I’m not one to really ever go to the beach…the sand, the heat, all the rigamarole with getting there…it’s just not for me (many have tried to convince me to change my ways over the years, but trust me, I’m a grouch at the beach, you don’t want me there!). I do have one exception however, and that is good bands playing at the beach; throw that into the equation and I’m there. Such was the case Saturday 8/28 when I found myself with an entirely free day after the event I was supposed to work was canceled. I poked around for what was going on and learned that there was not one, but two shows I wanted to see on or near the waterfront in Rockaway Beach. A lot of friends were on both, as well as some bands I’d been wanting to see but hadn’t yet, and some I’d not yet heard of. Fortunately the nasty heatwave that had been enveloping NYC broke during the night preceding and when I awoke on Saturday it was cool and overcast. I don’t know about anyone else, but in my opinion, a cool hoodie weather day is the only way to go to the beach.
Flyer for the first event, which took place at Rockaway Brewing Company, a large and open space to see bands, eat, drink, play pool or perhaps buy a record.
I haven’t had a two show day in a while (this was actually a three show day, stay tuned for the third show in a separate post), and it was a doozy packed full of great artists. The first show started in the early afternoon and was organized by Jamie Frey of No Ice as part of No Cover New York. He did an excellent job curating a killer lineup and I thanked him later for also including women in almost every act (one band was all men), and he said that he had “just booked who I wanted to see.” This is also my approach to booking, I book who I love and want to hear, but really it’s an example of how supremely easy it is to make bills that are not all white cis men and that the excuses I often hear about there “not being enough women in bands,” are totally bogus; the people making them are just lazy. It’s so easy in fact, you really don’t even have to make an effort if you just open your eyes to all the talent around you. Either way, I very much appreciated it and I wish more men would step it up in this regard.
The second show served as a single release/tour kickoff event for members of TVOD who will soon be embarking on tour with another project. My only wish is that I had been able to see all of the bands that played both shows. I was particularly bummed with having to miss Shilpa Ray (who we recently featured) and No Ice, but the two shows overlapped, so I saw as many bands on the first event as I could before scooting over to the second show for a total of eight bands for the day. That’s a lot of bands so I decided to combine everything into one post; I’m not going to write a ton about each one, just a little mention, and share the pictures I took. I urge everyone to check out all of these artists though, because I enjoyed all of them and they are all doing interesting and unique stuff. This was for sure my idea of a killer day at the beach!
Flyer for show two, which took place at Rippers, a fun burger bar right on the water.
The day started with Lily Gist of Frida Kill playing a solo set which encompassed some experimental compositions and Frida Kill songs that she sings lead on when they play as a full band. The performance was also punctuated with voice over from Joe Rogan’s podcast that Gist altered, warping and layering passages for repetitive effect. The excerpts featured some of the darkest and most exceptionally cruel of Rogan’s disgusting transphobia, with Gist’s songs serving as counter point to his hateful rhetoric and speaking truth to her trans experience. It was a powerful statement and performance, but absolutely very difficult to listen to at times when some of the worst of Rogan’s vile sentiments were playing. Why that man gets any air time is beyond me, he is an awful person who should make the world a much better place for everyone by shutting his mouth.
Lily Gist at Rockaway Brewing Company
Acrylic Gesso was playing their very first show and they put on an energetic set- synthy at times, guitar based punky pop with fuzzy bass at others- and I am excited to see more from them. They also had a furry fan poke their head out during the middle of a song, a very confused cat who wandered out from a storage area to near the front of the stage. Amy Klein came up next and brought a hard rock mood to the day. A little Sabbath, a lot PJ Harvey, she and her band- which features the powerhouse rhythm section of drummer Colin Brooks and bassist Will Chang- rocked the fuck out and looked like they were having the time of their lives; I really, really enjoyed their high octane performance. Two bands I had previously been unfamiliar with came up next, first was MPHO with a synth power pop groove for a fun and bouncy set, and who also featured Blaze Bateh of Bambara on drums. They were followed by Leathered who had a dark indie vibe that I really loved and featured wonderful guitar work from frontwoman Amanda B. I was disappointed to see that they only have one track available to listen to currently on their Bandcamp, the lyrically incendiary (but entirely true/relatable) “There There,” but hopefully they will release more very soon because they were a great discovery and I’m anxious to hear more of what they played at the show.
Leathered at Rockaway Brewing Company
DJ Maria Lina (also of Frida Kill)
I managed to get five bands in before heading down the road to Rippers and made it just in time as Cumgirl8 was starting their first song. When I walked up, a small group of cops was watching from the back to which I immediately scoffed and rolled my eyes; I was so tempted to say “you lost?!” but I ignored them and kept it moving. Cumgirl8 is a band I’ve tried to see a few times before but work or something else always came up, and then well…the obvious made it impossible to see them for the last year and a half, so I’m glad I finally broke the just missing them streak. A tad gothy, a healthy dash experimental post punk, and a bit bratty, they were worth the wait. I felt the snark crackling in the air and very much dug their set which was made up of songs off of their self titled 2020 full length. They played their set and immediately dashed off to another show not far away (it was a very busy day for live music in Rockaway apparently) so I did not get a chance to talk with any of them, but I most definitely will make sure I don’t go so long without seeing them again.
Smile Machine hit the middle spot, and this is the (essentially) solo project of Jordyn Blakely, who I knew from her work as a drummer for several bands (including Bartees Strange and Maneka), so this was the first time I’d seen her in the front person role. They just released a debut full length, Bye for Now, which saw Blakely performing almost every instrument. The sound is fuzzy, power poppish indie with hazy vocals, firmly in the vein of Bully or a slightly more amped up, less polished Snail Mail. Most of the set was made up of these songs and I’ve been rocking the infectious album in FTA headquarters during editing the photos. Blakely is due to tour with Bartees Strange throughout fall, but hopefully Smile Machine will have time to fit in some gigs between all of that because I’m for sure ready to see them again ASAP.
Smile Machine at Rippers
TVOD closed out the show, which served as a release show for the new single they just put out, “Ex Boyfriend Beat,” a cover of early 90s UK riot grrrl band, Skinned Teen. The show was also a send off for guitarist/singer Nikki Sisti and synth player Kate Black; Both are also members of Thick, who is about to embark on a lengthy fall touring schedule. Thick will be opening for Flogging Molly and Violent Femmes, so this was Black and Sisti’s last show with TVOD for a bit. Both will be back after their touring obligations with Thick are met though, and TVOD is absolutely not going to be inactive in their absence either, they have Brooklyn shows planned as well as a short tour themselves (fill in players will take Black and Sisti’s places temporarily). Like all TVOD shows, this one was a wild and hyper affair top to bottom; they are seriously one of the most fun bands in all of NYC.
Previously, lead singer Tyler Wright also played guitar on several songs, though would put the guitar aside for some songs too so he could jump around and run into the crowd while singing. Now the band has added Jason Wornoff on second guitar (who also plays in Vacant Company, one of my favorite discoveries of 2021) to play those songs, which has freed Wright up to not have to worry about guitar at all. Which means now he can go full force on the mic for every song, turning an already exciting live show up several notches. Wornoff is also an explosive performer so this really is the perfect melding of talents. It’s really pretty impossible not to get caught up in the excitement at a TVOD show and shout along to every song, so I am really glad I ended up not having to work so I could be there for this.
TVOD at Rippers
Mark it on the calendar, Hoos went to the beach and had an amazing time! Maybe I cheated a bit since I didn’t actually set foot on the beach itself, but “beach adjacent day” sounds too cumbersome. Whatever you want to call it, give me more days like this full of incredible live music before winter sets in, I am READY.
Scroll down for more pics of the day (photos by Kate Hoos)