Music Hall of Williamsburg
Crystal Fighters, Is Tropical

Crystal Fighters

Is Tropical

Icky Blossoms

Wed, May 23, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$15 advance / $18 day of show

Sold Out

This event is 18 and over

Crystal Fighters
Crystal Fighters
If you’d spent the last few years of your life wrapped up in an album like Star Of Love, you’d go looking for a little respite, too. Crystal Fighters’ debut was the product of minds made manic by a deluge of fresh experience, both in the studio and on the road. It was inspired by an opera written by a man whose sanity disintegrated before he could finish it. It seemed to be influenced just as much by traditional Basque music from the 18th century as it was modern-day clubland, and contained residual traces of every genre, scene, style or party that had existed in-between.

But if album one was the sound of haywire electronic loops frantically kept spinning like plates on sticks, then album two is the story of Crystal Fighters mastering control of those rave repetitions, withdrawing from the chaos of the club to carve their music into the shape of songs.

To write the album, Crystal Fighters retreated to the Basque hills that they consider to be their spiritual home. Their music has always born traces of the local sound –traditional instruments like txalapartas and txistus vying in the mix with razor’s edge guitars and percolating techno synths – but the purpose of this mission was different. Immersed in their creative cradle, they wanted to tap into something beyond their immediate experience, to uproot themselves from temporal bounds in order to write timeless songs.

These methods proved to be spectacularly successful – Crystal Fighters wrote Cave Rave in its entirety during this two-month spell. There followed a quick detour to Los Angeles to produce the tracks, but after this it was still the songs written in the Basque country that remained most audible – only now the melodies found there had been sharpened into hooks, songs exploded into towering anthems. This revelatory process also exposed the band to a new way of thinking: a realisation that even the cultures they considered traditional are comparatively new. The album draws deeper into universal, history-permeating themes of love, death, insanity and hope; using Basque culture as a stepping stone backward to the spiritual and primal.

The musical influences have widened too. Star Of Love was a manic, genre picking rush yet Cave Rave expands the sound palette even further. The beating hearts of Hispanic and African dance and Mexican electronic music 3bal now sit alongside folk and psychedelia, each artfully interpreted and united by the band’s unconfined vision.

If Crystal Fighters have surrendered to the power of the song, they haven’t run up the white flag in terms of energy. What’s here is still an adrenal rush, and there is an awful lot here: the grandstanding of American road rock, the sweat of disco, the fervent initiative of punk, the house of Iberian twilights that anticipates everything coming very soon, all at once. What’s changed is Crystal Fighters’ ability to control those surges – and as such Cave Rave feels a considerably more thoughtful and contemplative album than its predecessor.

Nevertheless, it has at its heart the same tension that provides all great records their emotional traction. Sebastian Pringle, Gilbert Vierich, and Graham Dickson are the three core members of Crystal Fighters, around whom a larger cadre of vocalists and instrumentalists revolve. They’re the kind of people whose brains seem to be bubbling pots, all intensely preoccupied with anthropology, time travel, spirituality and their place in the universe, even as they’re attempting to create the kind of cohesive sonic pieces that really connect and move people. They seem passionate about creating music that can make people dance, but that is equally adept at finding its way beneath a listener’s skin.

With Cave Rave, they Pringle, Vierich and Dickson have managed just that. The melodies, hooks and refrains of the album are so compelling it’s almost as if Crystal Fighters had to devise them simply to navigate a way across the landscapes of their own avid genrelessness, to remain as masters of music that itself seems to be a disputed territory. Here you have a band hell-bent on locating their own musical heaven, a place beyond petty genre parameters, where all that remains, finally, is song, rhythm and sentiment, bursting in vivid colour from the dark of the silent Basque night.
Is Tropical
Is Tropical
IS TROPICAL are a four piece from England. Formed in London in 2009, the band was originally a trio; they released their debut single When O’ When on Hit Club Records in January 2010, produced by Al Al Al. In June 2010 they signed to French label Kitsuné where they recorded two full-length studio albums. Their debut album Native to was released in June 2011 followed by an EP, titled Flags which was the culmination of their extensive global travels since their inception. Their second studio album I'm Leaving was released in May 2013 also on Kitsuné. In 2014 IS TROPICAL signed to New York based independent label Axis Mundi.

IS TROPICAL are set to release their third album Black Anything December 2014..

F O R M A T I O N / E A R L Y Y E A R S

IS TROPICAL was a bedroom band formed by original line up Dominic Apa, Gary Barber and Simon Milner. Barber and Milner grew up together in their home-town of Bournemouth, Dorset before both moving to London in their early twenties; later in 2007 they met Apa and newest member Kirstie Fleck (singer of 2013's Dancing Anymore) who joined the band full time in early 2014 and is now a permanent member of the band.

The trio began making music in a squat in Peckham, South London which they also turned into an art gallery. The art gallery became a hub of creativity and was written about in Dazed and Confused magazine as the most important movement in the development of the South London art scene. Barber was part of art duo Cest moi Cest soir with long term friend Christopher Green, the pair exhibited worldwide their work was highly praised and saw them feature in The New York Times. Milner’s artwork has also been acclaimed and exhibited worldwide.

After years of practicing their art the trio decided to bunk up in a cold dark basement to start making music and IS TROPICAL was born, the name was used as a form of escapism linked to their ambition to travel the world. Further to the idea of escapism the band wanted keep an element of mystery towards themselves, the band took to wearing masks; "When we first started out we used to be more introverted. We'd face each other on stage and wear those veil-mask things. I think we wanted to keep the focus on our songs and that anonymity added a bit of theatricality to our live shows. It wasn't like we were trying to be stand-offish with the audience. But people perceived it as arrogance."

The band worked tirelessly in 2009 doing local shows and were soon to be picked up by French label Kitsuné. Kitsuné understood the band’s aim was to travel and as little as 6 months after signing to the label to trio played Kitsuné club nights in Russia and Japan; traveled to Brazil to play SWU Festival in Paulinia and that same year played debut shows at Melt! Festival, Popaganda and Lovebox Weekender.

I S T R O P I C A L - N A T I V E T O 2010 – 2012

The band entered the studio in the autumn of 2010 with Jimmy Robertson to record their debut album Native to, and released the single South Pacific in January 2011 on Kitsuné / Cooperative Music. Around this time they toured the UK and Europe as special guests of Klaxons, The Big Pink, Mystery Jets, Good Shoes and co-headlined a tour with Egyptian Hip Hop.

In June 2011 their debut album Native to was released, preceded by the single The Greeks. The Greeks was accompanied by a video directed by French directors Megaforce, which quickly went viral (over 4,000,000 plays to date on YouTube, and over 10,000,000 on Chinese YouTube). The video was critically praised and has won several awards (The Antville Music Video Awards 2011', UK Music Video Awards 2011', D&AD Yellow Pencil Award 2012', Artrocker Award). Megaforce stated the inspiration came from a homemade YouTube videos of kids pretending to kill each other with fake guns: "They try to add some blood, but they're really bad at effects. It's pretty shitty, but fun," says co-director Léo Berne.

The Greeks video was filmed over two days (in four-hour work days, per France's child labor laws) in a French suburb.

After the release of Native to and of second single Lies, the band spent rest of 2011 and part of 2012 touring Europe, Japan, South America, the Far East and the USA with Crystal Fighters, where a ‘brotherhood was formed - the two bands’ have gone on to play other shows and tours together.

IS TROPICAL produce all their own artwork, the album sleeve for Native to features the body of a naked girl holding a mask by the foot, the body is that of Kirstie Fleck.

I S T R O P I C A L - F L A G S E P 2013

Whilst writing their second album, IS TROPICAL released an EP, titled Flags in January 2013 this was a bunch of electronic tracks that were “rattling around inside our laptops” the tracks featured collaborations of some friends Get People, Visions, Drugzndreamz, Goodbye Leopold and Owen Pratt (the band’s erstwhile live and studio engineer).

Around that time, the band made their back catalogue available online for video producers to submit treatments – out of this came the video by Pablo and Josh for Oi Peru which was distributed as bonus content for the EP. The band later commented that “for us the Flags EP was an eye-opening experience on the power of collaborative and open-ended production” and contributed to the group’s developing ethos on their songwriting process, moving away from the traditional studio environment and incorporating more found and field recordings in their material.

“We’re sentimental; it’s not easy to just throw out an old mobile phone recording of six people playing the organ when we’re pissed. Riffs and melodies that wind up begrudgingly set aside during the songwriting process can turn into full tracks in their own right. More importantly, it ended up being an opportunity to work with some of our talented friends and in turn get inspired by what they do (and maybe clandestinely nick a glockenspiel on the way out).”

“‘Flags’ was about exorcising some of these dancefloor-based demo(n)s so we could go on to work on our record with fresh ears.”

The Flags EP has never been toured by the band.

I S T R O P I C A L - T R A V E L I N G & M O N G O L I A

May 2013 saw IS TROPICAL become one of the first Western bands to ever perform in Mongolia. The trip was documented by VICE/Noisey network in a two part series and was also covered by a four page article in The Guardian Guide. The Mongolian trip was inspired by a conversation with American producer and Mongolian resident Brian Offenther. The band met Offenther in Shanghai and told him they were looking for somewhere more unusual to perform. Offenther, familiar with the country from his time in the UN Peace Corps were he he worked on breaking down the social and cultural divides between China and Mongolia; Offenther suggested Ulanbator and Darkhan as the perfect destinations for a band looking to explore uncharted territory. The band used the opportunity to not only play live but also experience the real side of Mongolian culture, visiting the Mayor of Darkhan City, orphanages and living with traditional Nomadic families.

2013 saw IS TROPICAL be invited by Pernod Absinthe to take part in a four part documentary ‘Capitales Inconnues’ which was premiered on Jay-Z’s Life+Times blog. The project documented the band’s travels to Jakarta, Ghana, Peru and Iceland.

Pernod Absinthe also released a limited edition bottle for the project designed by Kitsuné which feature the Kitsuné fox wearing an IS TROPICAL trademark leather jacket.

I S T R O P I C A L - I ' M L E A V I N G 2013 – 2014

The band released their second album I'm Leaving on 20th May 2013 on Kitsune / Pias produced by Mercury nominated producer Luke Smith (Depeche Mode & Foals).

The first single, Dancing Anymore, again accompanied by a video in which the adolescent imagination is explored. It was made by previous collaborators Megaforce. It quickly gained notoriety and was removed from YouTube within hours of its release due to its graphic depiction of imagined sexual acts between a young man and naked CG characters. The video is the conceptual sequel to The Greeks.

In keeping with the more focused songwriting on I’m Leaving, the band began reinterpreting their material as acoustic and unplugged versions at festivals and houseparties - something that was not explored on Native to. IS TROPICAL performed Dancing Anymore exclusively for Right Guard as part of their OFF GUARD GIGS at Bestival 2013.

The second single from the album, Lover’s Cave was released on August 26th, 2013. The video was shot and produced by cult New York photographer and director Richard Kern. This video was successful and featured the band’s most performative and ‘visible’ appearance in an official video. This marked a categorical end to the anonymity they had encouraged until that moment. “Working with a videographer like [Richard] Kern, who had done amazing work for bands like The Virgins and Sonic Youth, we wanted to really go back to the classic image of just a band playing in a room. That was something we felt unable to do for a while, and in some ways embodied all of us coming out of the ‘shell’ of this aesthetic we had courted for so long.”

2013 saw the band play notable shows such as Reading & Leeds Festival, Arenal Sound, Les Eurokeennes and Rock En Seine.

I S T R O P I C A L – P R E S E N T D A Y

IS TROPICAL are set to release their third album Black Anything.

Working alongside producer and collaborator Luke Smith, IS TROPICAL set out in the summer of 2014 to record across five continents; North America, Africa, Europe, Asia and South America.

The result, Black Anything, will be released in five 10” transparent picture disc instalments, containing 2 tracks per vinyl. The artwork is a visual representation of both the recording process and the release with each 10 vinyl displaying the continent in which the tracks were recorded. The five vinyls when displayed on top of each other create the globe, unifying the concept as a whole. "Each vinyl will be an art work and is a tribute to the continent it was recorded in.

IS TROPICAL started the project in North America, building a studio during the label’s foundation in Brooklyn. The North American instalment will feature the tracks ‘Crawl / On My Way’. The band have expressed the reasons for having a new approach to the release schedule “are an opportunity to present each track the way it was intended – in it’s own right and not as either a ‘single’ or filler to be largely overlooked.

Black Anything is a mirror held up to the places and people who will help bring it into being.
Icky Blossoms
Icky Blossoms
Hailing from America's center, Omaha-based Icky Blossoms formed in the blizzard of 2011 through friendship, trials and a mutual desire to make art and new music. A brainchild born from the boredom of sitting still. Guitarist and vocalist Derek Pressnall met Icky Blossoms vocalist Sarah Bohling and lead guitarist Nik Fackler in the vibrant Omaha art scene and invited them to play in his band Flowers Forever. Enchanted by endless nights in clubs and inspired with a desire to program dance music with instantaneous grooves and depth, Pressnall, an acclaimed visual artist, and Fackler, a spirit-award nominated filmmaker, combined with Bohling's mesmerizing voice and formed Icky Blossoms.

Icky Blossoms combine bass-heavy electronic grooves, pop structure, and a rock & roll swagger to pioneer a sound on the audio vanguard: music that is simultaneously avant garde, catchy and danceable. Their music spans from the anthemic to the introverted, chronicling the twists and turns of the human condition. Nodding to great sub-genres of the past, while creating songs firmly propelled into the future. Each band member arrives at the group from distinct musical backgrounds and collectively cite varied influences including contemporary pop, electronic, hip hop, experimental, no wave and world music. When Derek, Sarah, and Nik each input their particular inspirations they create a final product that is not only wholly unexpected, but greater than the sum of its parts.

Icky Blossoms' sound and explosive live shows caught the attention of Omaha's distinguished Saddle Creek, which has since signed the trio to release their debut LP. The self-titled album, produced by Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio, is slated for a July 17, 2012 release and features tracks that range from "Perfect Vision," an experiment based around trunk thumping low end and chainsaw guitars, to "Babes," which was lauded by Rolling Stone as a "girl-power dance anthem." Other standout tracks include "Heat Lightning," with its hypnotic arpeggiated synths, electro pulse and sirenesque vocals; the more raucous "Sex to the Devil," featuring futuristic synth lines and esoteric lyrics; or "Temporary Freakout," a classic pop song within an unconventional structure.

With a strong emphasis on DIY, the trio plans to integrate all their artistic abilities into the band, able then to better connect with those who choose to follow their creations or attend their live shows. Imbued with a celebratory atmosphere, their concerts have grown to be conduits for personal expression and individual creativity for everyone in the room. Loud, sweaty and out of control, the edge of their music and personalities combine with the hooks of their pop songs, creating a show which is one side dance party, one side mosh pit.

By brazenly denying to be subservient to a single genre or medium, Icky Blossoms is set to garner the attention of a truly diverse audience and make a lasting impact on music to come.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11211