My favorite part of being based in New York will always be the rad DIY venues that are curating intimate, community-oriented performances and local punk shows. These are the types of places where they still carry jukeboxes next to the pool tables in the main bar, the floorboards are so uneven that you could easily trip over the grooves if you’re not careful, and you can barely see your own reflection in the vandalized bathroom mirrors behind all the graffiti and homemade stickers.
One of my personal favorite DIY venues is Footlight at The Windjammer, a dive bar with a performance space curated by the womxn-lead promotion company Footlight Presents. The space is located on Grandview Avenue in Ridgewood, with an interior of wood-paneled floors, sailor knick-knacks, portraits of old Hollywood actors like Marlene Dietrich, and a fridge behind the bar laden with lettered magnets arranged to say NSFW phrases like, “PISS FM,” and “ASMR BUTTCHUG.”
The most recent show I attended at Footlight/Windjammer was the album release show for the Brooklyn-based alt-rock duo, Huh, last Thursday. The Footlight performance space is located in the back of the bar, with coarse white botanical-patterned plaster on the walls, a large rotating mirrorball attached to the ceiling, and a stage that is barely a foot above the ground and furnished with an antique rug. It’s not too far off from an intimate house show in somebody’s living room, which makes the space even more appealing to someone like me who prefers attending local shows over larger corporate venues.
Cool Dead Woman
The first act of the night was Cool Dead Woman, an alternative four-piece outfit who played a setlist of songs that were strongly reminiscent of grunge-tinged indie twee acts like Marine Girls and Heavenly. Their set included two distortion-fueled covers of “Blue Flower” by Mazzy Star and “Game of Pricks” by Guided by Voices.
The following act was Amy Klein, a prolific singer-songwriter and kinetic guitar player who’s played in numerous bands over the years, the most notable being New Jersey indie rock stalwarts Titus Andronicus, whom she accompanied on guitar and violin. Amy and her backing band, The Hallucinations, tore through a slew of frenetic power pop rippers, an infectious smile plastered on her face for the entire set, the biggest highlights of which were her slow, meditative singer-songwriter reprieves like ”Autumn,” and “Loser.” In between songs, Klein showed off her endearingly awkward charisma, quipping about getting her news through Instagram and being a “recovering perfectionist.” Her band’s final song, “Medusa,” was an anthemic, orchestral, almost thrash metal-tinged epic that left every audience member awestruck, their jaws dragging on the floor for nearly ten minutes after she finished.
The final act was the headliner Huh, an alt-rock duo made up of guitarist Tia Vincent-Clark (Liturgy, Pygmy Shrews, Queening, The Fugue) and lyricist Carrie-Anne Murphy (Clapperclaw, Bad Credit No Credit). Celebrating the release of their debut album, No Real Solution, Huh’s approach to performing was sparse, yet effective—the same powerful sucker-punch live strategy utilized by alternative titans like PJ Harvey. Each song in their setlist was rife with heartwrenching lyrics, dynamic time-signature changes, striking two-part harmonies, and the makeshift percussion of Vincent-Clark strumming her muted guitar strings and Murphy thumping on a ukelele that she brought onstage as “an emotional support [prop].” Their performance was further enhanced by Murphy and Vincent-Clark’s playful dynamic and natural banter with the audience in between songs where they belted out lyrics that worked through grief, trauma, isolation, and heartbreak.
On the whole, this show and its lineup was a pure distillation of everything I love about the DIY music community in New York. The warm transferrence of positive energy between the audience and the performers was like an electrical current, which puts this show in my top five most vibrant and positive live music experiences of the month.
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