I had been meaning to check out the Showpaper Gallery on 42nd Street, and last Tuesday's show provided the ideal opportunity. It's a weird place to see a show, just down the street from Capital Grille, Grand Central and, incidentally, in the vicinity of the most expensive office submarket in the city. But with the help of non-profit Chasama, promoter Todd P managed to secure the space for an indie rock venue and arcade by video game collective Babycastles, creating a cultural interloper in the white collar neighborhood.
As previously reported, the location is a nexus of sorts for Showpaper, the free, weekly guide for all-ages shows around the city. The gallery served as the headquarters for an ambitious drop-off operation of specially designed Showpaper boxes throughout the city, and its walls are still covered in the publication's artwork. The installation's games have a retro, nostalgic feel - Rumble Box, which was projected in the front room, was a good example.
On the music end, it was a fantastic lineup: newcomers Friends started things off, the ensemble playing their varied instruments, and singer Samantha Urbani cooing and shimmying on stage, before descending to the crowd's level for the second half. This band could be going places next year - and not just opening for Darwin Deez around the country. They'll also be playing Shea Stadium on Jan. 7.
Next was Sultan, Kayla Cohen's guitar-and-pedals project, saturating the room with reverb and washes of guitar. The songs were long, instrumental pieces, each flowing into another, with a sprinkling of Cohen's ghostly vocals. I'd call it a more eclectric version of Grouper - which is to say, a pretty good thing. (Disclosure: I worked with Kayla at WNYU for a few semesters.)
Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls played a high-spirited acoustic set, along with two friends. The prolific songwriter, who also plays in the Babies, reiterated relatively simple themes of love and loss. But the music never real sinks into pure despair, as her high, distinct voice is more inclined to yearn than brood.
Ducktails finished things off, with Matt Mondanile setting up with a sampler, keyboard and eventually guitar. It was a woozy, comfortably paced set, building melodies out of minimal elements and stacking Mondanile's vocals on top. He got a little tambourine help from my friend Andy (who drums in Toro Y Moi) on the last song, a nice end to a fun night.
Rest of the photos after the jump.