The Bitter End Pays Tribute to Owner Kenny Gorka's Legacy

Courtesy of Robbie Michaels
Kenny Gorka, right, outside the Bitter End on Bleecker Street
What audience members tend to remember after a show at the Bitter End (aside from the music, of course) is the famed brick wall that serves as the backdrop for the iconic Greenwich Village club. But for musicians, it's the venue's late booker and co-owner, Kenny Gorka. On March 20, Gorka unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind his wife, daughter, friends, and countless musicians who remember his warm, welcoming demeanor and passion for music. He was 68.

Gorka's death comes just thirteen months after the passing of the Bitter End's longtime owner, Paul Colby, whose name continues to grace the signage for New York's oldest rock 'n' roll club. Paul Rizzo, the surviving co-owner of the Bitter End, reflects on the influence of his colleagues.

More »

Big Data's Live Set Makes For Mind-Blowing Commentary on Digital Obsession

Lindsey Rhoades for the Village Voice
Big Data at the Bowery Ballroom
Alan Wilkis does not seem dangerous. Bespectacled and bearded, he looks more like the hipster archetype known to inhabit his hometown of Brooklyn. Maybe even a little nerdy, like the paranoid tech guy that rambles on with warnings about NSA surveillance and net neutrality when he's supposed to be fixing a glitchy program. And in a way, Wilkis is that guy, except he's not in IT — he's the main brain behind Big Data, a synthpop project that uses technology itself to put a very danceable beat behind ideas about technological fatigue and disillusionment. Written with a clever perspective and a tongue-in-cheek tone, Big Data's debut album, 2.0, was released this week and features a slew of big-name contributors from Brooklyn's music scene and beyond. Propelled by Joywave collaboration "Dangerous," which hit No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Alternative Songs chart last August, Big Data kicked off their biggest tour yet with a sold-out show at Bowery Ballroom last night.

More »

The Budos Band Take Their Burnt Offering to Brooklyn

Courtesy of Daptone Records
The Budos Band
The album cover for the Budos Band's 2005 self-titled debut features an active volcano gushing out lava as it spills downhill. At the time of its release, the group was fresh to the scene with a modern take on soul and Fela Kuti–inspired rhythm that sizzled to the touch. Fast-forward to their most recent gift to the fusion funk gods, 2014's Burnt Offering, and the sounds you hear recall a smoldering wind of change after nearly a decade's worth of tight, Afro-soul instrumentals. At their core, the nine-piece outfit is still the good-cheer-producing ensemble that can inspire the crabbiest of curmudgeons to tap a foot along to their infectious brass beat. It's just that now, Daptone Records' Staten Island ambassadors have broadened their reach into darker-sounding territory, and they've done so while flexing the hell out of a fuzz pedal.

More »

For Danielle Mastrion, There's Only One Way to Paint the Notorious B.I.G. in a New Light

Courtesy of Danielle Mastrion
Danielle Mastrion spray-paints a truck in front of her mural of the Notorious B.I.G. at the Bushwick Collective.
When news broke in May 2012 that Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch had passed, New York City was moved. And if New York was moved, so was Danielle Mastrion.

The painter and street artist was set to debut her first major public mural that week for the third cycle of the Centre-Fuge Public Art Project on the Lower East Side, when the tragic news caused her to quickly scrap her original idea in favor of a Beastie tribute. Midway through production (as she was using brushes, and not aerosol spray, because, you know, this Parsons-trained fine artist isn't going to veer away from her style just to fit in for her premiere), an omen appeared.

More »

Sanda Weigl Transforms Park Slope's Barbes Into a Mid-Century Gypsy Cabaret

Courtesy of Sanda Weigl
Sanda Weigl
We are in a dingy backroom of a bar with a small stage bearing red curtains and a lit-up sign, "Hotel D'Orsay," up top. Singing tonight is Romanian Sanda Weigl, who regales the small crowd sitting in front of her with Yiddish songs and the Romanian folk and gypsy music she grew up with. Violinist LJOVA, or Lev Zhurbin, accompanies her, his solos heartfelt and playful, depending on the song. It feels like a scene from a German cabaret, maybe one plucked from the Twenties, or the same scene that gave us Sally Bowles.

On this rainy Saturday at Park Slope bar Barbès, patrons young and old sit in rows or at tables on the side, sipping beer and listening to Weigl's voice and LJOVA's violin. It is the second show of Weigl's weekly residency at Barbès, which runs through March 28. She's accompanied by a band or one musician or, in shows to come, by her daughters, too. (She'll also be performing with a band there March 19.) Her repertoire spans German jazz and cabaret, and Jewish folklore from her native Bucharest. Weigl's lullaby voice — sweet, accepting, homey — takes us there, to wherever and whenever these songs were first composed, somewhere pure and far away.

More »

THEESatisfaction on EarthEE's NYC Connection, Broad City Love & Sleater-Kinney

Photo by King Texas, courtesy of Sub Pop
Stasia "Stas" Irons and Catherine "Cat" Harris-White of THEESatisfaction
When the title track from their latest release, EarthEE, dropped last month, one of THEESatisfaction's biggest fans immediately hit social media and freaked out in a fit of joy. That in itself isn't a huge deal — fans get excited and break out the affectionate hashtags like nobody's business when there's a new song to get riled up about, whatever — but this fan was a pretty damn famous one. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson of Broad City have had the alterna-soul and new r&b act on blast ever since both duos were involved with a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in the city a few months ago. THEESatisfaction were doing a DJ set, Glazer and Jacobson were speaking, and Stasia "Stas" Irons and Catherine "Cat" Harris-White felt an immediate kinship with the funny gals. They reached out on Twitter, and boom: Social media was used for good for a change.

"We were like, 'We just wanna smoke out with Abbi and Ilana!' " laughs Cat, recalling their early correspondence. "They were just like, 'Yeah! We love you guys!' We were like, 'What?!' Turns out we had been fans of each other for a while, and then we met and it was just super dope. Those ladies are killing it. It's a nice friendship to hold."

Hopefully, the Broad City broads will make an appearance at Santos Party House on March 6, at which time they can lose their minds to the complex, intergalactic groove of "EarthEE" in person.

More »

Robert Christgau Opens Up About His Memoir -- So Shut Up and Listen

Robert Menzer for The Village Voice
Robert Christgau at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music
"There is nothing [in my book] that is going to produce sexual arousal in anyone, I don't believe — unless you're really turned on by good prose."

Robert Christgau is over talking about sex. More specifically, he's over talking about the scenes in his memoir, Going Into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man, that involve hard-ons, bodily fluids, masturbation, and the language that traces the curves of the women he has been with, if the conversation won't progress past these intimacies.

You can't blame him. Going Into the City is hardly a volume chock-full of mattress romps — and yet the sex seems to be getting the most attention. Spin mentions the book's "explicit sexual detail" before the intro of its interview. Grantland's writeup is titled "Maximum Bob: The Dean of American Rock Critics' Memoir Is Revealing, Rewarding, and Full of Copulating," and cracked that he "likes to fuck and review records, and at some point in each chapter he runs out of record-reviewing anecdotes." Newsweek: "Stop Being So Squeamish About Sex, and Other Wisdom From Robert Christgau."

You'd think the guy was a hi-fi Lothario from 1969 to the present day, as opposed to one of the small cadre of writers who laid the bricks to the foundation of rock criticism (at this very paper, no less). While his memoir isn't a pastiche of salacious details, it's not a self-deconstruction of the author's life's work, either. Going Into the City is about living with art, living off it, and surviving both pursuits. Reducing it to sex trivializes that.

More »

Bobby Shmurda Says an NYPD Cop Told Him 'I Don't Want My Kids Listening to Your Music'

Bobby Shmurda
This morning, Ebro over at Hot 97 called up Ackquille Pollard — a/k/a Bobby Shmurda — who was incarcerated in the wake of a drug trafficking sting in Times Square on December 17. Shmurda is currently awaiting trial, and the young rapper, along with several members of Brooklyn's GS9 crew, faces charges for weapons possession, conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and a number of other offenses. Shmurda, who was being held at Rikers following the arraignment and placed under protective custody, has since been moved to the Manhattan Detention Complex, or the Tombs, along with fellow GS9 crew member Chad Marshall, a/k/a Rowdy Rebel. Shmurda's been outspoken about the proceedings following his arrest: In multiple interviews with Billboard, he called them "bullshit" and clarified that, no, he wasn't stabbed in jail; he also told the New York Times that he thought his label, Epic Records, would come for him and support him in his time of need, "but they never came." He's been able to keep the press abreast of how things are going on the inside — or at least he was, as Shmurda was cut off in the middle of his latest interview with Hot 97.

More »

Perfect Pussy's Meredith Graves on Her New Label, Honor Press: 'No Snobs, No Phonies, No Shitheads'

Photo: Kimi Selfridge/Tan Camera
Meredith Graves on her new record label: "I want to wrangle a good squad of humans."
Meredith Graves is hurting from the jet-lag left over from her most recent tour through Australia with her band, Perfect Pussy, and she's still getting acclimated to her new home in Brooklyn. Plus, she's got quite enough on her plate, with band practice, songwriting, her own independent creative pursuits (photography, a forthcoming solo record, baking), and getting to know the shortcuts and subway stops of her new neighborhood. She's successful, driven, and very, very busy, but Graves just threw another beast into the whirling mix of her endeavors: She's just launched her own label, Honor Press, and she's not wasting any time getting its music out there.

More »

Exclusive Premiere: Viral Cover Kings Thirdstory Take On Taylor Swift's 'Style'

Courtesy of Thirdstory
Thirdstory joke about being the unofficial Taylor Swift cover band, but they say the goal for their music is to maintain soul and an authentic approach. The group, made up of Richard Saunders, Elliott Skinner, and Ben Lusher, was behind the now-viral cover of Sam Smith's "I'm Not the Only One," which they released back in December — and now they're seeing if they can cop Taylor Swift's "Style."

More »