The Oyhoo festival is up and done. Success?
I only made it to two and a half shows of the whole thing, and the range of successes vs. failures is striking.
There’s a mystical principle I picked up from Yaakov Sack in Jerusalem sometime ago: the less expensive a version of something is, the better the quality. It’s as true about lovers as it is about vegetables.
Jake Marmer’s Mimaamikim event was super fun, Bowery Poetry club stuffed to the gills with the beautiful souled, my experience is very spoiled by how much I love(d) just seeing certain people, certainly, but I was really impressed at how big a setup Basya Schecter got together for what was ostensibly “just a side project.”
I got there too late to catch much more than that.
On the other hand, I didn’t get there late enough for Thursday night’s show at Irving Plaza– the music was all great and fine, though the musicians were certainly trying hard not to be de-inspired by the surprisingly low turnout, despite big name bands (at least as far as Jewish youth culture goes) and performers like Blue Fringe, Y-love (hardest working guy of the festival week) and Moshav.
To blame for this low turnout is certainly the initially high ticket prices, justifiable theoretically had the event gone on on a weekend, or were there not a bigger show happening for free on sunday. The ticket prices dropped from 54 dollars to eighteen, rather too late for the teeming masses of NYC Jewish high schoolers to notice.
Which is chaval, a pity, because it was some good performances. I missed R Shmuel’s breakout-at-Irving-Plaza, because who gets out to a club before eight o’clock? Michelle Citrin was sweet, mellower than anyone to follow, and I wonder how appreciated she was in the context.
REALLY small crowd, more than two thirds of whom were comped. Y-love tore it up as best as he could, but it was hard for him to be as enthusiastic as he had been the night before by Hip Hop Sulha, the best performance of his career he says. Jew Reggae veteran Benny Bwoy came on stage with Y-love, backed on by real authentic carribean black gentiles for a solid five or ten minutes of explosive dancehall frenzy. Blue Fringe played funly too, one of the musicians from the band expressing a certain surrender to doing the random-different-bands showcase that hardly make sense together, as they don’t have a new album coming out or anything: “but still any of our bands could have filled up the venue on our own, why throw us all together, and ask so much for it?”
The why is that it’s expensive to ship out Moshav from L.A., presumeably an easy sell, but again: 54 dollars is alot of money for a high school senior to lay out, especially when the show is being hyped as almost sold out, who want to drive in from Jersey or Long Island for a show that might not be get-inable?
Moshav is hot off their new album, sony production quality at full blast, and the simultaneously widest and deepest single i’ve heard in along time. I really hope it gets on the radio, though I wonder how receptive American radio is to the word “salaam” being chanted, no matter how rocking it sounds. It was really nice to see them, but their set was cut short, only half an hour. WTF?
Contrast this to sunday’s Jewsapalooza in Riverside Park, a free show, with cheap drinks, wine and beer, two of either free with the simple signing up for a credit card. Big Family Crowd, surrendering as the sun gets low to leftish Israeli expatriots and Jam Band devoted Yeshiva kids, as Pharoah Daughter gently and danceably leads us out of the enthusiastic calm of David Broza into the looser and wonderfully weirder than ever Yossi Piamenta, finally backed up by a band willing to explore with him. And the Jam Joy energy was not dispersed, instead rallied up into anarchic and concious yet dirty and unifying Dag Nachash, blowing our legs into hip-hop madness, bridging Tel Aviv with Jerusalem, and accomplishing, shockingly to me, the rare unification of Jews with Israelis, of relgious with secular, and it’s OK to sing about Hashish smoking around straight religious families uninterrupted, as long as you do it in Hebrew, apparently, much to my pride.
So what’s the Oyhoo festival trying to do, I wonder? Just showcase already living cultures? Ok, cool, that’s appreciated, though little sense of anything unifying the different Oyhoo related events did I feel, often even within the same event. Just what is Jewish culture trying to do for itself?