I could discuss how the myriad of social issues affected the landscape of being an artist in 2017, (I especially refused to mention T*ump on this blog.) Personally, I graduated college and found my footing as a performance artist. Globally, the world is on fire. I could discuss how the myriad of social issues affected the landscape of being an artist in 2017, (I especially refused to mention T*ump on this blog.) Personally, I graduated college and found my footing as a performance artist. Globally, the world is on fire.
As you may have noticed, posting on UKNYC has become sporadic and unfortunately I missed out on one of the biggest opportunities I have received in terms of exposure for this blog. It is with this in mind that I want to put this project on an indefinite hiatus in 2018.
A wise band (Early Riser) once said “It’s okay to go out with a whimper as long as you come back in with a bang.”
Here are some moments (good/bad/ugly) of 2017 in no particular order
Goodbye or Good Riddance
Aside from me writing about them, some groups also called it a day. Others, were cancelled in the court of public opinion.
Philly emo quartet Modern Baseball called it a day just weeks after announcing a U.S. Tour in the Spring earlier this year. The band’s dissolution was gradual, starting with co-vocalist Brendan Lukens choosing to opt out of a Europe tour due to health concerns.
Chairlift announced their breakup during a show at Brooklyn’s Good Room in December 2016. In April of 2017, the band played their final show at Brooklyn Steel, preceded by more intimate shows at Bowery Ballroom and Baby’s All Right on a small Farewell Tour. After a year supporting their final record “Moth” the band parted ways due to core members Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberley seeking different musical directions.
Many queer people had their Tyra moment when sexual assault allegations against PWR BTTM singer Ben Hopkins came to light. As a band who had prided themselves on pure politics (or at least purely performative politics) and creating safe spaces, their demise was fast. About to embark on a massive national tour, the well-documented accusations were spread all across several platforms, resulting in an expose on Jezebel from the victim in the situation. As a band whose shows felt inclusive, energetic, and fun the group saw their demise being dropped from their label, management, tour openers, and eventually their tour dropped altogether. With public figures like Weinstein, Spacey, and (somehow not Melanie Martinez???) losing all career prospects, it is hard to see any foreseeable future for the group despite their efforts with a new manager.
We lost rock luminaries like Tom Petty, Chris Cornell, Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington as well as, soul singers like Chuck Berry and “the screaming eagle of soul” Charles Bradley; and indie musicians like Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins and rapper Lil Peep.
The Fight For New York Spaces
The Silent Barn
With gentrification causing a major upheaval in the dynamics of New York City, its creative community is on the constant fight for real estate.
This year we lost a major force in the indie music scene, Shea Stadium or at least it’s 20 Meadow St. location. Notable for being the starting place for bands like The Front Bottoms, FIDLAR, and Mitski, the venue was shut down by cops earlier this year during an Ovlov show and came back for a few one-off shows. After the Ghost Ship incident earlier this year, politically right-leaning activists targeted DIY spaces such as Comet Ping Pong. Other spaces like Don Pedro ended up selling off their property, and even The Silent Barn were nearly at risk of losing their space but through crowdfunding saved themselves.
Iconic club Webster Hall even shuttered its doors this year after a farewell concert from Action Bronson for major renovations after being bought out by AEG (who also bought out Bowery Presents in 2016) and plan to be back in a few years with a concert-specific venue, so probably no more 16+ raves.
Though not all bad news on the venue front, Brooklyn Steel (brought to you by the folks at Bowery Presents) and multi-room venue Elsewhere (from the team behind Glasslands Gallery) opened up shop this year, filling the Webster sized void the city needs.
The people of New York could dance again when the racist, Prohibition Era legislature known as The Cabaret Law was repealed in November. The law affected many areas zoned for construction and was periodically used during the Giuliani regime to monitor nightlife. Mayor Bill DeBlasio even signed into act the position of a night mayor for NYC who acts as a liaison between the mayor and local nightlife industry.
With Bowery Presents being bought out by AEG, Live Nation recently acquired Mercury Presents East, which controls venues like Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge who were not involved in the acquisition last year.
Indie’s Future is Femme
Alex Luciano of Diet Cig
One of the saving graces of this bewildering year was new music from some of indie and pop’s best.
Lorde made 2017 her year with “Melodrama”
Diet Cig lamented how “it’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt” on “I Swear I’m Good At This”
Lana Del Rey cast a hex on the masses on “Lust for Life”
Japanese Breakfast teleported us to outer space with “Soft Sounds From Another Planet”
Vagabon made their most inner heart murmurs into “Infinite Worlds”
St. Vincent seduced the masses on “Massseduction”
Tove Lo flashed her disco tits on “BLUE LIPS”
Charli XCX brought all your faves for “Mixtape 2”
Tei Shi delivered sleek R&B on “Crawl Space”
Jay Som created twangy shoegaze-pop on “Everybody Works”
Cupcakke proved she really is “Queen Elizabitch” on her latest LP
Carly Rae Jepsen is still working on that album but dropped the song of the summer with “Cut to the Feeling.”
Jack Antonoff Swings, Hits, Misses
Despite one of his biggest groups Fun on hiatus still, Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff had a busy year with his hands in many projects.
With a large repertoire of collaborators, the musician has his own success with the band but has found an even larger name as a reputation as a producer. Some of them hits, some of them misses.
Antonoff brought his best to the table with “Melodrama.” Partially recorded in his home studio, he brings the massive choruses and pounding 80s drums to a narrative of hedonism and youth. As her first record after four years out of the spotlight, the singer makes her return to the mainstage a spectacle to behold. The theme of the record is shrouded in mystique, while connected to an overall idea of the aftermath of a breakup.
Similarly, St. Vincent’s fifth record “Masseduction” is a futuristic electronica romp from Annie Clark, who sees Antonoff again on production. The result is sleek, smart indie with 808 beats, compositions that sound straight out of the Fight Club soundtrack, and heart-wrenching piano ballads. The tracks are well-crafted with intense attention to detail and even hearken back to St. Vincent’s earlier works.
Where Antonoff’s worst qualities come out are on Taylor Swift’s “Reputation.” Some of the acapella vocoder moments, big drum build ups, questionable instrumental choices, combined with an overall artificial pop persona out for thoroughly stale beef makes for a lackluster follow-up to “1989.” One can only wonder how many times Taylor can say “reputation” before it becomes less about branding or themes and just total overkill. Guest verses from Future and Ed Sheeran feel like an artificially produced piece of indie pop that gets lost in the sea of 80s influenced electronica.
Digital Witness (Shows I Went To But Didn’t Post)
STRFKR @ The Hangar
STRFKR @ The Hangar
While their music sounds like a chill experience to just sit at home and listen on vinyl, a STRFKR show is nothing to be missed. From astronauts crowd-surfing on inflatable swans, confetti cannons, and 80s cover dance parties all with a massive light show made for an incredible experience. In spite of technical difficulties during some of my favorite songs, the band always comes back to Miami on their tour cycles, having loved performing at the now closed Grand Central.
Tall Juan x BK Degreaser @ Gramps
Both residents of the Mac Demarco house out in the Rockaways, Tall Juan and Ben Katzman’s Degreaser came to Wynwood at local mainstay Gramps. Katzman’s set was high energy, a total 80s metal pastiche of the shredding riffs of Maiden, the vocal ability of Priest, and the force of Megadeth. Armed with only a nylon guitar at first, Tall Juan’s bilingual singing abilities felt charming and welcoming. When his band arrived, the mood shifted towards Ramones-esque minimal rock n roll, even at times letting a member of the audience play drums for him.
Charli XCX @ Revolution Live
A free show to celebrate H&M’s newest location in South Florida, Charli XCX took time off from her tenure on Halsey’s “hopeless fountain kingdom” tour. One of her longest sets since being on tour, she delved almost exclusively into material from “Number 1 Angel” and “Sucker” while also throwing in collabs from Iggy Azalea and Mura Masa. A thoroughly fun show, the intimate crowd was comprised of die-hard fans who knew every word to the two LPs loaded with pulsating beats, her signature attitude, and metric tons of confetti.
Cupcakke @ On the Rocks
Cupcakke is truly a queen for the people. When the venue had to turn away under 21 ticket-holders due to police threatening to shut down the event as it was moved to a sports bar, Elizabeth Harris (herself not even 21) decided to perform her set in the doorway of the venue for fans stuck outside and host a meet and greet after the show.
Of Montreal @ Respectable Street
Their latest record “innocence reaches” shows the psychedelic Georgia outfit blend modern pop with their twee indie sensibilities. Of Montreal are the furthest from a studio band, with infectious hooks and energetic compositions, their live shows utilize projection art with performers in morphsuits with masks of Darth Vader, a Chinese dragon, and a dominatrix. Singer Kevin Barnes has transformed his own live appearance on-stage from the more subdued looks of Georgie Fruit to a large powdered wig, clown white makeup with heavy blush, a flowing green kimono, glittery red heels that leave Dororthy quaking, and long blue tights that truly give the sense of gender fluidity.
I’m so grateful for those of you who supported this blog over the years. I hope to see you all again at a show someday.
Always and forever,