PUNKCAST 10 YEARS ANNIVERSARY PARTY AND SCREENING|
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 14 2007 8-12pm
Secret Project Robot
210 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn
(entrance on River St)
In September 1997, UK punk band One Way System came to play NYC. Their manager John B was a friend, and had run Jettisoundz - a UK punk video label. I was working on internet stuff and suggested the event be webcast. He was keen to do it live, but I explained the merits economical and reachwise of making the meat available on-demand with as little fluff as possible - thus punkcast.com was born. I myself was inspired by the fan-run ftp sites for both Bjork and Prodigy, which way outstripped all other internet music efforts of the day. We hired a cameraman to come and shoot video and put up some pix, the entire audio from three shows, plus a postage stamp size mpeg clip. John B, inspired, went back to the UK and on his own next shoots - Hawkwind (taken down, regretfully, earlier in 2007), and Goldblade - made audio punkcasts. He returned to the USA in Jan 98 to shoot Jane Couch - a Women's Boxing Champion who is the sister of One Way System's drummer, and later in the year posyted audio of the UK Subs playing in his local in Lancashire. The arrival in NYC of Peter & The Test Tube Babies in Sep 1998 was sufficient impetus for me to buy a camera for punkcast, and over the next year I shot about half a dozen more old school bands I knew, including a quartet of NYC hard core favourites - Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, Murphys Law, and Leeway. In 1999 when Ari-Up re-appeared on the scene for her first shows in over 25 years I was there. She's a compelling subject and I shot her several times, plus some of the local reggae scene, which brought the punkcast count up to around 20. In late 2000 I started paying Sean P. Murphy to shoot local punk & hardcore, mainly at CBGB, and over the next year he shot about 70 odd shows, only a couple of which I actually got round to posting. During this time punkcast also got it's first taste of the NYC indie scene when Leesaw Andaloro contributed a Touchdown clip for #50. The count was just #100, in September 2001, as Punkcast entered its 5th year. I'd found I enjoyed shooting so, with the well burst internet bubble giving me more time, I decided to do more. Two local bands interested me in particular - anti-folk heroes the Moldy Peaches and hot hipster outfit the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I shot & posted both in short order, and also discovered that both bands were the tips of the iceberg of extensive associated scenes that would provide grist for years to follow. Shooting old pal Joe Strummer in April 2002 for 4 nights in a row allowed me to experiment and is when I really established the style I maintain to this day. By September 2002 the count was up to #200. It was then that I seriously started to shoot in Brooklyn, discovering Mighty Robot and Todd P. After clandestinely shooting some great shows such as The Gossip in Jun 2003, I was fortunate to gain a carte blanche to shoot in the Knitting Factory, greatly expanding the possibilities. This was an exciting period as the YYY's, Liars etc broke out internationally, while new and interesting bands such as TV On The Radio were appearing. I embarked on shooting a series of avant showcases - titled 'Mutiny' - put on by The Social Registry. The city had started it's own TV station NYCtv and, after being approached by producer Shirley Braha, I supplied the bulk of the content for it's nascent new music show NY Noise. In September 2003, after 6 years, the count was #320. A year later, in September 2004, the count was #540. Doubling the shoot rate, however, meant that fewer shows got posted. I had moved the studio to close to the Knit, to better take advantage of the opportunies it presented. One shoot #431 - The Fall - was so successful the band released it on DVD. Apart from frequent Mighty Robots I was also regularly shooting at Pianos, Sin-é, Southpaw, Trash Bar, and a new warehouse space in Brooklyn called Volume. I was also VJ-ing weekly at BP Fallon's Death Disco at The Delancey. The summer saw the first series of East River Park shows. The Cake Shop opened. 280 shoots in the year pushed the count to #820 by September 2005. Even less got posted but those that did, like The Long Blondes, Oneida, and Todd P's first acoustic BBQ, were spectacular. With the advent of the video iPod came the Punkcast Podcast - the first posted was #840 The Gossip blockbuster 'Standing In The Way of Control', also Punkcast's first ever YouTube clip, currently closing in on 80,000 views. In March 2006 the Knit withdrew my privileges. I was just able to get in there for one last shoot - of my old pal Nikki Sudden, who sadly died the following morning. The favorite punkcast venues became The Cake Shop & Tonic. Bands posted included Oakley Hall, Gang Gang Dance, and Awesome Color. In the summer I shot nearly all the free McCarren Park Pool shows. In September 2006 I was in CBGB for the last days, as the count reached #1020, down to 200 shoots in the year. This last year has seen the annual rate drop even further to 180, as we've seen the closures of Sin-é, Tonic, and North Six, and right now I'm just on #1202. The flipside has been, of course, that I've had more time to edit, and it's been a record year for output with 74 posted. This last year has seen the first official public screenings with exhibits at Secret Project Robot in Brooklyn and Point Ephemère in Paris.
It's a lot easier to shoot than to process. A few years back I reckoned it out that, if I stopped shooting right then, it would still take me, at the rate of 4/5 bands a week, around 5 years to catch up. God knows what that figure is now. I trust that I will live long enough to get around doing it all justice. Probably out of the 1200 shoots 700 or so merit the effort - the others likely don't have good enough audio. There are something like 270 punkcasts there right now, with around 700 individual clips.
In 4 hours at Secret Project Robot I'll be able to show, maybe, around 50 clips.
9/21/07 Thanks to Vivien Goldman and BBC America for their congratulations.
10/18/07 Also thanks to the Village Voice for voting me Best documentarian of New York's indie-rock scene in their Best of NYC 2007 issue.
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