Why Was The Space Important?

It’s been a few weeks since The Space closed its doors. It was weird. One second we were putting on our first show at The Space, and in what seemed to be a blink of the eye, it was gone. I didn’t feel the shock. The Space closing didn’t really seem to surprise anyone, and I think that’s because we had been expecting the fall for so long. Back in December, I remember hearing rumors that The Space wasn’t going to be around much longer. And more and more, it seemed that Meg McNash – The Space’s de facto booker – was fighting to keep the blood pumping. And she should be proud. Orlando should be proud. The Space was never meant to be The Social or Backbooth. It wasn’t, or at least didn’t feel like, a venue. The Space was more of a creative celebration or a social experiment, meant to see what Orlando was capable of.

“So they burned it down, so build another one. Don’t go on to me that they burned it down, BUILD ANOTHER ONE. YOU’RE THE ONLY ONES THAT ARE GONNA DO IT!”

– Patti Smith

After a extended stay in denial, this Patti Smith quote, delivered by local spoken-word artist Young Moon, pushed me directly to acceptance. The excerpt is from a piece he read at the final edition of Speakeasy, a monthly poetry and spoken-word night at Will’s Pub that ran for over 13 years. In a city where bars and venues close down so suddenly, how could this line not resonate? Because avenues of expression may die, but as long as we keep pushing, the creativity within the community will continue to thrive. We should remember The Space for what it was, what it meant to everyone who visited. To some, it was a hot as shit venue. I, in a previous article titled “Why is The Space Important?,” more lovingly described it as, “… a prime location to witness Orlando’s growing cultural impact” and, “[An] artistic mecca home to a variety of celebrations and group expression.”

But I agree, it was hot as shit. And we didn’t care. Some of my best memories since moving to Orlando were at The Space: my best friend crowd surfing during a packed Me Chinese set, seeing Tiger Fawn for the first time at SPACE FEST 2, putting on my first show with all my friends! The Space was great. It left its mark on me. And I know everyone reading this right now has stories like mine. You’re marked too. And hopefully, you’ll want to keep this artistic community alive by starting your own iteration of The Space or supporting local venues like The Space Station, Uncle Lou’s, or Will’s Pub. So thank you to The Space, Meg, and the entire Orlando community. The Space will always be the place.

“The idea of a place for us to teach in, to rehearse and play in that is kept afloat based on the efforts of the community is such a next-level, foreign concept for us. Maybe this is our chance to evolve as a unit and directly support each other’s passions and art forms.”

– Addison Muha (Orlando Singer-Songwriter) 

You Didn’t Kill Amy Winehouse, Addiction Did

Since the release of the Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy, I’ve seen many reviews claiming that the singer’s projection into fame was her ultimate downfall. It feels like journalists want us fans to feel guilty for killing Amy, when this simply isn’t true. I went and saw the film last week, and although I’ll say that the millions laughing at her very serious problem didn’t help; the real culprit was the disease that she suffered from both in the public eye and when she was totally alone. Enjoy.

The grave nature of drug addiction is often diminished in our society. We typically persecute the addict instead of realizing that they are suffering from a disease and need help. When you’re famous, people depend on you and want to exploit you for their own benefit. There were very few people in Amy’s life who were not doing this. You’re probably thinking, “Who was exploiting her disease more than we were?” The answer is no one. But, I truly believe that even if the public were entirely sympathetic to Amy’s problem, it wouldn’t have mattered.

The scene from Amy that really made this clear to me was when she won the Grammy for “Record of the Year”. This was when our love for Amy was at its zenith. We were rooting for her, but it didn’t matter. In the film, a friend of her said that right after she won the Grammy, Amy pulled her aside and said, “This is so boring without drugs.” All the fame could have disappeared, but the disease would have still been there. Towards the end of the film, Amy leaves London to seek refuge at a tropical paradise. This is when she stopped doing crack. But, her drinking only got worse. She was free of the paparazzi – at least until her shitbag father showed up – and she was still killing herself.

Speaking of her shitbag father, let’s talk about the shitbags that were bigger enablers – a term addiction specialists refer to as people who encourage substance abuse – than the public: her shitbag husband (Blake Fielder), her shitbag manager (Raye Cosbert), and again, her shitbag father (Mitch Winehouse). These were the people who really took advantage of Amy’s addiction.

Amy adored her husband. She referred to Blake as her twin. The two’s tumultuous relationship had shaped the break-up soul on Back to Black, written after a split that sent Amy spiraling. They later got back together and married. Soon after, Blake introduced Amy to crack. Watching the film, it’s clear that he used Amy’s affection to control her. Her father and manager did the same. They controlled Amy’s career, without regard for her health: booking shows when she was recovering, bringing press on their vacation that was meant to get her clean, and dismissing her problem, so she could work. Amy had never had a relationship with her father until she became famous. In retrospect, Amy’s early childhood trauma led to her to start abusing in the first place.

Instead of ending this unfocused rant with more sadness, I’ll share my fondest memory of Amy’s incredible music. I was 16, working as a junior counselor at a summer camp in Tallahassee. After all of the campers went to sleep, some of the counselors would stay up and sit outside the bathrooms, playing poker, listening to music, and eating junk food. One evening, our soundtrack was a mix of Winehouse songs.The sun was coming up as her croons filled the camp. There’s always been some magic in Amy’s voice that can turn any location into the coolest London jazz club. Those disgusting bathrooms became one my fondest memories of young summer life. This was Amy’s doing. The song that stands out most to me was one of her lesser known b-sides, “Addicted.” This final sentence could cleverly tie in the title of the song with the rest of this post, but I’d rather not spoil the memory.

Young Thug VS Jean-Michel Basquiat

In the 1980’s, a young, African American painter emerged onto the New York art scene. Jean-Michel Basquiat was one of the brightest, and most unique, artists in all of America. He took the expressionist style of the Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and combined it with tribal African and street art that reflected his urban surroundings and the plight of the African American community. 

Since Basquiat’s 1998 death, his art has grown increasingly popular among hip hop artists. Both Jay Z and Swizz Beats are known Basquiat collectors, and he has been referenced in verses by hip hop heavyweights Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Rick Ross, Danny Brown, J. Cole, and A$AP Rocky. 

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Does Young Thug appear in this Basquiat painting that was made years before his birth?

This reoccurring homage continues in the music video for the Young Thug/Freddie Gibbs/A$AP Ferg collaboration, “Old English.” Well before this video came out, this track blew my mind. Three great verses linked together by one thick chain of a hook. A$AP Ferg especially shines with one of his best verses to date. He tells a narrative of a young, hispanic girl who turns to selling Molly as ends to support her sick mother, along with the rest of her family.

But getting back the video, it’s not too difficult to see the Basquiat connection. The crude line work and the bright colors harken back to Basquiat’s work – his signature crown even makes an appearance. This sort of gritty depiction expertly juxtaposes with the trap instrumentals and dark lyrics on street life.

I think this is why Basquiat’s art resonates in hip hop. Artists like like-minded artists. Basquiat, like Jay-Z or Young Thug, was born with nothing and worked his way to notoriety in a system that fought against him. His art reflects a story that too many African Americans live themselves. One encompassed by poverty, drugs, violence, and systematic suppression. Out of this struggle however, comes wonderful art and music. These artists reflect their surroundings in their art and hopefully, educate their audiences on the circumstances they and so many have experienced.

Why Is The Space Important?

On any given night, 1206 E. Colonial Dr. is a prime location to witness Orlando’s growing cultural impact. This artistic mecca is home to a variety of celebrations and group expression; punk shows, acoustic nights, yoga classes, poetry readings, and late-night ragers have all found a place in its continuously open door. The paradise I’m referring to is Orlando’s most cherished DIY venue, The Space. Since its inception, The Space has provided an outlet where anyone living in, or simply passing through, the Orlando community can hold a public or private event for a flexible, donation-based rental rate.

The idea of a place for us to teach in, to rehearse and play in that is kept afloat based on the efforts of the community is such a next-level, foreign concept for us. Maybe this is our chance to evolve as a unit and directly support each other’s passions and art forms.

– Addison Muha (Fiery Guitarist, Singer-Songwriter) 

But, providing such a platform isn’t cheap. The Space continuously struggles to make rent and relies on the surrounding community to keep it afloat. This Saturday, Space Fest 2, a fundraising event featuring music, art, and tarot card readings, will raise money to help keep this dream a reality. Admission is $10, and every cent is going directly to The Space. In preparation for the event, I asked some of Saturday’s performers to give me their thoughts on one question: “Why is The Space important?” In my opinion, if we let The Space die, we are closer letting the Orlando music and art community fade away as well. Don’t let Mickey Mouse win. Enjoy.

I live in a city where we lost all of our venues that allow smaller, local bands to play, and because of that, our music scene has basically died out. Of course that would never happen to Orlando, but you guys can’t let the venues with such a good reputation as The Space die out. We all know how sad it was to see The Peacock Room go.

– Russell Nylen (Tiger Fawn Avant-Percussionist)

Visit thespaceistheplace.com for upcoming events!

The Space is great asset to local music, as it enables and encourages community more than a regular venue would. It feels like our thing and a lot of people take pride in it.

– Dromes (Electro-pop Guru)

There is no other way to describe the importance of The Space other than using the word HOME. Home is wherever you can be you. Home is where you create your greatest memories with the greatest people you can encounter. Home doesn’t have to have the best of anything, as long as you make the best out of everything. The Space gives people a home who don’t have one. If you need a place to be free, and be yourself, The Space is the place to be.

TKO (O-town Hip Hop Heavyweight) 

DIY venues give local communities the ability to express their own unique brand/culture of weird; The Space embraces that mentality. But with that freedom comes the responsibility of preserving both the credibility and the physical condition of that place … Having something like The Space is a privilege, not a right. If it is treated as such, then we believe Orlando can further cultivate a community of creativity that will blow minds.

– Dani Lacerda (Tiger Fawn Vocalist) 

[The Space] is a direct reflection of the community. How it’s doing, how it’s run, the shows that happen there, are all representative of how the music community (to be honest, how the entire artistic community) as a whole is doing … If The Space needs help, that’s a reflection of the music community.

ARK (Multimedia Artist and Multi-Instrumentalist) 

POP POV: Iggy Pop VS Edward Hopper

This idea has long been in the works; two pieces of art – one song, one painting – compared in theme, feeling, style, etc. Studying art is a huge passion of mine, and so often a piece of music and a painting speak to me in similar ways. Even our name “The Vinyl Warhol” came about as a combination of love for music and art history.

For my inaugural juxtaposition, I’ve selected Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” a brilliant cut off his 1977 solo album Lust for Life, and American realist Edward Hopper’s 1942 masterpiece, NighthawksEnjoy.

I have always enjoyed the city. Even in such an immense crossing of commuters, there is always a certain singular personality to its madness, thousands – maybe millions – of distinct lives, all unaccompanied in a sea of swirling energy. This theme flows throughout both pieces, playing off of that isolated soul.

In “The Passenger,” that soul travels – presumably by bus – through the city, viewing its “ripped backside” as if looking through a television screen. Pop narrates this transit in a low gristle. His cadence creates tone. We see the passing glow of streetlamps, the distinct urban aura. It’s cold. The sky is hollow.

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As we coast through the sleeping city in “The Passenger,” our transporter passes by a dinner. Inside, the characters of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks sit behind similar glass. This snapshot scene – the viewer peaking into this solemn metropolitan life – mirrors Pop’s croons. Hopper often captured city-goers in his work, but rarely were any of his subjects interacting with each other. The separation created between these mannequin-like forms is haunting. They sit under a bright artificial light, stark against the building’s green colors.

Although the big city brings promise of bustling nightlife, it too is the place where we can feel most alone. Pop and Hopper both knew this, and they each shared their own isolated experiences in two remarkable pieces of work.

Why Joyce Manor Matters.

I could say Torrance, CA punk quartet Joyce Manor played a tireless set at BackBooth Tuesday night, full of quick, bombastic blasts of energy from throughout their catalog, because all of that is 100% true. But, I think that would be short-changing Joyce Manor, because most punk shows are of a similar design. What truly hit me, what I actually walked away from the show with, was much, much more important. Enjoy.

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“IF being violent at a show is something you think you’re entitled to, then – FUCK YOU!”

Amongst all loud, angst-ridden, and brilliant music that spilled out of BackBooth, this quote shined as the crux of the evening. Almost instantaneously, Joyce Manor lead vocalist and guitarist, Barry Johnson changed the night’s climate from a great punk show to one of great social importance.

Earlier in the evening, my photographer Karina explained to me that the band had started a conversation on Twitter about violence at punk shows, and how many fans, unintentionally or not, hurt others by hurling their bodies into the crowd. The band had warned their fans about the possibly-violent act of stage diving – in particular, the number of women hurt by much larger men at shows – and although there was an incredible support for the band’s stance, many “punk purist” have bashed the band for their views.

But seriously, fuck those people. I applaud Joyce Manor for their words on Twitter, and am even more impressed that in the moment, they would fearlessly defend and criticize their own fans, because they feel so strongly about them. But I shouldn’t have to praise Joyce Manor. Because its members are not declaring themselves activists and protesters, they simply expect all of their fans, regardless of gender, to respect each other. An opinion that should go without saying, but for some reason, has been ignored for decades.

In the early-90’s, Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna spoke similar unabashed criticism towards the same kind of violence that Joyce Manor did Tuesday night. Sadly however, it seems punk fans have forgotten Hanna’s words. Johnson’s spirited PSA did evoke a strong cheer from the audience, but during the very next song, I witnessed a fan jump from the back of the audience onto the heads unsuspecting concert-goers. The young man then attempted to reach the band by crawling on the skulls of others. I believe Johnson too took notice of this.

Later in evening, Johnson delivered another impassioned speech about the guilt he feels when he sees Joyce Manor’s music used as the soundtrack for violent behavior. His sincerity was unquestionable and, despite the electric performance, I believe the issue weighed heavily on his mind throughout the performance. I also believe that if their shows continue to end in injuries, many bands, including Joyce Manor, could lose the drive to tour out of safety for their fans.

And it’s horrible that this issue had to take precedence that night. Joyce Manor put on an incredible show, as did Des Ark and The Exquisites. But as the night closed, I could only think about how the lyrics to the show’s encore, “Leather Jacket,” and how they clearly mirrored some of the fans shouting them.

“In your new leather jacket, you’re somebody else.”

Punk-ass photos by Karina Curto:

POP POV: Pulling a Beyoncé (Part ‘U’2)

The following are thoughts continuing from a previous article, Pulling a Beyoncé: Why are artists releasing ‘surprise’ albums?” I recommend reading that post before viewing part two, but who the hell am I tell you what to do? Enjoy.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have been invaded. On September 9, a 54-year-old man who refers to himself as Bono sneaked into computer and left something. Bono, along with his cohorts (a 53-year-old man who answers to the name The Edge, a bass player named Adam, and a drummer named Larry), left a steaming pile of Innocence, stamped with a familiar Apple, on every Itunes user’s doorstep. The practical joke in question revolves around the intrusion of U2’s Songs of Innocence in the library of anyone with an Itunes account. U2 released the “surprise” album in conjunction with Apple’s unveiling of the Iphone 6 and Apple Watch. If you’d like to, you can read more up on partnership here.

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Writer’s Note: I understand there are endless blog posts and Internet comments bashing U2. Personally, I have never shared that hateful sentiment; there are many U2 songs I enjoy, and I think they’ve made some very important albums. Go listen to Pop, a commercial failure largely due to the addition of electronica and dance elements, but an album that by today’s standards was completely ahead of its time. This is just one often overlooked landmark in the band’s catalog.

Okay, back to reality. Now, I haven’t listened to Songs of Innocence, so I can’t accurately judge whether or not the music is comparable to dog excrement. But many of the reactions I’ve seen to album’s unexpected, or should I say “surprise,” presence has been less then welcoming, a reception completely opposite from Beyoncé’s “surprise” release. Here are my two possible explanations as to why.

The first is a bit obvious. U2’s “surprise” album was not offered as a gift; it was placed without our notice on our phones and in our computers. Additionally, you may not delete the album. This unwanted placement makes Songs of Innocence another Apple IOS update that everyone hates. It’s like if someone were to come over to your house, and just left something in your bathroom for you to see every time you shit. It’s what I imagine anyone in a popular band feels when someone hands them a demo, “Here’s some free music.” *wink*. It’s obtrusive because you weren’t given a choice.

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Point two. As I mentioned in the former article, music fans adore surprise releases because they feel special. You imagine that the artist had just finished the album and couldn’t wait share it with you. Logic would say the artist stands to lose money with no prior campaign, but money seems like a lesser thought. It feels genuine.

But Songs of Innocence is the complete opposite of that. Apple paid U2 an ungodly, but disclosed, amount of money for the right to releaseThe marketing budget alone was over $100 million! For decades, U2 have been the epitome of corporate rock, and now they’ve chosen to team with the poster child for big business. Therefore, the release of Songs of Innocence comes across as nothing but pandering. From this point on, any semi-popular artist who releases a surprise album will appear a little more calculated, a little phonier. And that’s all I have to say about that.

“I can’t live with or without you.”