Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
Summer makes people crazy. I’m not being melodramatic; it’s a known fact. Crime rates go up in the summer. That feeling of slowly being cooked all day then waiting for the sun to go down only to discover that it’s just as hot at night makes people just lose their minds. They pick fights. They booze it up. They rumble. They go home with the wrong guy or girl. They stay out too late. And sometimes, if they’re smart, they decide that instead of battling the natural tendency to get wild this time of year, one should just embrace it. That’s where the fine people at 4AD come in. The label, built on the legacy of greats like the Pixies and the Birthday Party, and now home to a bunch of today’s most compelling artists from Grimes to the National, decided to take matters into their own hands and throw a big-ass summer solstice party. They didn’t even bother to manufacture much of an excuse for why this needed to happen. There were some cool new videos by the likes of Ariel Pink and St. Vincent/David Byrne premiered earlier in the evening but the gist of the event was: Look, it’s the longest day of the year, come to the rooftop of the New Museum, drink free greyhounds and enjoy a stunning view of downtown Manhattan while a bunch of our coolest artists spin records for you.
“I’m into this dirty song by Lil B,” Lizzi Bougatsos, the first lady of downtown New York rock cool and the front woman for mystic rebel rockers Gang Gang Dance, told me. “I also like this House of La Dosha track and I throw in some sentimental love jams and mix in Sizzla and raw Jamaican Ladies. If I was really expert, I’d mix them in with my spoken word.”
Knowing we were in super capable hands, I decided to grab a drink and do a lap. I didn’t get very far. Once you find a spot on the plexiglass railing you stay there. The city looked like a movie set, as if behind the windows of the Grand Street high rises, exposed brick lofts of NoLita and across the way in the tiny row houses of Williamsburg a series of dramatic and decadent little stories were playing out.
“Have you seen my wife?” asked one bespeckled guy in a white t-shirt with rolled up sleeves. (Whatever has inspired this recent trend of dudes dressing like erudite greasers in stiff blue jeans, white T’s and thick nerd specs, I’m firmly in favor.) I hadn’t seen his wife. Unless she was one of the numerous Grimes look-alikes trotting around the party. Claire Boucher herself was not in attendance, but her look was well-represented. Last time I saw the Grimes front woman her hair was still pink, but her disciples don’t dare mimic her signature color. Instead they do variations on her blunt bangs and septum ring theme. The inky black-haired Grimes doppelgänger wore a tunic with the chunky texture of Bonfire of the Vanities-era penthouse shag carpet; the arctic blonde came in short shorts and cage-like bondage platforms.
Free cocktails sure do go down easily. I wasn’t even distressed when the bartender told me they were completely out of mixers other than ginger ale and … ice cubes. And with a vodka ginger in hand, which is needless to say a disgusting beverage, I happily circled back to Ms. Bougatsos for another chat. Seeing as how we were technically celebrating the solstice and I love when other people talk astrology I asked the singer about her sign. “I’m a Capricorn with Aquarius as my rising sign,” she said. “So, I’m a mix of the two I believe. Caps are sensitive like any other sign but like to work hard and have success to reap our rewards. We are proud people but also quite sensual and introverted, definitely creative.” Before I had the chance to ask the evidently informed Ms. Bougatsos to read my palm or something, she announced: “In Chinese astrology, I’m a tiger — hear me roar!” Time for another vodka ginger.