Meet the Exec Board – Jeremy Alben (’18)
by Jeremy Alben on August 28, 2017
Posted in: Music
Oh, hey. I’m Jeremy (he/him) and I’m on concerts committee next year. I’m from Seattle, WA and was raised on the whiny tones of Death Cab, the angst of Soundgarden and the genre-bending generational talents of Macklemore (I joke I joke). I’m currently living and cooking in Brooklyn toiling away the prime years of my youth.
When I’m not in the kitchen I can be found eating Japanese breakfasts while listening to Japanese Breakfast, lounging next to the AC unit listening to Tyler or perusing artist’s FB accounts and making desperate pleas to their booking agents on your behalf. I’m stoked to help book some rad concerts this year and need your input because I’m running out of ideas. Come say hey at the Mill, ~fiasco~, or the station and we can envision a lit concert scene, drink tea and talk about how LP’s dogs deserve better.
Everyone already reviewed the music I’m into more eloquently than I could have so here is an anecdotal recollection of some concerts I’ve been to this summer along with a playlist of my summer jamz. Also you should read the other meet the exec posts because they’re fantastic. Especially Maddy’s.
Rubby at the Ludlow House
“Tengo to ritmo conmigo”
Fresh out of Middlebury College and hungry for the NYC scene I navigated the corridors of the Ludlow house and emerged onto a scene of familiar faces from VT. Nestled in a lounge with a ludicrously expensive cocktail in hand I watched scenes from Rubby’s newest music video “Confiesa” loop on a projector.
The artist, who may be familiar to some through his recent press in Fader, Remezcla and Out Magazine as well as his presence in Proctor Dining Hall, floated through the crowd offering warm hellos and hugs to his stans. The night kicked off with his winter single “Know Me,” a dark shimmering track produced by Midd alum and youngest DJ in the world DJ Yung Man.
I’m always down for “Know Me” but seeing the tune performed live in NYC was truly an experience. But the night had only begun as Rubby revealed “Confiesa,” his sultry summer dance floor hit set in the pastoral setting of Midd. Fader describes the song as an “incantation” and I think that perfectly captures the way Rubby’s songs pull you in and hold your attention. Holding you under their spell in a warm, glowing haze.
Hungry for more, stans in the audience demanded another track and Rubby offered a cover of Sam Sparro’s “Black and Gold.” Often best when put on the spot, the rendition was gorgeous and tbh I prefer Rubby’s croon to the synth heavy original. Keep your ears and eyes peeled for more Rubby on campus this year…
(Sandy) Alex G at the Bowery Ballroom w/ Japanese Breakfast and Cende
“I’ll make a twenty dollar bet Adam won’t get his lunch box back”
On a rainy Friday night in the city I scurried from subway stop to the Bowery facade having scored a free ticket to see Alex G. I’d been listening to Rocket, his newest record accompanied by a hilarious subway advertising campaign, intermittently after its release but wouldn’t call myself a stan by any measure. That status would quickly change. WRMC alum Jackson Frons and I missed Cende who I was even less familiar with, but were luckily in time for the start of Japanese Breakfast.
I saw Michelle Zauner and co. touring on their freshman record Psychopomp last summer with Mitski and Jay Som (a fantastic show) but with their newest release: Soft Sounds from Another Planet, I was stoked to catch up on their live set. Zauner is an incredible performer. Inhabiting that difficult place of being both personable and yet above the crowd, pushing the audience towards something deeper within themselves. Soft Sounds mirrors her live presence, using space as a mythic setting for unwinding threads of tragedy and pushing onwards. Short of catching the band live, I think listening to the album while lying down in a dark, cozy room is a good way to experience the record. The set wasn’t all gloom however as Zauner also performed Psychopomp romps like “Everybody Wants to Love You” and her grungy anthem “Jane Cum.”
Wow I’m not even at Alex G yet. The set was almost 2 hours long and traipsed through his prolific Bandcamp discography. The show opened Rocket heavy with “Poison Root” and “Bobby” in the early going. While stoked to hear the new tracks, the fullness of the album’s production and diversity of instrumentation/vocals didn’t translate as powerfully live. That said, Molly Germer’s violin riffs on “Bobby” were fantastic and I couldn’t help but sing every chorus with the crowd.
The next movement focused on his 2015 record Trick with sing along classics “Mary” and “Sarah” garnering applause. My favorite moment of the night though was on “Adam,” a track steeped with playground angst. The song’s first verse acted as an interlude to Blink 182’s classic “What’s My Age Again?” transporting me back to the Mill as a torrent of bros moshed around me (luckily I was protected by the imposing frame of Frons) before being brought back with the second verse of “Adam.” The show ended with a collab performance of “Brite Boy” from 2016’s Beach Music with Zauner taking the vocals. In other words, a dream.
Since the show I’ve been on an Alex G torrent and have spent all my paychecks on his Bandcamp records and assorted merch. That may be an exaggeration but the show was one of those moments when you’re like “Damn how did I sleep on this artist.” 10/10 would recommend copping tickets when he comes to your local town, city, village or hamlet.
Kelela and co. at Full Moon Fest
“Is my head in the way? Cause my heart can’t explain.”
Alright this is my last one I promise. Full Moon Fest was odd. Probably 30% of the festival grounds were VIP areas so it was a stark division between those who had bought the $40 budget tickets and the yuppies who spent $200 on private lounges full of IG celebs. The division was especially awkward at the main stage as half of the area in front of the stage was cordoned off for VIPs. I’m not really a festival goer so maybe this is normal but it felt uncomfortable. That aside, I ferried out to Governer’s Island on a sunny day with my boys Rubby, Phil and Ujay and we settled in for a day of tunes.
The only alc available was $9 corona which also sucked but we took the L and copped a couple and lounged in the grass for TOPS. I really enjoy their new album Sugar at the Gate but live they were almost too glossy and distant. Edging on boring but kicking up the melancholia for tunes like “Marigold & Grey” and “Petals.” Next up was ABRA who was ~fuego~. I was stoked that her set reached back to moodier tracks on her 2015 release BLQ VELVET before going hard with bops like “Come 4 Me” off of 2017’s Princess. If her agent ever responds to my emails I think her live set would translate perfectly to the Bunker set up a la Octavio’s brilliant Biopoeia.
We lazed through Connan Mockasin’s ~wavy~ set of chill wave indie and Zealander antics. He reminds me of a strung out Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords but in a good way, you know? After a long stroll around the grounds and a couple more coronas it was FINALLY time for Kelela.
The show was everything I hoped for and more. Having scene her at Sepomana 2016 I was somewhat familiar with her live production but this show was on another level. She did that endearing thing artists do where she was like “Is it ok if I don’t talk a lot and just play music?” but then talked a lot during her set. The music was amazing. I’m not a huge fan of her new single “LMK” in studio but seeing it performed live in a shifting light scape of shimmering silvers and moody blues was amazing. But it was hearing her talk about New York, the nostalgia and excitement of performing here, and her contentious relationship with the city that really brought the show home.
Albums are known to grow with you and take on different meanings over time but it wasn’t until this summer that I realized the same was true for live sets. Seeing familiar artists in new settings and stages of their careers has been a good reminder of my own growth. Hopefully I’ll be lucky enough catch this slate of artists later in life and look back on my younger years fondly. We’ll see.
As promised here’s a playlist of tunes including some from the artists I’ve seen this summer and others that I’m still trying to catch live. You can also follow me on IG @jalbengram or on twitter @jalbenlyfe.