Live Your Life at Brooklyn Bowl!
One of the best—and sometimes most infuriating—things about being a young person in New York is that we tend to keep kind of odd hours. Between all the students, bartenders, musicians, servers and store clerks, it’s pretty rare to come across someone who works a regular 40-hour Monday-to-Friday week. This can be infuriating because sometimes we miss being able to get eight consecutive hours of sleep or go for Sunday brunch. It can also be awesome because of things like this: Live Your Life Presents is putting on shows every Monday in May at Brooklyn Bowl that will make living your life in New York even more exciting, no matter what your schedule.
Formerly “Momentum Brings You,” Live Your Life Presents was created by Lindsay Ungar, her brother Nick, and their friends Micha Lazare and Josh Greenfield earlier this year after Lindsay Ungar was given the opportunity to help book shows at Brooklyn Bowl, where she has worked as a bartender an server for several years. She says that the object of Live Your Life Presents “is to bring together musicians, artists and the community as a whole […] to provide a creatively nurturing environment, where all are welcome, and people know it’s all about just having a good time.” Their shows are a true multimedia experience, combining music with everything from live painting to digital art projections, dance and standup comedy. They draw creativity and passion out from both performers and audiences, which makes for a hell of a good time and is a great way to discover new talent that spans countless genres. Check out this video from a recent show at Cameo Gallery of Keenan O’Meara and Andy Burri covering “Tears of Rage” in honor of the late Levon Helm:
This performance is a part of the Live Your Life Presents Concert Series. Shot at the Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. April 30, 2012
When booking artists, LYLP tries to put acts together whose music compliments each other. As Josh Greenfield puts it, “Whether it’s funk or polka, it’s got to be good.” While sometimes this results in themed shows, lineups are just as often unified by their energy and vibe. The first of the Monday night Bowl shows on May 7th had a world music theme, and I had the pleasure of attending what turned out to be an awesome night of great energy and frozen margaritas (as a special for the LYLP Monday shows, frozen margaritas—usually $8—are just $5! Like you needed more incentive to go!).
The first act of the evening was Kwame and the Uptown Shakedown, a fun and funky quartet with great energy that carried through their slower numbers as well as when they were rocking out. Their solos were just the right length and varied enough to stay interesting rather than losing the crowd. In addition to an extremely charismatic lead singer who fed the crowd’s energy without trying too hard, the band boasted a saxophone player whose contributions were (thank God!) cool rather than cheesy. The musicians kept a good balance between their sounds and were tight and in control while all the while making it abundantly clear that they were having a great time being on stage. Few things are as much fun for audiences as seeing good musicians having fun, and the band took it to the next level when they closed with an explosive cover of “Light My Fire.”
Next were Sierra and the Nomads—an aptly chosen band name if ever there was one. They’re a large, rag-tag-looking bunch; between the long-haired, bare-chested guitarist, the bearded guy crouched over bongos, the guy in the fedora and the hot lead singer with her gold bangles and tribal-looking sarong (Is it any wonder that they met at Burning Man?), no two members have remotely the same visual style. At first I didn’t really think they were for me—their first number was sort of a hip hop-infused pop rock number with earthy percussion—but their musical repertoire proved to be as diverse as their wardrobe, and the set got better and better as it went on. They moved through funk, reggae, hip hop, rock and pop at an improbable speed, switching and combining genres at the drop of a hat and changing tempos effortlessly. The lead singer was quite a performer, too. When not belting it out, she danced at center stage, wriggling and sparkling like a fishing lure. The audience bit.
Finally, there was Zongo Junction. I had never heard them before, only heard of them. If you’re in the same boat, let me tell you this: believe every good thing you hear about them. They didn’t need to introduce themselves; they just started playing, and that was enough. Halfway through their second number, I stopped taking notes and got up to dance my legs off in front of the stage, so I’ll offer the band’s website’s description of their style instead of botching it myself: “The ensemble blends West African rhythms with funk, jazz and soul.” What does that sound like, you may ask? It sounds like pure awesome and joy. With twelve members in all, including a gloriously hefty horn section, Zongo Juction was extremely tight and together—enough so that the horn players swayed and danced in unison while playing. Yet for all their polish, they weren’t the slightest bit stuffy or predictable. They were joined for a few numbers by the uniquely captivating Abena Koomson, whose powerful and passionate vocals added a new dimension to a sound that was already full to bursting.
As if that wasn’t enough, live painter Anthony P. Cerretani was busy at work next to the stage the whole time. He let the music inspire him, and did one painting for each set. My pictures didn’t come out very good, but each canvas was a delicious-looking burst of color and abstraction that captured the feel of the performances.
This week’s show (Monday May 13th) will be “a little more indie/folky” with “some funk mixed in there too,” with performances by JuicyBruce, Deb Oh & The Cavaliers and Chamber Band. The doors open at 6, entry is free before 7, and the show (a mere five dollars) starts at 8. Live Your Life is also putting on another show at the Bowl Tuesday the 15th that will have “more of a big band, swing, bluesy, soul” vibe. Anyone interested in booking should contact Lindsay Ungar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For updates on Live Your Life Presents events, find them on Facebook:
Check out Kwame and the Uptown Shakedown.
Hear more from Sierra and the Nomads.
Let Zongo Junction make love to your ear holes here.
Feast your eyes on Anthony P. Cerretani’s work here
Happy Monday, everybody!