Food For Thought: Pitchfork Music Festival 2014


The trend in music festivals these days seems to be “all you can eat”. A hungry fan shopping for an experience would be pleased to see a former Beatle playing alongside a long broken-up, and now-reunited rap crew from the 90s. If your tastes are more progressive, here are 30 bands that you’ve never heard of – try a taste of each. In the mood for something more contemporary? Then you won’t want to miss this DJ we booked all the way from Europe – he comes with a fireworks show too!

Leave it to Pitchfork to buck the trend. The décor here can be best described as no frills, with only three stages marked by green, blue, and red banners. The menu is simple if not sparse; a lean mix of acknowledged prodigies and obscure names. Pacing is steady and reliable; when one course ends another begins, that is if you can make it through such a packed house. The mise-en-place could use some work. [Read more…]

The Electric Zoo 2012 Survival Guide

We are only days away from the biggest electronic music festival in New York, and there aren’t enough fistpumps in the world that could make us more excited for it. But the Zoo can be a dangerous place, full of exotic animals, predators that lurk in the form of costumed freaks. The jungle is fierce my friend, but luckily for you, you have a guide. A guide who knows what lies in the bush, a scout of the first order who’s seen it all and knows what to avoid. A mentor, chaperone, and soothsayer rolled into one. We got this; we got YOU.

The first thing to consider before going to these festivals is what to bring. Of course you’ll need an outfit with bright colors, $2 sunglasses from St. Marks, some sunscreen for sure, and a picnic blanket you should to chill out on the plentiful grassy spaces. If you’re going for the day, you might want to consider bringing a large water bottle or camelback to refill at the free water stations, which will no doubt save you a good deal of money throughout the day.

Getting to Randalls is easy and painless. By far the best way to go is via cab, since the RFK bridge will drop you right into the festival from Manhattan, The Bronx, or Queens. Depending on the ticket purchased, you have two other options provided by the festival: shuttle bus or ferry. The ferry is sold out, but shuttle buses are still available through Electric Zoo and there is a public MTA option through the x60 bus from 125th and Lexington.

[Read more…]

Dispatches From The Governor’s Ball

Note: a version of this piece first appeared on Big Ass Lens, Sunday, June 24th. Though the text is reprinted in its entirety, the gallery presented here contains photos that differ from the original posting.

Standing at the foot of the bridge, with its green paint and imposing size, I tried to predict what lay ahead of me. It was the Saturday of Governor’s Ball, and we had packed no less than 10 waters, an eighth of the good stuff, some mildly addictive stimulants, and a schedule that included Santigold, Major Lazor, Passion Pit and Duck Sauce. Would we manage to smuggle our goodies in? Would security deny the lens and all its girth? We had more questions than answers, yet we looked ahead to a day of hard partying, oversized beers, and shellfish sandwiches. There was no mistaking: today was going to rule, and nothing was going to stop us.

Time to pass through security. I think I’ll choose the line with the friendly black lady who might be more lenient with me. I pass through without a problem. I breathe a sigh of relief and stroll into the open field, passing bodies clad in neon threads, eyes obscured by bright sunglasses, honeys all around. Dance music blares from afar; although we do not know who plays, it is a welcome sound that passed through our chests, filling it with anticipation and hope for the fun times ahead. Today, we shall party and dance with reckless abandon without regard for tomorrow.

[Read more…]

Video: Miracles of Modern Science “Friend of the Animals”

Brooklyn via Princeton avante-rockers Miracles of Modern Science perform their song “Friend of the Animals” live at Spaceman Sound in Greenpoint. From Vice:

Considering their ambiguous lack of modern instrumentation, Miracles of Modern Science (AKA MOMS) could more aptly be described as miracles of classical science. The most expected piece of gear in MOMS’ set is that old backbone of any band, the drums, but besides that the group employs a double-bassist, a mandolinist, a violinist, and a cellist. Their music is pretty difficult to categorize but they might feel comfortable at a freak-folk festival alongside Joanna Newsom and Sufjan Stevens, although MOMS definitely bring a slightly goofier sense of humor to their sweet and swooning melodies.

Shot of course, by your boys at Big Ass Lens.

[via Vice]

The Graveyard Smash (An Unofficial CMJ Party)

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CMJ madness week will soon be coming to an end, and honestly I am looking forward to it being over. Between night trekking to and from Brooklyn and Manhattan, drinking way too much free booze and not enough Gatorade, and all the work that comes with putting on two showcases, I’m exhausted. Like they say, all good things must come to an end, and to celebrate the conclusion of CMJ 2011, we’re putting on a recklessly ruinous CMJ party this Saturday featuring 8 awesome bands on two stages.

Straight out of Brooklyn’s favorite “artistic community” of Bushwick, BAL Presents: The Graveyard Smash, a mini music festival with all the rapport of a big fest, with none of its comforts, prestige, or celebrity. Instead of $4 waters, help yourself to an unlimited supply from the bathroom tap. Instead of the fresh air of an outdoor fest, breathe in the stale air of a dodgey, 100+ year old industrial loft. VIP bracelets? Everyone is VIP!

With so many bands spanning so many genres, there’s bound to be something for everyone. From the pop-deconstructing Idiot Glee, to visceral art-rockers Grandfather and raucous hardcore noisemakers Descender, our lineup is chock full of new sounds, up-and-coming talents, and animated sets. Filling in the bill will be Brooklyn-based solo troubadour and loop machine master Idgy Dean, Brooklyn alt-rockers Life Size Maps, Shoegazers Sight Seeing, and experimental rockers Leonia. Get ready rock out, cocks out, in a massively fucked-up concert only BAL could have possibly dreamed of.



Life Size Maps:


Idiot Glee:

Idgy Dean:

Sight Seeing:



L train to Jefferson Ave, hang a LEFT on Wykoff till you get to Flushing Ave.
Make a LEFT on Flushing Ave till you reach Stewart Ave, make a RIGHT
Take a LEFT onto Johnson Ave ½ block. There will be people outside to let you in.

BAL Presents: The Graveyard Smash
Live at The Neverland
538 Johnson Ave, Brooklyn
8:00 doors
$5 to get in

LOST? NEED HELP? CALL (646) 481-7032

BAL Presents – The CMJ Showcase

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What’s good Willy? As you all know, each October NYC plays host to one of the largest, most diverse, and downright chaotic music festivals in the world: CMJ. With over 1,000 bands playing in nearly 100 venues, clubs, apartments, and crackdens, CMJ has a reputation for being a hot mess of bewildering, haphazard events featuring shallow pools of inconsistent talent. If not for the free beer given away at many of these places, I’d probably stay at home, chill on Spotify, and inevitably rub one out late night.

On the real though, the CMJ madness can really take a toll on the working man who only has so much time and energy to dick around booking it across it town. Which is why BAL has once again done all the hard work for you, and organized a supremely balanced lineup featuring four of the most compelling, unique, and plainly proficient bands we’ve been bumping.

Boston’s Pile is one of my favorite unsigned bands out there, with two gorgeous LPs and a recently released 7” under their belt. Their style is infectious, memorable, and accessible, combining expressive country rock with garage fuzz and moshpit energy. The beautiful “Octopus” off their LP Magic Isn’t Real embodies everything that makes this band so unforgettable; it is an emotional roller-coaster of a track that cleverly builds on a simple melody before walloping you with a crash of pounding drums and wailing vocals, then easing you back with a comforting denouement. That this happens twice in a single song makes it all the more remarkable.

Joining Pile are three fantastically talented NYC bands who together personify our city’s rock n’ roll heart and soul. Brooklyn stalwarts Tidal Arms, a three piece experimental band exuding clean rhythms and dark melodies, have really put together an impressive first act with their debut LP The Sun Exploding. Check out this video of them performing “Heavy Brainfall” in their Greenpoint studio, Spaceman Sound.

Our boys Grandfather will also be contributing their brand of explosive, visceral art rock to the lineup. Grandfather is working on a new studio album and have already begun to play some new material at recent shows. They also play Tuesday night at Cakeshop, and a 2nd BAL HAUS party later in the week. Details forthcoming on this dubious night of Bushwick loft lunacy.

Opening the show is Brooklyn’s own King Owl, who are currently recording their debut LP at Spaceman Sound with your boys from Tidal Arms. Soulful, rhythmic, and dexterous, their music combines a folky, storytelling tradition with clean arrangements and elegant vocal harmonies. We’re beyond pumped to have this up and coming four piece grace our stage.

BAL Presents: The CMJ Showcase
Wednesday, October 19 at Trash Bar
256 Grand Street, Williamsburg
8:00 PM
$5 at door

Tonight: Grandfather, Pile, Me You Us Them, Grass is Green play Cameo

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Well, it’s Friday before a holiday weekend and we all know there’s only one option – go out, drink, get buckwild and nurse a mean hangover on a Saturday knowing work ain’t coming round the bend Monday AM. With Summer coming to close, the season of hazy, open-air alcohol-fueled evenings is drifting away… but not quite yet.

Here at BAL we’ve partnered with Exploding In Sound to provide a proper summer send off – an top-to-bottom quality evening of rock at the Cameo Gallery. Seriously, all 4 of these bands fucking crush. You can actually tell your friends to come, knowing that there won’t be a weak set all night.

On tap are NYC mainstays Me You Us Them and Grandfather (fresh off a 35 date tour). Joining them from Boston will be Grass Is Green and the inimitable Pile. This show will rule, come through!, come through!

Got some free shit for you to do tomorrow

For a site called FreeWilliamsburg, there sure isn’t a lot of actual free shit. Come to think of it, Williamsburg in general is lacking in the free shit. Ever since the pool parties ended, Willy has gotten stingy. Last time I got something decent for free in Williamsburg was the time they had a free crawlfish boil at Charleston and that was like over a year ago. At least they still do free pizza with a drink (not trying to pay for a drink though). Remember when you were a kid, and you could have fun for free? When you were bored, and all you had to do was corral a couple cats together for hide and seek, and BAM! – instant free activity that would entertain you for mad hours. Nowadays it seems like nothing is fun anymore without alcohol, which is almost always NOT free. Miss the good old days when I could just play manhunt and just be content with that.

Leave it to BAL to get the scoop on the free action. Like the time we published a convenient and easy-to-use guide on free boozing during CMJ, leveraging innovative Google Calendar technology in the process. Or when we gave you the good word on the Grandfather record release party. We are all about the free shit, and do not fuck around when it comes to scheming on the freeness. Which is why we are once again bringing it with that gratis shit.

Tomorrow (Saturday), Brooklyn’s own Madam Trashy is playing a free show at your spot Spike Hill. You have no excuse not to go really. Spike Hill is possibly the most convenient bar to get to in Williamsburg. Having used the Spike Hill bathroom without purchasing dick after many a long L train subway ride, I know this from experience. Ok ok…I’m getting off topic. Madam Trashy played at BAL’s Northside showcase in June and absolutely killed it. Peep the video above for visual evidence of this. Also peep: unreal quality of said video. Like honestly, does anyone film better live music than us? You gotta give props when props are due.

That said, we give Madam Trashy mad props and hope you’ll all go see them slay shit tomorrow night. Tell them BAL sent you and get a FREE fistpump in exchange.