CitySearchNYC Explore the city with our editors
Whaddya want?
Nothing Now
June 8, 1998
This Week:
The Bowery Ballroom
Queen Latifah
Detroit Techno

CitySearch Music

Ballroom Off the Bowery

The downtown music scene expands significantly with the opening of the Bowery Ballroom. While the Lower East Side is littered with recently opened rock bars and performance lounges, the 550-person capacity "ballroom"--complete with balcony, dance floor, elevated stage, and basement lounge--is the neighborhood's first major live music venue in generations.

The Bowery Ballroom is brought to you by the same folks behind the Mercury Lounge, whose public front bar and separate-admission rear performance space have been the blueprint for successful nightlife south of East Houston since its February 1994 opening. The Mercury is the bridge between the East Village establishment and the Lower East Side's overheated lounge scene.

The Ballroom is co-owned by Michael Winsch and brothers Michael and Brian Schwier, who found the Mercury too small for the big names and growing crowds the place draws. "The Bowery Ballroom will allow us to present bigger bands and book bigger sold-out nights, while opening the Mercury to other outfits. There is more than enough talent to go around," Winsch told Rockbeat.

The Bowery Ballroom takes the area's nightlife to another level: instead of being limited to local talent and minor-leaguers on van tours, the theater-sized venue can present happening headliners usually offered uptown by club industry leaders like Tramps and Irving Plaza. The Bowery Ballroom is poised to become the downtown stop for breaking acts on their way up to national arenas.

The Ballroom's inaugural highlights include:

>> Sophisticated pop cult hero Lloyd Cole and his new band The Negatives.

>> Instrumental alt.rock supergroup Tuatara (featuring members of Pearl Jam, Luna, and Screaming Trees).

>> Downtown rock-tronica breakthrough artists Girls vs. Boys.

All Hail The Queen

Rap royalty Queen Latifah returns with a rare live appearance at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square on June 15th. Appropriately, she will be borne into the establishment on a throne carried by muscle-bound men. The midnight event will herald the release of her highness' new album "Order in the Court" (Motown).

Queen Latifah--formerly New Jersey homegirl Dana Owens--brought rap its first female social conscience with 1989's "All Hail the Queen" and 1991's "Nature of a Sista.'" Hits like "Ladies First" and "Latifah's Had It Up to Here" not only resulted in radio play and MTV stardom, but also established her as to be among rap's most engaging songwriters. In 1994, the Queen won a Grammy for "U.N.I.T.Y." off her "Black Reign" album.

Recently absent from the throne, Queen Latifah has spent the last four years acting in flicks ("Jungle Fever," "Set It Off") and her syndicated television sitcom "Living Single," as well as running an artist management company, Flavor Unit. Away from the mic, even a monarch has to turn a buck.

Queen Latifah joins a number of former rap royals recently emerging from pop exile. Public Enemy's new album "He Got Game" (Def Jam) is a rock-solid return to revolutionary form and serves as the soundtrack to Spike Lee's film of the same name. LL Cool J has taken time out from his acting career, publishing business, independent label (POG Records), youth camp, and footwear line to issue "Phenomenon" (Def Jam)--which has excited rap's fickle press but struggled commercially. With the genre languishing under the reign of redundant gangbangers and Puff Daddy pop retreads, perhaps it will take the Queen (Latifah) to rebuild rap's crossover kingdom.

Detroit Techno Anchors the Brooklyn Bridge

As the "Summer Music Festival" industry lumbers into New York to lose even more money than last year, Creative Time holds its third annual underground music, film, and performance fest inside the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, June 16-27th.

While city dwellers avoid Ozzy's Fest, Lillith's Fair, Guinness' Fleadh, the HORDE, and the ten other top-heavy arena rock package tours, Creative Time offers independent film/video presentations (Ret.Inevitable), performance artists (Franklin Furnace's Asylum2), and the revolutionary hip-hop turntablist collective PlatformMHZ--featuring members of the X-ecutioners, Invisbl Skratch Picklz and Beat Junkies--inside the soaring stone outer-borough base of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Especially important is Creative Time's "Black Metropolis" Detroit techno night. While worshipped and well-paid abroad, dance floor innovators like Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin, Stacy Pullen, and Ron Trent remain anonymous in America--and even Detroit, where techno was invented during the early '80s before being reshipped stateside as a '90s European phenomenon. The DJ futurists of the Beats Per Minute dance movement reclaim their genre with a rare live performance in one of New York's most remarkable physical spaces. Advance tickets go on sale the first week of June exclusively at Other Music; prices range between $9-$13.

You should miss this for Ozzy?


Send feedback here.