Artwork by Eric Schutzbank
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When we first launched Big Ass Lens two years ago, one of the first festival gigs we got access to was then then-fledgling Northside Festival in Williamsburg. At the time, Brooklyn didn’t have it’s own legit music festival to highlight all that was going on musically in our little borough, and the addition of Northside was a natural progression for the community.
That first year was a good one. Sunset Rubdown played, along with The Hold Steady, and a newcomer named Kurt Vile. Back when Studio B was still around, providing sick city views and drug-friendly bathrooms. Right before The Pool Parties moved to the waterfront, and a Chuck Schumer became a hipster folk hero. The year Merriweather Post Pavilion came out and The Dirty Projectors blew up, vaulting experimental indie rock into the sort-of mainstream. The good old days when we were somewhat younger but considerably more carefree and willing to break all sorts of rules that govern the concert-going experience. Times were good, and The BAL crew hustled hard to bring you the illest in HD content for your eyeballs. This often meant sneaking in huge cameras without press passes, crawling beneath VIP barriers, and staging elaborate back stories as to why we were packing huge lenses with pepper spray dispensers built into them. Might have even murdered a few people. So while it might be all fun and entertainment for ya’ll, we have to deal with the troubling emotional consequences of our actions for the rest of our lives.
And while over the years many things have changed, one thing has not: our love for the most compelling and interesting bands that elevate our musical standards and deliver superb live shows that combine popular appeal with raw talent and musicianship. To say that we don’t update enough because the quality of talent around us does not merit it...only partially excuses us for the lack of said updates. But to be honest, we haven’t been exactly thrilled with the state of indie music these days, and wish that more deserving bands would get the credit and attention they deserve.
Which is why we are so very excited to bring you the first ever Big Ass Lens Presents showcase at the place where it all began: The Northside Festival. Mad daps to L Magazine and to ourselves, who have spent months planning, organizing, and finalizing this most chill and fascinating lineup of killer up-and-coming acts. We deliberately chose bands who embody the ideals of music that we have come to embrace over the years: artistry and skill, advancement of new sounds, and exciting live performances. After all, we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all bands are not created equal, that some are endowed with actual skill, talent, and mastery of their respective instruments. It is in the pursuit of quality music that brings us true happiness.
So get ready to piss your pants, lose your socks, and grab your cocks for the winning lineup we have in store for you.
Hailing from Boston, The Dirty Dishes are a psychedelic/shoegaze band led by Jenny Tuite, whose lush and haunting voice has stuck in our heads for a hot minute now. Combined with a eclectic rhythm section that accentuates their music’s idiosyncratic qualities, Dirty Dishes remind us of classic Smashing Pumpkins/My Bloody Valentine jawns; with an extra dollop of pop sweetness and manic energy ala Deerhoof. The Dirty Dishes have shared the stage with the likes of Passion Pit and Autolux, and recently played the Converse showcase at this year’s SXSW. We didn’t go to SXSW because honestly - fuck Austin and that cheater Lance Armstrong. New York has it all: automatic touring destination status, dope venues, free summer concerts, and a surfeit of braless, unemployed hipster honeys who make the Saudi summer balls heat oh so very bearable for us.
Also hailing from Boston, are the prolific and recklessly raucous quartet Grass Is Green. Straight up this band packs an eff’ing wallop while touches upon the sounds of some of our favorite bands – Fugazi, Minutemen, and Unwound. Their knotty and frantic homespun songs double back on themselves with fascinating and intricate playing, and reach a fevered pitch live in concert. Grass Is Green have toured this year relentlessly, sharing the spotlight with no less of acts than Trail Of Dead and This Will Destroy You.
But on the real, it wouldn’t be Northside without some quality New York talent. For any of you who know us you’re well aware how hard we rep NY. To this end we have two killer up and comers from Brooklyn: Grandfather and Madame Trashy.
Grandfather have gotten a lot of love from us this past year for their searing live show and really freaking solid debut Why I’d Try. Since recording their Steve Albini-engineered debut, the band has been blowing through shows here in the Northeast, including opening up for the immortal Mission Of Burma. Recently beefing up their sound by adding a new drummer and bassist and sliding drummer/vocalist Josh Hoffman to lead vocals, the band has emerged with a cleaner and more physically intense presence and sound. If you can imagine that!
Also on tap are Williamsburg’s own Madam Trashy, whose debut Book Of Dead was mixed by Jack Endino (Nirvana/Soundgarden) and brings forth all that stoned goodness we love from listening to bands like Queens of The Stone Age, Kyuss and The Melvins. Trashy’s simplicity is why we mess them with so hard. Expertly mixing the captain crunch rumble of the aforementioned bands with their own driving melodies and clean arrangements, this band is strikingly composed only one record in. They let their songs come to the fore, simply and directly without mucking things up with unnecessary sonics.
No lo-fi fuzzy snorefest here: these are bands that demand precision, clarity, and a deliberating compositional process.
Another potential but possibly worthless benefit of coming to our showcase is to come out and meet us, the brain trust behind Big Ass Lens and the countless crimes that were committed in it's name. To find us, look for a bunch of the koolest kats you’ve seen wielding large camera lenses and possibly being too housed to shoot usable footage. Might even buy you a drink and and let you touch the lens if you are chill and have brought 2-10 paying customers to the show.