If the night had a theme, that theme was diversity. Five musical performances, with a multitude of backgrounds and instruments, drawn together by the love of music.
The show was at Pianos, a little bar on the Lower East Side, once known as a poor, immigrant neighborhood. Over time, Irish, Italians, Poles, Ukrainians, and Germans have given way to Japanese, Bangladeshis, Chinese, Latin American, and other immigrants. The neighborhood is home to churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues, and reflects the chaotic multicultural influence of the area.
Pianos has a small stage, and room for about a hundred guests, maybe twenty more if they’re all friendly with each other. The sound system and acoustics were decent, better than I expected for the space.
The evening started with St. Grandson, a duo from Belgium. Benjamin Decloedt (guitar, piano) and Jasper Carpenter (guitar, violin) create gentle, melancholy soundscapes with their minimalistic approach. The music is a soft backdrop to the carefully crafted lyrics and it’s a style that works very well for them. Unfortunately, I think the performance space and crowd was not well suited to their music, and so the intimacy that captures your interest and attention in their videos was lost.
I would love to see them in a venue that caters to acoustic shows, because I think their performance will really shine in a different location.
Music and social movements been intertwined throughout history, and that hasn’t changed as we’ve moved into the 21st century. The need for freedom, for equality, for peace is constant, and Outernational speaks loudly in these struggles. They’re the soundtrack of change, and they put on one hell of a show.
Outernational has a high-energy live sound, rock ‘n’ roll with a punk twist. They combine excellent musicianship with passionate performance, managing to keep their music raw and in-your-face, with some of the rougher edges polished off. The effect is hypnotic; instead of pushing you away with their revolutionary fervor, Outernational draws you in. Their music whispers in your ear, You are one of us, and it’s a siren’s call that isn’t easily forgotten. Or ignored.
Outernational is Miles Solay (vocals), Leo Mintek (guitars), Dr. Blum (trumpet, keyboard), Jesse Williams Massa (bass) and Nate Hassan (drums). Catch them live if you can; you’ll leave the show feeling renewed and hopeful.
My first introduction to music was through classical music, and as I grew up, I found a passionate love for music from Eastern Europe. Some of my favorites were Dvořák, Bartók, and Janáček, who worked to incorporate their native folk music into their compositions.
Bad Buka‘s music is heavily influenced by Slavic and Romani elements, which explains why I fell so hard for Bad Buka.
They are absolutely amazing live, drawing the audience in with their fast-paced musical storytelling and getting the crowd moving. The band was crowded close on the small stage, but that didn’t seem to bother them as they danced and sang. They had tremendous amounts of positive energy and it was obvious that this band really enjoyed performing.
Watching them on stage, it’s clear that Bad Buka is a family first, then a band, and that seems to be the glue that keeps them working as a band.
They just released their first full length album last month, and it was a joy to hear the songs played live. They have a few upcoming gigs in the NY area, and Fr.U.N.T.’s Rob Smittix interviewed them recently.
Bad Buka is Slavko Bosnjak (vocals), Christofer Lovrin (guitar, vocals), Cooper Gorrie (guitar, trumpet, everything else), Kari Bethke (violin), Carla T (MC, vocals, tambourine), Charles Schmid (drums, chopsticks), Lady Diana (vocals, percussion), Ben Backus (bass), John Carlson (trumpet madness), and John Sully (percussion).
By the time Escarioka took the stage, the crowd had grown restless and it didn’t take the band longer than a single song to whip them into a frenzy of sweating, moshing bodies. Escarioka calls their musical style rock ‘n’ roll crossed with hard-core dub tropical raggamuffin and while I’m not entirely sure what that means, I found that it doesn’t really matter.
The are also the kind of band that proves that music can transcend language. My Spanish is limited to cussing and asking for the bathroom, and that didn’t stop me from really enjoying the band’s bright intensity and sabor. There’s a lot of difference influences in their music, which had the potential to be disjointed and jarring, but wasn’t. Escarioka smoothly blends a variety of styles into music that’s got a rhythm and life of it’s own.
Partway through their set Escarioka was joined by a special guest, Pedro Erazo from Gogol Bordello, and the combined performance just kicked down the door and took no hostages.
Escarioka calls themselves more than a band, and it was a pleasure to see them live. I’ve rarely seen a performance that connected so well with an audience.
The band is Exequiel D’Ambrosio (vocals), Pablo D’Ambrosio (bass), Fernando Alvarez (guitar), Cristobal Miranda (drums), Richard Quercini (percussion), Mark Nagy (trombone), Till Kuenkler (trombone), Will Livengood (trumpet), Noah Dreiblatt (sax). They have an album available on SoundCloud.
The Butcher Knives were the headliners, celebrating the release of their new CD, Misery. I had the pleasure of watching them run through sound check earlier in the evening, and I had seen the camaraderie between them, the in-jokes and teasing. I knew it was going to be a good show.
And it was. For me, any band that has an upright bass in the lineup already has my vote, but when you combine that with skilled musicianship, attitude, and a love of music, you’ve got a winning combination. Add an accordion, a banjo and musical influences from around the world and life can’t get any better.
The Butcher Knives brought a boundless exuberance and energy to the stage. This is a band that doesn’t stand in one place and stare at their shoes – they dance, take off their clothes, headbang, climb on their instruments, jostle each other, and ultimately find themselves in the middle of the mosh pit, still playing their instruments. At one point Pedro Erazo took the stage for another guest appearance, adding his unique vocal stylings to the mix.
I think this is the future of music, a crazy mishmash of culture and identity, hopes and dreams, and the Butcher Knives are riding the edge of something new and amazing. Check out their album, catch a live show, read Fr.U.N.T.’s interview; you’ll thank me later.
The band is Nacho Segura (vocals, percussion), Nikko Matiz (vocals, guitar), Melissa Elledge (accordion), Tal Galfsky (keyboards, samples), Ethan Cohen (banjo, guitar, vocals), Yoni Benshlomo (bass, vocals), and Mohamed Amine Smires (drums, vocals).
It was a long night of great bands, and when I finally got back home and crawled into my bed right around 5am, it was with a happy smile on my face.
by cardiac_in_overdrive (@cardiac_ovrdrv)