Photos: Real Estate and Babies at Brooklyn Bowl

All points converged on Real Estate last night.  After a weeks-long holiday-induced concert dry spell, it’s as if everyone finally rung in the musical New Year at Brooklyn Bowl.  With a New York Times article about the venue published the very same day, it felt like everyone who lives in Brooklyn, plus many of those who don’t, came out of their wintry cocoons to see Real Estate for free.  Not only were all the prettiest kiddies out and about in their hippest duds, but so were members of Titus Andronicus, The Hold Steady, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Das Racist, and even John Norris.  It’s hard to describe, but last night really felt like a thing. I think Real Estate knew it, too.  Coming off of an incredibly successful 2009 that was capped off with their inclusion in Pitchfork’s 50 Best Albums of the Year (not to mention this blog’s list), the band seemed like they weren’t expecting to play to such a large crowd.  Martin Courtney was incredibly nervous, while the rest of the band did their best to carry along the swells and crests of their songs as they normally do.  Eventually, everything settled together and they started kicking out their usual calibre of pleasant but noisy rock n roll jams.  One of the highlights was a particularly rocking version of Ducktails’ “The Mall.”  It was strange to see them play in such a large venue, especially because their music seems to come from the ephemeral place that is a “garage in New Jersey.”  Still, it felt like a triumphant night for Real Estate, and it will be interesting to see how far their not-quite-completely-accessible music can take them.

Babies were excellent.  A friend and I saw them a few months ago at Death By Audio and were both impressed last night by how much they’ve improved.  They’ve tightened their songs, written some great new ones, and really hammered out an updated 70s American punk, fun, dance-along sound.  I absolutely loved them.  Their music sparkles, and Vivian Girls’ Cassie is a burgeoning indie rock babe for the ages.  With an “I don’t care” voice and “I don’t care” good looks to match, she could only improve if she lost just a touch of that affected hipster cool and let go a little more on stage.  You’d never know it from Vivian Girls, but in the context of Babies, I think she has Kim Gordon potential.  I’m sure it will only be a matter of weeks before we hear they’ve signed to some excellent label.  Their best song at both Death By Audio and last night was “Meet Me In the City,” which you can download below all the photos.


Real Estate:

MP3: “Meet Me In The City” – Babies

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  1. PIXELHORSE says:

    Yeah, it was “The Mall.” This show was so huge and packed. It was sorta epic.

  2. Patrick says:

    Cassie is a “babe,” but no other mention is made of the physical attractiveness of any of the other performers. Could that be because she was the only female musician on display? The men are there to dazzle the ears, and the woman the eyes? Female musicians are nothing more than titillaters? Very gender normative writing for an article supposedly about “alternative” music and culture. Shame shame shame!

  3. New York Rock Market says:

    patrick, wow, thank you for reading. i’m an enormous fan.

    you’re totally right. that was very gendered of me. thank you for calling me out on it. i would, however, like to give my own perspective, and i think you might be able to understand. as someone who thinks about women’s place in rock ‘n roll and in the music industry every single day (and constantly has to deal with music-industry prejudices), i want to make sure i’m not misunderstood by someone i admire so greatly.

    i am a woman who also plays in a band. i’m not nearly as talented as cassie, nor will i ever be as successful. i didn’t mean to be so focused on her looks in such a male-gaze kind of way; i’m not sexually attracted to women, for the most part. i just think she’s really, really wonderful, and for me, she was the glue that held the band’s performance together, woman or not. i meant “babe” less in a physical sense and more in a rock-aura sense. on the one hand, you’re right, it isn’t fair to peg her as “the girl in the band.” that’s not what i meant to do. but, as a young woman in a band myself, i find her inspirational, someone to look up to and to aspire to be more like. that’s one huge reason why i focused on her in my review- i relate to her. i don’t think it’s fair to take that away from me, the ability to have female peers to look up to and greatly admire in local bands, especially when most of my favorites seem to be these (albeit wonderful) boy’s clubs, much like real estate or even your band.

    also, another reason i focused on cassie is because there has been a dialogue on this blog (and among friends and coworkers) about the vivian girls and their place in the scene. i’ve used them before on this blog to think about exactly how difficult it can be to be a woman in a band. i find it fascinating how much viv girls get pegged and criticized for being a “girl band.” it’s really wrong and fucked up, but a difficult line to walk because i truly don’t believe they are the most talented or interesting of bands (merely my own subjective opinion). it’s difficult because i obviously don’t believe that a band should be popular just because they are an all-female group, but i don’t think vivian girls would have made it so big if they had penises. they just wouldn’t have stood out so much. it’s a double-edged sword for any feminist music critic. i like the fact that cassie seems to be so much better in babies (more energetic, her voice blends better in the overall group, better songs, more interesting guitar parts, which i assume she writes or at least co-writes), because it proves to me that viv girls are better than i think, and i need to revisit my whole argument about them again.

    part of my review, moreover, was just laziness. since i’d already considered cassie many times before, it was easy to write about her. i was in a rush putting up the article, didn’t know much about the other band members, so just wrote what i knew.

    shame on me for that indeed. sloppy journalism. but please, don’t shame on me for the gender politics on my blog. i am hyper-aware of gender politics and rock n roll, and i think anyone who knows me would get that i was more admiring cassie than objectifying her. i recognize that as my blog’s readership grows beyond my friends, however, i need to rethink exactly how i’m framing what i say.

    thanks so much for calling me out, and please let’s keep up the discussion if you’re interested. one of my favorite topics! women in rock and roll!

  4. New York Rock Market says:

    also, for the record, i don’t really think this blog claims to be about “alternative” music and culture. it’s just about music i like and think my friends would like, which usually happens to be indie.

  5. Come to Portland and check out the rocker scene at the Aladdin Theater or Rock & Roll Pizza =)