginnings this past July when Vitti and Bloom met following a house show and promptly merged minds in setting up “a monumental rock show.” According to Vitti, “Amanda and I had similar ideas about the concept and nature of the event, so we worked fairly quickly and cooperatively finding the bands, finding the venue and forming the skeletal structure that would hold this party high and mighty above all else.” The main ‘nature’ of the event that Vitti alludes to is the food and clothing drive that will be taking place along with the show. Benefiting will be the Dorothy Day Hospitality House which, since 1982, has fed and sheltered Danbury’s homeless. In addition there will be a booth set up by the China Care Foundation, a Westport, CT. based non-profit dedicated to saving the lives of medically fragile orphaned children in China.


To spice up the good will, Vitti and Bloom have also put together a whole assortment of other activities and treats including a giant Twister competition, $1 plates of pizza and salad provided by Nico’s Pizza, an old-fashioned photo booth courtesy of Tin Sparrows (y’know, for documenting all those big smiles created by giving), and between-band sets by DJ Symetrex who will apparently be spinning faces off at the upstairs bar.


And how about those bands?? In addition to Vitti’s own Mother Brother (often engaging, always shape-shifting synth/noise/jam quartet from Bridgeport), a whole stable of great bands will be performing including Black Churches (odd-timed guitar rock from MA. (with keyboards!)), Diztrict Allstarz (hip-hop with guitars from Danbury), Ovlov (solid alt-rock from Newtown) and Vinyette (alternately dream-rock/hard rock with elements of electronica and post-punk from NY.). Headlining will be CT’s the Stepkids whose brand of synth-psych-soul (and recent signing to Stones Throw Records) has created a significant buzz around the band. If the potential acts of good will don’t draw you to Heirloom Arts Theatre on Nov. 27th, the music should.

Truly living up to its name, All The Trimmings’ equal parts of good cause, good fun and good music look to fit the spirit of the season quite well.

If When You Go:

Saturday, November 27th

The Mercurial and Mother Brother present
‘All the Trimmings’ Benefit

@ Heirloom Arts Theatre
8pm / All-Ages
$10 ($1 off w/food donation!)

Show Review: Apse, Matt Wilga, Roman Wolfe @ Popeye’s Garage, Oct. 2nd

(Originally published on October 5, 2010 on CTIndie.com)

Saturday night I made my way down to Popeye’s Garage, an ad-hoc performance, rehearsal and gallery space located in downtown New Haven to catch a three band bill of New Haven’s Roman Wolfe, Matt Wilga of NY’s the Stoned Ambassadors and Northampton, MA’s Apse. This was to be the first of the venue’s final three shows.

Despite its semi-obvious location (it really is located right behind Popeye’s Chicken), I initially missed the venue because of its unassuming street facade which made it look more like a storage space than a music venue. Upon closer inspection I found my way to the side of the building and was greeted by an arrangement of lawn chairs and a table occupied by some friendly regulars, as well as the door inside. The venue itself was a stage-less, no-frills cinder block room light by a few light bulbs that, true to its name, looked like a garage. A secondary room with sheet rock walls expanded the venue further back into what looked like a former car bay. Aside from a large pom-pom-esque art installation hanging from the ceiling, little else, save a large wall-mounted calendar, decorated the space. Overall it was a bit smaller than I was anticipating given the size of the building as a whole but served its function (a room with a PA) well.

The show itself, which was scheduled to begin around 7pm, got off to a rocky start primarily due to the revelation that all of the venues mic stands had gone missing since the last show (“that’s the fifth mic stand we’ve lost!”). While show co-organizer Ross Menze went off to retrieve more, I made good on the extra time by talking briefly with another of Popeye’s organizers, Stefan Christensen (of Estrogen Highs, Iron Hand, Medication) about the impending closure of the space. According to Christensen, shows are being ceased primarily because of a change of ownership between the current owner and New Haven’s own property Pac-Man, Yale University. Although he remained optimistic about the possibility of one-off shows in the future, Popeye’s Garage as the much-needed weekly venue and downtown multi-purpose space it has become the last 6 months will be ceasing October 9th.

Roman Wolfe (photo by Bob Rock)

At about 8pm the microphone stands had arrived and the night’s first band, New Haven synth-driven Roman Wolfe (who, funnily enough, didn’t need use microphones or mic stands) began their performance. As the band glided into their set amidst a psychedelic wash of synths and tribal drums it quickly became apparent that Roman Wolfe was something different. Songs flowed together and became more like journeys in sound rather than the standard poptastic verse chorus verse. The lack of vocals, especially, placed their sound firmly outside of mainstream convention. Although I would anticipate that the synths (I spotted a microkorg and some yamaha equipment amongst the tabletop of wires) sounded great on record, in a live setting, the drums took center stage. Oscillating between tribal and jazz influences, a consistent rhythm was there but hard to pin down at times. As the show went on drummer Mike Birnbaum became more adventurous and complex in his playing. While keyboardist/synther Donovan Fazzino was locked into texture and high-end frequencies, Birnbaum used his rack, floor and snareless snare drum (basically just another hi-tom) to create drum patterns that slowly morphed in form and intensity. At times a subtle percussive melody began to develop that carried the songs along, giving definition to what would otherwise be pure linear texture. As a drummer myself I really appreciated everything he was accomplishing with only four drums and a ride cymbal. Although none of the ‘songs’ particularly stood out above the rest, the band’s unique sound and free-form arrangements and performance were certainly memorable, especially live. For anyone into instrumental synth-based psychedelica or great percussion, I’d highly recommend checking out Roman Wolfe.

Matt Wilga (photo by Bob Rock)

Following a brief interlude that saw the removal of synthesizers and drums and the addition of guitar amps and pedals, Matt Wilga of Brooklyn’s the Stoned Ambassadors began his set. Originally billed to be a full-on Stoned Ambassadors show, Wilga was forced to go it solo because “there was a wedding,” presumably attended by at least one of the members of the band. Wilga seemed to be fairly comfortable in solo form though, flying through a series of jangly guitar rock gems. At times their was a definite country waltz and/or swamp rock feel to his songs, which seemed to only be enhanced without a band to fill them out. Towards the middle of his set the guitarist for the Stone Ambassadors joined Wilga, adding some great pedal-laden blues guitar lines that added a whole new expanse to Wilga’s songs. Wilga seemed to only be gathering steam as his set moved to a close which made the audience only want more. After some coercion, Wilga performed one more strong number before proclaiming “I don’t play encores.” Encores or not, be sure to check out his single There I Go (available from Labor Of Love) which was a definite standout amongst his set.

Apse (photo by Bob Rock)

After another, slightly longer equipment changeover, Northampton, MA’s Apse growled to life. Regularly a six piece, the band’s lineup has dwindled throughout the course of 2010 to four, with Saturday night’s show being the first in such configuration. Perhaps driven by this fact, the band seemed hell-bent on proving they can still rock it no matter how many people were in the band and, by and large, were pretty successful in doing so. Although they were quite loud for the size of the room (at one point the bass levels made me dizzy but in an entirely awesome way), few in attendance backed away from the bands onslaught. Drummer Brandon Collins and bassist John Mordecai were at the center of the band’s attack as they ripped through one song after another. Although many genres have been used to described Apse through their 11 year existence, their current sound is best likened to a cross between Radiohead and Neurosis stuck at the bottom of a well. They’re simultaneously oppressed and energetic, grating yet melodically beautiful, seemingly forever stuck in a dark place trying to find a way out. Singer/songwriter and sole constant creative force behind the band Bobby Toher seemed particularly stricken, at varying points appearing crazed in his stage movement and yet completely in control with his vocal delivery and musicianship. As the band’s set lurched onwards, their volume and intensity level increased until Toher’s reverb-drenched vocals became just another brick amongst the band’s wall of sound. With one last sonic slice of intensity, capped by Toher dropping his guitar and mic stand to the ground, the band was finished, soaked in sweat but seemingly content in proving to themselves, and the audience, that Apse was still quite alive.

Be sure and check out the final two shows at Popeye’s Garage this Friday, October 8th (headlined by The Field Recordings) and Saturday, October 9th (headlined by Malcolm Tent).

Benefit for Jamie Saxton w/Broken, The Vultures, Lord Fowl, Iron Hand @ Cafe 9, Sept. 25th
September 15, 2010, 8:00 am
Filed under: 21+, Benefit, CTIndie Posts, Music, Shows | Tags: , , , , , , ,

(Originally published on September 15, 2010 on CTIndie.com)

On Saturday, September 25th locals Broken, The Vultures, Lord Fowl and Iron Hand will be performing at Cafe Nine as part of a benefit show for local musician Jamie Saxton who is currently battling cancer.

From Safety Meeting Records head Carlos Wells:

“We’re doing up a benefit show for Jamie Saxton, longtime friend and area musician (of Beer Scouts of America, Five9Five, & Tijuana Hot Cocks), who is currently wrestling with cancer. Our hope is to put a lot of people in a room, get some good music going, some raffling, and some good times and hopefully our proceeds will help ease the burden on the Saxtons during an already difficult time. Please help spread the word and come down ready to drink, get rowdy, and win some prizes all for a really good cause. Show starts promptly at 9pm! So don’t show up at 10 thinking you’re not missing anything.”

There’s a $10 suggested donation for the show (or more if you can). In addition, there will be a raffle with prizes from a lot of New Haven area businesses including Firehouse 12, Haven Skate Park, Lovecraft Tattoo, and more.

Even if you don’t know Jamie, the show alone, featuring some of New Haven’s best punk and hard rock bands, should be well enough reason to get yourself to Cafe Nine on September 25th.

If When You Go:

Benefit for Jamie Saxton


@ Cafe 9
Saturday, September 25th
$10 suggested donation

Show Review: The Black Noise Scam, The Boardlords, Nasty Disaster @ Rudy’s (Last Show)

(Originally published on August 3, 2010 on CTIndie.com)

This past Saturday, July 31st, famed downtown bar and venue, Rudy’s, closed its Elm Street location forever with a blowout punk and metal show featuring The Black Noise Scam, The Boardlords and Nasty Disaster.

Part of the massive crowd in attendance for Rudy’s last night of operation at its Elm Street location. The bar/venue will be re-opening on Chapel Street by October. Photo by Bob Rock.

It was clear upon arrival at the bar, which had been located at 372 Elm Street since 1934, that this was not going to be just another of its regular Saturday night shows. At 9:30pm the crowd had already filled the sidewalk patio and the main bar area, an occurrence that usually does not happen until much later in the night. And aside from the crowds and beer signs in the windows, Rudy’s itself had already begun its physical transformation from favored townie/Yale bar to…something else. Gone were the multitude of framed photographs that filled every possible inch of the walls as well as pretty much every other piece of decor, save the black tile ceiling, that were Rudy’s signature. Even the bar’s wood paneling, carved up by the bars’ many patron of the years, was gone. In the main room this removal revealed a hidden painting (which looked like something straight out of the artwork for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) while elsewhere all that was left was bare sheet rock (which had already been subject to extensive graffiti, a trend that continued most of the night). Outside of the stage area, the band room was the most transformed, its usual set up of tables and chairs removed in favor of a wide-open, standing-room-only space (a setup that would have worked well at past shows too). All in all, the venue looked a shell of its former self.

Nasty Disaster at Rudy’s last show. Photo by Jamie Arabolos.

As 10pm closed in, the band room quickly filled in anticipation of Nasty Disaster, a New Haven metal band I heard a lot about but had never gotten the chance to see. From the beginning of their set, it was obvious that these guys did not take themselves seriously (I mean with a name like Nasty Disaster, who could?). 6 foot plus singer ‘Herman VonRuhl’ was dressed in a stringy blond wig and enough metal spikes to accidentally stab himself to death if he wasn’t careful. Most prominently displayed though was his shirt which read ‘Death to False Metal,’ an ideology that seemed central to the band’s schtick. The remainder of the quintet was decked out in array of cliche metal fatigues (leather, viking hat) that, coupled with their imposing physical presence, lent itself well to the over-the-top subject matter of their songs (this aspect of the band in particular reminded me of another local metal band, Garbage Barge, who couple metal with off-the-wall lyrics and stage costume). How over the top you ask? Well, I’m pretty sure that every song the band performed made a least some lyrical reference to ‘metal’ (a suspicion that I later confirmed after visiting the band’s website). Two of the more memorable tunes, ‘Sluts of Metal’ and ‘Play Some Fuckin’ Metal,’ contained the choruses “Sluts of metal (sluts!), whores of rock ‘n roll (whores!), sluts of metal (sluts!), come ride my iron pole (pole!)” and “play some fuckin’ metal, play it really loud, play some fuckin’ metal, rock you to the ground,” respectfully. Yeah, you get the idea. While a vast majority of the crowd were really into the band (fist pumping! stage diving!), others were less than enthused by the band’s vulgarity and/or lack of seriousness, heading for the outside patio instead. Regardless of what everyone thought of the band, their energy (and the crowd’s response) started off the evening well.

The Boardlords at Rudy’s last show. Photo by Jamie Arabolos.

After a brief interlude, New York-based punk quintet The Boardlords took the stage. By this point the band room crowd had dwindled slightly although this worked in the band’s favor as a member of the crowd (and later the Boardlords’ singer) had room to skateboard inside(!) Rudy’s during the band’s set (surely something I never thought I would see). The band itself was tight and possessed a better command of their instruments than most punk bands I’ve seen lately. What the band lacked in stage presence (at least in comparison to the other bands on the bill), they made up for in sheer musical attack. The rhythm section in particular was locked in throughout most of the set and really made the band’s songs come to life. The band’s twin guitar attack also helped give the band a heft that helped their live sound immensely. After a Suicidal Tendencies cover and a slew of originals, the band exited the stage amid the shards of a broken skateboard and the prominent smell of Sharpie markers, setting the stage for the final band of the night, the Black Noise Scam.

The Black Noise Scam at Rudy’s last show. Photo by Bob Rock.

By the time New Haven’s the Black Noise Scam took the stage sometime after midnight, the crowd size at Rudy’s was at critical mass. The band room in particular was the most crowded of the night, even eclipsing the attendance for Nasty Disaster. Seizing the opportunity, the quartet wasted no time in launching into their high-energy brand of hardcore punk (I mean, what other kind is there?). Singer Jeffrey Thunders in particular, with his seemingly endless amount of energy and stage presence, whipped the crowd into a fury. It seemed to me that, throughout the night, everyone had been waiting for the opportunity to let loose, and that the Black Noise Scam finally gave them that chance. One after another, the band air-punched their way through a series of blistering originals including one appropriately titled ‘Never Again.’ A full-on mosh developed at varying points throughout the band’s set, the crowd ebbing and flowing along to the band, and the band seemingly doing the same. The energy inside began to spill outside onto the patio as multiple drinks were thrown against the windows behind the stage (this after much chiding from Thunders for people to come inside). Following a Black Flag cover and more originals, the band ended their set in a mangle of drums and wires barreled over by drummer Chris Taylor. In that moment, Rudy’s last show came to a crashing end.

Rudy’s aftermath. Photo by Jamie Arabolos.

As the night wore on, the reality of Rudy’s pending closure and move to Chapel Street became increasingly clear on the faces of the people sticking it out to last call. Some seemed dazed, either from excess of alcohol or emotion or moshing while others let their tears flow freely, in a remembrance of a place and time never to be repeated again. Still more remained defiant, all the way until that final shout of last call, all the way until being forced out onto the sidewalk, all the way until being forced off of the sidewalk by NHPD, and ultimately all the way into being forced away from a place, and now a memory, held close by so many.

Rudy’s Last Show

(Originally published on July 26, 2010 on CTIndie.com)

(Rudy’s outdoor sign. Photo by Caren Parmelee)

This Saturday, July 31st marks the final original location show at downtown New Haven’s favorite Townie and Yalie dive bar, Rudy’s. Included on the bill will be Connecticut’s own The Black Noise Scam and Nasty Disaster as well as New York’s The Boardlords.

The first show I remember seeing at Rudy’s was the Butterflies of Love in 2001. At that point there was no stage, no outside patio and only a rudimentary sound system at best (and yes, you could still smoke inside). Bands would often have to shift tables and chairs around just to find room to play. By 2002, a stage was added as well as a relative upgrade to the sound system thus clearing the way for more and more music to come through. There were full on rock shows on Thursdays, Saturdays and the occasional Sunday, jazz on Tuesdays and DJs on other nights of the week. Several great shows occurred during this time including bands like The Wrens, The Dirty Projectors, The Dresden Dolls, Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys, Suckers and more, as well as a slew of great locals like The Vultures, The Battlecats, Diamond J and the Rough and countless others.

(Rudy’s stage area. Photo by Caren Parmelee)

In addition to the influx of shows, Rudy’s reputation as the dive bar of choice for both Townies and Yalies only strengthened. There were very few weekends when the bar/venue was not packed to the gills with every walk of New Haven life imaginable. There were regular pseudo-celebrity watches as well (‘That’s Janeane Garafalo!,’ ‘I think that guy you just played pool with is in Interpol‘). And the frites, they were sublime.

Fast forward to 2010.

By this point show nights at Rudy’s were cut down to Saturdays (and the rare Sunday) only. Many regulars had also by this point long accused owner Omer Ipek (who took over earlier in the decade) of pandering exclusively to Yale patrons. Gone were the old jukebox and at least some of the character that many of the older clientele revered. Flat screen TVs began popping out of every corner. The sound system was again in need of an upgrade. Some had begun to actively avoid the bar deeming it ‘not the same as used to be,’ only to be replaced by the newest generation of Rudy’s dwellers who didn’t care what it used to be. Others continued their usual Rudy’s ritual undeterred.

(The Black Noise Scam will be appearing at Rudy’s last show at its original location on July 31st.)

Still, no one imagined Rudy’s ever going away. The frites were still good, the beer still cheap and the walls were still crowded with pictures of the bygone Rudy’s faithful. Its existence at 372 Elm Street seemed as much a part of the New Haven landscape as East Rock or Pepe’s Pizza. No matter what changes New Haven was undergoing, Rudy’s was an oasis of continuity, music and beer (…established 1934!). That’s why when this article in the New Haven Independent dropped on the morning of June 22nd, people were dumbstruck. Rudy’s? Moving??? The backlash was immediate and severe. From the NH Independent comments section: ‘I am pretty sure that this is the kind of sign that proves the world will end in 2012,’ ‘This is so horrifying,’ ‘I am devastated to hear this news,’ and on and on. Immediately rumors began swirling that Yale was forcing Rudy’s out or that owner Omer Ipek was only completing the latest chapter in an alleged diabolical scheme to ruin the bar. Truth be told, Ipek had secretly been battling with the landlord who owned the building for over a year. At one point Ipek even fought off an attempt by the landlord to close the bar with only days notice. After some quick thinking and dealings on Ipek’s part, he was able to secure a new location for Rudy’s close by at 1227 Chapel Street (just a couple blocks down Howe Street) while keeping the bar open at its current location until the end of July. And with a promise that the new location will have many of the elements of the old as well as a bigger and better area for bands, some of the detractors even began to change their tune.

In the end though, Rudy’s move from Elm Street will surely be the end of an era for many of the generations who have come through its doors. Savor it while you can.


Rudy’s final show at its original Elm Street location will be occurring this Saturday, July 31st with locals The Black Noise Scam (full-on hardcore punk) and Nasty Disaster (metal heads galore) as well as the Boardlords (NYC punk). The Black Noise Scam recently joined the roster of Volatile Records (also home to the Boardlords) and will be releasing their next record sometime later this year. I can think of no better way to end the Rudy’s long and illustrious run on Elm Street than a good ole’ punk show.

p.s. And for those of you looking to take home a souvenir this Saturday, think again. Rudy’s owner Omer Ipek has taken great care to strip the bar of almost everything short of the benches and bar stools in fear of thievery (he will be apparently transferring everything over to the new location this summer).


Saturday July 31st


@ Rudy’s
372 Elm Street / New Haven
9:30pm / 21+ / $3 cover

Elm City PopFest, Day One Review

(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.

Be sure and catch the Elm City PopFest follow up show tomorrow night (May 26th) at Cafe Nine!

The Pist (Reunion), The Black Noise Scam, Feet First, The Havnotz, M13 @ Heirloom Arts Theatre – May 14th

(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:

The Pist (Meriden, CT.)
The Black Noise Scam (New Haven)
Feet First (NYC)
The Havnotz (members of Copyright Chaos) (CT)
M13 (ex-Brutally Familiar) (New Haven)

@ Heirloom Arts Theatre
ALL AGES / 7pm / $8/$10

Elm City Popfest

(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)
@ Artspace
doors 2pm / $5 / ALL-AGES

Day Two (NIGHT) – Saturday, May 15th
8:30 Procedure Club (New Haven)
9:15 The Secret History (NYC)
10:00 The Butterflies of Love (New Haven)
@ Artspace
doors 8pm / $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.

Kimono Draggin’, Straight To VHS @ Cafe Nine – May 13th
May 5, 2010, 8:00 am
Filed under: 21+, CTIndie Posts, Music, Shows | Tags: , , , ,

(Originally published on May 5, 2010 on CTIndie.com)

The carnage continues at Cafe Nine next Thursday, May 13th with another killer billing featuring local rockers Kimono Draggin’ (New Haven) and Straight To VHS (New London).

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.

If When You Go:
Thursday, May 13th
Kimono Draggin’
Straight To VHS
Cafe Nine
21+ / 9:30pm / FREE

Closely Watched Trains, You Scream I Scream, Kaboom @ Cafe Nine – May 7th

(Originally published on May 4, 2010 on CTIndie.com)

This Friday, May 7th, Cafe Nine welcomes the 1-2-3 punch of New Haven’s Closely Watched Trains, Brooklyn/Providence’s You Scream I Scream and New Haven’s Kaboom.

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

Closely Watched Trains
You Scream I Scream
Cafe Nine
21+ / 10pm / $6 cover