Like Roberta Flack’s song, ‘Killing Me Softly,’ music enthusiasts know that this feeling is a real thing that can happen around live music. Folks can suddenly break out dancing, laughing, cheering or crying.
Somehow, someway I found myself at the Baroness Show blubbering like a little kid. (Stone cold sober too.)
The line up was Zeal & Ardor, Deafheaven and Baroness. Baroness in particular has been a unicorn for me to catch live ever since their album ‘Purple’ was released in 2015. They’ve had shows in NYC plenty, but the timing never seemed right for me to witness their live show.
I didn’t know who Deafheaven was going into this event. As they stepped out on stage before Baroness, I waited patiently at the stage barricade skeptically. Good metal is hard to find.
I. Was. Not. Ready.
Black metal vocals of a traditional Nordic variety hit me along with a very American mix of alternative rock undertones. Even the band members reflected this style range in their attire. One guitarist looked similar to the lead singer of Weezer, while another member looked as if he just strolled out of Dethklok. Contemporary sounds whispering to the positive chord of Coldplay became overrun with the aggressive metal vocals. It was a sweet and salty buffet of dimension.
Average folks often assume that metal has no soul, no warmth- these guys were able to prove that sentiment wrong. As the slow moving crowd began to gently carry people above our heads, towards the stage- I had to wonder, who the hell were these guys?!
Deafheaven succeeded in putting a spell on the whole crowd and left me completely tongue tied. By the time Baroness began their set, it was almost too perfect. I felt like all my traveling this past year to Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Royal Open House could not touch what I had just witnessed.
In the new web series Shrill, Annie Easton (played by Aidy Bryant) is on a journey to explore self-acceptance and through that, find her voice. While the show has some key issues and plot holes, I respect that it can be a process that takes committed effort to build up internal self-acceptance; giving oneself the freedom to try new things and discover personal realizations.
Annie is what I would term ‘Baby Phat’ as she begins to dip her toes into body positivity and the womanhood of her 30s and 40s. Grown Ass Women are not born overnight, OK?
Shrill shares a truth that many fat girls discover as they become grown-ass women: Life goes on whether you’re fat or not. This is it, our one life to live. As we approach middle age it becomes more clear for most of us that we will always be overweight in some regard. Maybe we lose 15 pounds on the latest fad diet, maybe we gain it back 6 months later. One thing is for sure, after a certain point being overweight is just part of who we are. It’s part of our identity, it just is. And it won’t stop us from living and enjoying life. We will still swim and hike, strut in fashion shows, start our own businesses or choose to raise a family, etc. I have never believed the stereotypes that fat women are failing in some way, automatically poor or ignorant for ‘not taking care of themselves.’ Most likely because I’ve been fat for most of my life, and getting grown has still been fun, exciting and active for me.
Of course we want to be as healthy as anyone else, but we also recognize using the term ‘healthy’ in conversation can be code for suggesting a woman should want to become more attractive. Only guess what? A fat person can still be stylish, intelligent, and take care of themselves. In a world where people can be overweight for hundreds of reasons that are their own private business, fat-shaming is total bullshit.
My favorite scene in the series occurs during the third episode *SPOILERS* When the main character Annie in all her awkwardness is having trouble navigating whether she has the right of way to cross a street. While going through a range of indecision about when to disrupt car traffic, a stylish plus-size woman in an all red outfit, brushes past her and crosses the street without hesitation. This plus size ‘woman in red’ is confident, feminine and most importantly claiming her personal space. The woman’s energy is magnetic enough that it compels Annie to follow her for a couple blocks. Annie looks on in awe at how this woman carries herself, and as she peers on from a distance we can see she is wondering how she can get to that level of solid womanhood. The series allows us to follow Annie through that exploration, which I found pretty fun to witness. Glowing up is hard work.
I hope every woman gets to this point of realization. Life doesn’t start when you’re suddenly slim. We are all living right now, and deserve every bit of satisfaction and success as anyone else. ##
I first discovered Oceano a few years back when Webster Hall was still open on the lower east side of Manhattan. Webster Hall was hosting the annual Summer Slaughter Tour and metal bands were performing across three floors of the building in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. I strolled into the main stage and could hardly see, fog machines and laser lights had washed out anything worth seeing into dark shadows and odd shapes. But, I could hear the band, and what I heard was as heavy as it gets.
Adam Warren is the lead vocalist of Oceano, providing some of the deepest, growling sounds in the deathcore scene. We got a chance to chat with Adam a bit during this Black History Month as we celebrate the visibility of Black Metalheads in the scene.
Thanks for chatting with us a bit a man, share with us a little about where you are from?
“I’m from the south suburbs of Chicago but currently live in Salt Lake City, UT with my girlfriend and our two cats Gandalf and Parzival. To some extent I did travel growing up, as I lived in Atlanta,GA for a short while as a kid with my mother until we eventually moved back to Illinois before I started middle school.”
How did you first get into music and singing? What were your fav music styles?
“I got into predominantly heavy music right around middle school through friends I made when transferring schools. Before then I wasn’t really exposed or interested in any types of music so it was a new and exciting experience for me. Lately my favorite music to listen to is R&B. I’m sad to say I don’t know how to play any other instruments aside from using my voice. I do feel I’m a bit over due with learning SOMETHING though.”
There’s a lot of different types of metal out there; How did you first learn about Death metal specifically?
“I was fairly aware of it’s existence as a genre but didn’t really gain an interest in delving deeper and discovering until I and my friends began to go to concerts and become exposed to heavier music than what we were currently listening.”
What’s your favorite part about making music with Oceano?
“I really enjoy the collaborative approach of creating music with the other musicians in the band. I like bouncing ideas of each other and working as a team to create something we all enjoy and also feel others will be moved by.”
What have been some great accomplishment moments with Oceano?
“I think existing as a band for about 11-12 years is a great accomplishment for any band. Us having released 5 full length albums is also pretty wild to realize.”
Since you are a gamer, any opinion you’d like to share about Kingdom Hearts 3? My sibs and I have waited years for it to come out- now I’m wondering it was worth the hype?
“Too be honest, I’m not too much of a fan for the series (I’m more of a Super Mario/Nintendo fan) but I do have alot of friends and girlfriend who are very into the series. From what I’ve seen and been told, it seems to be living up the hype though which is nice to hear people excited about.”
A wintry adventure up north provided us a chance to geek out at one of the nations best print shops.
Listen, I don’t have a car. I live in Manhattan. It’s not unusual during the winter months to swear off any travel beyond work and the grocery store.
That’s why when the Women’s Studio Workshop (WSW) invited us to come up, I was excited at the chance to check out a print shop I’d been hearing about for years. It was too good to pass up a peek behind the curtain.
It is a lovely spot to edition work as a printmaker. We were able to spend a day with them selecting artists for next year’s artist book residency. I think the folks we chose will get the chance to make some great work with this team.
It’s mid-winter and finally snowing in NYC, I’m hauling my ass across town after work through sleet-ish snow and 6 inch black pools of drain water. It’s been a minute since we’ve hit up Lincoln Center performances, and I’m especially looking forward to hearing some classical harpsichord.
The performance is a chamber diddy with Accademia Bizantina, a group that prides itself in the use of period instruments that align with the music they perform.
I discovered this special series of chamber music was happening via Instagram, scrolling by the ‘lil ads as they came by. In the ad, there was a harpsichord – at this performance, there was NOT. And of the three pieces they had, two were Mozart! Which should further indicate that a harpsichord should be in play. Consider me bummed.
That was the situation on stage, but the audience was tripping too. I rarely see millennials my age at classical music performances, and because I’m a life long violinist, I’ve been attending such concerts alone since I was 18. Most folks sitting around me are old enough to be my grandparents. I generally don’t mind this, and it’s even fun at times to see how they differ in polite demeanor from other cliques. For example, as I was sitting in the lobby waiting for the seating into the theater to begin, a couple sat next to me on the bench. Drawing in my notebook, I didn’t pay them any mind. Still, after a couple of minutes, the man turned to me and apologized for sitting at such an angle on the bench, that his back was turned away from me and we wouldn’t be able to converse. Converse? In my mind I’m thinking. ‘I don’t even know you, why would we be conversing?’ 👀 But I’ve also experienced this apology by the same demographic at concerts in London as well.
At least they try to be nice, because it’s common for me to be the only Black woman sitting in the entire theater. If there are people of color present, its most often in service positions as employees of the theater. Sometimes the elderly attendees in my row ask me if I’m present as part of a high school scholarship program or some investment into urban youth. I attempt to take a deep breath, smile politely and reply, “Uh, no…I just like classical music.” As my head rages on thinking, ‘Bitch! Obama don’t mean shit around here do he?’
I bought all this media gear over the holiday, thinking I’d start a YouTube show or podcast about metal music…🙄all I’ve managed are a bunch of selfies. We gonna need a serious plan or something to make any real content 🤯
Phew! It’s been a minute y’all. In my tradition of doing the most, the zine appeared at NY Art Book Fair during the same week its Creative Director (that’s me) took on a new full time job at Sotheby’s.
The last few weeks since the fair have included catching the flu, navigating a new office in midtown, and enjoying a hop over to London for some R&R.
So what happened at the fair? To sum it up quickly; Black folks turned out 😈
Here at the zine we choose events to table with a lot of care, taking into account whether the opportunity will allow us to expose our publication to youth of color interested in new music.
Meeting new punx of color can be hard to do at major art institutions and museums; so we were happy to meet and chat with fans who’d made an effort to visit the fair in support of #Blkgrlswurld and other PoC artists at the event. 💋 We got to meet several of the social media contributors who submitted selfie photos during our open call for the Photo Issue.
The Photo Issue had its debut! An excellent team effort over the summer to dedicate a full color book to women of color changing alternative music. When we were first invited to this NYABF, we knew #Blkgrlswurld needed to bring the community with us into that space. Black goths and brujas in full effect, celebrating heavy ass music and the lives it saves. The book was well received and we nearly sold out. It also inspired a great interest in our “Don’t Touch My Hair” pins.
And just to add even more drama to the mix, we also made time during the fair to chat with Wilbur Cooper, a journalist for Mic and Vice, about the special talents of Zeal and Ardor. Zeal and Ardor are a European metal band that happened be performing in Brooklyn the same week as the fair. You can catch some of our conversation with Wilbur on Mic.com.
Up next we’ll be sharing what happened during our trip to London this October. Was there metal? Of course there was!