chickfactor parties: the early years

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chickfactor #1 was given out for free at a heavenly gig at maxwell’s in hoboken (sept 1992).

chickfactor #2 was given out for free at gail’s manhattan penthouse in late january 1993.

chickfactor #3 was given out for free at gail’s manhattan penthouse in june 1993.

chickfactor #4: september 9, 1993: first chickfactor gig was at under acme and featured lovefish (douglas wolk’s band—they did a tune called “bridget cross”), purple ivy shadows, the mad scene, lois, glo-worm, tree fort angst, lilys, heavenly, containe (first performance ever, though they were billed as versus), honeybunch, and small factory. there was a surprise performance by franklin bruno, who covered joe jackson’s “different for girls” while small factory were setting up. this party was pure fucking magic and the night would have been perfect except that alex small factory was mad at me for the review of their debut album in the new issue. they played an all-dave-songs set and nothing off the i do not love you (“because it’s so poor”). I was in heaven. alex made me cry while heavenly were playing while dave auchenbach and erin smith were joining them onstage.

chickfactor #5: february 9, 1994: this was the second chickfactor gig, also at under acme. three of the nine scheduled acts couldn’t make it on account of the blizzard (three feet of snow). I was home all day answering the phone (“of course the party’s still on, this is new york fucking city”). the party was remarkably well attended and again had that special magic. who played? containe, barbara manning, cobalt, mary timony from helium played just with joan wasser from dambuilders on violin, and the magnetic fields (who performed “san diego zoo” with barbara for the first time), and the ropers who win the indie spirit prize for driving to and from washington, d.c., in the blizzard in the same day. I was crushed for a while because you know who brought a hideous date and it nearly ruined my evening. it was the first time I met stephin and he wasn’t particularly sweet, but that’s no surprise. I also met ilsa who used to star in TMF videos.

chickfactor #6: june 18, 1994: god we were prolific in those days. this show, also at under acme, had the most bands ever (13) and was on the most godawfully hot day ever but it was a damn fine show: ivy, musical chairs, nik-l-nip (featuring mark pipas), juicy (featuring kendall mascott), salmon skin, tree fort angst’s terry banks, belmondo (featuring pam berry), glo-worm (ditto), blast off country style, yo la tengo (quiet and sans james), air miami (billed as “bridget & friends”), honeybunch, and andrew egg solo (did a most amazing cover of momus’ classic “bishonen”—wow). ivy, air miami were making their live debuts tonight. air miami were drunk and sloppy as hell. salmon skin set off fireworks (natch) and set the (borrowed from a stranger) drum kit on fire—they also cleared the room. I was sick as a dog with a cold but drinking margaritas in spite of it all. another really good show.

chickfactor cmj show: september 22, 1994: at under acme. this was our first cmj show and I had to fight like hell to get our own pure lineup, which I had been promised from the beginning, but the cmj marathon people kept trying to add bands such as milk and blonde redhead to our bill. ha! they hated me, but I stood firm, even to the point where I was ready to go have a guerrilla show down at the delancey bar. who played? the shapiros (featuring pam), the mad scene, the lois, dump (with georgia and ira as backing band), barbara manning, the magnetic fields, and eggs. what a show! it was the most full-of-good-karma and people cmj event I have ever attended. liz clayton, carrie mclaren, and all our other zine nerd pals were there. it was such a long day that began with a cmj panel on zines (organized by byron coley and featuring yours truly), followed by live performances by versus, stereolab, giant sand, and 18th dye in the hilton hotel. our show started late because eggs (bringing the one and only drum kit from d.c.) were late.

chickfactor #7: october 8, 1994: this was a fun show. also at under acme, it featured unlimited lou from d.c. (featuring my friend joanna virello with dana and nick and adam), godco duo, musical chairs, rachael and chris from sleepyhead (quiet), mary lou lord, romania (d.c. new wavers who stole the show), fire in the kitchen, and versus (with guests bob bannister and gerard cosloy, with whom they did an envelope song). “this is such a coup!” said stephin merritt about romania.

enchanté records/containe record release party: october 20, 1994: this was supposed to be a black tie affair but not all complied. it also sucked that sebadoh happened to be playing across town with versus opening but it didn’t really hurt our show that much. the lineup was first ever u.s. shows from australian pop gods nice and ashtray boy, along with kicking giant, team dresch (with complete self-defense demo beforehand), and of course containe performed. containe were awesome; so were team dresch. nice were amazing and randall from ashtray boy performed wearing a (my) dress because it was chickfactor. next night we had ashtray boy, nice, and the magnetic fields at mercury lounge as well. susannah from nice bellydanced and dragged some indie kids onstage to learn how as well.

random show: october 25, 1994: this was a chickfactor/slumberland records thing at under acme, featuring ivy, musical chairs, the ropers, and boyracer, who were fantastic despite horrific sound issues. this was the first show that fm cornog came to and he loved it. very laidback.

chickfactor tour: december 2, 1994: our first out of town cf event was in providence, r.i., at the last call, and featured romania, belmondo (who cancelled), gerard playing solo, containe, the magnetic fields, and helium. awesome. maybe the best containe show yet, and I have yet to miss one. all our providence pals came, it was ace.

chickfactor #8: april 1, 1995: no shows for a while because I was out of commission with surgery during february. we actually had chickfactor 8s since late february but we handed them out at this shindig anyway featuring stephin merritt reading his own poetry for 10 minutes (high comedy), the mad scene, tree fort angst’s terry b, glo-worm, the nonpareils, nord express, heartworms, kickstand, and the lois. it was a great show even though this asshole soundman tried to make our lives hell. this was the last ever chickfactor party at under acme.

chickfactor on tour: april 22, 1994: this was our second out of town gig at the khyber pass in philly. it was oddly divided into two shows: the first was all ages upstairs (with nik-l-nip, versus, andrew egg solo, and romania); the second was not (the mad scene, kickstand, and the magnetic fields). the bands were all great but it sucked that the khyber pass ripped us off bad. never again.

thank you, friends.

chickfactor and enchanté records (our label) just wanted to say thank you to everyone who rallied to help us clear out our storage space recently…

craig austin powell

gordon zacharias

connie lovatt, mandy lovatt, margaret lovatt

edward baluyut

fontaine toups

john lindaman

jim ruiz

low

gilmore tamny

james mcnew

david smith

merge records

slumberland records

other music

the o’hara family

I also want to thank all the folks who placed chickfactor orders — the funds allowed me to ship 8 boxes of them to my current place of “business” so we still have some back issues in stock.

& especially thanks to my amazing mom who let me store the massive back catalog in her garage all these years. she did a great job fulfilling chickfactor orders!

new pastels!

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we are pretty excited to hear today that the new album from the pastels, slow summits, will be released on may 28! when they played at our chickfactor 20 party in london in november, they sounded as ace and fresh as ever, and we are chomping at the bit waiting to hear this one! recorded in glasgow by john mcentire and bal cooke, and mixed in chicago by mcentire, it features stephen mcrobbie, katrina mitchell, tom crossley, gerard love, alison mitchell and john hogarty. guests include annabel wright and norman blake. contributions from members of to rococo rot and tenniscoats too! watch the trailer here.

molly drake.

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squirrel thing records, the same label that brought the world the amazing connie converse recordings, has finally given the molly drake music a u.s. release. yes, she was nick drake’s mom and clearly had an influence on him! recorded in the 1950s at the drake family home and restored by nick drake’s engineer john wood, these 19 tracks will be available on cd and digital download. The CD package has a letterpress sleeve, 16-page booklet with photos and bio by nick’s sister gabrielle.

 

revel in portland launch party.

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a launch party february 22 at the cleaners (ace hotel) for a new book called revel in portland, which features interviews with and city picks from locals including bridge & burn designer erik prowell, illustrator carson ellis, filmmaker-photographer lance bangs, architect jeff kovel, chef john gorham, designer tinker hatfield, photographer ray gordon, artist alicia mcdaid and chickfactor editor me (gail) — I was interviewed and photographed by the awesome shayla hason. any donation gets you in and gets you a copy of the book. I will have a table set up with some chickfactor 17s, chickfactor mixtapes and maybe some photos! come down. you can also get the book here.


cf etiquette special: requests

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under what circumstances are requests acceptable?

legendary jim ruiz
: requests are always acceptable because if you say “what do you guys want to hear?” you will get 7 different answers and you can just play what you want. it is kind of meaningless, because if you wait long enough, eventually someone will request something you want or remember how to play.

carrie sleater-kinney: I suppose they are always acceptable, whether or not they will get granted is another issue. we seem to get a lot of birthday requests, as if being born on that day gives one the inherent right to have a song played especially for them. I always feel like we are playing on a cruise ship or in a hotel lounge when we cater to requests. every time I say “this next number goes out to…..” I see my future flash before my eyes.

john true love always: requests are always acceptable in the realm of “popular music.” aren’t you lucky if people even know the name of one of your crappy songs?

sam quasi: half the time the requests are already on the set list anyway, so go ahead & scream it out. then there’s the person who screams out the most obscure song in the catalog, to show off the arcanity of their knowledge. that’s fine too.

rob tender trap: it’s not very nice, because it’s nearly always for a song you’re going to play anyway, or for a song that you really didn’t want in the setlist.

stuart moxham: not something I’ve ever had to deal with, thankfully, as I can’t remember much beyond the current set. it would be nice to know that anyone actually knew your stuff. ymg always had exactly the same set because the drum machine was on a tape. even so someone had to remind us what was next once….

john phosphene: if the request is for a much loved song, then fine. if the request is “get off: you’re crap!”, that might be different…

james +/- versus: requests are always acceptable if they are requests for your music. but when people request covers, geez louise that curdles my milk.

alan low: we usually welcome requests, but it’s nice to get through maybe a half dozen songs before people ask.

jennifer o’connor: acceptable. I don’t think that means the musician will play the song necessarily but it’s cool that someone likes it enough to ask for it to be played.

daniel handler: people who shout requests at me should understand that I’m not actually a member of the magnetic fields and so I have no decision-making power, although sometimes I also would like to hear “100,000 fireflies.”

claudia the magnetic fields: in our group there is no circumstance in which it’s acceptable.

jeff aden: they are acceptable. the band can just say “no” if they don’t wanna play something. it’s a little annoying, but you’re not gonna be able to keep lameness out of a rock venue crowded with drunk people.

clarissa cf: if it’s a song that the artist might reasonably be expected to know and be willing to play, absolutely — those can work out really well. joke requests suck, as do repeatedly bellowed demands when you know full well we heard you the first time.

ld flare: if you’re a really old has-been on a “greatest hits” package tour, perhaps, and some devout fan pleads for an obscure b-side from your italian-only ep or something… otherwise, I think not.

mike yesenosky: if the request is one of your songs or if you’re a cover band, I see no problem with it. if someone asks for another band’s music and you’re an original band, not only is the audience member rude, but you should probably look in the mirror and figure out how to make your own material more interesting.

robert tono-bungay: where people have spontaneously yelled out for songs my band has written, I’ve been very, very pleased by that. I do it myself from time to time so to me it’s ok. it’s also acceptable if you are yo la tengo, and it’s new-wave karaoke night.

david huon/driving past: requests are fine, but not requests for bullshit we hate.

ben town and country: they are always acceptable—whether the band is going to be willing to oblige the request is the real question.

 

 

cf etiquette poll: the guest list

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in what circumstances do you feel it’s okay to ask to be on a friend’s band’s guest list?

claudia the magnetic fields: dating them helps. second best is knowing that they don’t have too many people on the list already. after that, you should be very polite in asking and prepared to pay.

liz clayton: I have small means, and thus, little shame.

james +/- versus: 1. you’re poor and a good friend. 2. you don’t ask every time. 3. you helped them out in some way. 4. you’re poor.

matt shinkansen: guest-lists are un-socialist. everyone should pay.

mike yesenosky: I think you should wait until it’s offered. are you really supporting the band if you won’t pay to see them? I guess the only time it’s ok to ask is if you can’t afford to go and you know they will be allowed a large list. you know, you could offer to help if you really want to not pay. bands could always use someone to load equipment or sell merch.

carrie sleater-kinney: I ask to be on if I have repeatedly put them our guest list or if the show is sold out. I don’t ask if it’s a benefit or if my friends are on tour.

daniel handler: if I’m broke and they’re really my friends.

jennifer o’connor: I always try to pay if possible, because I think it’s important to support working musicians you like in a monetary way so they can continue to do what they do…especially if they are your friends.

david huon/driving past: it’s good anytime, because they want you there but they don’t want you to pay. I’d put the world on my guest list, if I could. if only I could.

robert tono-bungay: under the circumstance that I desperately must get in, I’m feeling brazen enough to ask, and that I have an aching need to be able to lord this singular gift of favor over everyone else at the door who’s patiently waiting on line to pay. or, if it’s any show at the bowery ballroom.

lisa cf: if you see that person’s band quite a bit and usually pay, then it’s fine to ask for a freebie. or if you’ve done them a favor recently.

isaac cf: it’s always ok, I didn’t spend the last 15 years languishing in indie squalor and subsisting on instant ramen so I can pay to see quasi. that’s right janet, I’m talking to you!

andrew eggs / talk it: I try to stay off guest lists unless I’m working or I don’t want to see the band in the first place. I usually ask my friends to take me off their lists. unless they get big, at which point all bets are off. watch your deli tray, too! me hungry!

clarissa cf: I have a job; I can pay my way. if they offer, I’ll say yes.but it is not nice to ask for a present.

jeff aden: you know, I used to be really insecure about asking to be on the guestlist. then I realized that I never get mad at people who ask to be on our list, so I’ve sort of gotten over it. if they don’t have room, they’ll say no. but it’s not like they’ll be pissed at you for asking.

dickon fosca: if it’s a small gig, the band have day jobs and the door price is cheaper than buying a couple of drinks, I think it’s fair enough to pay one’s way in. if the show is a big venue and the band are drinking nectar from the navels of brewer street rent boys between songs, I only go if I can get in free. basic robin hood tactics, really. if the show is sold out and the only way of getting in is by being on the list, then that’s fair enough too.

terry dot dash: I usually just say “look, you know I’m there for you… you know I’m out there flyin’ the flag for you guys 24-7 so how ’bout it? what’s it’s gonna take to get my name on that list? and while we’re on the subject, what dy’a think about a plus-one scenario? c’mon, don’t put me on there all by my lonesome — I got needs.”

stuart moxham: any. also always insist on free copies of new records if they have the need to tell you of them!

don smith: if it’s a local band, it’s not ok to ask to get put on the band’s guest list in most cases. the only cases where this is not true are if financial disasters preclude this or if the band owes you money. otherwise it’s up to the band to invite you on their list — it’s their list and their decision. if you have an interview with a touring band then you can ask them for plus ones. if you have an interview with a local band then you should bring them a gift rather than asking to get into their show. if you are assigned the interview by your editor then you can ask the band for a guest list, even if they are local, by explaining that it’s your editor’s idea. under no circumstances are you ever allowed to ask to get on the band’s guest list for the purpose of freelance photography. if the band is from out of town and their label has more than one paid employee you are allowed to ask the band’s label for anything, including posters and advance cassettes. if you are planning to bootleg the show, meticulously write down the songs played, take pictures and think about the show for days afterward you are permitted to ask to get on the guest list and ask the singer for a kiss. the band in turn, is allowed to press charges.

ld flare: I don’t usually—as a writer I’d rather just call the club or the pr people.

tracy dreamy: most of the time I am organizing the gig… and when I’m not, I don’t feel too bad about asking. if I feel it’s not right then I buy the ticket or I don’t go

Photograph: gail o

dedicated followers of fashion…

spring fever.

of course we stand with the late quentin crisp, who said “fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.” we prefer highly developed personal style. nevertheless, as someone who pays a tiny bit of attention to what the designers are doing, I can say with some level of certainty that when it comes to spring/summer fashion trends, some things never go away: white, yellow, flesh, baby pink, gray, beige (or “greige”…“grayge”?), nautical, stripes, gingham, safari, military, polka dots, floaty ethereal frocks in dry-clean only fabrics that snag easily, etc. the above gallery features some designers whose creations for the season we might actually wear, if we were given free promos (hint hint). dries van noten. eley kishimoto. miu miuapc. chanel.

trends we can get behind no matter what year it is: the sixties. oriental. the 80s. flowers. op-art. motorcycle boots. we don’t mind if you want to dress up like lady mary either. ballerina style. orch pop. enid from ghost world (but we hate ‘ladylike punk’). the edith head look. mod. papillons. shiny silver gilded cecil beaton party dresses. lee miller. pendleton. vintage frocks. flannel. paisley. leggings. comfort. durability. quality. surf. recycled / customized / repurposed items. eco fashion. regionally sourced fashion. mary quant. twiggy. indie-pop. joey ramone. rosie the riveter. space-age flapper. suffragette. stevie nicks circa ’78. ziggy stardust.

trends to which we say “no no no”: fur (fuck you, fur industry, and all the idiot luxury magazines that advertise it). handbags made from endangered species. orthopedic shoes. top knots. anything skinny, shrunken, teeny, matchstick, etc. – especially jeans. sheer. neon. mesh. sheer neon mesh (see hannah’s ghastly ensemble on the painful-to-watch episode of girls last night). we prefer musical pastelism to pastel-colored clothing, which can be done very badly. life-threatening heels. dousing one’s entire body in toxic chemicals in an attempt to beautify oneself: just drink water. fast fashion. pointlessly expensive “designer label” b.s. mullets. outrageously priced thrift-store clothing.

 

cf etiquette special: chatting during the opening act

joc
if you go to see a band in a small space, and the opening act is boring, is it okay to chat?

jennifer o’connor: no.

don smith: I still remember a drunken kelly young from death worm radio yelling at the great plains when they played with beat happening at d.c. space to shut the hell up when the aging replacements-era indie rockers tried to make a go of it about 18 months after their last point of relevancy. the crowd was talking amongst themselves and the band clearly was making no impact on them, but at that heckling comment they seemed really hurt and confused, barely able to muster “what is this, new york?” they quickly played “why do punk rock guys go out with new wave girls” and left the stage. in the end I felt really sad for them, even if they had totally missed the boat musically and bored us to tears. up until that point I had never considered that the band wasn’t onstage in a cone of silence, unaffected by the audience’s reaction. but still, they were doing material appropriate for 1986 and here it was 1988. ron house redeemed himself for the four-eyed posse crowd with thomas jefferson slave apartments.

matt shinkansen: it’s fine to chat if you’re bored but, as a courtesy, you should include the band in the conversation. ask them what chord they’re playing and stuff like that. suggest more interesting open-string variations etc.

david huon/driving past: it’s ok to chat whether they’re boring or brilliant. chat is grouse!

lisa cf: not right in front, where people are trying to listen. this is why more clubs should have an in-and-out policy.

tracy dreamy: no, it’s about respect. go next door, or if you must say a few words, keep it brief and the volume down.

ld flare: only if you don’t know them. if you do know them, it’s absolutely unforgiveable.

mac of oxford: no, shut the fuck up, you may find them “boring” but elsewhere others may be straining to hear that boredom.

clarissa cf: if the policy of the space is that you can’t leave and come back in, be discreet (at the back of the room, very quietly). otherwise, leave and come back in. you’ve paid your money, which gives you some rights, but there is the matter of simple politeness to the people who do want to hear the band.

mike yesenosky: out of respect for the people in the opening act, who might be decent human beings even if they don’t make music you like, no. at least they are doing something productive with their time. keeping your mouth shut for 45 minutes shouldn’t be that big of an ordeal for an adult. plus there are probably people in the room who are enjoying them and didn’t pay to hear you chatting.

stuart moxham: yes, ’cause they’ll improve (or quit.)

robert tono-bungay: interesting. it might be a matter of degree: a word or two here or there, y’know, I don’t think you can help that. although I don’t think it’s ever “ok to chat”, to really go at it. I mean, you whip out a cell phone, everyone thinks you’re a creep; but you do the same thing with a live person standing next to you and that’s ok? on the other hand, a large background murmur DOES send a perhaps valuable message to those in the midst of performance that they might should, y’know, rethink things. and it doesn’t have to be a small place either — I saw portishead at the hammersmith and it was as if someone had drawn this “line of yak” right at the mixing console. everything from the board on up was rapt attention, and from the board on back the place sounded like a broadway theater lobby during intermission. tell you one thing — you sure could tell who paid to get in and who didn’t! CF

how many of the things you have to say cannot wait? do you usually stay toward the back or by the bar so as not to disturb people who came to hear the music?

lisa cf: catty comments about band cannot wait. spotting someone’s ex in a crowd cannot wait. if you are about to faint or vomit, that can’t wait. everything else can.

david huon/driving past: everything that comes into my head cannot wait, because I’ll lose it if I don’t say it straight away. if I don’t lose the truth of it, I’ll lose the appropriate, spontaneous form of it, it won’t be convincing anymore.

liz clayton: I was once at a show at a very small venue and it so happened that a friend of mine, who had just returned from an eventful trip with her husband, was there. while we shouldn’t have been talking, I didn’t shush her when she started to tell me how she was probably about to get divorced, because it seemed pretty important. in between songs, the performer, who was a friend of mine, said “have you ever been performing a song at a quiet club and you’re really getting pissed off because you can hear someone talking and you look over to find the person and it’s someone you’ve been friends with for years?” and gave me a look of death. ouch!

don smith: you are laying a lot of the blame for this talking at the feet of the audience. did you ever giggle, pass notes, or doodle during high school classes? why would you divert your attention from the teacher and perhaps inhibit the other children from learning? because ya get bored and you want to gossip. or were you the kid who tsk-tsked the talkers? and besides, who said that every band is good? the venue’s architecture allows this behavior. the new 9:30 club has a second level and easy-to-access spaces that would allow for conversations during lulls in band’s sets, both the old and new black cats have a wide area in the back for conversations. if I came to a show with friends or came to see bands that I don’t really like just to hang out with friends then the bands need to move me to keep my attention, but that’s what I paid them to do when I walked in the door. another problem which you address is the inappropriate booking of bands into certain spaces. on the east coast the major venues for bands, even indie pop or quiet acoustic bands where songwriting is key, are rock clubs and bars completely inappropriate for such quiet and introspective music. I have seen such mismatched shows before and the crowd can get annoyed that people are talking and drinking in the very bar they went to see quiet library music. the bar patrons probably share the ill feelings about the people who aren’t partying it up in the bar they went to. I would think that if a band is quiet or plays lyrical music where people want to hear the words, the last place that they should play is a bar. that’s why art gallery shows exist. in the end gail, I beseech you, don’t be a playa hata.

tracy dreamy: mostly my words can wait — unless there is a fire or other emergency that I must warn people of.

matt shinkansen: no, because it disturbs the people trying to order drinks. bands have to compete with the bar, and one of them’s bound to lose out — it’s basic darwinism.

robert tono-bungay: I kind of never converse during someone’s set, at least I try not to. I just feel like I want to concentrate on what these bands worked hard (presumably) on presenting. and anyway, I think more people can attribute whatever hearing loss they may have to getting their earholes screamed into at close range than getting a buttload of skronk from some PA.

ld flare: I use sign language or write notes in lipstick on cocktail napkins. CF

originally published in chickfactor 15’s special etiquette poll section.