First Time’s A Charm
New York's music scene in all its glory, or alternatively, its attempt at glory.
Greenroom Catastrophe is a monthly column that serves as an intro to the phenomenology of New York music. Join the coincidental misadventures of a lifer, Dale W Eisinger, as he searches for new noise through scene reports, reminiscences, and musings on the state of New York music. Desperate for a thrill.
First of All
No one called it “indie sleaze” while it was happening. So there is no “indie sleaze revival.” Don’t waste time with counterfeit etymology–it’s propaganda. They’re about to sell you Lime-A-Rita or a subscription mail-order lifestyle swagbag under the guise of a data-mining ticketing app. Don’t let them reconstitute the history of fun. These people are interlopers and they use the internet to get off, instead of using the internet to get off the internet.
Once, forever ago, I was playing drums at Glasslands (I think we were opening for Xiu Xiu) and I went into the bathroom and someone had written “fuck dale” on the wall. Had you said that to me back then, I truly have no idea how I would have reacted. I was a disaster of grief and booze and desperation. If you said that to me now, I'd like to reply: I’m sorry, I love you, please forgive me, thank you. We’ve all suffered our humiliations and our joys both public and private, some more humiliating than others. Trying to live having never lived before often ends in heartbreak, if you’re lucky. We owe grace to even our worst enemies. Meanwhile, if you don’t know what Glasslands was, meet me on the Elsewhere Rooftop at sunset and I’ll try to fill you in. When the grapefruit-champagne gradient is just right behind the skyline, you might begin to understand: your body is held together by music. This enterprise can never be taken for granted.
Soul Patches and Skinny Jeans
I dragged my buddy Tyler to see The Walkmen play a reunion show at Webster Hall. Neither of us had been too into the band at their prime a decade ago, but I just saw them absolutely shredding on Colbert.
Openers Liilly started with a squealy no-wave groove, and I thought, “fuck, is every band just gonna sound like Yvette now?” Then they bashed through 100 shades of post-90s rock, signifying everything from nu-metal nonsense to fantastic alt-wave, with a drummer so irrefutable I’ll say he’s holding that band together.
Whatever goodwill I’d developed evaporated when they closed with Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff.” I think it was their only cover, unless they’d done an Incubus or Chili Peppers B-side I hadn’t clocked. I just imagined myself on the stage, granted that platform, having made that decision. It’s not even the song itself so much as the attitude. I felt demeaned as an audience member. I hope that was some kind of inside joke for Liily and that it was worth it, because all I remember about them now is Fred Durst.
The Walkmen came out. They tore through three perfect post-punk bangers, the third of which being the potentially classic “The Rat,” with its monumental bridge. It’s kind of the ur-millennial song: a track about a guy who’s annoyed that someone called him. I thought, damn why did I pass on these guys? Then they cut into some weepy sea-shanty shit, sparking a vague memory of handlebar mustaches, bracers, badly crafted cocktails, whimsy. Please, stop reviving whatever that is. We bailed, doing our best to dodge the many children running around the venue. Tyler’s wife Lindsay herself sat at home in her third trimester.
Who is rapping about Ozempic? 👁
God is Real
On a sunny Friday afternoon, on the sidewalk outside Williamsburg School of Music, under the bridge, I saw a four-piece band called The Moon Star, composed of toddlers, playing the Beatles better than the Beatles ever did–kindergartners destroying “Come Together” while a J Train shreds a rainbow of static through the sky.
LEYA and Liam Benzvi at Public Records… When I first saw this bill, I gasped—a crossover booking between two scenes. I considered deciphering the intention, but decided the mystery of its confluence intensified the erotic. Public Records is where hot people do hot shit. The encounter of that place always startles me, a neon-soaked off-world oasis at the edge of civilized filth. The showroom has this massive deconstructed quadraphonic hifi that’s so futuristic it looks ancient.
At the gig, the pairing made more sense: here are two artists operating completely outside of time. Liam debuted his live band. He has this ear for timbre that spans decades, while having the good sense to never lean on nostalgia for an era he wasn’t present. By expertly contrasting all manner of voicing without abandoning first principles of spirit, he’s transcended to alt-pop artistry, one of the biggest voices in NYC—confident, robust, arresting. His song “Dust”—a spiraling psychedelic pop masterpiece recalling everyone from Tears for Fears to Animal Collective to Prefab Sprout—almost convinced me hell does not exist.
All the flowers for LEYA: a duo of uncharacteristic edge, beauty, grace, and terror. Marilu on harp lures you in with these thorny harp-eggios, little bundles of sharp floral radiance; then Adam enters with a voice that sounds similar to how biblically accurate angels look. He modulates a weird processed violin figure and then suddenly the music coheres wildly and tumbles you toward the horror of the sublime. It is so much better then words can explain. There hasn’t been a band like them since the 1700s. And people back then definitely weren’t as hot as these two. Do you understand how luminescent you have to be playing harp and violin for Acne Studios to wrap you into a runway show?
Best of All Time
The Parlor Walls project of Alyse Lamb and Chris Mulligan has become, over the last decade or so, the most consistent and yet consistently undersung band in New York City. Their new EP, Little Palm, serves up two expansive and punchy new shredders distinctive to the band, as well as two remixes. The first by Trip Support lacerates the title track into a hard techno asphyxiation. The second, by now-cemented New York legend Smhoak Mosheein, somehow flips “The Wheel” into a squelchy hypnotic dervish.
Similarly, NYC lifers Buke and Gase celebrated the release of an incredible concert film, which demonstrates why they’re your favorite band’s favorite band. I mean, the opening shows the duo of Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez jamming with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. I honestly haven’t seen the band live in years, and this concert film–directed by Steven Pierce of the band playing in pretty much empty Basilica Hudson–demonstrates just how precise, thundering, and transcendent this band has always been. They’re so strange without being off putting, still recalling the greatness of freak-folk (intel suggests a revival is imminent…?) but exemplifying that movement’s overlap with no wave and punk–they build their own instruments. This is truly an astonishing group, and one of a handful of bands that I can say destroyed and reconstructed my idea of what music could be, when I encountered them by chance forever ago.
Thank you to Isaac for inviting me to the Roxy for the screening/premier of the new Strange Ranger video for “She’s on Fire.” The band already scored my favorite lyric of the year (I heard you write about culture/ what’s that mean?). So though it was raining I returned to the scene of my worst job ever (concierge at what was then called the Tribeca Grand for like 6 months, I was fired). I went into the fabled bathroom just to make sure–yep, still perfect for sex and drugs. I sat down in the theater and looked to my right: Blaketheman1000 looked back at me. I was so entirely too stoned and the lights went down. After the music, the band screened Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train. Both music videos and the film center transience as the interest, the in-between places like hotel rooms and airports and gas stations. Even if it’s accidental or a matter of coincidence, these are the places where life happens. Just gotta stay in motion.