Gone Now Era - Part 2
Bishop Briggs, Amy Shark
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM
After building a devoted fan-base through a year and a half of non-stop touring behind his band Bleachers’ well-received debut album Strange Desire, Jack Antonoff was spending time in studios in Los Angeles and Atlanta spit-balling ideas for a second album when he had a powerful realization. It struck him, as he was sitting in hip-hop producers Organized Noize’s studio in Atlanta, that the records that meant so much to him growing up— are rooted in a specific place. “They came from somewhere!” he says excitedly. “There’s an energy there and the artist is telling a story of how they were raised. It's a sound from a city, and they’re planting a flag in that city and saying, ‘This is what it's like to live here.’"
The New Jersey-born, New York-based Antonoff knew he needed to go home to the East Coast and build a studio. “It’s like you have to go sit in your bedroom and hear the music on the speakers you heard Graceland on the first time,” he says. “You gotta listen through the speakers you heard Smashing Pumpkins on the radio the first time. I had to get back to that space. So I did. I grabbed all this shit from my childhood bedroom in New Jersey and built a studio in my apartment in New York and I literally didn't leave it. I thought, ‘This album is going to sound like New York and New Jersey and the actual space I grew up in, in the most specific way. And that, to me, is the most I can offer.”
It was there in that room — surrounded by posters and flyers from punk shows he saw as a kid and his old baseball trophies and Star Wars figurines — that Antonoff created the epic, synth-driven anthems that appear on Bleachers’ second album entitled Gone Now, which is set for release on June 2, 2017. As a result, the album sounds like “the way the space looks,” he says. “It sounds like someone alone in their room, wrestling with their thoughts. It sounds like someone trying to create something very direct and simple amongst the chaos.”
Critics praised Strange Desire’s modern nostalgia and remarked that the ’80s-influenced songs could have served as a soundtrack to a never-made high-school-themed John Hughes film. On that album, Antonoff set emotional meditations on anxiety, depression, loss and picking yourself up after a tragedy (in his case, the death of his younger sister from a brain tumor when Antonoff was 18 and his struggled with a panic disorder in the aftermath) against a backdrop of earworm melodies and shouty choruses on songs like the gold-certified “I Wanna Get Better” (which topped Billboard’s Alternative chart) and “Rollercoaster.”
“The songs were about growing up and still sort of existing in the past,” Antonoff says. “The crux of the new album is my desperately trying to find a way to become some version of an adult, and not just be a giant child. I thought a lot about things like, ‘Where do I want to go from here? Do I want to be a person who has this extremely vibrant relationship with their art, but their life suffers in a million other places? Where do I want to go with my life?’”
Antonoff sought to answer those questions on every song on the album. On “I Miss Those Days,” he pines for a simpler time when “I knew I was fucked up and didn’t know why I was fucked up,” he says referencing the years he spent as a high-schooler touring with his first punk band, Outline, “driving around in a van and playing to no one. I was lost, but I miss those days because there’s a weight to having a purpose in something.” On “Hate That You Know Me” Antonoff realizes that when you build a life with someone and make plans for the future, “it makes you really exposed to the ways in which you’re a disaster,” he says. “There’s this accountability that is so intense. But it’s also about how amazing that can be if you’re willing to go there with someone.” Then there’s “Let’s Get Married,” which Antonoff wrote the day after Donald Trump was elected. “Marriage is such a wild, absurd concept, but the world was falling down into flames around my eyes, and I wanted to write this absurd celebration song that could play at weddings for the next hundred years.”
On each track, Antonoff searches for ways to illuminate humanity’s communal emotions, like the fact that no one is exempt from the experience of loss. “I think everything I do is always going to be rooted in that,” Antonoff says. “After my sister died, I started writing lyrics that weren't just angsty teen stuff. That’s when I started talking about very intense things. Fourteen years later, I’m still reflecting on that loss but through a different lens.” Antonoff’s current vantage point resonates on the song “Everybody Lost Somebody.” “At my worst moments, I see people on the street and think, ‘Which one of you motherfuckers voted for Trump?’” he says. “At my best moments, I see people on the street and I think, ‘Everybody has lost somebody.’”
On the album’s first single, “Don’t Take The Money,” Antonoff laments how our society has culturally lost the concept of what selling out means. The song was inspired by his buying a cut-rate phone charger at a Rite Aid when his phone died as he was running late to a meeting. “I got there and plugged the phone into the charger and I had this out-of-body experience where I could not believe how cheap the material was,” he recalls. “And I thought to myself, ‘That's the real problem.’ Whether you're making art or making a sandwich, you know when something could be better. Don't make it cheap. That's the last thing people need.”
As far as what Antonoff feels like people need from him as artist, he says: “I feel like they just need me to somehow capture the lightning in a bottle of what it’s like to be me, to grow up with loss, and then to try to move through the world within that. All I’ve wanted to do my whole life with my work is just take another step closer to myself.”
While those in a Tokyo karaoke bar may not have realized it, they were witnesses to a life-altering experience for four-year-old Bishop Briggs. As she sang her first song in public, Bishop fell instantly in love with performing, and her auspicious debut served not only as an indelible touchpoint, but also the initial indicator of an unmistakable identity.
Born to Scottish parents, raised in Japan and Hong Kong, immersed in American pop-culture, and having attended college in Hollywood, Bishop is a true world citizen. She began writing her own songs at the age of seven, and would perform these unfiltered observations about her life to a captive audience: her family. It is now recognized that this precociousness, coupled with her upbringing, would draw a clear line to who she would become.
During her early years in Los Angeles, Bishop hit the pavement; focused and on a clear mission, she was never too proud to play any venue that would have her, often to crowds smaller than would gather in her childhood living room. While many would have given up, not only was Bishop undeterred, but, through her perseverance, every challenge and obstacle provided her with much of the life experience that comes through in her music. Now fine-tuned as a performer, Bishop is an example of what happens when ability meets determination.
Her voice has grit and heft -- it is lived-in and unafraid -- putting her solidly in the lineage of female vocalists such as Janis Joplin, Florence Welch, Aretha Franklin, and Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard. Like those who have left a mark before her, Bishop foregoes restraint and defies categorization, forging a path that is uniquely hers. Though she now sings her own songs in larger, crowded venues, Bishop still performs with the abandon and intimacy of someone addressing a handful of people in a small room. Deceptively composed, Bishop is often only a heartbeat away from howling with joy or being paralyzed by tears. The result is beyond inspiring, and promises to be as much of a transcendent experience for the audience as it is for Bishop.
"Wild Horses" and "River" are singles that present a rising artist who has spent years developing her craft. The emotions are timeless, the sounds are now; "River" juxtaposes the heartfelt, idiosyncratic soul of Jack Garratt and Hozier with the brash, brassy production of Yeezus or TNGHT. Composed in bedrooms, and destined for festival tents and arenas, Bishop claims her music comes from a place of sadness, though it might be more accurate to say it comes from a place of substance. While the words themselves are direct and precise, they encompass grand emotions which are deeply personal yet rendered in a way that invites listeners to project and examine their own experiences; isn't that what music is supposed to do?
What unequivocally distinguishes Bishop is there is no duality -- no difference between Bishop the person and Bishop the artist -- they are one in the same. There is no construct or persona, there's just her. Whether it is the defiance of "Wild Horses" or the rapture of "River," they are all inspired by what she calls "the biggest, most toxic and tragic love affair I've ever had": her lifelong commitment to music.
Bishop is not offering merely a piece of her heart -- she's giving you the whole thing.
Gold Coast born and bred, the musically contemplative and soulfully brooding Amy Shark can best be described as the creatively complex girl next door. The 6 time ARIA nominated artist first broke through with her track Adore which gained widespread love from triple j and commercial radio Australia- wide. The track has since gone 2 x platinum, come in at #2 on triple j Hottest 100, been shortlisted for the APRA Song of the year, hit # 3 on the ARIA single chart and been streamed over 25 million times on Spotify.
“Great story telling coupled with top notch production, incredibly impressive.” – Nick Findlay
In April 2017 Amy’s Night Thinker EP was released, it features gold selling single Weekends, Drive You Mad and live favourite Blood Brothers. The EP has experienced huge success, peaking at #2 on the ARIA Chart, #1 on the iTunes Chart and bringing ARIA nominations including including Best Female Artist, Breakthrough Artist, Best Video (Drive You Mad) as well as the coveted Song of the Year and Album of the Year awards.
Amy’s music is proving to have struck a chord with many, she has sold out two national Australian tours: The Adore Tour and The Night Thinker Tour, appeared at key Australian festivals including Groovin the Moo, Bassinthegrass and Splendour in the Grass. She’ll spend the remainder of 2017 touring the world supporting Vance Joy, Bleachers and performing headline shows and at festivals in the USA, UK and Europe. Many of which have already sold out.
“The crowd was thronging, clambering, and desperate to be with Shark in the world she creates - so much so that the size of the audience far exceeded the size of the tent itself, spilling out into the [Splendour in the Grass] festival site". - triple j
Rounding out the year with award nominations, countless sold out shows and new music on the horizon, Amy Shark has cemented herself as a mainstay in the Australian music scene and is carving out a name for herself around the world.
$1 from each ticket will be donated to The Ally Coalition. The Ally Coalition works with members of the music, fashion and entertainment worlds to raise awareness and funds in support of LGBTQ equality. http://theallycoalition.org/