Home for the Curious Musician

#BetterBands to See You Through the Rest of Summer 2015

Maybe it’s just my way of justifying getting a beer a few times a week and hanging out with musician friends I don’t get to see often enough because the hustle is real. Maybe I’m addicted to live music and desperately need to start a weekly support group. But when I don’t catch at least one live show a week, I feel like I’m failing the one class I need to graduate. Truth is, I learn a ton from watching other musicians; possibly more than I learn from practicing with my own band, trying to learn a difficult cover, or reading Flypaper 24/7.

Sometimes it’s what not to do: banter that drags on infinitely, players who are more interested in getting a good photo than their instruments, the lead singer giving the sound person a hard time.

More often though, it’s watching how a band overcomes an on-stage dilemma, relaxes into a confident, effortless set, and listens to one another, creating a magical soundiverse that makes me go “How the **** are they doing that?!”. That question keeps me coming back show after show, no matter how exhausted I feel at my day job the following morning.

Here are a few NYC-area shows to keep your creative mind buzzing for the next few weeks.

Friday 8/28
Tiny Hazard // Leapling // Moon Honey // Dog
Palisades, Brooklyn, 8pm, $7

tiny hazard, leapling show poster

If you’re looking for a lesson in transitions, take a cue from Tiny Hazard, who jump seamlessly from gorgeous vocal-piano duets to heavy prog guitars and back again.

Monday 8/31
Summer’s End Music Festival: Friend Roulette // altopalo // Whitewash // Human People // Old English System
Trans-Pecos, Queens, 8pm, $5

Summer's end music festival

Odd meter buried in layers of surfy vibes? Check (Whitewash). Joyous crunchy synths that shake your bones? Yep (altopalo). Orchestral pop arrangements that lie in the EWI netherworld between wistful and bizarre? Duh (Friend Roulette). Whatever inspiration you’re looking for in your more-than-just-an-X-band can probably be found here.

Friday 9/4
Jake G and the Soul Vibrance Live
Bar Chord, Brooklyn, 9pm, No Cover

jake g

These guys illustrate the impact of a raw and powerful vocal performance grounded in traditions we needn’t forget in bleep-bloop-blip heavy 2015.

Saturday 9/5
Advaeta w/ Baked, The Sea Life, Den-Mate, Operator
Shea Stadium, Brooklyn, 8pm, $8

Avaeta show poster
The full-size poster is NSFW. Click to view full size if you’re in the privacy of your own home or if you don’t mind passersby glancing at your screen and seeing boobs.

Try not to get intimidated by the rock goddesses of Advaeta as they show you their unselfconscious moves — they’re a practicum in live performance. Operator manages to keep a good Krautrock drone going and growing without losing energy, throwing in lovely, fleeting vocal moments.

Wednesday 9/16
Half Waif // Peptalk // Crystal Voyager // Alpenglow
Palisades, Brooklyn, 8pm, $7

half waif show poster

I played a on a bill with Nandi of Half Waif last year and was blown away by her precision and presence. Surely a must-see for anyone working on creating an equilibrium between keyboards, band leading, and vocal delivery.

Sunday 9/20
Big Thief // Anthony da Costa // Wilson Marks
Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 3), Manhattan, 6pm, $10

big thief

I haven’t heard vocal and guitar duet writing like Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek (Big Thief) in a long time. I’m not sure how they blend and sync so beautifully, except that it surely requires strong listening skills and a heavy touring and practice schedule.

Wednesday 9/23
Eda Wolf // Ruby My Dear // Madam West // Oracle Room
Shea Stadium, Brooklyn, 8pm, $8

madam west show poster

Here I go plugging my own show again, with only this in my defense: it’ll be my birthday. I look up to Ruby My Dear and Oracle Room as serious icons of #BetterBand leadership. Both lady-powerhouse-driven groups are marked by strong ensemble writing and band leading, managing complex dynamic shifts with grace and a welcome strangeness. I can’t wait for this one.

Inspired by all the upcoming gigs? Start booking your own shows with our FREE course, Touring on a Shoestring!

Featured art by Looks like Grace Lang / / @grooseling.

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Sophie Chernin

Sophie Chernin is an NYC-based songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. She is the co-founder and manager of the alt-soul band Madam West. Sophie identifies as a musician despite her current full-time job outside of the music sphere — her passion for music and promoting artists she loves drives her every moment of every day.