The author enjoying the atmosphere at The Pop Etc listening party
On a Tuesday night, I found myself in the Bowery neighborhood of downtown New York. An atypical night of the week to be out and about perhaps, but not, it seems, for the underground-music-loving, tight-denim-wearing set that flocked to the Bowery for a heady dose of indie and art.
Following a recommendation, some friends and I wound up at an album release listening party for the band Pop Etc (formerly known as The Morning Benders).
The party was held at a Bowery art gallery called The Hole that was well known for its quirky exhibitions and frequent events. I’d never been to a listening party before, but the name implied much of what we did—we listened.
Self-titled Pop Etc, the album was considered by the band to be part of the “pop and more than pop” genre. Pop Etc’s music heavily featured synthetic sounds, but an accompanying haunting falsetto brought humanity to an otherwise impersonal tone. Each song was intricately layered such that every portion was equally important.
The music played while we wandered around the gallery, which displayed portraits of over 100 local artists, representing faces of New York’s art community. It was an enjoyable 40 minutes of listening, but it was even more fun for me and my friends to yell at each other over the music when we wanted to comment on the odd artwork on the walls.
Most people cleared out after the album played through, but we stuck around to talk to the band members, Chris Chu, Jon Chu, and Julian Harmon. Appropriate perhaps given the venue, they were eager to discuss with us the details of their lives as artists––from the types of film camera they used to the contents of their blog. .
We eventually left the Pop Etc party in search of food. A short walk took us to Tacombi, makers of delicious and great-value tacos.Tacombi’s set-up was as unusual and charming as the listening party: the tiny kitchen was inside a stationary VW beetle, and the seating was in a crowded warehouse.
After the late dinner, I dragged my friends through the city downpour to a Turkish diner so that we could all share some of the sweetest baklavah in New York City.
And so the night ended, on a sweet note. Despite the fact that we were a bit wet and bedraggled, that our feet ached from impractical footwear, and that “pop and more than pop” remained a mysterious genre; we had experienced a great night at the Bowery, one filled with music, art, and food. It was delightful to experience the neighborhood––a lively, quirky place, that promised more magical nights to come.
Blogging from New York City, Virginia R. Marshall surveys the city's artistic heartbeat.