Urban Agrarians in NYC! Over the weekend of the Fourth, I took a trip to the City to spend some time with friends and see the city and, of course, try to hit up a few shows during my visit. On Friday night, July 2nd, I got to check out the infamous hipster scene of Williamsburg in Brooklyn when Alex Bleeker & the Freaks were playing at a venue called Monster Island Basement. I had a bit of trouble finding the place as I strolled past brick graffiti-covered buildings but ended up at the right place, which turned out to be underneath a surf shop right near the River. Apparently, shows don’t start on time in New York either, because we were waiting outside, admiring the graffiti until nearly 11pm for Bleeker to go on, though the show claimed to have a start time of 8pm.
The venue itself was basically just a very colorfully adorned basement with the same old stone and concrete walls, box fans, and your typical band of hipster followers drinking Budweiser of all things and uncommitted-ly tapping their feet to some loud rock/experimental jams.
I never found out the name of the band that opened for Bleeker, though I posted a few photos below. According to the event, they were supposedly playing with Coasting, and The Beets, though neither of them really sound like what went on that night. They were good at your typical guitar-heavy rock and banging out the drums, however, the sampler-jam element halfway through their set broke the flow a bit.
During the break between bands, I talked to a couple of the members from Bleeker and actually found out that we had some friends in Madison in common– small world, though it seems that every musician has a soft spot for Madison and its music scene. When they finally took the stage and started playing the intro to their jam-heavy song, “Summer>Epilogue” (my favorite) off of their self-titled record released by Underwater Peoples in 2009, it was worth the wait. I was curious how the song would sound live without Julian Lynch and with a different band of Freaks, considering how experimental and Julian-ish the “Summer” portion of the track is before it cascades into a more traditional classic rock sound with lyrics for the “Epilogue” part. However, the boys lived up to the record and I would say that they surpassed my expectations– throughout their set. The only thing I wished I could have seen them play and didn’t was their cover of Mountain Man’s “Animal Tracks” because I definitely have that circulating heavily on my playlists, but it’s understandable that they stuck to their original material.