King of Kings. Lords of Lords. And… The Storm of Storms
The whole city was caught in a torrential downpour Thursday Night that buzzed mobile phones with legitimate flash flood warnings — as streets like 12th St and Callowhill filled up with 3ft + of water [see photo below]. Thus, the scheduled performance at a then puddly Underground Arts was quickly moved to higher ground; at the friendly and cozy confines of The Fire in Northern Liberties.
So, after a quick jaunt and unexpected performance from “The Homophones” — South Philly rock band who was gigging on The Fire’s calendar — “The Young Lions Tour” (on the tail end of two months across the United States) took center stage after midnight.
Youthful backing band The Bebble Rockers quickly dialed in the sound [and UP the bass] before welcoming headlining act Kabaka Pyramid to begin his talented display. Arguably, and perhaps due to a lack of peers willing to do so, Kabaka in many eyes is a leading torch bearer for critically acclaimed conscious reggae artists. Search his catalog of recordings, or step inside a live show and you’ll quickly find he’s up to this challenge.
Chanting against social injustice and for the teachings of Rastafari, the Kingston born and bred performer proudly shines a bright smile on stage to balance a focused and gifted delivery. Unfazed by the change of venue and later start time, Kabaka Pyramid roused his audience and shared many pleasant exchanges, pausing at times to explain the poignant messages in his lyrics .
Fellow Jamaican (Linstead, St. Catherine-born) and tour-mate Iba Mahr provided an ample encore presentation, plus more, bouncing between a raspy-er style and sweeter notes. This effort succeeded in keeping The Fire [pun intended] burning well past closing time — with hands, sentiments, and mind states held high. This tour being an in person introduction to many for Iba Mahr, it will be interesting to see what heights he ascends to.
Brooklyn-based band Old Monk recently paid Philly a visit by playing a pretty kickass show at The Fire in Northern Liberties. The three piece project consisting of Josh Carrafa (lead vocals/guitar), Ian Burns (drums), and Tsugumi Takashi (bass) played to a small, but fully engaged, audience.
Playing songs from their first full length titled Birds of Belize, the band really showed everyone how much fun they have. What’s interesting about Old Monk is that they play music that’s a bit different from other acts these days. It’s definitely rock ‘n roll at its core, but with a fast paced and tightly knit structure. The lead singer sounds a whole lot like Stephen Malkmus of Pavement (and that is hard to overlook); however, the band keeps things really interesting and exciting by providing unexpected shifts and delays, slowing the song down like it’s about to end and then bringing it back in loud and clear. And, to top it off, they have these great, super fun 8-bit/Atari style music videos that Carrafa makes on his computer. Check out this one that he made for “Fowl and Foe” (there’s some Monty Python referencing in it).
Before the show, two.one.five had a chance to chat with lead singer Carrafa about the project and what to expect from Old Monk in the future.
two.one.five: So, what’s been going on with you guys recently?
Josh Carrafa: Oh not a lot. We’re playing a lot of local shows, recording a bunch, and making some videos. Okay, so I guess that’s a lot. We just did two videos: one came out in March and one came out last month. Just finished one that should come out in September.
two.one.five: I really like the videos. What made you guys want to go with that 8 Bit, sort of Atari style? Who makes your videos?
JC: Thank you. I do, actually.
two.one.five: Did you go to school for animation or design or graphics or anything like that?
JC: One day I was messing around with photoshop and just sort of figured out how to do it. I started drawing these little gifs and I put ’em up on a website. It’s called musichistoryingifs.com.
two.one.five: It definitely makes your music videos really fun and interesting.
JC: We’ve done a couple videos in the past that have been traditional video/film. The kind where you just stand around and look awkward. They’re boring and not that interesting to me. It’s awkward for me to do it and watch, you know? Like, there’s no reason for you to bring all of your equipment and play on top of a roof somewhere.
two.one.five: A lot of music videos don’t make that much sense to me. There’s not that much of a point to them unless it’s unusual or different, I think. I would imagine recording most videos would be really awkward.
JC: It definitely can be.
two.one.five: I really love the Monty Python references in the video.
JC: Yeah, that’s something we really like, too.
two.one.five: So, I read you and Ian were pretty far away from each other when you first got this project started. How’d you link up in the first place?
JC: We met each other at the University of Colorado at Boulder; we had a college band in there. Ian stayed in Colorado and I moved to New York. In our college band we weren’t the song writers, we just played whatever we were told to play. We both seemed to have similar taste and styles of music, so we just kept in touch over the years. When I moved to New York, we’d just record stuff and send it to each other online. When we were really getting something concrete I convinced Ian to move to New York and we’ve been playing together for about 3 years now.
tow.one.five: So, other than recording with your previous band, this is your first album you’ve recorded together?
JC: Yeah, it was just me and Ian for the first one. Tsugumi kind of came in a little later. We actually went into the studio with no intention of making an album. We didn’t know how much time we would have, we didn’t really have a plan. We just booked a space with the intention of making a demo or like 4 songs maybe. We wound up working really fast got through 12 songs in one day, one session. We were like, “Well, I guess we may as well just make this an album.” It was weird how it just jumped up on us.
two.one.five: Based on that experience, what lessons are being carried over into your next album?
JC: Well, it’s a lot less spontaneous. The first one had that spontaneity vibe that was more of a “just go with it” style. This time we’re taking a little more time recording and actually thinking out the technical stuff. We’re definitely more ready this time than the first go round. Having Tsugumi on board helps a lot; she’s great.
two.one.five: When is the new album coming out?
JC: It should be out early next year.
two.one.five: How did you come up with the name Old Monk?
JC: I don’t know, just words. We just needed a name for the band and it just kind of came to me. It’s not really anything all that important or deep; we’re just playing music, not saving the world or anything.
two.one.five: What kind of music do you guys like to listen to?
JC: We like all sorts of stuff. Been listening to a lot of Black Sabbath recently. We’re also huge Pavement fans; the proggier stuff like Yes and Rush. Also really like The Joggers and newer, indie stuff like Deerhoof.
two.one.five: What are your day jobs?
JC: Ah, nobody likes to talk about their day jobs. Ian works at a restaurant, Tsugumi works at a studio, and I’m a lawyer.
two.one.five: A lawyer, really?
JC: I do boring, corporate busy work. It’s not very stressful, I’m not litigating huge cases or anything. I just read and send a lot of e-mails.
two.one.five: You should make a music video where you’re using that stereotypical court room scene that everyone thinks of when you say the word “lawyer.” I’m thinking, like, intense drama, the judge banging the mallet down yelling, “Order! Order!” and he’s wearing a big white wig. But that’s just me.
JC: Yeah, I’ll have to work on that one. That’s a good idea.
Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs do the complete opposite of taking themselves seriously: they do not. But they don’t screw around, either. Holly Golightly and Lawyer Dave are two talented musicians that are meant to be on stage and entertain. Whether it’s telling jokes about their crazy neighbor who sets mattresses on fire, singing songs about a DUI charge or having problems going down an escalator, these two are natural born storytellers.
On Wednesday, Oct. 10 at the Fire, the duo performed a laid back set that attracted a room full of happy viewers. Before they played, singer/songwriter Daniel Wayne put on quite a performance. Playing solely with two different guitars and his gorgeous voice, he was definitely a welcomed opener.
All three are currently on tour due to the release of Holly and Dave’s new album, Sunday Run Me Over. While it’s expected for musicians to play mostly new music, they actually played songs primarily from older albums. As a result of their set list getting stolen in NYC, they sort of just let the spirit move them and groove them throughout the evening. The audience the entire time was laughing and stomping along, singing lyrics when they knew them. Surprisingly, the show turned into a space for a freshman college girl hoe down. It was a little strange seeing younger people there who many would assume haven’t heard of Holly and Dave’s music. Oh, the Internet.
There were also a number of “groupie” types there that were, you know, pretty cool about their love of Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs. Honestly, a lot of people before, during, and after the show couldn’t stop trying to talk to Holly and Dave. The two of them are so approachable, though, I can’t say I blame them for trying. However, there was one really awkward, over the top type who didn’t really seem to understand boundaries. Like, while two.one.five was in the middle of interviewing them, this girl just interrupted Holly mid sentence said, “Are you Holly? Can I buy you a drink? Can I just talk to you for five minutes?” Holly was nice in response simply asking for a few more minutes so she could finish up the interview; however, Holly did manage to take her time with us.
Even more, throughout the show, Ms. Groupie Stalker would yell at people when they got her way. It was pretty hilarious when it happened, actually. Somehow she managed to put herself about four feet in front of the stage exactly; therefore, she felt as though she was allowed to constantly talk to/at Holly and Dave the whole time. It was extremely impressive how quick they were to come up with a response as a method for moving on. For example, stalker girl kept asking them to play older songs that required more musicians on stage.
“Do you see how limited we are on this stage? There’s just the two of us. Unless Dave starts playing guitar with his penis, which I’m sure he’s tried, I doubt we’ll be able to get that extra accompaniment,” Holly said in response. Her quick wit was definitely appreciated all throughout the evening.
In an interview with Holly and Dave, we managed to talk about a little of everything — this was nothing short of awesome. In regard to their new album, the two recorded it from their own home studio in Danville, Ga., about 40 miles outside of Athens. There, they not only record music, but they also run a horse rescue. Holly happens to be a qualified riding instructor. I mistakenly assumed they lived near Athens for “the music scene,” but that’s not the case at all.
“A lot of people ask us if we moved down there to be near the music scene in Athens, but there isn’t a music scene there. It’s $1 Yeager shots and girls gone wild, the way I understand it,” Golightly said. “We just moved there for the land.”
They claim they more or else keep to themselves down there, aside from some interesting commotion that comes from a neighbor they don’t care too much for. They, in fact, detest her, so they wrote a song about her. Pretty great stuff.
Holly and Dave’s innocuous love for poking fun at different topics — Jesus, religion, politics, you name it — is something you can always expect. They also could care less about being popular, signing on with a major record label (“…it’s the complete opposite of ‘making it’”), or playing a song with Jack White.
“Recording music is inherently evil, I think music suffered tremendously when Edison invented that thingamagiger. Before that, nobody gave a shit about how perfect music sounded. Everyone was just struggling to survive back then and music was this one good thing,” Dave said. “Because people started listening to everyone else, now they think, ‘Oh, I can get rich doing this.’
“Obviously, you’ve got to record, or else nobody would hear your music unless that person came to your town to play. But the motives are all wrong now,” he said.
“Everything has to be radio and digital friendly; everything sounds homogenized,” Holly said. “The problem with all this music is it’s an overload. Everything is overproduced and over analyzed; it’s all strategic. Everyone is trying to copy what someone else has already done.”
“It must be miserable trying to be like someone else. Once music becomes a commodity it detracts from what it really is, it turns into something ugly, rather. If it’s not fun, there’s no point in doing it,” she said.
While they play what many would consider country/folk/blues music, they just like to say they’re playing music they like. Due to Holly being a native Brit herself, some wouldn’t expect her to be playing the type of music she plays. But, then again, you’ve got bands like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Who, and Led Zeppelin who took perceivably American styles of music and did it better than us. Where’s the connection?
“In the U.K., we were raised on Motown, it’s in our blood; we embraced it well before white America did because white America wouldn’t play it on the radio,” she said. “And I think a lot of it is we aren’t trying too hard. I think Americans are perceived as overdoing everything.”
“I don’t know anything about country or folk music, really. When I think of folk music, I think of old blues stuff. I’m a white working-class girl from England, my version of country music is blues. It’s a simple formula and that appeals to me, I like the tradition of it,” Holly said. “It’s a 12-bar song that returns; everyone knows the song before you’ve even finished it.”
These two do not try and put on any type of facade. They’re as real as it gets. With sharp tongues and wit plus a natural ability to play music without trying hard, you can’t help but like these two a whole hell of a lot. They’re simply having a good time.