Dumps, Dives, and Holes: Magik Markers Played Death by Audio

Magik Markers, an amazing performance-driven noise trio, played Death by Audio Saturday. Green light flooded the stage. I thought there’d be more people there. However, when singer Elisa Ambrogio’s presence took over the smokey room, time moved differently, quickly and slowly, as she diminished barriers between performer and performance, herself and the music. I don’t know how long they played for, or how many songs they did, but I was left with feeling, an indescribable impression. We sat down for a funny little chat after the show.

While Magik Markers have been around since 2001, the first time I saw them was in 2007 at a silent movie theater in Los Angeles. At the time on Thurston Moore’s label Ecstatic Peace!, they played alongside The Entrance Band and Six Organs of Admittance, both of whom I was excited to see. I didn’t know who they were at the time, but remember being totally captivated by their experimentalism, something I hadn’t had too much experience with at that point. From what I remember of that show, their music has evolved immensely. What was more chaotically noisy has been honed into a driving haze, one that defies the conventional constructs of song without sacrificing the concept all together. Their songs are sound-based music – not noise, mindless and random – a common trap noise artists fall into that seems to plague and taint the genre for many listeners. Elisa at times used her voice like a guitar, her guitar like a voice; there was no difference between the two of them. As a trio, they were seamlessly in line with one another, creating walls of sound and feeling.The songs were distinct, and not so long that their presence became daunting.  It was a great show. Afterward, I went to talk to Ambrogio, who was awesome, funny, and nice.
Where are you guys from originally?
Hartford, Connecticut.
And you live in Massachusetts now?
I first saw you in 2007, or six, in LA… what have you guys been doing since then?
In 2007 we put out Boss, then in 2009 we put out Balf Quarry. We have a new record coming out in the next couple months on Drag City that, I don’t know what the name of it is yet, but I think it’s gonna be called LA Law or, let’s see… Surrender to the Fantasy; it’ll be one of those two titles. Look for that in your local record store. Also, we did a split with Sic Alps last year. That was called… I dunno… it was a split with Sic Alps.
Eh, fuck it. So, when did you guys open for Sonic Youth?
2004 or five.
Was it cool?
Yeah, it was cool. Those guys are really nice. They’re really, really supportive of other people.
Something I noticed in your show tonight…
I know, I got fat. Don’t be mean! That’s not me!
Shhh! So, on your record you usually play…
Pete got fat.
Shut up!
It’s super awkward. We all want to tell him but we won’t.
No! Now, you usually play songs on your records, but your live show is more of a long jam. Is that an intentional thing or…
It is an intentional thing when we don’t practice at all before a show. Like for instance tonight, we didn’t practice at all, so we we’re just like oh, let’s play.
Why did you congratulate your drummer Pete at the end of the show?
He just got a new house.
East Hampton, Massachusetts. He bought a house with his wife. So now they’re gonna live in Massachusetts instead of in Greenpoint.
Wait, so you live in Massachusetts and he lives in Greenpoint… is that why you guys didn’t practice?
That sounds about right. Okay, so you have a new album coming out. Are you guys doing a tour soon or anything that people should look out for?
Actually in May we’re touring with Black Bananas, which is Jennifer Herrema from RTX and Royal Trux, her new band, and this band Jealousy. I don’t know anything about them, but Black Bananas I’m really excited to tour with because she’s kind of like an idol of mine. If I had musical idols, it would be Kim Gordon and Jennifer Herrema.
So you kind of have all the bases covered.
I’m stoked.
You can die now.
Yeah, or I can just like dress like her. I can just look like a weird, shitty version of her…
A distorted mirror…
People will be like, "Oh no, Elisa wears fur tails with everything!" And I can just be like, "I wish I was that lady… she’s really cool!"

Gig Guide 2/15 – 2/21: NYC’s Top Indie Rock Shows

Lady Gaga is coming to town, but before you participate in that HBO-documented debauchery, catch Ween and the Walkmen, new indie darling Darwin Deez, Interpol, and Crystal Stilts make their way to a music hall near you. Les Savy Fav, Lou Reed, and the Church round out this week’s Gig Guide.

Tuesday, February 15th

Who: Wild Nothing, Abe Vigoda @: 285 Kent Avenue, 8:00 PM Tickets: $10

Who: Drive-By Truckers @: Bowery Ballroom, 8:00 PM Tickets: $25 Details: DBT hits the road in honor of their new country/soul album, Go-Go Boots, (Feb. 15th) which the Wall Street Journal says is “awash with the primordial soul sounds of the Muscle Shoals, Alabama region—home to a majority of the band—which rose to fame in the 1960s when musicians such as Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and The Rolling Stones recorded in the area’s studios.”

Who: Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Buke and Gass @: The Stone, 10:00 PM Tickets: $40 Details: Not only have they been curating the February performance line up at The Stone, they’ll also be playing the venue tonight. Prior to, get in the Lou mood by catching MoMA exhibit Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures, and think back to the days when Andy used to boss Reed around as the manager of The Velvet Underground. The show runs until March 21, 2011.

Wednesday, February 16th

Who: Les Savy Fav, 1,2,3, Big Troubles @: Bowery Ballroom, 8:00 PM Tickets: $15 Details: New York City based indie/art rockers Les Savy Fav have a post-hardcore edge that is awesome to see unfold live. Here they are at Solar One: A softer track, “What Would Wolves Do?” has been their calling card:

Who: The Church @: Highline Ballroom, 8:00 PM Tickets: $39.50 Details: If you don’t know The Church, here’s a crash course: Australian rock circa 1980. Early influence was New Wave, morphed into psych-rock, and now sounds more like progressive rock—with extended jams that sound like all of the above (The Psychedelic Furs and Echo & The Bunnymen are contemporaries). Because of a special edition reissue of four albums—Starfish, Gold Afternoon Fix, Priest = Aura, and Sometime Anywhere—the Sydney band will be playing three of the four albums in full.

Who: Fitz and the Tantrums, Devin Therriault @: Music Hall of Williamsburg, 8:00PM Tickets: $12 advance, $14 door Details: Think Maroon 5 (whom they’ve opened for) with a little more funk/soul.

Who: The Silent League, ARMS, Inlets, Your Youth, Thunder and Lightning @: Pianos, 6:00PM Tickets: $6 Details: The Brooklyn charmers are so “awww.” See?

Thursday, February 17th

Who: The Beets, German Measles, Big Troubles, The Beach Arabs @: 285 Kent Avenue, 8:00PM Tickets: $8

Who: Dream Diary, Gypsy Death & You, Telenovelas, Young Boys, Dutch Treat @: Death by Audio, 8:00PM Tickets: Free!

Who: Tamaryn, Religious To Damn @: Don Hill’s, 8:00PM Tickets: It’s Don Hill’s! Pay for your booze and listen to the smooth crooning of this San Fran chick, Tamaryn.

Who: Interpol, School of Seven Bells @: Radio City Music Hall, 7:00PM Tickets: $29.50 Details: Paul Banks and company didn’t get the best reviews for their recent self-titled offering, but their live show reviews have been stellar.

Friday, February 18th

Who: Crystal Stilts, Beach Fossils, Widowspeak @: 285 Kent Avenue, 8:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: “Converging in Quiet” is the track by Crystal Stilts that best describes their sound: rolling lazily along in a tempered tone until it suddenly becomes buoyant with energy. Does that make sense? If anything, enjoy their drummer’s stylings: he prefers to stand-up, taking after The Velvet Underground’s drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker. We’ve already waxed poetic about Beach Fossils, so go to see them both.

Who: Le Mood, Des Roar @: Santos Party House, 7:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: Florida natives Le Mood have been on the New York City scene for years—and their following proves it. Their debut full-length LP “Adventures In Stereo” has been described by Outright Rock as “a perfectly crafted indie pop record – upbeat, insightful, infectious, retro, and even a bit psychedelic. The songs are deeply melodic, full of energy and feeling, and showcase the band’s superb songwriting skills.” We agree!

Saturday, February 19th

Who: Darwin Deez, Friends @: Bowery Ballroom, 8:00PM Tickets: $13 advance, $15 door Details: If you’re into that whole “next big thing in music” scene, you do not to miss Darwin’s show. Same goes for folks into dancing around in a hippy-clappy, fell-good way.

Who: Peaches, Creep @: Good Units, 10:00PM Tickets: $15 advance, $20 door.

Who: Celebration http://www.myspace.com/celebrationcelebration, Microkingdom, High Life @: Death by Audio, 8:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: Celebration, a Baltimore-based band, claims it’s significantly influenced by cabaret culture, but sounds a bit more like a cross between soul and psych rock.

Who: Yann Tiersen, Breathe Owl Breathe @: Highline Ballroom, 7:00 PM Tickets: $25 advance, $30 door Details: Yann Tiersen plays pretty music, and conducts a sort of indie symphony that huge crowds go wild for. Fans of the film Amélie already know his arrangements:

Sunday, February 20th

Who: Air Waves, Easter Vomit, The Sanctuaries @: Bruar Falls, 8:00 PM Tickets: $7

Who: Gene Ween (of Ween!), Hamilton Leithauser (of The Walkmen!), David Dondero (formerly of Sunbrain!) @: Cameo Gallery, 8:00PM Tickets: $21.78 Details: Noncerts (a charity showcase with all proceeds going to Brooklyn’s public schools) brings together the awesomeness of Ween with the awesomeness of The Walkmen. Legends, I tell you! And let’s not forget David Dondero, whom NPR‘s All Songs Considered once named as one of the “best living songwriters” alongside Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Tom Waits.

Who: My Teenage Stride, Widowspeak, The Poison Control Center, Crinkles @: Mercury Lounge, 7:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: However ironic it is that My Teenage Stride calls themselves both “glam” and “minimalist,” the characterization works for them. They’re both twee, and fake English, which sort of gives them a posturing persona akin to Joy Division, The Smiths, and Jesus & the Mary Chain.

Monday, February 21st

Who: Lady Gaga @: Madison Square Garden, 8:00 PM Tickets: $54 Details: Perhaps the only show you’ll see this week since you’ll have to save up $54 bucks, but isn’t it worth it?

Industry Insiders: Joe Ahearn, Virtual Reality

Joe Ahearn, the facilitator of do-it yourself music venue Silent Barn on the border of Queens and Brooklyn, lives for his work—literally. He’s been living in the avant-garde performance space for the past three years. The New York native also puts out Showpaper, a bi-weekly publication of listings for all-ages shows in the tri-state area that was just funded by the New York Foundation for the Arts. As a son of artist parents, Ahearn insists that his motivation for getting involved in collaborative art projects (Baby Castles, Party Lab, Zine Library) is simply to bring people together. More on the facilitator after the jump.

On fitting his role at Silent Barn into a neat description: I consider my job in a lot of places to be a sort of facilitator. Many of those projects were projects that were started or envisioned by a friend of mine and that I helped promote. Some of them are things that I’m living in. Baby Castles and Zine Library are things that happened in my house which I share with roommates. I live in a world of loosely defined boundaries on artistic projects.

On having fears about a background check: I’m proud of everything I’ve done so far.

On the origins of Silent Barn: I was in a band called the Skeletons. We found this warehouse as a place to practice, rehearse, hang out and make music with our friends. We did some interesting things in building it out. They got rid of most of the right angles and put whole piles of very entertaining garbage into the space and made it livable. That was about five years ago. I moved in there almost three years ago to do shows, welcome strangers, have bands play in the kitchen and throw parties in the basement. We have art on every possible surface. We wanted to have it as a free space where people could experiment.

On paying the bills: At the moment, this supports my lifestyle. The less oblique way to explain what I do is that we run a performance space here in our house. So, we do shows almost ever single night and that raises money to pay for the utilities, take care of the space and pay for all the damage that strangers do coming through all the time. Then, the rest of it is just finding as many people as you can to sort of barter with to do instillations with and to fix various things that come up.

On Showpaper: Showpaper is this listing for all-ages shows throughout the tri-state area. It’s a really effective underground networking tool in an age where everything is MySpace pages and Facebook profiles. Having something tangible that ties all these disparate warehouses and holes in the wall throughout Brooklyn into one physical object helps me navigate this blurry-lined community that’s flourishing right now. We never put them online. I’d like people to cherish the object itself. That’s the purpose. People are really excited to have something that’s the same large format size as all these band posters and promotional posters that are going up and invading the visual culture of out times but isn’t just some glossy advertisement. It’s just a piece of artwork we give away for free.

On associating with Brooklyn culture: Brooklyn doesn’t own fun punk houses. People have been living in communal situations forever in cities throughout America. There is a long-standing tradition of this happening in Manhattan, but at the moment, they’ve been completely priced out. There are a lot of amazing things happening on the periphery of the Brooklyn scene right now and it is just a matter of time. It’s the economic justification causing it to move the way that it is.

On booking bands: We have a shared calendar for the roommates at Silent Barn and whoever puts up a show first gets that date. There isn’t one person who’s the curator for the house. I go out and see shows every single night, or I stay for the shows I’m responsible for. I try and go to as many things as I can.

On strangers: Strangers are up to no good, but that’s part of what’s exciting. It’s inspiring because I have no idea what’s going to happen at any given time. It keeps you on your toes. People break stuff. I don’t think people steal stuff. I sometimes leave stuff around that I think would be surprising for someone to find.

Favorite things: Google and this wok that I just got. I’ve been making mostly fried rice. My other favorite thing is cassette tapes.

Go-to places: My two favorite places are Market Hotel, which is a giant, pizza-shaped warehouse. It has a Dominican speakeasy sort of vibe and Death By Audio in Williamsburg.