Live Picks: 09.13.2012 – 09.19.2012

09.13: The Tangle + Dresden + The Stairwells – Circle Bar

09.14: Baby Bee + King Rey + Sports and Leisure – Parish @ House of Blues

09.15: Today The Moon, Tomorrow The Sun + Coyotes + Alexis and The Samurai – Circle Bar

09.16: Jack Donovan + Chris Rehm + Andrew Landry – Mudlark Theater

There has never been anything secret about our love for Breezy’s, the coffee-shop turned apartment turned multipurpose art space that spent the summer of 2011 as the undisputed king of New Orleans DIY live music venues.  Under the tutelage of talent buyer/promoter Mike Twillman and owner Micah Burns (and with the help of a constantly expanding motley crew of supporters) a deceptively unassuming Freret-area home with a legendary bohemian past felt like the nexus of the city’s burgeoning independent rock explosion, even if only for a brief moment in time.

The building’s crumbling walls and ceiling seemed to be held together by the heavily patinated concert posters, newspaper clippings and photographs that covered them, which gave the venue a strangely imprecise aura that beautifully juxtaposed the fresh and exciting programming it hosted.  And whether you credit its easy-going proprietors, the eager young crowds it attracted or diverse music scene it served, Breezy’s grew into an under-the-radar institution unlike many others that came before it or have come since.  It seemed exclusive without being exclusionary, underground but also accessible, and outsider without an overt preoccupation with being edgy.

But even after just one visit to the mystical funhouse at the corner of Soniat and LaSalle, anyone would have guessed the days of Breezy’s original spot were numbered. It was just too good, with a mission too pure to exist in a city as corrupt and morally bankrupt as ours. (Also, almost every aspect of the enterprise was probably completely illegal.) So while it only took six months for the powers that be to shutter Breezy’s first incarnation, the quintessentiality of the concept of Breezy’s became apparent almost immediately. After a short but notable stint in a Pigeontown backyard, Twillman and Burns have taken a broad leap towards sustainability by moving Breezy’s underground spirit into a legitimate commercial space: Breezy’s on Freret, in the heart of the revitalized Freret corridor and just blocks from where it all started, is due to open in a matter of weeks.

This Sunday’s afternoon matinee at Mudlark Theater – a cherished DIY institution in its own right – is part of a final push to bring Breezy’s on Freret up to full speed in time for the jam-packed fall concert season.  While donations will be accepted at the door, the event’s main goal is to raise awareness of the team’s Kickstarter campaign, which (if successful) will allow the new rock club to open with a professional grade soundsystem in place. Music will be provided by the Breezy’s mainstays of Chinquapin Records and will feature stripped down sets from Habitat‘s Jack Donovan, High In One Eye‘s Andrew Landy and Caddywhompus‘ Chris Rehm plus a promised host of special guests.

09.17: Black Taxi + Aerial Attack – One Eyed Jacks

09.18: Beach House + Dustin Wong – Tipitina’s

Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks

No Age: 01.13.2011

“What the hell is Mudlark Theater,” said everybody. As obscure and made-up as the place sounded, I shouldn’t have been surprised that noisy art-punk band No Age would pull an unpredictable move in booking a New Orleans venue.

As it turns out, the choice of venue was based on the band’s hardline “all ages” approach to live music, which is rooted in their allegiance to the all ages, alcohol and drug-free Los Angeles venue The Smell. Here in New Orleans, the only real choices for all age shows are the High Ground (formerly Cypress Hall, still terrible/in Metairie), the Big Top 3 Ring Circus, or come up with something else. No Age, true to character I suppose, chose the latter, booking a tiny black box theater in the Bywater.

This led my group of friends and I to get “high school drunk”, which basically entails hanging outside the venue in the car drinking, smoking bunches of cigarettes, sampling the new Cake album and old Alkaline Trio music, and shooting the shit. The not-so-obvious downside to getting high school drunk is that you can tend to miss the entire show completely. Only a couple of us actually made it past the front entrance for the music.

I was surprised to find the familiar face of local DIY icon Brian Funck when I walked in the door. I was even more surprised to hear him tell me “hello” and call me by name, considering I haven’t seen or talked to the guy in nearly nine years.  “Did you put this show on?” I asked.  “You bet,” Funck replied without an ounce of pride or pretention in his voice.  “Wow, this is awesome man,” I told him.  With a genuine smile, he replied, “No seriously, you’re awesome for coming out. Big thanks.”

That interaction left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling of welcoming nostalgia as I cautiously nudged my way through the firecode-crowded performance room, packed so tight that it was nearly impossible to breathe. Somewhere below the horizon of heads was No Age, playing “Depletion” from the new album Everything In Between.

As the band heated up, roaring through songs like “Fever Dreaming”, “Teen Creeps”, and a host of other songs unrecognizable to me even though I own all their recorded music, the audience started getting rowdier, attempting a full-room swaying mosh pit that ended up being much scarier than it was actually dangerous.  Then, just as the band was firing on all cylinders, the cops showed up, walking up to the front of the stage and physically putting their hands on Randy Randall’s guitar strings to make him stop playing. The band politely obliged, not making any argument with the police, nor pulling a Jim Morrison-in-Miami with the audience.

As the crowd shuffled out of the Mudlark, I approached drummer Dean Allen Spunt, thanked him for coming through New Orleans, and apologized about the cops. Touring member William Kai Strangeland Menchaca (real name?) leaned in and said, with noticeable excitement, “Are you kidding man? This is punk rock. That was fucking awesome.”