Live: Magik Markers Soothe A Rattled Crowd At Psychotropa

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MMs' Elisa Ambrogio, paying us back for that hour-long opener. Pics by Mike, more below.
Magik Markers/SSPS
Psychotropa
Friday, January 14

Better than: Sniffing magic markers

Psychotropa is the newest spoke on Brooklyn's wheel of venues, and in the interest of you getting to enjoy a show there sometime, let's just say it's off the Montrose Avenue L stop. It has a polite doorman and a greet-and-pay window, not unlike "regular" clubs; the basement space itself is long, pillared. and low-ceilinged, fluorescent-lit and easy to be in. Friday night's show was a mixed bag: One act didn't show, and one act that did consequently played for too damn long. But Magik Markers made it all OK.


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Northside Festival Began Last Night, Magik Markers Played, Controversy Ensued at Shea Stadium

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Magik Markers at Shea Stadium, photos Rebecca Smeyne

So last night was the beginning of L Magazine's ambitious little festival that could, Northside Festival, and it is, by all appearances, cozier and far more endearingly starry-eyed than our old embattled, but lovable glue-bound horse CMJ, whose badges cost eight-quadrillion dollars and hydra-headed geography makes it impossible to navigate more than a few venues in a day. Northside is also unlike last weekend's Hillstock, because it takes place entirely in Williamsburg and your homie's landlord won't call up angrily to shut the thing down. So even though there's been the usual comment-section vile about this ambitious little hood-centric festival ("It's like any other night in Williamsburg" is something I've heard more than once--not true, I would never step foot in Spike Hill on any other night except to use the toilet), we're rooting for Northside's success, and not just because one-third of SOTC lives on the Southside.

That said, there's already been a bit of controversy with Northside--and it has nothing to do with Jon Norris. Last night, anyone who arrived at the East Williamsburg live-recording studio/show space Shea Stadium for the Magik Markers, Marnie Stern, and The Fly Girlz/Nine II Thesaurus, and Dynasty Handbag--a show listed on both the Northside official schedule and handbook--was given a flyer disavowing the show's affiliation with the Northside and told that badge or not, the show cost $10. Oh yeah--and Marnie Stern had cancelled. The leaflet, scanned by photog Rebecca Smeyne:

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Magik Markers' Elisa Ambrogio on Andrew Lloyd Weber, Killing Women, and Balf Quarry

"You have to find a way to create a new experience that is sincere, that is honest in the room without it being pantomime, so that it's not Andrew Lloyd Weber's Magik Markers presents: Cats! And we go into the audience and touch your face."

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Liz Clayton

Elisa Ambrogio is happy today. Her duo with dummer Pete Nolan, Magik Markers, was recently profiled in her hometown paper, the Hartford Courant. Since then, she's been deluged with compliments from her grandmother's friends. "If I can reach just one lady, my grandma's age, I'd say I've made it," she says on the phone from her father's house in Connecticut, where she's staying in advance of a tour with Japanese psych legends Ghost.

Since 2003, the band has evolved from a violently raw punk spasm to a more restrained, yet equally challenging, psychic beast. Evidence of this change can be found on their latest album--and first for the esteemed Drag City label--Balf Quarry. The album features the full range of the Markers' abilities, from the hardcore inspired "Jerks," to the Nico-esqe Harmonium anthem "Shells." Ambrogio and Nolan seem more direct and confident than in the past, whether on record or otherwise.

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No Context: An Interview with the Magik Markers


The Magik Markers play Death by Audio, Monday, October 1

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The Magik Markers, "Bad Dream" (MP3 clip)
The Magik Markers, "Taste" (MP3 clip)

No Context

by Zach Baron

Since only a fraction of this interview with the Magik Markers appears in my short feature on them this week, I thought I'd post the whole transcript here. Boss, their new record on Ecstatic Peace, is queasy and claustrophobic and unsettling; it's also one of the year's best. Both drummer Pete Nolan and singer-guitarist Elisa Ambrogio are hyper-articulate when it comes to explaining their own work; all choppiness and indirectness can be explained by the fact that the interview was conducted over a couple weeks in late August and early September, via email, since Pete tends to "get pretty blank over the phone," and Elisa was traveling. With three of us going back and forth, things went more sideways than linear--which hopefully will explain the meandering. . .

Your sound has changed--that'll be the big news here, why you guys went towards "songs" and away from the anti-composition, more free-form stuff you do live. On top of that I might wonder whether the ideas have shifted--I'm thinking specifically here of the last time the Voice did a feature involving Magik Markers, which was in 2005, and Elisa was pretty adamant about not being interested in modern music of the Rolling Stone variety, let alone, say, the "unfucked pale girls yammering about the gender binary" from liberal arts colleges who even now may have illegally downloaded "Empty Bottles" and are listening to it approvingly in their dorm rooms. New sound, new sociology? New goals for the band? Lets start there, if this makes sense as a question, and go forward. . .


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