HYBRID ART

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HOW TO DISSOLVE BARRIERS, BUILD NEW STAGES AND NURTURE MAJESTIC TREES OF NEW TALENT… TAP INTO AND BE A PART OF NEW YORK CITY’S BIGGEST ARTISTIC COMMUNITY AT THE QAS…

New York City is rich. The most valuable assets in all the Big Apple are not the glittering skyscrapers, not the global volume of Wall Street trades, nor the bubbling oil wells of tourism dollars. The most priceless commodity in NY is the electrifying culture of the people, the art and efforts of millions of passionate creators making their mark on the world’s shiniest stage.

In a town where legendary rock clubs have been replaced by over-priced designer boutiques (CBGB’s) and the bohemian enclaves that once nurtured a musical and artistic renaissance have been bulldozed for college dorm rooms (too much of the LES), local artists have been challenged to find ideal places to gain exposure.

Any void in nature must be filled, all demand must be fulfilled to maintain vital equilibrium. Born in 2010, the Quarterly Arts Soirée has been providing a major spotlight for countless performers, artists and musicians at various Manhattan venues for over five years, and continues to expand across the big city of dreams.

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The original idea for the QAS was sparked by co-founders and curators Gerard McNamee and Jenny Mushkin-Goldman, who joined forces to express;

“The mission of the QAS is to exhibit, expose and promote talent in painting, music, film, fashion, theater, graphic design and performance, installation and video art, while celebrating the rich cultural history of the Webster Hall venue and of New York City’s dynamic East Village. We seek to showcase art, fashion and music in a vibrant, unassuming manner, so that the art form is not held in the traditional pedestals of the white-cube gallery, sleek runway, classic stage and the like. Rather, the prospective spectator may witness the creations as an organic part of a communal environment, where not one thing is set apart from another, and where art may fuse with everyday life.”

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In all of Manhattan it doesn’t get much bigger and better than the world-famous Webster Hall. Established in 1886, no one disputes its status as the longest-running nightclub in Manhattan still rocking every Monday through Friday, 365 days a year. Once upon a time it was called the Ritz, and the song that coined the phrase “Puttin’ On The Ritz” (meaning to make oneself as well-dressed as possible to go out and socialize at a popular venue) was written about and for the very same place.

For 129 years Webster Hall has hosted everyone from Al Capone to Guns ’N Roses and that friend you went to college with who is now in a cult-famous indie band or EDM group. Trying to encompass and capture why Webster Hall is so historically and currently significant and important to NY nightlife in mere words is like trying to explain why the planets revolve around the sun.

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The scope of the billing has led to the vast spaces of Webster Hall being used in unconventional ways, such as a large-scale staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Grand Ballroom in 2010. The number of names of artists, bands, performers and presenters of every imaginable dimension are simply to many to list or even attempt to summarize.

The concept and mission of the QAS is too big to be contained to even a space as massive as Webster Hall. In turn, the concept has evolved into a further form dubbed “The QAS Presents”. These shows often take place at downtown nightspots East Village Social (Mondays at 126 St Marks Place) and The Late Late (Wednesdays at 159 East Houston St).

While the QAS Presents shows don’t involve eight-plus hours filled with hundreds of people, they retain the spirit and energy of the QAS as a collective, keeping the modern salon busy and active during the downtime between coordination of the larger events.

Matthew Evertsen is the founder of RONIN, LLC and music director at Moondog NYC. Matthew was an integral part of the QAS from the outset as one of the founding co-producers and music liaison. He recalled the show as;

“An incredible night, all types of artists, all types of musicians, all types of sounds, just a gathering of the creative arts. To be involved with such an important project that means this much to the community at such a legendary venue is an honor and a privilege”

Michael Morello is an actor, writer, General Manager of Slake in midtown, and long-time member of the Webster Hall community. He’s been co-producing the QAS and it’s spin-off QAS Presents from day one. When asked what the project meant to him he replied;

“The QAS is what every artist longs for, a place to belong and call home. It has grown into one of the largest artist communities in NYC. Like any well kept garden, it grows and grows year after year and reaps talent from every medium.”

The soul of the QAS is directly descendant from exalted creative scenes from history. Clear parallels can be drawn to the libertine French salons of the 19th century, the parties of Swinging London in the 1960’s or the rebellious art shows like PS1 curated by Diego Cortez in the early 1980’s that helped bring names like Jean-Michel Basquiat to fame.

No matter how many luxury hotels, skyscraper condominiums, pharmacy chains or banks clog the real estate of Manhattan, no matter how high the rent is or how culture changes in any conceivable way, the people need art to survive. Art, music and free expression are equally vital to the good health of any human being as food, water, sleep and shelter.

New York City needs more events like the QAS and QAS Presents. Follow the hashtag #QAS, keep your eyes, ears and collars up, because the next one will happening sooner than you think.

https://www.theqas.com

St Marks Disciples

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SINGING PRAISES TO GENEROUS SAINT MARK ON GOLDEN AFTERNOONS AND SILVER MIDNIGHTS AT THE EAST VILLAGE SOCIAL…DESIGN HYBRIDS FOR THE BEST OF NEW AND OLD NEW YORK…TRACKING THE MOVEMENTS OF MODERN BOHEMIANS AS THEY IMBIBE, DIGEST, PERFORM AND PONTIFICATE IN CELEBRATION OF NOW

The best places in New York City are the ones that embrace both the past and the future. The East Village Social is one of these excellent establishments, catering to a modern crowd with the vintage aesthetic that people travel from all over the world to experience.

EVS sits at 126 St Marks Place, tucked into the eastern stretch between 1st and Avenue A. On a street cluttered with rowdy and awkward bars, it’s really the only one worth stepping into to hang out for more than five minutes.

Up the pair of steps and through the front door you find an elongated space decorated in rustic repurposed wood, brick and iron. The bar is a massive slab of dark-stained lumber. If you listen carefully underneath the music you can catch the whispers of the gigantic tree’s soul reassuring you everything will be fine if you trust in Nature.

Tables and chairs stretch down the wall opposite the bar, providing comfortable space for kicking back under the soft glow of tiny white lights strung along the ceiling panels. Drinks are served up in sturdy mason jars, keeping with the rural speakeasy, Twin Peaks-meets-Tompkins Square vibe of the overall décor.

A newer kid on the block, the bar was established in 2012 by co-owners Dee Dee Patton, Tony Lopez and Gerard McNamee. All three possess intimate knowledge of the Lower East Side nightlife, having followed and been integral parts of the local Rock ’N Roll pulse since long before The Ramones were still playing live.

Hearty craft beers fill the taps, and people rave about the Sangria and specialty cocktails. A touch of welcome, healthy modern influence is found in the organic cabernet featured on the wine list. The robust food menu is comprised of feel-good classics with a Southern twist. The specialties are fried chicken and burgers, sweet potato hash and tangy fried pickles. The ‘special sauce’ for all the EVS signature jalapeño aioli. But it’s not all crunchy and crispy. When was the last time you enjoyed a delicious fresh spinach and arugula salad at leather-jacket casual hangout in Alphabet City?

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The two coolest spots in EVS are the pocket-sized corners that border the front door entryway. Only big enough for two to fill, they incorporate a solid timber shelf under iron-framed windows that look out onto St Marks. When the weather is gentle they open up to a people-watching display far more fascinating than the many big-budget movies that try to fake the NYC energy that St Marks abounds with.

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It’s a tangible spirit and sense of unrestrained enjoyment of life comparable to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the Las Vegas strip or Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. All day and night crowds of people parade by in every possible variation of sobriety and inebriation. You’d be safe to bet that few places on Earth rival the area from 3rd Ave. to Ave. B across what’s technically 8th street for it’s infinite kaleidoscope slideshow of humanity.

On the Holy Bible of online bar and restaurant reviews Yelp.com, Adam E. of Chicago describes the atmosphere of EVS brilliantly when he notes;

“This place looks like a bar that would be described in an early Ryan Adams song.”

If you’re not very familiar with Ryan Adams you should get to know his music better, because his Americana indie-garage rock songbook has been prolific and critically acclaimed since the late 1990’s. He canon is even starting to stack up alongside the greatest working-class hero troubadours like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and even the mythical Rolling Stones.

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Let’s imagine Ryan Adams strolling down Avenue A, either emerging from after a late night or just getting into one. This shouldn’t be difficult to picture because Adams lived, wrote, recorded and performed all over the very same LES neighborhoods for most of the 2000’s before setting up camp in LA circa 2010-ish.

There he is crossing over 9th street and A, trundling along to a riff in his head, sporting the trademark faded denim jacket with intricate embroidered patchwork. He leans into the steps turning the corner on St Marks like an old habit and ambles into EVS like he could live there if they had a reasonably clean mattress in the back. By the time he’s polished off a crispy tin cup of fries and quenched his thirst, the well-worn acoustic guitar hanging on the wall has become too much to resist. The bartender pulls the instrument down from the wall and passes it to Ryan, who drags a stool into the corner opposite the bar and begins to serenade the surprised crowd with a ballad from where the magic lives.

Beyond the food and drink, this is what goes on at EVS most nights of the week. Live music is always booked for Sunday brunch and on Monday nights curated in conjunction with the Quarterly Arts Soirée. EVS consistently caters to and offers its available space to singers and writers seeking to share joyful connections through spontaneous music and heartfelt performances.

It’s easy to feel welcome, at ease and at home at the East Village Social. Drop by between 2 PM and 4 AM any day of the week and you’ll be happy you did, like meeting an old friend you didn’t even know lived in the same city.EVS is the kind of place that, if you had your second drink in hand and a Creedence Clearwater Revival song came on the speakers, it could easily instantly cure a bullet wound, a broken heart, or worse.

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http://www.yelp.com/biz/east-village-social-new-york

https://foursquare.com/v/east-village-social-evs/4f8c76d6e4b04a07616ddd3f

http://www.eastvillagesocial.net

HIGH-GRADE GONZO COMEDY GETTING FAMOUS FAST

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The razor’s edge of modern funny is being sharpened and brandished like a cultural battle-axe every month in a scrappy Brooklyn performance space. It’s called The Macaulay Culkin Show and has absolutely nothing to do with Macaulay Culkin.

If the nutty enthusiasm of mid-70’s prime Saturday Night Live was blended with the panicked adrenaline blast of Iggy Pop jumping off the stage and attacking people, you’d have something comparable to the visceral energy of The Macaulay Culkin Show. It’s a stand-up revue starring the best and brightest names in comedy, curated by a mind-bending array of outrageously attired zany characters with adorable names like Sweet Daddy Longlegs and “Skull Fucker” Harley Tucker.

The underground-famous venue Shea Stadium hides in an industrial stretch of Bushwick, a brisk walk from the Montrose L train stop. The door cover is cheaper than a sandwich at $5, and adult beverages are available for a reasonable couple bills. DJ JD Salinger keeps music in the air while the show rock and rolls. On and around the stage, all kinds of eccentric hilarity explodes – mocking, taunting and drawing joy out of everyone in a hand-grenade atmosphere that can feel unsettling in the most wonderful, genuinely enjoyable way.

This is no amateur-hour open mic night. It’s a once-a-month comedy all-star game mini-festival. Everyone from movie stars (Janeane Garofalo) to emerging TV stars (Chris Gethard) and a caped weirdo in an Eyes Wide Shut secret society orgy mask called The Grand Inquisitor have graced the stage. The comics are consistently top-shelf. One after another, they make it look much easier than it is. Jo Firestone

To get a glimmer of the action, do yourself a favor and Google all these jokers; Good Cop Great Cop, The Lucas Brothers, Jo Firestone, Eliza Hurwitz, Connor O’Malley, Nimesh Patel, Andrew Fisher, Mary Houlihan, Katie Hartman, David Carl, Julio Torres, Brian McCann, Chris Gethard, Ana Fabrega, Ike Ufomadu, Josh Rabinowitz, Brooks Wheelan, Nick Rutherford, Mike Abrusci, Christi Chiello, John F. O’Donnell and John Reynolds.

No scene descriptions can fully capture the wicked insanity of watching a lobotomized Count Dracula, a creepy Grand Inquisitor or Sweet Daddy Longlegs and “Skull Make-Love” (as the crowd renamed him) misbehave. The comic book villain-esque Sweet Daddy created so much absurd nervous tension in one recent performance of crowd interaction that it became shocking, knee-slapping and maybe brilliant? You had to be there. We can only hope that guy’s unsuspecting mother has a great sense of humor.

A lot of the hard work behind The Macaulay Culkin Show is executed by co-host Brett Davis. We shared a subway ride with Brett on the afternoon of the Snow-Pocalypse that shut down New York City on a Monday in January. We had finally convinced a small gang of our friends to check out The Macaulay Culkin Show the preceding Sunday night, and after they all raved for hours about how great it was we decided to ask Brett for an interview. He was kind enough to accept and here’s where it unfolds.


How did you get started performing?

When I was a teenager I was a big fan of The Best Show on WFMU, a really hilarious comedy radio show hosted by Tom Scharpling. Like a dumb teenager, I pranked the show as a character named Steinberg a few times. He finally asked me what I was doing and I expanded on this character by making him an aspiring rapper. MC Steinberg was born, and Scharpling encouraged me to keep writing bits and it led to rap battles with Ted Leo and in-studio appearances. That character crossed over to Jake Fogelnest’s show on KRock and soon I started doing it live at basement punk shows with my friends We Are The Seahorses. Those were my first live comedy shows.

Did you know you wanted to do comedy as a kid?

Yeah. There’s a video of me singing “When I Grow Up” in preschool, and when every little kid says “policeman” or “fireman” I said “movie star” like a little piece of shit. But growing up, I was obsessed with The Simpsons and I would stay up late and watch SNL. I was always making little comics and stuff like that.

Who are some of your biggest influences and why?

Biggest comedic influences in no order leaving out a ton: Andy Kaufman, Scharpling & Wurster, Andrew Daly, Chris Lilley, Fred Armisen, Chris Elliott, Louis CK, Tim & Eric, Zach Galifinaikis, Amy Poehler, Charlie Chaplin, The Onion, Gilda Radner, Chris Gethard, the writers of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Jon Glaser & too many others. I guess the thing they all had in common was going against the grain at the risk of alienating people and walking the line between dumb and smart.

Your outfits are rad, where do you shop for clothes and what inspires your costumes?

Thanks! They’re mostly split between vintage stores and costume stores. They know me at Halloween Adventure. Inspiration comes everywhere. Sweet Daddy Longlegs was inspired by Jackee Harry from Sister Sister and 227.

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Have you ever been badly heckled and how did you deal with it?

Since I only perform in-character, I need to find creative ways to stop the heckling. Sometimes the sadder characters just take it. Others will go ballistic and yell till that person is gone. One of the worst times was during a bit where my comedy partner Darren and I were doing a wrestling bit where he charged through the crowd. Somebody didn’t get it and a fistfight erupted. Since I was the good guy and Darren was the bad guy, I cheered them on. It’s okay they got us beers afterwards.

What famous comedian’s career would you most like to emulate?

I’m already doing a really good job emulating Chris Gethard’s! I guess Albert Brooks? He’s managed to do his own thing auteur-style for a long time, releasing things on different platforms, dipping into other genres. Sacha Baron Cohen is another good one. I would love a big budget Borat-type movie where I mess with people on a grand scale.

Have you ever considered doing a comedy album, in song or traditional stand-up form?

Yeah! One of my favorite records is Andrew Daly’s Nine Sweaters. It’s similar to what I do but much better.

What are some of the best comedy shows you’ve ever seen personally, excluding shows you hosted?

New York has so much comedy. Avoid any comedy “clubs” unless you want mediocre comedy for expensive prices. Even the Comedy Cellar isn’t that great despite all its history. If you want to see good, fresh comedy, go to The Macaulay Culkin Show, The Tuesday Special, The Lethal Lottery (all three are my shows haha jk but really tho). I love Fresh Perspectives (Muchmore’s) they do a really good job finding unique and weird voices. I love The Dan + Joe + Charles Show (UCB East), Do Something (Tandem), Cool Shit Weird Shit (UCB East), anything hosted by Jo Firestone, Night Train (Littlefield), Comedy at the Knitting Factory, Cube (Muchmore’s), Creep (Over The Eight) improv shows with John Reynolds or Connor O’Malley and company (The Annoyance), You & The Screen. There are a lot of great one-offs at Over The Eight these days, too (because I’m booking certain nights with my favorite performers).

Besides Shea Stadium, what are the best comedy clubs in New York City?

Shea isn’t a comedy club so it is the best one. I don’t ever say any venue is better than another. It’s like saying I feel like going to see music so I’m going to get a ticket for Irving Plaza. You may end up seeing a great band, you will probably end up seeing G. Love & Special Sauce or something. But if you seek out certain shows, you’ll get some good curation.

Are there any venues you dream about playing but haven’t yet?

I would like to do some festivals, comedy and otherwise. I’ve been lucky to perform on some shows that I really respect like Big Terrific and Wards of Merkin, but there are some still out of reach. There are tons of shows in LA I would like to be on, too.

Who are your co-hosts and collaborators?

I host The Macaulay Culkin Show with Sally Burtnick, a really funny gal currently in Philly. I also produce the show with Frank Flaherty, and my comedy partner is Darren Mabee. They were all part of this crazy band called We Are The Seahorses, a kind of crazy sexterror-core performance art electro party band. I used to open for them at basement shows and weird venues in college. We decided to start doing comedy shows and when Macaulay started, they were natural collaborators.

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Imagine that the one and only Mac himself is a fan of the show and wants to be involved. What’s a rough sketch of what you would maybe ask him to do?

We have a contingency plan in place if he were to show up pretty much every show, just in case. The name was such an afterthought that stuck for whatever reason. I’m pretty sure he knows about it, but we’ll see if he ever wants to check it out. I’m not holding my breath, though.

Comedy can be distilled in many forms, from film to television and live stand-up. What are your preferences and goals in terms of different formats?

I’d like to do them all! I want to write a book, make movies, do a series, do a large scale play. I’m down to do it all if they’ll let me!


Everyone should go out to see more live comedy. Laughter is the best medicine. The comics putting it all out there at The Macaulay Culkin Show go to the tough places and soften the sting by making fun of everything. No topic is too unpleasant to throw out in the spotlight to be deflated.

Cheap drinks, temporary transcendence of existential angst and only five bucks at the door. Go now before these talented names become famous, so you can confidently brag to your disbelieving pals; “Hey listen, I saw them first…”

Brett has a brand new show airing on New York City public access channel the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, called The Special Without Brett Davis. It premieres Wednesday night, February 11th and will be available streaming online here;

http://brettdavis.tumblr.com/thespecial

Hey listen…


All images via

http://macaulayculkinshow.tumblr.com

http://brettdavis.tumblr.com

THE BITTERSWEET DREAMLANDS OF ANGUS & JULIA STONE

Death Defying Acts

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On the crisp new Angus & Julia Stone, the Australian brother and sister combo whisper peaceful invitations to follow them to a secret garden party somewhere relaxing and comfortably numb. This album is built with tracks of hopeful sadness for lovesick dreamers, witchy women and nomad men, girls with a glint in their eye and boys on the edge. Vagabond hearts busy living, loving and learning life road-tripping from glory to disaster and back, accompanied by simmering, smooth-sailing driving music. This is a perfect record for very early mornings and very late nights.

Younger siblings to older sister Catherine, middle-kid Julia and baby-brother Angus were raised by folk-singer parents near Sydney, Australia. Angus began playing guitar as a teenager, then met up with Julia, who was traveling abroad in Bolivia. Soon they were strumming side-by-side in a jungle wonderland and work-shopping songs that led to contracts with international talent agencies. EP’s with cool titles such as Heart Full of Wine were followed by sold-out tours and a plethora of television and film music licensing.

“Death Defying Acts” is bold and menacing, like the score from a 1970’s thriller or crime drama. Julia’s vocals are beguiling and mysterious, soft and hard in the same breath. The alternately stinging and soothing guitar lines are a spaghetti-western soundtrack reborn on the Malibu bluffs.

“Little Whiskey” is one of the best tracks on the record. Angus plays the faded troubadour; heavy-headed from experience but wise, proud to have earned the keys to the highway. “My Word For It” is stubborn and playful like a purring cat. Julia’s range as a singer is limited, but she uses this to charming effect. Her dynamic intensity never escalates beyond casual brooding, as if she’s loved, lost and seen it all. Not completely jaded, but defiantly bittersweet.

“Grizzly Bear” wants to be a funky, Some Girls-era Rolling Stones groove, and it comes close. The instrumentation is sublime but the lyrics are distracting and leave something to be desired (“Yeah I like it when you smile – Won’t you stay with me, just for a little while?”). If only they’d spent another fifteen minutes with the pen and pad. The boozy synths and clipped electric guitar still make it a winner.

“Crash And Burn” is a languid procession of brooding, dirt-crusted twanging guitars. Casual, let-your-hair-down human release is brimming over the rim of “From The Stalls” and “Heart Beats Slow”. “A Heartbreak” and “Main Street” are lingering chimes of breakup catharsis. “Other Things” presents the vague mood Julia and Angus revel in and make a career of exploring. Happy and hopeful or heartbroken and fragile? Maybe always a little of both.

The true star of this record is the raw genius of producer Rick Rubin. You can clearly hear why he’s paid well for his skill set. He’s an enigmatic wizard, the legendary Gandalf the Great, tough to compare to others because his diverse body of work is so singular and unparalleled. The dazzling audio quality captured on this collection is further testament to his zen-master superiority behind the boards.

Angus & Julia Stone is ethereal and blissed-out in space while also sounding immediate and close enough to touch, like you’re sitting legs-folded under you on a plush rug in a home studio, just to the side of the drum kit, as the musicians and vocalists follow the wandering groove of the cosmic muse. It’s a really chill party that you’re thrilled to be invited to. Dance and drift around the fading firelight, slipping into an effortless dream you won’t soon forget.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angus_%26_Julia_Stone

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angus_%26_Julia_Stone_(album)

ABOVE AND BEYOND

hypebeast.tumblr.com

Above & Beyond: 

Riccardo Tisci & Givenchy Give The Legendary Air Force 1 New Wings

When everyone owns multiple pairs of Air Force 1’s, how are yours special? A massive trans-continental industry of custom and boutique edition kicks has flourished for the needs of every Sneakerhead’s wildest dreams. True connoisseurs continue to thirst for that rare, extra-special color combo. AF1 aficionados need look no further since French luxury label Givenchy’s brand commander Riccardo Tisci and Nike have teamed up and done all the hard work to produce a top-shelf release that will be an instant classic and collector’s must-have. 

The AF1 is a dominating cornerstone of modern footwear; cross-genre, cross-gender and sublime in its smooth lines of less-is-more architecture. Named for the airborne chauffeur of the President of the United States, the Air Force 1 was born in 1982. For some unfathomable reason they were discontinued in 1983 but miraculously reborn in 1986. Tisci is aware of this dynamic.

“And so I was thinking, what is the essence of the Air Force 1? And how do I make that essence and make my own statement? For me the Air Force 1 is not about gender, it’s not about a particular city, nor is it about a certain style. The community decides. It’s democratic. It’s love.”

Over seventeen thousand different versions of the AF1 have been officially produced so far, not counting any of the countless one-of-a-kinds commissioned from your airbrushing pal around the way. Annual AF1 retail sales are humbly estimated at upwards of eight hundred million dollars. 

Givenchy has been internationally renowned and distinguished for over sixty years. One important thing you should know is how to pronounce it. The name sounds like Jhee-Von-Shee. The French house was founded in 1952 by the visionary Hubert de Givenchy, who caused a major sensation for using fabric called ‘raw cotton’ for high-end garments. It was Punk Rock twenty-three years before Punk Rock music was born. The hits continued and in 1993 annual sales escalated past one-hundred and seventy-six million dollars.

Riccardo Tisci became Creative Director of Givenchy womenswear in 2005. Three years later in 2008 he expanded to menswear. His themes are noted for dark shades of dense color and a concentrated push toward minimalism. Givenchy chief Marco Gobbetti notes what works about Tisci’s sensibility.

 “He (Tisci) has an elegance that is very modern, very contemporary and romantic at the same time.”

Tisci had some big shoes to fill when he took the job. He was preceded as Givenchy Creative Director by John Galliano and the late Alexander McQueen. Fortunately his run has enjoyed critical and commercial acclaim. Taking all that into account, how do the shoes look? They cooly embody all the aesthetic choices that made the name Riccardo Tisci first stand out to fashion movers and shakers. 

The enhancements are focused on distinct, contained areas; under and around the tongue and laces, the back above the heel, the side swoosh and strap. They look sleek and refined. Each different size (low-cut to knee-high) also presents the much desired trait of being a design you and your crew can not reproduce in the driveway with spray paint and duct tape. The first version in white debuts March 1st, the black pair is released April 1st.  

The Tisci AF1’s are a cut above. They won’t be cheap, but they’re an investment. Keep them extra clean with a crisp box and you can probably flip them online whenever you feel like it. But chances are you can probably already tell from the photos, these are keepers.

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Sources: 

vogue.co.uk 

wikipedia.org

 

Dance Rock Pop Rocks

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Artist: BEGINNERS

Venue: The Bootleg Theater, Hollywood

Date: April 5th, 2014

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Remember Pop Rocks? Ripping open the pouch and pouring out a pile of bright crumbled crystals. As soon as they touch the moisture of your tongue the candy fragments start fizzing like flurries of carbonated fireworks. Enjoying Pop Rocks is a unique experience, a singular candy-grenade demolition spree. Pop Rocks are fun. The fun is what matters.

A Saturday night at the Bootleg Theater is one of the best places you can be any weekend in Los Angeles. New garage-synth sparklers Beginners recently played the Bootleg and won over the audience with sugary hooks dangling on sharp beats.

This fresh ensemble is the creation of writer / producer Nick Ruth and vocalist / bassist Samantha Barbera, who used to play together in a band called Malbec. When it dissolved a few years ago Barbera kept her chops up punk-rocking with Holy Fever while Ruth collaborated with various solo artists, including Blaqstarr, Mikky Ekko and Active Child. Nick and Samantha decided to compose together again after hanging out at a Foster the People concert.

Beginners’ set opened the night. When they kicked off people were still ambling around the bars, lounge and patio. The hard four-four drumbeat and simmering harmonies worked magic right away.  During the first song a steady stream of people came crowding in, drawn to the bouncing synth-pop like curious children toward a big colorful bowl full of unguarded candy.

You can bet your online reputation that Beginners play tunes people enjoy. They may be recently formed but Beginners play with an understated confidence only seasoned musicians can really afford. It helps to have a convincing, charismatic frontwoman. Samantha Barbera projects determined intensity that demands attention without being bombastic.

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Overall the group produces a casual dance-rock sound that fits what’s most popular in indie music right now. Some of the backing vocals are reminiscent of certain kids with augmented kicks, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Beginners released a self-titled EP on March 25th. “Ever Love” puts the cherry-cola chorus right up front. This mellow, flirtatious groove is a potential single top-to-bottom. It also boasts a scuzzy electric guitar that drapes the keyboard chrome in a well-worn leather jacket. “Who Knows” is a ringing kick-drum driven number full of pop-timism that shrugs with wistful acceptance we’ll somehow decipher our collective confusion as we roll along to the beat.

The best track on the EP is easily “So Close I Almost Believed It”, an elevating buzz that doesn’t rush the warm progressions. This songs cinematic future-vintage soundtrack beauty is hard to resist. The melody line sways back and forth in the breeze and the floating vocals tug you into an ambient harmonic drift.

One aspect that really helps is how the production is not overcooked. Super-slick production is an unappealing problem most modern artists suffer from in the digital age. Beginners keep the sonic elements expertly balanced and economically arranged. The pacing and tempos are breezy and refreshing.

They’re edgier live than on record and that’s good. In the end their set at The Bootleg could’ve been a little longer but they accomplished the commendable task of leaving the crowd wanting more. Beginners are cool fun and that’s what matters.

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https://www.facebook.com/BEGINNERS.OFFICIAL

 

Above & Beyond

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Above & Beyond:

Riccardo Tisci & Givenchy Give The Legendary Air Force 1 New Wings

When everyone owns multiple pairs of Air Force 1’s, how are yours special? A massive trans-continental industry of custom and boutique edition kicks has flourished for the needs of every Sneakerhead’s wildest dreams. True connoisseurs continue to thirst for that rare, extra-special color combo. AF1 aficionados need look no further since French luxury label Givenchy’s brand commander Riccardo Tisci and Nike have teamed up and done all the hard work to produce a top-shelf release that will be an instant classic and collector’s must-have.

The AF1 is a dominating cornerstone of modern footwear; cross-genre, cross-gender and sublime in its smooth lines of less-is-more architecture. Named for the airborne chauffeur of the President of the United States, the Air Force 1 was born in 1982. For some unfathomable reason they were discontinued in 1983 but miraculously reborn in 1986. Tisci is aware of this dynamic.

“And so I was thinking, what is the essence of the Air Force 1? And how do I make that essence and make my own statement? For me the Air Force 1 is not about gender, it’s not about a particular city, nor is it about a certain style. The community decides. It’s democratic. It’s love.”

Over seventeen thousand different versions of the AF1 have been officially produced so far, not counting any of the countless one-of-a-kinds commissioned from your airbrushing pal around the way. Annual AF1 retail sales are humbly estimated at upwards of eight hundred million dollars.

Givenchy has been internationally renowned and distinguished for over sixty years. One important thing you should know is how to pronounce it. The name sounds like Jhee-Von-Shee. The French house was founded in 1952 by the visionary Hubert de Givenchy, who caused a major sensation for using fabric called ‘raw cotton’ for high-end garments. It was Punk Rock twenty-three years before Punk Rock music was born. The hits continued and in 1993 annual sales escalated past one-hundred and seventy-six million dollars.

Riccardo Tisci became Creative Director of Givenchy womenswear in 2005. Three years later in 2008 he expanded to menswear. His themes are noted for dark shades of dense color and a concentrated push toward minimalism. Givenchy chief Marco Gobbetti notes what works about Tisci’s sensibility.

“He (Tisci) has an elegance that is very modern, very contemporary and romantic at the same time.”

Tisci had some big shoes to fill when he took the job. He was preceded as Givenchy Creative Director by John Galliano and the late Alexander McQueen. Fortunately his run has enjoyed critical and commercial acclaim. Taking all that into account, how do the shoes look? They cooly embody all the aesthetic choices that made the name Riccardo Tisci first stand out to fashion movers and shakers.

The enhancements are focused on distinct, contained areas; under and around the tongue and laces, the back above the heel, the side swoosh and strap. They look sleek and refined. Each different size (low-cut to knee-high) also presents the much desired trait of being a design you and your crew can not reproduce in the driveway with spray paint and duct tape. The first version in white debuts March 1st, the black pair is released April 1st.

The Tisci AF1’s are a cut above. They won’t be cheap, but they’re an investment. Keep them extra clean with a crisp box and you can probably flip them online whenever you feel like it. But chances are you can probably already tell from the photos, these are keepers.

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Sources: vogue.co.uk, wikipedia.org

Image: hypebeast.tumblr.com