You can’t just walk through Seattle and not feel the Grunge vibe. You can’t simply stroll through Liverpool and not see all of that Beatles mojo. Can you really go anywhere near Haight-Ashbury without getting a sense for the Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane? Some bands epitomize certain scenes. Being a native Brooklynite, I revel in the awesomeness of the cornucopia of different locales all throughout my great borough. Each hood has its own ambiance. I’ve picked out some of my favorite stomping grounds in BK, and associated each with a band that I feel is the quintessence of that neighborhood.
Brighton Beach: Gogol Bordello
This one feels absolutely right! Even though Gogol Bordello originated on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, they bleed that Ukrainian Gypsy blood that paints my sweet Brighton. They’re loud like the Q and B trains that roll overhead Brighton Beach Avenue. They’re colorful like the trinket peddlers that don the outskirts of the numerical Brighton Streets. They’re crisp like the ocean breeze that serenades the Boardwalk. Gogol’s lead singer, Eugene Hütz, born Евгений Александрович Николаев-Симонов, is as Ukrainian as the borscht that is served from the myriads of “zabigalovki,” little cafes, that add a certain charm to BB. There’s nothing like blasting “Immigrant Punk”, pouring yourself a nice 100 gram shot of Vodka, and eating some fresh fish roe (don’t knock it ‘til you try it). NA ZDAROVYA!!
Coney Island: Shpongle
Photo by Reid Offringa
What could be more psychedelic than smoking a spliff or tripping balls on some magic mushies, and walking Westward down the Boardwalk towards that iridescent Coney Island skyline? The Requiem for a Dream landscape parlays one to put up or shut-up. The roller-coasters and stadiums start to take on amorphous qualities. Man, there’s something transcendental about walking high as fuck — past all of the Russian Babushkas and winos — with only one thought on your mind: “I want to ride that God damn Ferris wheel!” Shpongle is as Psychedelic as Coney Island is theatrical. Simon Posford and Raja Ram are masters of blending ethereal Goa trance, psytrance, electronic, and Psybient music. Put on “Divine Moments of Truth” on your headphones and teleport straight into Shpongleland.
Translating to: “gift of God,” Matisyahu is as Semitic as the Kosher Delis of Kings Highway. I mean, seriously, what screams ‘Midwood!’ louder than a beat-boxing, reggae, and alt rock rapping Orthodox Jew? Matisyahu could have been a nice Jewish lawyer, doctor, or accountant; but, I think that all of us are content with him being a trendsetting, epochal musician. Now, excuse me as I enjoy my pastrami and brisket on rye at Jay and Lloyds deli, and put on “King Without A Crown” on my MP3 as I wait for my half-sour pickles to be refilled.
Williamsburg: Matt and Kim
Ah! The chic, alternative dance duo straight from Hipstertopia, Brooklyn themselves: Matt and Kim have been a staple of the PBR drinking crowd since 2004. Known for their idiosyncratic, DIY style of music, Matt & Kim are as much Willy-burg as skinny jeans, star tattoos, organic produce, and trust fund checks.