Each Thursday in September, Square Zeros will profile one night of ZeroFest, our four-day, twenty-band festival running from October 2–5 at four Brooklyn venues.
Brooklyn's Human Head Records just celebrated its one-year anniversary on Friday, August 22nd, and it has already become a staple of the East Williamsburg/Bushwick music scene. Located at 168 Johnson Avenue (at Graham Avenue), Human Head supports a community of local musicians by carrying their records on consignment, and a community of music-collectors with its well-curated selection of new and used vinyl from a multitude of genres. It's a great place to stop in and check out some records or just to grab a beer and relax. With Human Head, owners Travis and Steve and the rest of their team have really created an environment where any music lover will want to hang out.
Now, about those music lovers. For our first act on the first night of ZeroFest, we invited Spaghetti Blacc (SZ #4), a Kingsbridge-based artist whose appreciation of twitchy electronic beats, avant-garde jazz, and combative, energetic rap (we said he was from Kingsbridge, right?) have culminated in a vibrant and extremely idiosyncratic hip-hop style.
Of the influence of avant-garde jazz bandleader Sun Ra, Spaghetti said:
"It's just that whole ethos of — it's not really what you play, but making sure every note is alive and roaring and just, like, ferocious. That just scared such a crazy energy within me."
You're going to want to be there when Spaghetti Blacc brings that crazy energy to ZeroFest.
Chris Tracy (SZ #11) experienced a similar musical revelation, but in his case, the culprit was punk rock: "My head exploded, and nothing was the same (as Drake would say)." Explosive is an operative term for his noise-punk outfit Clean Girls, who create an absolutely commanding presence on stage, despite Chris's own claim that he and his collaborators Stephen Reader (drums, vocals) and Stephanie Monohan (bass, vocals) are — ultimately — a bunch of nerds.
While the Lord of the Rings-tinged cuts he brought in from his high-school band Shire might support this claim, Clean Girls are savage in the act and not to be missed.
Closing the first night of ZeroFest are The Amputees (SZ #13), a garage-punk five-piece that range from sinuous and simmering to bright, razor-sharp, and tuneful. For their Square Zeros episode, we spoke with frontman Louis Ramos and guitarist Nova Luz, who are — in a sense — like two sides of the same coin. Louis is a gutsy, aggressive singer with a youthful presence that belies the decades he's spent in the New York hardcore scene; Nova is a thoughtful, intuitive guitarist and vocalist who carries herself with a confidence that belies her comparatively young age.
When the two get together with Gary Young (guitar), Soledad Alvarado (bass), and Kaleen Reading (SZ #3, drums), the result is some of the best punk rock this city has to offer.
ZEROFEST! OPENING NIGHT!
Thursday, October 2nd at Human Head Records, 168 Johnson Avenue
Spaghetti Blacc — Clean Girls — The Amputees
7–10pm, all-ages, free! (but maybe bring a few bucks to support the bands)
And stay tuned next Thursday, when we'll profile the second night of ZeroFest at Bushwick DIY hangout Bermuda Triangle. Thanks, guys.
— DJH + JM