The Weekend Takeoff: Baltimore, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Miami

Baltimore: The Daydreams + Nightmares Aerial Theatre (nicknamed DNA) are putting on a giant big-tent show called “Spectacle Obscura” at the Maryland Institute College of Art, complete with flying trapezes, contortionists, and circus acts — but with a slightly naughty twist for the all-adult crowd. October 13-16.

San Diego: The FoodNerdz Oktoberfest Tasting Challenge is a blind beer tasting of local beers with souvenir tasting glass, appetizers, and scorecard included. Go with a group and do the VIP Restaurant Tour around the city to enhance your buzz. October 15.

Seattle: Gang Gang Dance made a splash at the Pitchfork Music Festival this past summer, where their epic trippy techno/house jams packed in a crowd that could have danced for hours. Catch them at Neumos, one of Seattle’s hottest music venues. October 14.

Chicago: Corn Productions’ October bonanza has a variety of horror-themed improv performances, but Death Toll: A Drinking Game Performance features our kind of audience participation — BYOB, and drink every time someone dies. October 14 and 15.

Miami: If you can’t get tickets to Adele’s Friday night performance at American Airlines Arena, dance it out on Biscayne Boulevard at the DWNTWN Miami Concert Series at a free concert with food trucks, drinks and music under the stars. October 14.

An Exhaustive Review of the 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival

The hipster gradation begins on the subway. You know you’re getting closer to the Pitchfork Music Festival as the crowd on the El, Chicago’s famed elevated subway system, begins to shade from downtown office workers and tourists coming in from O’Hare to twentysomethings in cut-offs, neon, and free-range beards. Unlike other music festivals in more remote locations – Coachella, Bonnaroo – the caravans to Pitchfork aren’t composed of Subaru Outbacks, but rather the Green Line, the Ashland bus, and bikes. Indeed, one of the best things about Pitchfork is the extent to which it identifies with the city of Chicago, home to the e-zine’s headquarters (there’s also an office in Brooklyn, of course).

"It feels good to have established Pitchfork here in Chicago. It really is, I guess, an institution at this point," says Ryan Schreiber, founder and CEO of Pitchfork Media (author’s note: no relation). Chicago pride is on display throughout the weekend–vintage Bulls jerseys abound, and more remarkably still, you can catch glimpses of naked arms displaying Chicago-flag tattoos.

The three-day fest, held in Chicago’s Union Park, provides that rare combination of big-name talent (Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes and TV on the Radio were this year’s headliners) with an intimate, community vibe. Compared to larger behemoths, Pitchfork only sells 18,000 tickets per day; to put that in perspective, the attendance at Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza each hover between 70-80,000 fans. Rather than having every sensory organ pummeled – competing guitar chords, the musky scent of sweat not your own pervading your nostrils – Pitchfork allows its attendees a high-quality experience, where you can actually take in and be aware of your surroundings rather than be overwhelmed by them. Incidentally, it also makes finding your friends and bumping into people you know easier.

"We’ve done it in this park for seven years, and there are many other opportunities to move it to a bigger park or do something different with it, but I just like this. I feel like this is the perfect size. Get much larger and you have to walk for miles to get to where you’re going," says Schreiber.

Because it’s sponsored by the influential online music magazine rather than a big marketing firm, there can be, at times, a distinct ‘industry vibe’ (the ratio of industry-to-non industry folks is higher than at bigger fests, even if overall numbers are low). You can’t go more than two feet without seeing someone prance by in a "VIP" pass, "Artist" pass (which managers, agents, and publicists may wear in addition to the bands), or "Press" pass. All of this is a long way of saying that this festival has cred, both geeky and cool.

In addition to the previously-mentioned headliners, buzz-worthy acts like Das Racist, James Blake, Odd Future, Toro y Moi, Deerhunter, Ariel Pink, and Cut Copy were joined by veterans such as Guided By Voices, Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth), Off!, and DJ Shadow. The process of choosing the lineup is "about booking the artists we really love," according to Schreiber. "We [the Pitchfork staff] come up with sort of a dream list, collectively." image Twin Shadow image Das Racist

Battles was one of the first acts to kick off Friday, playing a high-energy set that included LED screens of Gary Numan and Matias Aguayo singing in the background. Perhaps it was the heat, but the crowd, though receptive to the show, seemed to be conserving its energy, failing to match the moxie onstage. Towards the end of the show, guitarist Dave Konopka shouted "Afterward, everyone’s invited to my house, 857 Marshfield. We’ll have a party there." (A quick and stalker-y perusal of Chicago’s White Pages was unable to verify if the Battles guitarist had actually just invited thousands of people to his house.)

Despite the fact that they didn’t humor the audience by playing "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," Das Racist provided some on-stage rowdiness, enhanced by their hype man, Dap, deliriously jumping and running around onstage. The crowd erupted and girls were hoisted onto dudes’ shoulders when the three rappers came onstage and played "Who’s That? Brooown!" The energy (both that of the group and of the crowd) dipped a little towards the middle of the set (at one point, a rapper named Danny Brown from Fool’s Gold hopped onstage, and although his performance promised a talented new MC, the crowd was just hankering for more Das Racist). Finally, towards the end of the show, hands were back in the air when Das Racist launched into "You Oughta Know" before ending the set with "Rainbow in the Dark."

James. Blake. James Blake is perhaps the most buzzed-about artist to play Pitchfork this year and, perhaps, one of the must buzzed about new artists anywhere. Let’s not mince words: Blake did not disappoint. Whereas, after listening to the slow and sparse songs on his debut self-titled album, it can sometimes be tricky to see how his music is affiliated with dubstep, his pitchfork performance was a new (and exciting) experience entirely. The powerful, heavy bassline that’s so characteristic of dubstep came across more clearly in his set than I’d ever heard it before, yet the enveloping beats still left space to enjoy Blake’s haunting vocals. Blake’s stage presence (much like his demeanor in person) was charming and mild-mannered, most clearly evidenced by the fact that he chose to sit off to the side of the stage rather than front-and-center. When he played "CMYK," the crowd turned wild, getting down to the lighter and dance-ier track. Before a rapt audience at dusk, he closed the set with a great rendition of one of his album’s signatures, "The Wilhelm Scream."

After Animal Collective’s Friday night closing set, the crowds dispersed, many en route to any number of "Official" and "Unofficial" after shows and parties. One of the most cleverly marketed parties proved to be a fête hosted by Patron XO Cafe, Spin Magazine, and Superfly marketing group. Invites had been emailed to guests a few days before, revealing only the date and time of the party and vague instructions about finding a food truck parked near the festival grounds, where more information and directions would be dispensed. By 10pm, a small crowd was gathered outside Mama Green’s Gourmet Goodie Truck eager to continue the party-meets-scavenger hunt. We were given cups of iced coffee with the secret address of the event written on the coffee sleeve, which turned out to be the site of Chicago’s Prairie Studios. We party-goers ended up being a funny mix of media folk a little grungy from hanging outside at the festival all day and some of Chicago’s most beautiful people decked out in cocktail dresses and heels. Once inside, you could pose for professional photographs with models dressed in 20s-inspired burlesque costumes, sip any number of Patron-inspired cocktails, and chomp down on classic Chicago-style hors d’oeuvres such as "mini deep dish pizzas" or mini Italian sausages. Walking around the beautiful inside-outside space, sipping Patron margaritas, we could also listen to a live band and watch a magic show. Even if some of it was a little gimmicky – and more than a few people wished the live band could have been replaced by a DJ (of which there are many in Chicago, like the Hood Internet and Flosstradamus) – the party was a success. image Fleet Foxes

Saturday’s uncomfortably hot temps didn’t stop people from getting down during Gang Gang Dance‘s set, which provided a raucous blend of their unique multi-instrumental, percussion-heavy dance music laced with electro. After feverishly jumping and jolting onstage during instrumental breaks, lead singer Lizzie Bougatsos took the mic and told the audience, "If you can’t act crazy onstage, there’s no reason to live. If you see me humping a monitor, you just know."

As it grew later and became just a touch cooler, crowds coalesced before the Green Stage to see Fleet Foxes, who played one of the best sets of the weekend. Given the usual amount of delays in between set changes, people were visibly impressed when the band hopped on stage to begin their show a mere seconds after DJ Shadow ended his at an adjacent stage. Playing mostly songs from their first album led a guy next to me to remark, "They’re just putting on a big show. That’s what they’re doing." Yes, sir. The sound quality was stellar, such that you could actually distinguish between the various instruments onstage. The hushed crowd broke out into cheers when the first chords of "White Winter Hymnal" reverberated out across the crowd–a song that can evoke feelings of wintry tranquility and Christmas tidings even during the peak of summer. In a smart move, they brought the crowd out of their trance with a rocking rendition of "Ragged Wood" before ending on a song from their new album, the titular "Helplessness Blues."

As Day 2 drew to a close, not everyone had the stamina to keep up with the afterparties, but for those of us who did, many chose to head over to Beauty Bar, which hosted one of the few "Official Pitchfork After Parties," featuring DJ sets by Twin Shadow, members of Deerhunter, and Tim Koh of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. The Pitchfork crew (including Ryan Schreiber) were in attendance, as well as members of the Windish Agency (disclosure: I do some on-and-off unpaid work for Windish), which represents both Twin Shadow and Deerhunter and DJ/local celeb Million $ Mano.

Sunday was the most anticipated day at the fest if for only one reason: Odd Future. Already one of the most hyped new acts, Odd Future’s show at Pitchfork received a particularly large amount of publicity due to the planned anti-violence protest during their set. For better or for worse, it appeared that by the end of the afternoon it was Odd Future: 1, Protesters: 0. Representatives from anti-violence groups were in attendance and handing out fans as first reported, but the ill-conceived gesture didn’t seem to have much impact. Sunday was an inferno and concert attendees were grateful to get a fan–any fan–but hardly anyone gave nary a glance to see what was emblazoned on its side (besides, there had been several different sponsors handing out fans throughout the weekend so any novelty was lost). If anything, the preceding controversy and the insane amount of PR that ensued only upped the ante for Odd Future, increasing what would already have been a huge crowd. image Odd Future

Though it was the first time I’d ever seen the collective, Odd Future’s set was basically exactly as I expected: brash, punky, and a pretty damn good time. As Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah reported in her feature on the group in this month’s BlackBook, the guys understand the role they (and the media) have created for themselves, and they work hard to live up to it. They seem to relish playing the part of the villainous rap group, donning freakish masks during set, strutting across the stage, and chest thumping with the bravado that only a twenty-year-old can possess. Occasionally, the heavy bass drowned out some of their lyrics, but when you could hear Tyler, the Creator or Hodgy Beats, their oft-reported crudeness and offensiveness was in full force ("You fucking bitch, you smell like dick").

One majorly weird thing I witnessed were hipster parents who’d brought their toddlers to Odd Future’s set, the dad bopping around to Tyler’s jams with the tot on his shoulders (there were actually a disconcerting amount of hipster parents who brought their kids–sometimes babies!–to the fest). Neither the baby sightings nor the fact that Tyler had been hobbled by a broken foot and monster cast (he spent much of the set seated but managed to get up and chant "Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School" at the end) killed the vibe. As the show ended, Left Brain did a half stage dive/ half body slam, throwing himself projectile-style into the crowd. It was a fitting description of the group itself and their Pitchfork show: aggressive and in your face but openly received by the mainstream.

After that intensity, it was nice to take a breather before heading over to absorb Toro y Moi’s blissed-out, disco-y electronica. Even though the crowd was subdued–maybe still recovering from the heat or Odd Future’s set, or both–their stillness could not be mistaken for disinterest: all eyes were fixed on Toro y Moi, lapping up his every beat.

Finally, as the sun set over the Chicago skyline, TV on the Radio came on and gave everyone a festival-wide second wind. With the ubiquity of electronica or experimental pop at the fest, the explosion of percussion heralding their rock show was a welcome sound. Throughout the set, intensity built up with a steady trajectory but, almost teasingly, would hold out, captured as if like steam pressure in some kind of boiler. That is, until they broke out full-force into "Dancing Choose" ("He’s a newspaper man") and "Wolf Like Me," their crescendos giving the crowd the relief they wanted. The audience ebbed and flowed in a massive wave of dancing and even the industry folk gathered on the VIP risers had their guards down and were seen grooving (one VIP was even maniacally jumping around). Finally, towards the end of the show, hip-hop group Shabazz Palaces joined TV on the Radio onstage, playing tambourine shakers as backup to "A Method."

And with that, another impressive performance ended along with another impressive effort by Pitchfork’s organizers. The festival proved that once again it lived up to much more than the hype of being an "indie fest" or "hipster fest," displaying a diverse line-up and three days of non-stop musical experiences. Combining the cool, industry-ness of SXSW with the grassy, park setting of a large-scale music festival and the intimacy and community vibe of your local fest, Pitchfork has managed to create a unique festival experience. It is sure to continue being a destination for those seeking to hear some of the best acts they know and to be exposed to new ones they don’t.

image James Blake

All Photography by Steve Scap

Gang Gang Dance Tries to Explain Their Experimental Sound

It’s just after midnight, and the members of Gang Gang Dance—(from left) drummer Jesse Lee, keyboardist Brian DeGraw, lead singer Lizzi Bougatsos, guitarist Josh Diamond, and visual artist Taka Imamura—are picking at the scraps of Mexican take-out while discussing their new album, Eye Contact. The table in this Noho photo studio looks like a beaten-up buffet, littered with half-noshed quesadillas, splattered salsa, and dented aluminum containers. “We didn’t set out with the goal of forming a band,” says Bougatsos, the Manhattan-based electro ensemble’s ringleader, her picture-window eyes darting around the room. “We were looking around, sort of laughing at all of these people who were suddenly obsessed with being in a band.”

Gang Gang Dance is one of the greatest enigmas in contemporary music. Although they insist on the simplicity of their creative process, the rest of us have trouble categorizing their signature sound. For the past 10 years and over four albums—Revival of the Shittest, Gang Gang Dance, God’s Money, and Saint Dymphna—their music has been deliciously but frustratingly changeable, mixing together mutated tribal beats and R&B noises with percussive hip-hop and warped electronica. The term “alternative” doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Some fans are even reluctant to call them a band. In their first years together, Gang Gang Dance bounced around with like-minded musicians such as Animal Collective and TV on the Radio, jamming together in informal practice spaces and at spontaneous happenings—shows Bougatsos is rumored to have missed altogether. “I made it to every show!” she squeals, laughing, when her attendance is questioned. “Sure, but you were so late my friend Rita had to perform in your place,” says Diamond, shooting her a playful look.

“The turning point for us really came when one of our band members passed away,” Bougatsos says of the group’s eventual cohesion. In 2002, their drummer, Nathan Maddox, died instantly after being struck by lightning while watching a storm from the roof of a Chinatown apartment. “We all believe that’s where he wanted to go,” says Bougatsos, motioning to the sky. “So once he went there we felt like we had more of a mission. I personally felt this need to spread his legacy, or spread the nature of his spirit, and I didn’t know how that worked within the band, but I knew that he was in the band, and that he’d want us to continue what we were doing.”

“After his death, we started playing so much because we needed to recreate, however successfully, the feeling of being with him,” Diamond says. Maddox’s likeness appears on much of the band’s cover art. God’s Money, for example, features their late friend’s intense gaze through a clash of ritualistic face paint. “He had these strong blue eyes that were really amazing,” says DeGraw. image

Ironically, the band’s fifth album, Eye Contact, doesn’t have Maddox on its cover. Instead, it features an insect shimmering with dew. (The group vehemently dismisses any suggestion that his influence has waned.) “Eye Contact has become a theme without us really realizing it,” DeGraw says. “On our other albums it was more about shutting your eyes and escaping into the music, but this album didn’t have that same quality.” The rest of them nod their heads. “When things get really cookin’, the sounds we make become our eye contact with each other: my hands on a guitar, lost in my senses, which become really fluid,” says Diamond. Bougatsos adds, “Maybe the whole idea of eye contact is like being one big eye, like with the audience and with the band, and with everything.”

For all their neo-hippie gravitas, the members of Gang Gang Dance don’t actually take themselves too seriously. Kicking off their spacey first track, “Glass Jar,” Imamura sets the tone for the album, saying very simply, “I can hear everything. It’s everything time.” It’s an improvised moment that made its way into the 11-minute song, but it’s no less arresting for its spontaneity. The rest of Eye Contact flows like many of their previous works—you can’t help but feel as though you’re following some sort of ghostly narrative. “The reason we make music is spiritual,” says Lee, the band’s latest permanent addition. “And we all know you can’t plan miracles.”

Photography by Eric Guillemain.

The Kills Cover BlackBook’s May Music Issue!

What luck! In a week that turned out to be all about the kill, we’re introducing our brand new Music Issue on newsstands now, featuring cover stars The Kills. Coincidence? We think so! Anyway, read all about the everlasting musical union between Mr. Hince and Ms. Mosshart — and the new album they made — here. Also in our May issue:

Before Mark Ruffalo hulks and smashes in next summer’s Avengers, he pauses for his directorial debut, Sympathy for Delicious; read a revealing interview with the actor about the rock drama and the darkness that inspired it. UK music sensation Anna Calvi has opened for Interpol, but she never met lead singer Paul Banks — until now. The Arctic Monkeys, rockstars before they turned twenty, evolve on their new album, Suck It and See. New York’s Gang Gang Dance explain where their trippy, tribal, genre-defying sound comes from. Our sometime fashion guru Gavin McInnes puts SXSW on blast. Avant-garde musical artist Planningtorock takes us on an impromptu tour of Berlin.

Plus Rose Byrne, Taylor Momsen, Chloe Sevigny, Death Cab for Cutie, Dolly Parton, Richard Ashcroft, Tinie Tempah, and more!

Creators Project: The Event of the Summer?

It was hot on Saturday afternoon when people started lining up to claim their wristbands for Creators Project, an all-day celebration of art and technology hosted by Intel and Vice at New York’s Milk Studios. There was a sea of anxious party-goers, and for all of the obvious reasons, I was expecting to hate the event, much like every other detestable summer festival. But this one was different. Ten reasons why after the jump.

1. The lines of people waiting to get their names checked on a list were actually stationed on 18th Street, three blocks up from Milk’s 15th Street location, which meant that the entrance to the actual event was absent of the kind of name-droppers who flirt with bouncers to get in. It was actually sort of insane to walk right up to event and, well, walk right into the event.

2. The food was free. Sure, it was hamburger fare, but at least they were Pop Burger burgers!

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3. The doors opened at 2 in the afternoon, and were expected to close about 12 hours later, which, when you’re in a photo studio with tons of other sweaty revelers, can feel a bit like this. It can also get a touch boring. But the Creators had it covered, airing the USA’s final World Cup game out on the loading dock, where Gang Gang Dance, Interpol, and the Rapture would later play.

4. Often, when there are free drinks involved, they come in a variety of awful names and flavors. There was a bit of that at Milk—here’s looking at you, Cosmic Collins—but bars were also fully stocked with beer, wine, and liquor.

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5. If you go to the MoMA early in the afternoon, their bathrooms look like Toronto after the G-20. Astonishingly, Milk attendants were kept things tidy throughout the course of the day.

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6. The art installations were remarkable. From a cube of flashing, synchronized, colored lights into which guests were invited one by one, to a completely immersive virtual performance by the XX, to a digital scanning machine straight out of Philip K. Dick, the works of art on display were welcoming, interactive, and totally unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

7. The Pop Song panel. Want to watch Mark Ronson create a pop song in under an hour, using vocals from the audience? So did we. Also: holy shit.

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8. There were no filler bands—not even the Rapture, about whom I was least excited. The only slight caveat to this is that still-fantastic Sleigh Bells are, counter-intuitively, better in the studio than on stage, and M.I.A. wasn’t killing it. But, oh my god, Die Antwoord, Interpol, Salem, Gang Gang Dance, Mark Ronson, and MNDR: thank you.

9. James Powderly’s laser-pointer show during Interpol’s set was pretty wonderful. How often can one stand near the West Side Highway, listening to “Evil,” while watching someone draw a bunch of giant dicks on the side of an adjacent building with lasers? Answer: not all that often.

10. While all of that was happening, there was a gelato stand offering up free flavored ices!

Photography by Garrett Pruter

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Object of My Affection: Lizzie Bougatsos

Lizzie Bougatsos is an artist, and the vocalist and drummer for the experimental music group Gang Gang Dance. “Retina Riddim,” an abstract documentary about the band that wove together music, found footage and interview clips, was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Their fourth album, Saint Dymphna, was released last fall.

This is my favorite art piece at the moment. I found it on the curbside in a garbage can in Chinatown by my house. It’s like the steel drum I play with Gang Gang Dance. I think a car hit it and that’s how it got that slammin’ dent! It reminds me why I started playing music in the first place: rhythm, beauty and color!

Gang Gang Dance’s Lizzie Bougatsos on Making Music in NY

Sometimes when you’re interviewing somebody, and they laugh, to evoke such a primitive, unconscious expression of amusement in the transcript, you might throw down something like this: [laughter]. For the following interview with Lizzie Bougatsos, lead singer of the New York experimental music fixture Gang Gang Dance, just imagine one of those laughter markers at the end of each answer. In her spacey, makes-you-wanna-pinch-her-cheek voice, the Long Island native was in great spirits, despite fighting off the flu. I’m not sure if she’s just super jazzed that her band’s new album Saint Dymphna is coming out soon, or giddy about their upcoming tour with Of Montreal, but Bugatsos couldn’t stop herself from giggling. It was endearing as hell. Here she is reminiscing on the New York music scene, the global appeal of her band’s new album, and getting hit on by Hasidic dudes in vans.

Are you going to France? Yes, Brian has an art show there, and then they’re flying out a member of my other band to play the opening, so everyone is going to be there for my other musical project. Its called I.U.D.

What’s that stand for? Well, we put periods in between it. An IUD is one of those methods of birth control that you use to block the sperm. It’s a really horrible method of birth control in the 1970s that they used … its terrible and I don’t know, a lot of girls use it.

So are you excited about the new album? Yes!

When can we expect it? It comes out October 21, but we have some singles that have come out before.

I read an article that called your last album, God’s Money, an “almost-masterpiece.” Have you guys made a masterpiece this time around? I was worried because so many people loved God’s Money, and I feel like they wanted us to — everyone was expecting this follow-up album, but you can’t really plan how music is going to sound. You can’t really say like okay, let’s make a pop record, or you know, we’re going to make like an ambient, fuck-noise album. You can’t really plan out music, just like you can’t plan out life.

Did you go into the studio with a specific idea of what you wanted to create? I think we tried to go into the studio with pretty loose expectations, because you can’t pinpoint something that you didn’t even create yet, you know what I mean?

And so what kind of record do you think you ended up making? Let me see. I think we made like a global awareness record

Sounds like a genre that I’ve never heard of before. I know, I just feel like it’s a really universal-sounding music, and I think that people from all over the world can relate to it.

Have you done something new on this record that you haven’t done before? Well, we had an MC spit on it, like when you rap, its called spitting, so we had this really cool young MC on it. His name is Tinchy Stryder. He’s my little prince.

So were you born in New York? Yea, I’m a Long Island Lady.

And when did you move to the city? Well, I was kinda coming in all the time. But I guess in 1997 I got my first apartment in Williamsburg. It was very, very different then.

How was it different? It was very barren then, there were no shops, and it was scary. There were all Hasidic men driving around in vans late at night, trying to pick me up. It was horrible! I looked kind of arty then, a lot of people think I look arty now, but I really looked arty then. I looked like a Beastie Boys backup dancer. Like I had a bowl haircut, and I was dressed in a lot of fluorescents, like very new-wave. I feel like a lot of people would egg people that looked like art kids.

And now everyone looks like that? Yea, everybody does. I don’t fee like it’s eggs anymore, maybe water balloons, or paint guns. Or maybe machetes, which is really scary.

Has New York inspired your music at all? Yeah, I would say so. There’s a lot of activity, and I feel like things really fly in New York that don’t fly other places, you know what I mean? You can get away with a lot, and I think that’s inspiring.

Do you see yourself as part of the long lineage of New York, experimental, underground artists? I do, yeah. Because we did form in New York, and at the time when we formed, we shared a practice space with two other bands that also formed here, and there was very much of a community at this time, and now it still exists, and we still meet here in New York and see each other play.

What are some of these other bands? TV on the Radio? For sure, they are really old friends of ours.

What’s it like coming up with these bands, getting your starts around the same time, and finally seeing everyone get the recognition they deserve? I remember the first show I ever played in New York. Nick Zinner was in the front row, from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and that was in Williamsburg. Josh, my guitarist, used to work at the Pink Pony, a coffee shop next to Max Fish, which is still there, but it’s totally different now. It used to be owned by the woman that owns Max Fish, and it was very much a bohemian, beatnik hangout kind of place. Taylor Mead was always there, and a lot of really rare, free jazz music. It was a really intense, poetry, music hangout. And that’s where guys from TV on the Radio would work, at Max Fish. So that’s how we met them; we were really really close.

What about Animal Collective? I love Animal Collective. They’re probably one of the only bands that I listen to in New York.

Have the art and music communities changed in New York? We don’t have Tonic anymore. It was this club that a lot of experimental acts could just like wail out and go crazy. It would be like a member from Animal Collective with a member from the Brazilian Girls. Like very random collaborations, people playing together. And it was really the only place in New York that you could really see that. Before that there was this place called the Cooler that was kind of cool, but Tonic was the coolest. But it’s changed in good ways too. There’s this new club called Santos’ Party House. I love it. My best friend Spencer Sweeney opened it up.

Are you able to support yourself on your art now fully? When I make work, yeah. I feel like sometimes I don’t have that much time to make work, so when I do make work, I have to pop it out really, really fast. But I’m doing okay, individually and with the band. I mean, a lot of people don’t believe me, because a lot of the times we’re extremely broke and its really, really hard because we’re perfectionists, so people don’t believe that we’re broke. But we actually really are. Really broke. But that’s only because we live in New York City.

So what’s your favorite venue to play in New York? Right now, Santos.

What do you like about it? I didn’t play with Gang Gang Dance, I played with I.U.D. But I really can’t play anywhere else now, we’re addicted to the sound system there.

That’s what does it for you, the sound system? It’s so good, its wall-to-wall sub, and it’s the sickest bass I’ve ever heard in my life. For Gang Gang, I like Bowery Ballroom, and I like Webster Hall a lot. I like the balcony, cause then like my family can come and sit down and have table!

Do your parents like Gang Gang Dance? Yeah, they love it.

Are they also music, art people? Well, my mom’s a writer and my dad, he’s a cobbler. He fixes shoes for a living, but he was a singer before he had me. He wanted to be a singer, and his dad made him play professional soccer. So … he like booked himself at a nightclub, and they bought him all these suits, and he came home with this suit one day, like a white suite, and he had big hopes that he was going to be a singer, and then his dad said “No, you’re going to play soccer for a living”, and then he became a professional soccer player … but my roots go deep, you know.

So what are you doing tonight? You’re going to stay in and recover? I’m going to do my laundry, and then I have to go to my gallery. Yeah, I’ll probably be drinking some whiskey later on.

Yeah, that’s the best way to get over a flu. Yeah, I dunno, we’ll see.

Where’s the gallery? My gallery is in Chinatown, close to my house.

What’s the gallery called? It’s called James Fuentes Gallery. And there’s a great show there now, it’s Agathe Snow? You should go see, it she’s really great, she’s one of my favorites.

How long is the show on for? I think a few more weeks.