been thinking a lot about live shows recently. it’s where the dynamic between artist and audience moves from online to real life and bands have to prove they actually know what they are doing. You can be good on the radio, but bad live (sorry selena gomez). or, your recordings can suck but ur live show has the power to convert even the staunchest critic. it can be an alienating or fulfilling experience depending on a lot of factors outside of the artist’s control; even with a set audience in mind, bands can’t control who attends their show (though they can try).
I’ve been to some truly bizarre, uncomfortable, and painful shows. I’ve been to even more that have been like touching a livewire, where the people around me look out for each other and make sure everyone is having a good time. I only started this newsletter because I really wanted more ppl to go to live shows, to discover for yourself what works and what doesn’t.
TLDR? go see a live show this week. regardless of how the experience ends up, it’s worth having.
12/13 | Pile with Patio and Gabby's World @ Le Poisson Rouge ~ 16+
12/15 | Petite League w/ GIFT @ Baby’s All Right ~ 21+
12/19 | Christmas at Carmelo's w/ Coco Verde, DaPop, Ryan Laetari, Di Ivories & Gawn @ Carmelo’s ~ 21+
12/31 | NYE: Gnarcissists / Native Sun / Max Pain and The Groovies / Sunflower Bean DJ set @ The Broadway ~ 21+
1/25 | Sweet Static 4 Year Anniversary w/ Pop. 1280, Public Practice, Weeping Icon @ Trans-Pecos ~ all ages
3/11 | Pom Poko (North American Debut!) @ Elsewhere Zone One ~ 16+
3/28 | Shopping w/ Automatic @ Elsewhere ~ 16+
last minute tickets
if you get that restless urge to leave your house but don’t have any plans, here are some shows you can still catch this week (ripped from the prev. newsletter)
12/11 | The Wants, Godcaster, Safer, Extra Special @ Our Wicked Lady ~ 21+
12/12 | Noisey Nights w/ Frankie Cosmos and Sir Babygirl @ Villian ~ 21+
12/12 | GRLWOOD @ Alphaville ~ 18+
12/12 | Bottoms, Crickets, Macy Rodman, Nemesister @ The Broadway ~ 21+
in my queue
so something I’m trying to do more of in the new year is listening to bands that don’t sing in english. here are some offerings (don’t ask me what they are saying I have no idea):
I’m a sucker for peaceful and quiet and then loud and riotious song structures (think ‘If You Found This It’s Probably Too Late’ by Arctic Monkeys.) Hudkreft’s spotify describes them as political punks, so I can sorta imagine what they are railing against in this song. keep an eye on norway, it’s producing some really fun punk from Slotface to Pom Poko.
this feels like cheating becuz most of this band’s songs are in english, but this is kind of a fun song. after some digging (wikipedia) I’m pretty sure its a cover of the 1977 song by Plastic Bertrand, and which is apparently a parody of the punk movement. however you interpret it, it is a sunny song that would be at home in a coming of age road trip film’s soundtrack
here’s a new one for you! I’m always looking to learn more about music history, and I recently got put onto this podcast called Girl Germs about Bratmobile’s debut album ‘pottymouth’.
I missed the riot grrrl era (and miss it) so this podcast was a good introduction to the band. it’s short, only five episodes ranging from 20-30 minutes. there are also cool interviews with bands who have been influenced by Bratmobile, like Rachel Aggs of Trashkit and shopping. give it a listen and lmk if you know any other podcasts I should stream.
what i’ve read
I really love the new bandcamp daily design, it’s so pretty tbh and I’ve been reading from it a lot more because of that. I usually keep up to date with the monthly punk column — written by Kerry Cardoza — but here are two pieces that I personally really loved:
Riot Grrrl Crate-Digging: Eight Hidden Gems ~ by Jenn Pelly
I’m trying to do a lot more to acquaint myself with the riot grrrl era. I think part of it is trying to understand where bands today are coming from, and a general distaste with the incredibly male recommendations that Spotify has been plaguing my discover weekly with. unfortunately, this means I’m listening to bands that have long disbanded! send me reccs pls
“The 1991 riot grrrl manifesto stated an acute interest in “creating non-hierarchical ways of being.” Or as Bratmobile once put it: “We wanna take over the scene for girls!”
keywords: riot grrrl, counterculture, feminist cultural resistance
French Vanilla’s Cathartic Dance-Punk ~ by Nina Corcoran
So this one is a combination of an album review and interview of the band french vanilla and their album ‘How Am I Not Myself’. It is very interesting to hear about the background and influences that go into an album, and where the songwriters pull from. I highly recc their album, particularly songs “friendly fire” and “real or not”
“That the songs on How Am I Not Myself? are ultimately unable to answer the question posed by the title seems beside the point; the fact that French Vanilla are even asking is a reflection of their self-awareness, their honesty, and their drive to keep learning, even when the lessons aren’t obvious.”
keywords: catharsis, reflection
First World Problems: Sports Team Stumble At London's Kentish Town Forum ~ by Robin Murray
what a scathing review of sports team! generally, I like their music (seen them twice) but sometimes, if I really listen, it reminds me of the soundtrack for a disney channel original movie. I enjoy reading live reviews that try and put a finger on why a show does/doesn’t work, especially ones that focus more on the ~vibes~ because honestly live music is about cultivating an experience. I also read another review where sports team are described as ‘kitsch’ — not always an insult tbh.
“But that’s the thing with all that self-regarding humour – eventually the references disappear, and you’re left being the joke.
Margate, LOL. Roundabouts, LOL. Tinnies in the park, LOL.
keywords: irony, entitlement, Form 696
I've been thinking a lot about white consumption of black art, and there have been a number of really great articles on this topic. Think of this section as a small syllabus of sorts on the theme.
A throughline for most of these articles is a sense of displacement for black audience members in a majority white crowd watching a black artist; in a space where they should be centered when the music is working to center them, they are being crowded out by white voices. It's an issue that affects the artists too, who aren't blind to the dynamics of their fanbase. Noname famously spoke out about this recently, stating that she would stop touring because she was tired of white fans screaming the n-word at her. She got flack instantly for her comments.
The idea that artists have to be grateful, and not critical of their audience, is just as damaging as asking us to not critique the artists themselves. Noname famously got critiqued on Twitter for her comments on "good capitalism", and guess what? She learned from it. The idea that she can't turn that same critical eye onto her fanbase is absurd, especially because artists can't really choose who attends their shows. We have to think critically about consumption, production, and distribution of music, and Noname's tweets draw out attention to the ways in which race plays a role in all of this. It's something that I will continue to think about, but for now, read below:
"The public common sense is that black women, more specifically black women artists, should be grateful for the audience they have and for any semblance of fame they have acquired. As a double-marginalized person, we should appreciate any success or attempts at glory because we are not supposed to succeed in the first place." - Clarissa Brooks, Bite the Hand: On Noname & the Policing of Black Women in Music
"Rap artists face a similar dilemma: Their music, addressed to a specific audience, isn’t being received or patronized by that audience. The audience that does show up refuses to observe the house rules, no matter how many times they’re reminded. It’s got to be a wearying experience to continually shut down white fans from saying one word — just one! — over and over again, only to have that entitlement thrown back in their faces." - Aaron Williams, Beyond Noname: Why Performing Black Art For White Audiences Is So Challenging
"The white experience in America is one of acquisition of property, and the latest commodity to go is hip-hop."
"The amount of privilege to, as a white person, verbalize the n-word at a rap concert in a predominantly black city is a representation of power. A privilege that absolves its users from the responsibility of saying a term, representative of societal hate and violence." - Taylor Crumpton, Have White People Stolen Rap Concerts, Too?
"On the surface, a rap festival is a great idea. But rap was never meant to be enjoyed at a baseball park, on stages sponsored by Fashion Nova, giving in to NYPD requests, and pricing out native New Yorkers." - Alphonse Pierre, At Rolling Loud, a Rap Festival That’s Not Really for Rap Fans
"The proliferation of black music across the planet — the proliferation, in so many senses, of being black — constitutes a magnificent joke on American racism. It also confirms the attraction that someone like Rice had to that black man grooming the horse. But something about that desire warps and perverts its source, lampoons and cheapens it even in adoration. Loving black culture has never meant loving black people, too. Loving black culture risks loving the life out of it." - Wesley Morris, Why Is Everyone Always Stealing Black Music?
since we are on the topic of live shows, I want to highlight some organizations and initiatives that are making live shows a better place for everyone. if you read my last newsletter (which included my article about violence against women and the weird societal response to it) then you know how frustrated I get about words without action. These groups are taking action against harassment and assault in public spaces:
Orgs like Girls Against, Safe Gigs for Women, and Good Night Out are working to end sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other threats to women in live music spaces. Girls Against and Safe Gigs for Women both work with venues, festivals, artist and other people in the music industry in order to establish guidelines for how to deal with sexual harassment.
Good Night Out has an accreditation program for staff at venues, pubs, bars, clubs, and festivals so that these spaces can learn how to prevent harassment, how to properly deal with a situation where someone reports harassment and more.
I also think of the “Ask for Angela” campaign that was first started in Lincolnshire in the UK and then spread to other towns & cities. It’s a poster that gets put up in bathrooms that lets people know discreet ways to signal to a bartender that you are uncomfortable, like asking for “Angela”.
Another analogue would be the “angel shot” in the US, and other code words that you can relay to a bartender if a situation is getting out of control. Admittedly, it’s not a perfect campaign (read more here) but it is a way for bars, venues, pubs, clubs, and other nightlife mainstays to step up and take action.
I feel like the running thread of this week’s newsletter is that live shows, despite masquerading as an escape from the ‘real world’, are a unique space for reimagining what the world can and should look like. Sometimes, this is a revolutionary imagination: the riot grrrl movement clearly tried to create a space for women and other people who felt marginalized. Other times, live shows simply perpetuate broader social issues, as the discourse on how black people are being crowded out of rap shows illustrates. With this in mind, the questions for this week are the following:
What was the best show you ever went to, and why?
What was the worst show you ever went to and why?
As much as I love shouting into the void, I’m generally interested in hearing ur responses! hit reply on this email and send me your answers if you’d like.
what if this newsletter had a consistent structure? imagine it. now trash it. truth is, as much as I want to, I can’t go to shows every week and I’m not writing all the time (except for this)! so if those sections look sparse/disappear ever so often, you know why. next week, expect a field report from a show I’m going to! whoever guesses which one it is gets my admiration (hint: it was listed in the last newsletter).