Saturday, February 26, 2011

Festival So Far

From what I've seen so far, the energy of the Festival has very much inspired some tight and compelling performances. There was a lot to enjoy Wednesday night, starting with Domino's typically offbeat but wondrous performance. While there were moments where she sort of seemed to lose her way, there also were some sections where I couldn't believe the sounds she was making. She also did some cool dance moves. Amanda Nicole played a beautiful set with just herself and an electric guitar--dense and ethereal at the same time. Crazy and the Brains totally rocked the place. Everyone at Sidewalk was on their feet dancing most of the time. It was the best C&TB set I've seen. I caught the beginning of The Telethons with John standing up and playing drum. It was rocking along, but unfortunately the late hour caught up with me and I had to head out.

Thursday--Jon Berger gave a strong spoken word set which included some of the newer material he's been writing. His parents were there and I always wonder how they react to some of Jon's more...personal pieces. Jordan Levinson's material is very much influenced by traditional country music. She played some covers including one by Townes Van Zandt and another by Blind Willie McTell. Jordan's finger-picking was effective and her vocals were particularly strong, drawing at times on the sort of yodeling style that is woven into some country music. I'm not so familiar with a wide range of country artists, but I did fall in love at one point with this album by Iris Dement, and I often feel that Jordan's voice has a quality similar to hers. In any event, she sounded great. Comic Rob Shapiro appeared as a substitute for the originally announced Bernard King Presents. While I've seen Rob give rollickingly funny performances, his brash and confrontational style wasn't a good fit with the rest of that night's bill and he lost the audience as he soldiered on. Brook Pridemore sat for most if not his entire set, something I don't remember him doing before, but he still gave a very energetic performance. Brook stepped into the audience and then led us all out to the street for his finale. That was cool. When he finished his last song, Brook ran away up Avenue A.

One of the things about the Antifolk Festival is that it give you a chance to see some performers in a different frame. I sat close to the stage during Lenny Molotov's set and was getting into his guitar work in a way I hadn't before. I liked the song he finished with--Dick Will Rise--which I think he said he hadn't played in 12 years. It was about Richard Nixon. Emily Einhorn's set was stunning. What can I say? She has it all. Her songs are very rich and her singing is inventive and gorgeous. That was one of the best sets I've seen at Sidewalk in a while. She played "In the Office," which is a song I love--plus some new songs--"Hollow" and "Roses" (among others) which I am looking forward to becoming more familiar with. In the song Nonsense--mostly through the stylized way she sang the chorus sections--she found a fresh approach to looking at unfortunate relationships. Lach was back and played a warm, tight set. There was a good balance to the material he chose, including songs on both guitar and piano, and he was connecting with the audience. I can't imagine anyone not enjoying a set by Phoebe Kreutz. There's such a lightness and humor to her songs. She played a couple numbers with Gary Adler, with whom I believe she collaborates on musical theatre pieces--and the one about the character who marries her second cousin is hilarious. She also had other friends on stage as special guests including Toby Goodshank, Angela Carlucci, Yoko Kikuchi, and Matt Colborn. I caught the beginning of Isaac Gillespie's set. It turns out he asked a friend--a woman-to sing most of his songs--which gave them a different quality. I couldn't stay for the whole thing but I enjoyed what I saw at the beginning. Isaac was also projecting film footage during his set which gave it a surreal feel.

It's intense to be at Sidewalk night after night for hours at a time. For one, you need to have a lot of dollar bills with you. But I do think the shorter Festival schedule makes it manageable. We're heading into the home stretch. I will see you there.


  1. The Antifolk Festival just suffered through a debaucherous round of bullshit thanks to the antics of the dude who leads the band Berth Control. ...
    How to Ruin a Good Night
    Feb 26, 2011 ... Mr. Berth Control guy had his shirt off and all of a sudden ran out of the room. There were a surreal few moments as some of his bandmates ...

    Let me introduce myself, i assure you my shirt is on.
    I'm Brent Cole. Some call me Memphis, Strictly Beats, Gary or Teddy Destiny. I usually suggest not to be called "mr."...sounds too formal. My nieces even call me Brent or B.

    I apologize to Herb, Ben, the owner and staff, my bandmates and anyone who missed the rest of the show and had their night cut short.

    Also, i think you should stand confidently behind your original post. I value everyones opinion and it was obviously something you felt passionate about at the time you hit the "post" button on your blog.
    Things on the internet don't go away, even if you delete it, it's out there in the digisphere for all time.

    I shouldn't dare compare myself to legends, but do you have similar disdain for Iggy Pop when he was performing shirtless, with reckless abandon? I was giving my mind and body, fully immersed in the energy of my amazing band and the smiling people in the room. I wish that i didn't accidentally cut my hand on a glass i toppled. It is painful, i have nerve damage and i'm truly concerned about how it will affect my drumming and guitar playing.
    I take full responsibility for it.

    Thanks for reading this and please feel free to criticize without fear or self censorship.
    Also feel free to download most of our music for free.
    Brent Cole
    Berth Control

  2. Brent-Thanks for your comment which is in a tempered tone much different than what I experienced of you the other night at Sidewalk.

    There were lots of reasons I responded to your antics as strongly as I did, but mainly because I thought they were unnecessarily violent and destructive and could have put other people in danger. The Sidewalk room is very small and toppled tables and broken glass aren’t good for anyone.

    Prior to the start of your show--in between acts-- you were acting erratically, and throwing things around and you made the comment in my direction that if you toppled over the tables in the room and the candles hit the floor they might burn the place down--so clearly you were in a destructive frame of mind before your show started and you weren’t just responding to the energy on stage. The whole thing just seemed selfish.

    There’s nothing wrong with raw energy in a show--(and by the way, I don’t care if you had your shirt on or off--that was just a matter of reporting the scene)--but there is a difference between dramatic energy and destructive behavior. A few nights earlier Crazy and the Brains gave a raucous, wild performance at Sidewalk that was one of the highlights of the festival, but it was with an entirely positive vibe. The whole tone of the Antifolk Festival up to that point had been very upbeat, and I felt that the incident with you put a damper on things. Other people in the room undoubtedly had other responses and interpretations but this is how it all seemed to me.

    About my original post, I wrote it rashly late at night directly after the incident happened and after putting it out there decided I would rather sleep on it. Perhaps you’re right that I should have stuck with my original instincts on that (the incident is, by the way, included in another write up about the whole festival that I submitted to an online music magazine).

    In any event, I am not glad that you seriously injured yourself and I hope that you heal well with no long term damage.

    I also hope that next time we run into each other things are different. But I can’t say I’m going to be seeking out your group’s shows. I’ll check out your music though.

  3. Thanks Herb, i understand and am sorry again. I Look forward to having a second chance to make a good or at least better impression. Till then, be well and godspeed. :)