This Week’s NY Happenings: Downtown Music Festival, SakaMai, KTCHN

FRIDAY: Rock & LoHo At Downtown Music Festival
The Lower East Side’s music cup runneth over as Downtown Records brings a second year of the Downtown Music Festival. The venues are a greatest-hits package of below-Houston spots. Mercury Lounge hosts Teengirl Fantasy, Cake Shop has Beach Fossils and Trash Talk, and nine different acts will take the stage at Tammany Hall. Even swank event space Capitale is in on the groove, hosting L.A.’s Black Hippy. The spaces are all intimate, so get your tickets quick.

The Downtown Music Festival runs Friday, May 10th and Saturday, May 11th, at venues like Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St., Lower East Side). To learn more about the bars, click on the listings in bold above.

NOW: Shuck It
The Lower East Side is your oyster tonight, as SakaMai lays on a “Shell & Sake” tasting. Take a guided tour through six sakes, expertly paired with a dozen bicoastal bivalves.

Shell and Sake starts at 6:30pm, tonight, May 6th, at SakaMai (157 Ludlow St., Lower East Side). Tickets are $75. To learn more about the sake bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Killer Instinct
The Out NYC’s house restaurant KTCHN kicks off a monthly dinner-and-a-movie series with a screening of Basic Instinct. They’re injecting some Rocky Horror, too—when Sharon Stone deploys her ice pick, you’ll find a Jack & Coke in front of you.  

Basic Instinct at KTCHN (510 W. 42nd St., Midtown West) starts at 7pm on Wednesday, May 8th. Prix fixe dinner is $49; wine pairings are an additional $25. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Know every inch of this city by checking out BlackBook’s NY City Guides

Downtown NYC Festival Adds New Acts

With just under a month to go till the Downtown NYC Festival kicks off on May 10, two-day passes are already sold out, but $75 one-day tickets are still on sale. The event spans great venues including Mercury Lounge, Bowery Ballroom, Angel Orensanz, Pianos, Cake Shop, Tammany Hall, Element, Capitale, and Rockwood Music Hall—and features some of the hottest emerging bands.

New additions include Andrew Wyatt (of Miike Snow) and hipster-fried R&B pioneer Autre Ne Veut, as well as Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire, who is likely worth seeing for the name alone. They will join such performers as Purity Ring, Earl Sweatshirt, d’Eon, Sky Ferreira, Ducktails, Beach Fossils, and the endlessly funky Teengirl Fantasy.

The festival will be hitting some other cities with modified lineups, but you know they won’t be as good. Though who knows? Some magnificent crooner might come aboard in the Vegas leg of the tour.

Bleeding Rainbow Gets Psychedelic With ‘Waking Dream’

I was supposed to catch Philadelphia-based quartet Bleeding Rainbow at Cake Shop on Monday night, but other plans got the better of me. Today, on my way to work, I was shufflin’ through songs on my phone and "Waking Dream" started playing. I immediately fell in love with the fuzzy, hazy song, and started listening to the rest of the band’s stellar album, Yeah Right. You can imagine my excitement when I got an email alert that the band released the video for "Waking Dream" today. Good music so rarely comes to me in such a serendipitous way! 

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Limelight at Tribeca & Other Must-Attend Events

I’ve been busy as a B-list promoter these days. It’s Good Friday and I see no reason not to make it great. Tonight I should be cloned, as two “must attend” events are happening at the exact time. I will attend the Limelight film premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. I was interviewed about a year and change ago for the flick, and I hope I am portrayed correctly. I was assured that I am, but I have been divorced a couple of times, and my reliance on assurances have diminished.

It is absolutely a matter of truth or consequences, but again I am assured, and I’m feeling happy that I got involved in the Limelight story. Fools have been telling the story for far too long, and innuendo and rumor have passed as reality. I hope the record is set straight. I will attend with Amanda by my side to hold my hand through it all. I salute my dear friend Jen Gatien for her dedication to the cause. Peter Gatien, I am told, will not be allowed into the country to attend. He isn’t allowed here, and I’m not allowed in Canada. I win.

What I am missing, but you absolutely should not, is catching Los Vigilantes at the Cake Shop on Ludlow street tonight at 9. I caught them last night at the Bell House in Gowanus. They opened for the Flaming Groovies. The Groovies were cool, old-school rockster-y, and attracted a crowd that I mingled with 20 years ago at CBGB’s. Los Vigilantes are a powerful Puerto Rican punk act. The acts didn’t go well together. It was like having the Ramones open for Fleetwood Mac. The Cake Shop show will be a better fit. The Cake Shop has so few redeeming qualities that it’s almost perfect. The place is dirty, the stage is way too small and too low, and the sound is, at best, mixed—or maybe it wasn’t. The staff is particularly unfriendly and I want to wash off the bottom of my shoes when I get home. It is soooo much fun! I saw another Puerto Rican Punk act, Davila 666, there on Thursday and was blown away. Their en Espanol version of Blondie’s “Hanging On The Telephone” was irreverent and brilliant. It was déjà vu all over again as I felt like I was at a punk club in the East Village in 1981. People were pogo-ing themselves into a frenzy. Davila 666 is playing Knitting Factory out here in Brooklyn, and they are a sure thing. I will déjà vu all over again after I attend, again. Puerto Rican punk is my new favorite thing. The whole gang will be at Bruar Falls this Saturday night for the after party with DJ FFrenchy and DJ Spick Jagger of Davila 666. Yes, it’s like that.

I noticed that the Hubble telescope is turning 2, and therefore is legal to get into bars and clubs in NYC. That is when it’s done fooling around. I also noticed that Captain David Miller, the cop who basically closed down the West Chelsea club scene, is assigned to the Orchard/Ludlow/Rivington street area. I also noticed that every place I go to these days down there is ID’ing my ridiculously tired, obviously over 40/50 year-old ass. I fear the worst. Expect vacancies and loss of business as the city sanitizes nightlife like we’re bedbugs at Bloomberg’s mansion. If I’m right, the city will lose more jobs, and our culture will be less rich. Ironically, the Gallery Bar was closed down because a bouncer allegedly took a bribe to let an underage patron in. I read an article the same day that said cops, as unbelievable as this may sound, fixed parking tickets for VIP’s, including Yankee baseball executives. Shocking! Cops taking bribes? Why isn’t the stadium shuttered? Or the precincts, themselves? This isn’t a double standard: this is persecution.

The Ultimate CMJ Neighborhood Guide: Our Top Recommendations

Mapping out a schedule for the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival is an overwhelming logistical nightmare. Over five days, bands and DJs all over Manhattan and Brooklyn perform for 20 to 60 minutes a pop, and the marathon keeps going. Un, deux, trois, bang, bang, bang. So if you are at a loss for where to begin, here’s a proverbial play-list that includes recommendations on what to see, and where to unwind, wind-up, and grab a bite between sets. We had to restrain ourselves a little, so check under Williamsburg, the East Village, and the Lower East Side for the best this weekend has to offer (starting tonight).

Lower East Side

Acts to Catch: Thursday: Sun Airway, 10:45 PM at Piano’s Light Pollution, 9:00 PM at Cake Shop The Feens, 10:00 PM at Crash Mansion Friday: K Flay, 9:00PM at Fat Baby Saturday: Neon Indian, 8:00 PM at Bowery Ballroom Miracles of Modern Science, 11:00 PM at Fat Baby BRAHMS, 12:00 AM at Piano’s

Where to Hide Between Sets: The Back Room Gallery Bar Painkiller

Where to Find Nourishment: Antibes Bistro Freeman’s Frankie’s Sputino Les Enfants Terribles Schiller’s Georgia’s East Side BBQ

If You Need to Trash a Hotel Room: The Hotel On Rivington Thompson LES


Tune-Age: Thursday: Two Door Cinema Club, 9:00 PM at Webster Hall Caveman, 10:15 PM at Lit Lounge Lawrence Arabia, 10:50 PM at Bowery Electric Friday: Hall of Justus, Kosha Dillz, Rebelmatics + special guests, 12:00 AM–3:00 AM at Bowery Poetry Club Designer Drugs, 1:30 AM at Webster Hall Saturday: Care Bears on Fire, 7PM at Bowery Poetry Club

Where to Sip: Heathers The Cabin Down Below Holiday Cocktail Lounge Where to Fill-Up: Artichoke Basille Pizza & Brewery The Bourgeois Pig Crif Dogs Hummus Place Whitmans Veselka

Where to Crash: Cooper Square Hotel


The Music: Thursday: Soft Black, 10:00 PM at Union Pool The Blow, 10:30 PM at Music Hall of Williamsburg Friday: Priestess, 10:30 PM at Union Pool Kids of 88, 11:00 PM at Trash Bar Everything Everything, 11:30PM at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Saturday: The Class Machine, 11:45 at Trash Bar

Grub: El Diablo Taco Truck Zenkichi Walter Foods Kenny’s Trattoria

A (Maybe) Low Key Drink: Hotel Delmano Royal Oak Fresh Kills Clem’s

Sleep it Off: Hotel Le Jolie

Michael Alig’s Year of Solitude, My Brooklyn Home

The “Party Monster” was not released, as many had expected. Instead, the powers that be in Albany have decided that Michael Alig will walk amongst us next November—provided that he behaves himself. Although this has been viewed by many as an unfair outcome, it was expected by me and mine. Alig, who was sentenced to serving ten to twenty years for the murder of Angel Melendez, has almost reached his “due date.” The date that peeps serving that sentence are normally set free, with a big “unless” attached to it. This particular “unless” has to do with behavior and “good time.” Michael, always good at showing people a good time, violated a rule here and there, and experienced a loss of “good time,” totaling six years. You do the math. That six year loss brings him up to his twenty. However, (another huge word) inmates have opportunities to earn back their “good time” by doing extra work, and completing programs.

Michael’s violations were all drug-related. Except for that one really bad hour with Freeze (Robert Riggs, who has been released), and Angel (who was no angel), he never was a violent sort. So Michael did his required penance. He took drug programs, and even ended up leading, and helping others. He turned it all around. The brain trust in the State’s capital thought that good enough for five years out of the bad six he had accumulated. As I told Larry Seidler—a pal that Alig and I share— in the car on our way back from our last visit with “iron bars” Mike, they probably thought they were doing him a huge favor.

Although disappointed that he will not spend Christmas— or even Independece Day—on the street, Mike must embrace his fate, and prepare in earnest for his now defined release. He must stay sober, and despite what he believes, he hasn’t been sober all that long. He must not get in any trouble, and get used to that. He must focus on that release date, and be prepared for it. He has a book in him, and it is almost done. He is painting and getting good at it. He has film and TV crews biting at the bit to chronicle his life and his transition from that marvelous, maniacal, Warholian wonderkind-turned evil-doer, who’s now turned all-around-swell-person. Few — very few — leaving the joint after so long have any support groups, friends, or relatives anxious to help them. Michael’s blessings cannot be counted on fingers, toes or any body parts. They must be counted on that year, plus a little bit more calendar that suddenly has a real date on it. Freedom is no longer just a theory. Michael will cry, and whine, and complain, which is his way, and he can’t be blamed for it, but it all seems fair, and he must get used to the idea that after one more year he will be free.

I am still writing out of internet cafes, mostly from House of Small Wonder in Williamsburg, where I still live. I must admit, I do love it, but there have been a few moments where I have nearly gone postal. The early mornings at other coffee/internet spots, amongst the hordes of plaid hipsters, when I must insist on cow milk rather than bean — or nut milk — have been close calls. House of Small Wonder is simply wonderful. Yesterday, running into former Top Chef contestant Josie Smith-Malave and event planner Kevin Crawford at the park, while picnicking with puppies, made it all feel right. McCarren Park with huddles of happiness, sports, and babies from young parents was a flashback to Washington Square Park circa 1972. It is out of such convergence of creative youth that movements spring forth. As a poet once said, “it was deja vu all over again.”

At night, I was whisked to the Polestar Poetry Series at Bruar Falls. Melissa Brewer usually hosts these shindigs at Cake Shop, but held it at Bruar’s last night. There seems to be an affiliation between the two joints. Again, I’m new at this Brooklyn stuff, so I’m just feeling my way around. This event had the blog Electric Literature entwined in it, and I was tagging along with writer, Julia Jackson, as she was covering it. I ran into hardcore icon Jimmy Gestapo (from the iconic hardcore band, Murphy’s Law) as I neared. He was shocked to see me in BBurg. He wasn’t feeling the readings and told me to join him across the street at Trash. I promised I would after I caught a little bit of the poetry thing. I too, lack the patience for the spoken word thing, unless there is something being said that I can relate to. The old banger cashier machine drowned out great gobs of words from seriously crunchy sorts, and I was quickly at the point where I wanted to go see Jimmy, but needed to support Julia a little.The falling ice, pinball machine, and unrelated laughter joined the banger in drowning out very important words. I knew they were important because the readers paused for affect, for applause that would never come. There were few emotions in the words. All were a single beat, a monotone relay of mundane events, or relationships. Realizing that I wasn’t bright enough to get it, I joined the crew watching Miss Piggy and the Muppets closed-captioned on the bar TV. This too fell short of satisfying my urges, so I dashed to Trash with my gal.

A jukebox Jello Biafra tune got my blood flowing and then the Ramones got me straight. I wondered if the poets across the street could pick up something from the poets on the jukebox. I wondered if it would all be good if they just shouted 1-2-3-4 in between tomes. Felipe, the barkeep at Bruar kept the diet cokes flowing, but I left anyway, missing the band Sweatband, which was promised. The place was jammed with a pleasant crowd and I’m sure I would have loved it.

My weekend was more misses than hits. I missed my pal Oleg Vibe’s birthday bash at OPM. I missed Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, and Kenny. Dinner at Taco Chulo and cocktails at the Lodge were swell, but I need my cable and maybe a place to crash once in awhile in Manhattan.