Thursday, November 5, 2009

Take special 'Pains' to see these bands live

By Meredith Deliso

When Mike Schulman would come to New York 20 years ago, Brooklyn wasn’t usually a destination in his night.

“When I went up in the ’90s, I didn’t know anyone who lived there,” remembers Schulman, the founder of Slumberland Records. “Everything was Lower East Side this, East Village that.”

Today, things are a little different. Whereas Schulman would go up from DC and head back the same night, now the father of a 10-month-old and living in Berkeley, Calif., he hasn’t stayed up all weekend in a while. And in the time past, Brooklyn, of course, has become one of the destinations to hear live music, and, naturally, a mecca for musicians themselves.

One thing is the same – 20 years into the game, Slumberland still has its pulse on the indie scene. Initially finding a niche in the noise and pop scene with earlier successes from Velocity Girl, Lilys and Black Tambourine, the label’s also found success in Brooklyn, thanks to the popularity of local acts Crystal Stilts, Cause Co-Motion! and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

For a label based out in California, with many of its buzzed acts from our fair borough, it makes you wonder, why?

“I’ve puzzled over that myself. I don’t have a snappy answer for that,” says Schulman. “It kind of happened a couple of years ago – a lot of bands I was coming across that I liked happened to be from New York and Brooklyn especially. I don’t know if there was some sort of zeitgeist going on there. The whole idea of a DIY pop thing – obviously there’s a growing corner there. Things are booming.”

On November 14, the label celebrates its 20th anniversary with a show in Brooklyn, at the Bell House in Gowanus. On the bill are some of the label’s very best, including bands like Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Crystal Stilts, and other current acts Frankie Rose and The Outs (a new project from the ex-Crystal Stilts drummer), Pants Yell! and Brown Recluse. There will also be reunion sets from The Ropers, Nord Extress and Lorelei.

For Schulman, the Brooklyn-based show was a no-brainer.

“It made sense to me because so many of the bands are from there,” he says. “And I think we have some fans in Brooklyn.”

Fans new to Slumberland, and those who have stuck with it from the first release, the “What Kind of Heaven Do You Want?” 7” compilation, are sure to make for a mixed crowd. For Schulman, it’s a pertinent reminder to the label’s longevity.

“I’ve gotten e-mails from kids concerned about the show being under 21,” says Schulman (it’s 18 and over, FYI). “I’m like, wow, you weren’t born when I started doing a label.”

Some things certainly do change.

Slumberland’s 20th anniversary show is November 14 at the Bell House (149 7th St.). With Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Crystal Stilts, Frankie Rose and The Outs, Pants Yell!, Brown Recluse, The Ropers, Nord Extress and Lorelei. 18 and over. Tickets are $15. At 6 p.m. For more information, call 718-643-6510.

Photo: Pains of Being Pure at Heart by Annie Powers


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