Live Concert Photography: Mondo.NYC: Aish and Woolly Mammals at Piano’s 10/2/18
Founded by some of the originators of CMJ and its long-running CMJ Marathon, Mondo.NYC is a music, technology and innovation-based festival that within its first couple years has quietly taken the place of both the CMJ Marathon and New Music Seminar’s New Music Nights Festival. Interestingly, the third edition of Mondo.NYC, which will took place back in October found the global, emerging music, technology and innovation conference moving east across the East River to Williamsburg with The Williamsburg Hotel, Rough Trade and Brooklyn Bowl hosting daytime conference-related events. Interestingly, those daytime events feature partnerships with The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Guild of Music Supervisors, Record Store Day, a collection of international consular and export agencies and others to connect fans, artists, music industry professionals, business pioneers and veterans, leading names in tech and music to network, trade ideas and learn in a rapidly changing industry landscape as well as inspired others to become the industry leaders and up-and-coming artists of the future. Live music took place on both sides of the East River with showcases being hosted by the aforementioned Brooklyn Bowl, Piano’s, Berlin, Arlene’s Grocery, Coney Island Baby, The Delancey, DROM, Hank’s Saloon, Niagara and N.O.R.D.
Unfortunately, because I wound up having tickets to Game 3 of this year’s American League Division Series between the Boston Red Sox and my beloved New York Yankees, I was only able to cover two days of the festival’s three days. And while being arguably, the most globally focused of the festival’s relatively short history, it was a mixed bag as far as quality of acts — and for its actual diversity. Whether that was because of scheduling or other issues, it was disappointing to see a festival that claimed it had a global focus to not see acts performing in more regional and internationally known genres — and to see a number of acts singing material in English. From the acts I saw during the festival, it felt like they could have done more to get women, particularly women of color to participate.
The festival’s first night, I went from my then-office in SoHo to Williamsburg to pick up my credentials at the Williamsburg Hotel. I ran into Glamglare‘s Elke Nomikat and Some Kind of Awesome‘s Kibbe, both of whom are friends and colleagues and after a drink, we wound up at a networking event at The Delancey for a few hours. Thankfully, it was a warm October night that allowed for us to comfortably be on The Delancey’s roof. After a couple of hours of networking, Kibbe and I went to Piano’s where we caught the San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Aish and the New York-based techno-funk act Woolly Mammals.
Born Aishvarya Shukla, the San Francisco-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Aish writes material that draws heavily from his own life including a tumultuous childhood, estrangement from family, his struggles with sexuality and his migration halfway across the world, The result is cinematic and earnest pop centered round layered vocals, strings, harp, metallophones and electronic production — and sonically speaking, his live sound, which featured material off his full-length debut Mother reminded me quite a bit of Kishi Bashi, complete with a similar mix of chamber pop, synth pop and New Wave.
Comprised of Andrew Koehler (keys), Kyle McCarter (drums, percussion), Noah Ross (synth, guitar) and Will Sacks (vocoder, bass), the Brooklyn-based techno-funk quartet Woolly Mammals formed in 2015 and since their formation they’ve played a number of the area’s top venues including The Knitting Factory, Mercury Lounge, Highline Ballroom and others. With the release of their critically applauded debut Cheap Talk and their When You Get This EP, the act has developed a reputation for a retro-futuristic sound that’s centered around soaring synths, acid-jazz meets hip-hop like breakbeats, sinuous bass lines and vocals fed through vocodors.