Don Giovanni Records Showcase Night One: Shellshag, Mal Blum, Nude Beach + More Played The Knitting Factory

Allyson Dwyer February 10, 2015 Live, Reviews No Comments

Mal Blum

Photo Credit: Jim Appio (CoolDad Music)
In the past few years, Allyson Dwyer has become more and more familiar with the plethora of amazing live music that exists just a car or train ride away. Some of this music comes from the New Brunswick based label, Don Giovanni Records, which she has grown to become a big fan and follower of because of its roster of insanely talented bands. Last year she attended the Don Diovanni Records Showcase, and had such an amazing time, she absolutely had to go again. This is a page from her diary.

Night 1

I was so super god damn excited for this.

Cool Dad (you know, from that blog Cool Dad Music) picked me up in his swank mini-van (seat warmers!) and we ventured out to Brooklyn on a pretty damn cold night. We thankfully found a close spot, atop a crystalline ice mountain, and warmed up with some drinks once inside the Knitting Factory. At first I felt a little bummed the show wouldn’t be at The Music Hall of Williamsburg like in 2014, but it didn’t take long for me to feel this tinier spot was better. It’s smaller, more intimate. It feels like a warm cabin in the snow.

I had totally forgotten Chris Gethard was hosting, so I was really excited to see him (I fucking loved seeing him at UCB, and obviously on The Chris Gethard Show, and not to mention he’s on the best show ever, Broad City). He excitedly popped out and gushed over his involvement in the label and the community. Then, he played a game, well more like a test, to see if it was true that people would take anything free no matter how crappy the free thing was. He gave out such items as a broken USB charger, a four month old bag of trail mix from his suitcase, and a wet towelette (still unopened) which I quickly claimed. I genuinely needed it.

Since he had left his comfort zone of comedy to sing Billy Bragg’s “A New England” (with John Driver of Shellshag on guitar), Chris challenged the other bands to share at least one joke with their set (not to mention we got, what we will call, a pretty unique joke from Joe Steinhardt, which to be honest I think only people familiar with the NJ chain Cluck-U would get. Thanks for making us bridge-and-tunnel kids feel like we were the  ‘in’ ones for the night.

Crow Bait soon took the stage to inaugurate the night with their forceful rock. Next up were NJ punks Black Wine, who surprised literally everyone by coming out and doing an entire set of DEVO covers. No, they were DEVO. They had the costume changes to prove it.. The crowd lost their minds, singing and dancing along and laughing along with the band. Mal Blum then took the stage. I had never seen her before, but I basically fell right in love with her style of songwriting, which was funny, honest and biting. She and her band, especially bassist Audrey Zee Whitesides, had great energy and the crowd, very much familiar with her work, danced up a storm. They knew the words to all her songs, and she played some new ones from an upcoming album, being produced by Marissa Paternoster. I hope to be in the crowd next year singing along again.

We then got to finally see The Hamiltons, the Canadian answer to The Ergs, and with just as many fans (somehow, they all knew the words). Shellshag, who very much feel like the fairy-god-rockers of the label, took to the stage with their iconic pyramid. They are absolutely one of my favorite live acts, and I had a lot of fun dancing and singing along with the surging crowd. The night concluded with Nude Beach, who had released a double LP that was considered by many to be one of the best of 2014. Since last year’s showcase, their stage presence has really transformed to be their own brand of rock-dork excitement. As quickly as it all started, it was over. But thank god, there was a night two.

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About The Author

Allyson is a recent graduate of Eugene Lang College at the New School, with a B.A. in Literary Studies and Writing. She is an award-winning playwright with an interest in other genres, including journalism. She is originally from Leonardo, NJ, and remembers the Internet Cafe in Red Bank.

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