An entirely pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon. NYC legend Jack Rabid has been publishing The Big Takeover for 25 years now — a labor of love that started as a Xeroxed fanzine and is now thick-as-a-phone-book, full-color, and crammed with reviews and lengthy interviews with some of the biggest names in rock, indie, alt, or otherwise.
I started reading it around 1990, though I first knew Jack from Music View, a syndicated show my college radio station aired. His segment was called "Rabid Food" where he brought in some obscure flexidisc or UK import. Weirdly enough, I moved to NYC to produce Music View and getting to work with Jack was one of the coolest aspects of the job. The show was canceled three months into moving here but I stayed friends with Jack, and I even contributed to Big Takeover once (an interview with The Wedding Present, Issue #41).
But I digress. Saturday was the first "Low Key/Low Watt Afternoon," held at Fix Café which is connected to SoundFix records in Williamsburg. If you’ve never been to a SoundFix in-store, it’s about as good an experience like this as you can imagine: comfy chairs, surprisingly good sound, not to mention coffee and beer. Jack pulled-together a great triple-bill that would appeal to any Big Takeover reader.
The highlight for me was Martin Carr, who was guitarist and songwriter for The Boo Radleys. My friend Toby and I were fairly obsessed with the band in the early-’90s and I have pretty much everything they ever released. (Toby has two blogs named after Boo Radleys songs/albums. He is the bigger fan.) They started as My Bloody Valentine-esque shoegazers but turned into full-on guitar pop band by 1995’s Wake Up, scored a big hit in the UK with the ridiculously perky "Wake Up Boo!"
The Boo Radleys broke up in 1999 but Carr has continued to make music under the name Bravecaptain, though he now goes by his given name. This was Carr’s first NYC appearance since the Boo’s gig at Brownies in 1997. I’ll confess to not having followed Carr’s post-Boo career not that closely, though after yesterday’s show I think I will now. He’s developed into quite a capable singer, and is still writing some great songs.
His band, drafted especially for this short US tour, included Pills
frontman/Big Takeover contributor Corin Ashley, a more than capable bassist, not to mention gregarious banterer who had the crowd cracking up between songs. While most of the set was Carr solo material, he threw us old fans a bone with one of the Boos best songs, the epic "Lazarus." It was a real thrill to hear it. (Martin Carr plays Death Disco at the Annex on Wednesday… highly recommended!)
The other big attraction was Don McGlashan who fronted the New Zealand cult legends the Muttonbirds in the 1990s. I was entirely ignorant of McGlashan’s ouvre, though I think most people were. The Muttonbirds only played the US once before, and this gig was a sheer fluke — McGlashan is in the States on vacation and Jack twisted his arm, ever so gently. Having now heard his literate, tuneful, complex songs I wish I’d known about them then, but luckily McGlashan had copies of the Muttonbirds’ best of for sale at the show.
I got to the event halfway though the opening act, Mitch Friedland, with whom Jack was bandmates in early-’90s shoegaze outfit Springhouse. Jack was actually singing when I walked in, something you don’t hear every day — though maybe it could become more of a comon ocurrence as Springhouse recently reformed and are finishing up their third album.
A nice crowd was there for the whole thing, including many of the current BT staff members, and it was successful enough that Jack promised more of these afternoons in the future. I look forward to seeing what bands Jack pulls out of his hat for the next one.