People think of CMJ music marathon as a hipster thing, and that’s
probably fair, but that’s not really what I see in Park Slope,
Brooklyn, on Tuesday. I’m at Littlefield to cover the Shemspeed
showcase. Something about this show was different. One, people know
who I am. Two, the bouncers don’t hassle me. Three, all the hipsters
at the show have tzittzit.
The first band goes on around 8:00. Most of the audience hasn’t shown
up yet but that doesn’t stop Yellow Red Sky (“our name metaphorically symbolizes sundown as the end of time, as in the threshold of Moshiach”) from going in for almost an hour on some intense hard rock jams. They only played six songs in their set, but they made them last. Tracks like “Ad Mossai” (“Until When?”) turn into pounding, guitar and drum driven bangers, the kind you expect to hear coming out of a pickup truck. This isn’t necessarily music I’d normally seek out but seeing these guys perform live, I’m struck by their intensity. They play like they were headlining the show.
“So, you guys from Brooklyn?” I ask bandleader Shevach Tamir.
“Yes, Crown Heights,” he replies. “We’re Lubavitch. We’re here to inspire people about Judaism, about being religious, even if they are not Jewish. Just be proud of who you are and follow God’s ways.”
“Are there a lot of Chassidic hard rock bands?”
“There are rock bands, but I haven’t heard many Chassidic hard rock bands.”
After Yellow Red Sky, Max Jared (pictured) takes the stage. Jared bears an uncanny resemblance to Goldstein from the Harold and Kumar movies, and his music kind of sounds like that. In a good way. He starts off singing his own backup vocals into a looping pedal, playing some acoustic pop. Once his band joins him onstage, the energy level increases. Jared is beatboxing, his drummer is playing breakbeats, and the whole sound is like the “folk-pop-funk” he’d told me to expect. Very much summer music.
Kosha Dillz comes on stage between most of the sets, doing his hypeman thing. He does his trademark “object freestyle” where he asks people to put whatever’s in their pockets on stage, so he can construct a story around it. I’d seen him do this in Boston; there always seems to be condoms and a weed pipe.
Later on he drops his new video. You know the dude’s a hustler when he made a song about Sweatpants so that he could sell sweatpants. And he will sell you sweatpants.
It was a dope show. I don’t the space to cover all the headline acts here but you can check that out at the “Arty Semite” section of the Jewish Daily Forward. But any show where I can interview all the acts, get free cds, and not leave with big sharpie X’s on my hands is already way way better than anything I’d see in Boston.