Sunday, July 29, 2018

Panorama New York City 2018, Day 3 at Randall's Island Park

Although there was no significant rain on Sunday, the field became muddier and messier during the course of the day, perhaps because of the melting ice from all the vendors.

Whereas the bill for the first two days was largely pop fare, Day 3 featured many alt rock and indie bands. Many in the audience came wearing Greta Van Fleet t-shirts only to see Panorama staff walking around the field holding placards with new set times that clearly omitted the hard rock band's performance; drummer Daniel Wagner had injured his fingers and the band cancelled its performance.

The Downtown Boys started the day with a political punk set that saw vocalist Victoria Ruiz lower herself into the audience, climb over a railing, and sing a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" with audience members. The Downtown Boys was among the bands that participated in signings at the Rough Trade tent.

Shannon and the Clams was the second act, and somewhere towards the end of the set, audience members were inspired to form a conga line. Vocalist Shannon Shaw commended one audience member for dancing the Macarena.

Rex Orange County did an acoustic cover of Alicia Keys' "No One" during his set. Later, he paused for a few minutes during "Corduroy Dreams" to ask for assistance from the festival paramedics for someone in the audience.

David Byrne appeared on a very lean stage that had only a card table and folding chair. He sat, holding an oversized model of a brain, and singing to backing tracks. After the first song, 11 musicians, singers and dancers appeared on stage wearing gray suits similar to Byrne's. Byrne was barefoot, but his team members wore foot-like covers over their shoes. The entire regiment engaged in constant choreography, some of it marching-band style, throughout the set. The songs from Byrne's days in the Talking Heads generated the loudest responses. He chatted only once with the audience, encouraging everyone to vote in all elections. He introduced his set closer, a cover of Janelle Monae's "Hell You Talmbout," by saying, "She wrote this song in 2015, and she performed it at the Women’s March, and sadly, it is still very relevant today." He updated the lyrics to include additional names of African-Americans killed by police or vigilante violence.

"I’m not much of a crier, but I'm close," said the xx’s Oliver Simon during the final stop of the band's world tour. "The first writing sessions we did for this album were in New York, our first show was here in New York, so it’s perfect to finish it here,” he explained. He dedicated one song to the LGBT community, adding, "I am one of you."

Moodymann's dj set was shortened by 30 minutes after the dj booth temporarily lost power.

Odesza performed a set arrayed with so many dazzling light displays that it was often difficult to see the two members. At one point, Odesza remixed Little Eva's "The Loco-Motion" with the addition of a live trumpet player. Vocalist Naomi Wild, who was celebrating her birthday that day, sang on "Higher Ground."

While many artists had high tech stage sets, the Killers had an artistic and rather simple set that included a water tower emblazoned with the words "New York." For the song "For Reasons Unknown," the band asked for a volunteer from the audience to drum, and the youth who was selected did an amazing job.

Nora En Pure, Fleet Foxes, Mount Kimbie, Robert DeLong and Chicano Batman were among the performers who also performed on Day 3.
Downtown Boys
Shannon and the Clams
DJ Haram
Chicano Batman
Rex Orange County
Robert DeLong
Loote
Mount Kimbie
David Byrne
Sur
Fleet Foxes
The xx
Fly by Midnight
Odesza
The Killers

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Panorama New York City 2018, Day 2 at Randall's Island Park

Weather conditions improved significantly at Panorama on Saturday, but much of the field was muddy and mushy, discoloring many white sneakers.

Cardi B was originally one of the scheduled artists, but she cancelled several weeks earlier in expectation of the birth of her child. Lil Wayne was booked as her replacement, but half an hour after his scheduled set time, promoters announced on the large video screens surrounding the stage where he was to appear that his performance was cancelled due to a weather-related flight delay. Many in the massive crowd that awaited him subsequently retreated to the second stage to see St. Vincent rock.

St. Vincent was perhaps the most rocking performance on Saturday. Annie Clark seemed to have a never-ending supply of her signature Ernie Ball guitars in every color -- blue, orange, pink, white, yellow, black -- did she play a different-colored guitar on each song? Clark closed with a partly a cappella version of "New York," injecting seemingly impromptu mentions of East Village locations including St. Mark’s Place and Veselka and pointing out that nothing rhymes with those names.

SZA was recovering from a vocal cord injury and reworked some of her songs to refit her new range. There was more drama, however. She revealed to the audience that she just went through a break-up. It seemed like everyone in the audience said "Aw."

Both Lo Moon and Cloves performed earlier in the day and played a second set later in the early evening at the Bud Light Dive Bar. Lo Moon's second set included an instrumental cover of Peter Bjorn & John's "Young Folks," prompting some in the audience to assist with vocals. Cloves closed with a cover of Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You."

DJ Champ warmed the audience for Gucci Mane, but power failures led to silence several times. "We can't be having that with Guwop, now!" Champ told the stage hands, who scurried about trying to remedy the issue. Later, Gucci Mane invited his wife, Keyshia Ka'Oir Davis, onstage for a cameo, and the sound problems returned. Fans called requests, until Mane responded with an a cappella version of his 2009 hit "Lemonade."

Moments before Janet Jackson started singing, the audience heard audio reports discussing racial injustice, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism, while the names of unarmed black men killed by police were posted on the screens next to the stage, concluding with the declaration that “WE WANT JUSTICE." Jackson then sang a deep cut from three decades ago, the appropriate "The Skin Game (Part 1)." Later, she sang "Together Again" while old photographs of a younger Janet with her recently deceased father and photographs of her late brother Michael were posted on the screens. After the song, she spread her arms wide, then pointed to the sky and said, "I miss you -- both of you.” One question, though: how was it possible for Jackson to dance such elaborate routines so heartily continuously through her show and still sing without losing her breath?

Japanese Breakfast, Pvris, Sigrid and Jay Som were among the performers who also performed on Day 2.
DJ Riobamba
Lo Moon
Jay Som
Cloves
Sigrid
Pvris
Japanese Breakfast
City of the Sun
St. Vincent
Floating Points
SZA
Gucci Mane
Janet Jackson

Friday, July 27, 2018

Black Lips aboard the Liberty Belle Riverboat

Cole Alexander and Zumi Rosow
Guitarist Cole Alexander and bassist Jared Swilley were expelled during their senior year in high school in Dunwoody, Georgia; they had developed a reputation for crude antics and after the Columbine Massacre in 1999 the school authorities regarded the duo as a "subculture danger." That same year, they left a local band, Renegades, to form the garage band they would call Black Lips. Now the duo found stages and audiences for their music and their antics. Performances included not only a rough musical pastiche of blues, rock, doo-wop, country, and punk, but also vomiting (Alexander's medical condition), urination, nudity, electric radio-controlled car races, fireworks, a chicken, flaming guitars and other unpredictable events. Black Lips' eighth and most recent album, Satan's Graffiti or God’s Art?, was released on May 5, 2017. The band presently consists of Alexander, Swilley, saxophonist Zumi Rosow, drummer Oakley Munson and new guitarist Jeffrey Clarke.

Perhaps the most shocking event of tonight's concert aboard a Rocks Off! cruise on the Liberty Belle Riverboat was that Black Lips provided no shocking events. Comparatively, it was only a year ago that New York fans saw same-sex kissing, nudity, masturbation and urination during a Black Lips concert. Alexander and Swilley nevertheless led and fostered a calamitous dynamic, playing raucous cowpunk-inflected garage music that rocked the boat more than the post-storm current of the Hudson River. The songs often were led by a vocal melody and then punctuated with guitar and sax lines that occasionally drifted into the atonal zone. Brash and boisterous, these were raw and rowdy rock and roll tunes, stripped of all finesse so that musicians and audience were moved by gritty guitars and a primal pulse. The more toned-down songs at their core resembled 1960s pop tunes, but with little attempt to polish the uproarious boom of each musician's contribution. The intensity and immediacy of this clattering sound was abrasive yet compellingly exciting. The Black Lips set was noisy, clamorous and thoroughly engaging.

Visit Black Lips at www.black-lips.com.

Panorama New York City 2018, Day 1 at Randall's Island Park

The third annual Panorama festival came to Randall's Island Park on Randall's Island for three days and nights on July 27-29, providing a wide "panorama" of music, art, technology, and food and drink choices.

Goldenvoice, the company behind Panorama, cancelled the first day's open air events about five p.m. due to an impending storm. Lil Wayne cancelled on the second day because his plane was delayed, and Greta Van Fleet cancelled on the third day due to the band's drummer injuring his fingers.

Panorama 2018 had a smaller footprint, utilizing less ground area and featuring one less stage and a slimmer line-up than in the festival's initial two years. Rather than having two bands perform simultaneously on two stages, band performances usually overlapped by only a few minutes between two main stages. A third area was designated for disc jockeys including the Black Madonna and Floating Points; the disc jockeys did 90-minute to two-hour sets.

Several corporations hosted event spaces. Bud Light had a Dive Bar where three bands performed live each day, including City of the Sun, Lo Moon, Cloves, Sur, Loote and Fly by Midnight. Macklemore also did a dj set in the HP tent.

Attendees who needed a break from live music perused food kiosks, immersive art exhibits and interactive technology centers. The Rough Trade booth sold records and hosted signings by some of the performing bands. The Lab featured a space adventure over its planetarium-styled dome. Through the use of virtual reality goggles, HP took the viewer across the field onto the side of whichever stage had a performing artist. American Express, Sephora, Hendrick’s Gin, Zenni, and Deep Eddy Vodka were among the other sponsors who attracted customers with freebies. Food vendors provided standard fare such as pizza, burgers and fries, but also Japanese, Nicaraguan, Roman and other ethnic foods.

Goldenvoice is a subsidiary of AEG Live and also produces Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Rock on the Range and other festivals in the United States and abroad. Goldenvoice has not yet announced whether or not it will host another Panorama festival next summer.

Day 1 Notes

A brief shower soaked the attendees and the lawns during the mid-afternoon on Friday. Once the rain stopped, Daniel Caesar came on stage to perform and said to those gathered before him, "Thanks for waiting through the rain with me." He wound up being the only performer to play the main stay that day.

Sabrina Claudio began singing her first song but after a minute or two discovered that her microphone was not working. Her frustration visibly mounted as replacement microphones also seemed to fail. Several microphones later, she was able to resume her set, but then the set was terminated prematurely as the promoters announced that the fields had to be evacuated due to the threat of an impending lightning storm. "What is going on, Panorama?!" Claudio said onstage. "What a hot mess this was," she added.

Busses were not prepared for an early dismissal during Manhattan's rush hour, and it took several hours to get festival goers off the island. Patrons grew wetter due to an ongoing drizzle, but the severe weather never arrived.

Upon request, festival goers would receive refunds, but many complained on social media that related expenses, such as travel and hotel rooms, would not be recouped.

Sabrina Claudio, Daniel Caesar, Soulection, Supa Bwe and Rich Greene performed before the evacuation of the island. Evening performances by the Weeknd, Migos, Father John Misty, the War on Drugs, Dua Lipa, Jhené Aiko, and Charlotte Gainsbourg were cancelled.
DJ Bearcat
Daniel Caesar
Sabrina Claudio

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Arctic Monkeys at Forest Hills Stadium

Alex Turner
Alex Turner grew up in High Green, a suburb of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, where he took piano lessons until he was eight years old. At the age of seven, Turner bonded with his neighbor and classmate Matt Helders over rap music and spent their weekends making hip-hop beats; they became interested in guitar bands following the breakthrough of the Strokes in 2001. When Turner was 15, his parents bought him a guitar as a Christmas present. Inspired by their friends in local bands, Turner and Helders formed Arctic Monkeys in 2002 and became one of the first bands to capitalize on public attention via the Internet. In 2006, the band's debut album became the fastest-selling debut album by a band in UK chart history, and the band maintained its popularity with a succession of number one albums. Arctic Monkeys' sixth and most recent studio album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, was released on May 11, 2018. The band presently consists of Turner (lead vocals, guitar), Helders (drums, vocals), Jamie Cook (guitar) and Nick O'Malley (bass, backing vocals).

Headlining tonight at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, the core Arctic Monkeys quartet was joined by touring musicians Scott Gillies (acoustic guitar),Tom Rowley (keyboards, guitar), Tyler Parkford (keyboards), and Davey Latter (percussion). Best known for energetic bangers with catchy but insightful lyrics on romantic complications, the band's most recent album radically changed directions and is comprised mostly of softer space-themed songs. In concert, Arctic Monkeys alternated between the two flavors, only briefly meeting in the middle by reworking the older "Do Me a Favour" into lounge fare and animating the new album's title track. While the standing crowd in general admission floor space might have preferred more danceable songs, the calm grooves of the newer material gave greater prominence to Turner's smooth David Bowie-like croon. Overall, the audience responded favorably to the mix of old and new songs, but notably moreso for the older adrenalin-pumping anthems and for the Strokes cover in the encore. A curious question remained unanswered: did the fans enjoy the new songs because they were good songs or because they were Arctic Monkeys songs?

Visit Arctic Monkeys at www.arcticmonkeys.com.

Setlist
  1. Four Out of Five
  2. Brianstorm
  3. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
  4. Crying Lightning
  5. Teddy Picker
  6. 505
  7. Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
  8. One Point Perspective
  9. Do Me a Favour
  10. Cornerstone
  11. Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
  12. The Ultracheese
  13. Do I Wanna Know?
  14. I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
  15. Knee Socks
  16. Pretty Visitors
  17. Arabella
Encore:
  1. Star Treatment
  2. Is This It (The Strokes cover)
  3. R U Mine?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Emily Duff Band at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1

Emily Duff
Born in Flushing, New York, and raised on Long Island, Emily Duff wrote her first song at age seven or eight, after her mother taught her to play four chords on the guitar; the song was about trading baseball cards. In high school and college, she played in several bands. She then moved to New York City and in 1996 joined guitar wizard Gary Lucas, formerly of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, in his avant garde band, Gods and Monsters; Duff replaced Jeff Buckley, who had left Gods and Monsters to embark on his brief solo career. After a year and a half with Gods and Monsters, Duff gravitated towards roots music with her trio Eudora, and later, another band called Sweetfeed. Duff then went on hiatus from music and started a family. She returned to writing and performing in 2013 with the Americana-oriented Emily Duff Band. Duff released an EP in 2015, and a debut album, Maybe in the Morning, on March 24, 2017. She has initiated a GoFundMe campaign to help her finish recording a follow-up, Hallelujah Hello.

Performing an early evening set at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1, Duff was accompanied by guitarist Scott Aldrich, accordion player Charlie Giordano, bassist Skip Ward, and drummer Kenny Soule. Singing tender, melancholy lyrics that included clever, wry twists, Duff's vocals were bluesy and soulful, while the band gave her tunes a country twang. Low-key yet foot-stomping, this was a mature urban take on earthy, southern-fried traditions. On this occasion, Duff wore a Ramones tradition, and indeed, except that it was a steaming hot New York evening, her seasoned dynamic was more punk biker jacket than cowboy fringed jacket. Do not lock Emily Duff into an outlaw country ghetto; her rock and rumble music has the potential to appeal to a much wider audience.

Visit Emily Duff at www.emilyduffband.com.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Blondie at House of Vans, Brooklyn

Debbie Harry
(Clem Burke in the background)
Vocalist Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein founded Blondie in New York City in 1974 and the band quickly became a pioneer in early punk and new wave music. By 1975, Blondie was a recurring headliner at Max's Kansas City and CBGB’s. After a string of hit singles from 1978 to 1980, Blondie disbanded in 1982 as Harry cared for Stein, who was diagnosed with a life-threatening autoimmune disease of the skin. Harry spottily pursued a solo career in music and film until she and Stein re-formed Blondie in 1997. Blondie has sold 40 million records worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. The band's 11th and most recent studio album, Pollinator, was released on May 5, 2017. The band presently consists of Harry, Stein, guitarist Tommy Kessler, keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen, bassist Leigh Foxx and longtime drummer Clem Burke.

Brooklyn’s House of Vans will be closing at the end of this summer, and so the venue is hosting a House Parties series with big name artists performing free concerts for fans who are drinking free beers. Blondie’s concert tonight with Liz Phair and SASAMI doubled as a photo exhibit for Chris Stein, showcasing prints from his forthcoming book, Point of View: Me, New York City and the Punk Scene, on the venue walls. Behind the stage, visual artist Rob Roth’s brief video mash-up of Stein’s photographs looped repeatedly before Blondie walked on stage about 10 p.m. Blondie’s performance consisted of only 12 songs, and it pivoted on the bigger hits, with only three songs from the band’s more recent catalog. While the older songs once sounded edgy, here they sounded like classic pop rock, with polished instrumental flourishes nearly drowning out any nuances in Harry’s vocals. Blondie did well at animating old songs with fresh leads by the band's newer members. Blondie’s performance provided good time music for an audience seeking exactly that, a good time; the concert wound up becoming a sing-along event mobilized by a legendary pop band.

Visit Blondie at www.blondie.net.

Setlist:
  1. One Way or Another
  2. Hanging on the Telephone (The Nerves cover)
  3. Fun
  4. Call Me
  5. Gravity
  6. Rapture [with a coda of the Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)”]
  7. The Tide Is High (The Paragons cover, with a snippet of “Groove Is in the Heart” by Dee-Lite)
  8. Long Time
  9. Atomic
  10. Heart of Glass
Encore:
  1. From Russia with Love
  2. Dreaming

Liz Phair at House of Vans, Brooklyn

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Liz Phair lived her early childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, until age nine when her family relocated to the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, Illinois. After college in Ohio in 1990, she attempted to start a musical career in San Francisco, California, but returned to her home in Chicago, where she self-released three widely-circulated audio cassettes in 1991 under the name Girly Sound. She joined the alternative music circuit in Chicago and began recording under her own name in 1993. Phair had sold over three million records worldwide. Phair released Girly-Sound to Guyville, on May 4, 2018; the set is a 25th-anniversary retrospective of her debut album, Exile in Guyville, and includes remasters of the Girly Sound demo tapes. Phair resides in Manhattan Beach, California.

After nearly a decade of recluse, Liz Phair re-entered a very different music scene in 2018 than when her debut album perhaps unexpectedly waved the flag of feminist music in 1993. Opening for Blondie at House of Vans tonight, Phair seemed to link the past with the present and possibly the future, showcasing her self-made identity as a solid female rocker without adopting male rock star postures or sexploitative female stereotypes. Backed by four male musicians, Phair played her guitar and sang in a clear voice, her lyrics unapologetically articulating her womanly desires and vulnerabilities. The set consisted of five songs from her pivotal debut and five later songs that with age now sounded more like pop songs than indie rockers. Regrettably, Phair performed only songs from the 1990s; while these songs retained their integrity and significance, it would have been interesting to hear new compositions as well.

Visit Liz Phair at www.lizphairofficial.com.

Setlist:
  1. 6’1″
  2. Fuck and Run
  3. Divorce Song
  4. Polyester Bride
  5. Stratford-on-Guy
  6. Never Said
  7. Supernova
  8. Johnny Feelgood
  9. Extraordinary
  10. Why Can’t I?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Acid Dad at Mercury Lounge

Guitarist/vocalist Vaughn Hunt took piano lessons at age 13 before switching to guitar. Based in Brooklyn, New York, he started a band, at first called Twincest, in 2014. He met Sean Fahey, who started playing guitar at age three and wrote his first song at age four. Hunt recruited Fahey, initially to play bass, and changed the band name to Acid Dad in 2015. Fahey is now a guitarist again, JP Basileo is the bassist, and Trevor Mustoe is the band's new drummer. Acid Dad released an 11-track self-titled debut album on March 9, 2018.

At Mercury Lounge tonight, Acid Dad scored with a set of songs that through repetitious riffs or melodies turned shoegaze songs into rock ragers. The spine of each song sounded like it was born in the Television/Talking Heads/B-52's era. Hunt's affectless, nearly monotone vocals initiated a dirge-like foundation. Ringing guitar hooks leaned towards a psychedelic template, as their recurrence crafted an escalating intensity. The instrumental portions then soared with chugging guitar-driven dynamics, droning into a cold, hazy abyss. The relentless bass lines and percussive rhythms were so strong and the guitar chords so vibrant and vigorous that they produced an engulfing, hypnotic groove that demanded respect and response. Fair warning: Acid Dad has the potential to melt your brain.

Visit Acid Dad at www.aciddad.com.

Beck at Madison Square Garden

Britt Daniel & Beck
Beck Hansen (born Bek Campbell, known professionally as Beck) was born into a colorful family in Los Angeles, California. His father is David Campbell, a Canadian-born arranger, composer and conductor who worked on hundreds of albums and numerous films, and his mother is Bibbe Hansen, a visual artist, performance artist, musician and actor in Andy Warhol's Factory in the 1960s. Beck began life in a rooming house near downtown Los Angeles, California. As a child, he was sent for a time to live in Kansas with his paternal grandparents and in Europe with his maternal grandfather, Al Hansen, a visual collage artist and a pioneer in the avant-garde Fluxus movement. Beck obtained his first guitar at 16 and became a Los Angeles-area street musician. At age 17, Beck spent hours in his room trying to emulate country-blues finger picking techniques. By age 18, Beck was playing acoustic blues and folk music in coffeehouses and briefly explored the anti-folk movement in New York City before returning to Los Angeles in 1991. His initial hit, "Loser," looked like it would make Beck a novelty one-hit wonder in 1994, but Beck sustained a string of hits and won five Grammy Awards. His 13th studio album, Colors, was released on October 13, 2017.

Headlining at Madison Square Garden for the first time tonight, Beck appeared to marvel at his ascent, particularly since he was largely homeless and playing for tips at small clubs like Sidewalk when he lived in New York City. Beck opened with well-known songs, "Devils Haircut" and "The New Pollution," and over the course of his 19-song set, he touched upon nine of his albums. These songs often injected clever wit and polished pop-art collages of many contemporary musical genres. While Beck's albums crossed many genres when they were first released, performed with a pumping band as a retrospective these once-eclectic songs were synchronized harmoniously in sound and feel. Beck's often extended chatter between songs also helped mitigate any abrupt changes in musical style. Midway through the set, Beck invited on stage Spoon vocalist Britt Daniel for two songs, and then opener Jenny Lewis joined Beck first for the rarely-performed "Girl Dreams" and returned for the encore. Beck closed his show with a 21-minute encore that wrapped his 1996 hit "Where It's At" around band introductions and  snippets of classics mostly by New York artists. Beck's light pop performance was a surprise-filled and pleasing synthesis for his long time fans.

Visit Beck at www.beck.com.

Setlist:
  1. Devils Haircut
  2. The New Pollution
  3. Mixed Bizness
  4. Up All Night
  5. Wow
  6. Qué Onda Güero
  7. Think I'm in Love (I Feel Love interlude; Donna Summer cover)
  8. l'm So Free
  9. Dear Life (with Britt Daniel)
  10. I Turn My Camera On (Spoon cover, with Britt Daniel)
  11. Girl Dreams (with Jenny Lewis)
  12. Lost Cause
  13. Blue Moon
  14. Dreams
  15. Girl
  16. Colors
  17. Loser
  18. E-Pro
Encore:
  1. Where It's At
  2. Can I Kick It (snippet; A Tribe Called Quest cover)
  3. Good Times (snippet; Chic cover)
  4. See No Evil (snippet; Television cover)
  5. I'm Waiting for the Man (snippet; Velvet Underground cover)
  6. Taking It to the Streets (snippet; The Doobie Brothers cover)
  7. Once in a Lifetime (snippet; Talking Heads cover)
  8. drums solo
  9. One Foot in the Grave (with Jenny Lewis)
  10. Where It's At (reprise, with Jenny Lewis)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cut Worms at Mercury Lounge

Max Clarke taught himself to play and write music at about age 12, shortly after his mother bought him a guitar for $5 in a garage sale in his home town of Cleveland, Ohio. Leaving behind a promising career in baseball, Clarke studied illustration while attending college in Chicago, Illinois, but then drifted from that trajectory as well to exploring the potential of a career in music. Clarke adopted the nom de plume of Cut Worms from the line "The cut worm forgives the plough" in William Blake's Proverbs of Hell. Clarke relocated in 2015 to Brooklyn, New York, and under the name Cut Worms released an EP in 2017 and a debut album, Hollow Ground, on May 4, 2018.

Performing as a four-piece ensemble tonight at Mercury Lounge, Cut Worms performed a quirky, indie folk set that resonated with low-fi resilience. Clarke strummed an acoustic guitar, and his musicians provided bounce and roundness, but the songs remained rather stark and under-arranged. There was something charming about this simplicity as it accompanied Clarke's affinity for evocative storytelling. Clarke's vocal delivery was almost plainspoken, lacking emotional drive, and the weighty reverb in his microphone further distanced the potential romanticism of his poetic lyrics. These lyrics captured gravity and darkness, but the overall breezy and whimsical delivery seemingly masked an obscured shadow side. Not quite a tug of war, Cut Worms is deeper than it sounds.

Visit Cut Worms at www.cut-worms.com.

Wendy Scripps Birthday Bash 2018 at the Bowery Electric

Wendy Scripps has deep roots in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Her great-grandfather, Samuel Gompers, was an immigrant who grew up in the Lower East Side, became a union organizer and helped found Labor Day; a housing project in the neighborhood is named after him. Scripps was born and raised in Northern California, but she settled in the Lower East Side in 1982, when she was in her early 20s. She started working as a bartender and worked security in illegal after-hours clubs. Scripps now owns the Art on A Gallery and is the multi-tattooed CEO of Wendigo Productions, which underwrites underground films and local rock concerts. Scripps has been called the Godmother of the Lower East Side.

Wendigo Productions presented the annual Wendy Scripps Birthday Bash on both floors of the Bowery Electric on July 18. Scripps focuses on straight-ahead rock and roll; no art rock, indie experimental or hip hop is on her radar. On this night she booked the Shrine from Los Angeles, California, the Tip from Nashville, Tennessee, and the Heartless Devils from Long Island, New York, but otherwise the night was a showcase for many of the neighborhood's hottest unsigned rock and roll bands: the Liza Colby Sound, the Sweet Things, the Hipp Pipps, and Love Pirates.
Wendy Scripps, dancing with the Tip
The Tip
The Heartless Devils
Love Pirates
Dina Regine
The Sweet Things
The Hipp Pipps
The Liza Colby Sound