20 Watts

ISSUE 19 | SLIDESHOW: White Picket Fence by Irina Dvalidze
November 2, 2009, 4:49 pm
Filed under: Issue 19, Issue 19 Artists | Tags: , ,

20 Watts’ Isabel Alcantara spent an evening with Syracuse’s best pop-rockers, traipsing around campus and attempting to corral them as they yelled at the Shack-a-Thon-ers on the quad.  She put some of her best shots to music for this 20 Watts slideshow.

— Isabel Alcantara

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20 Watts Issue 19 | November 2009 by 20watts


Artists in the Issue


Pop Art

The Ithaca Sound


Playlist copy

Juice Jam 2009, featuring Girl Talk, Jack’s Mannequin and the Cool Kids, Only on 20 Watts by 20watts








Juice Jam 2009: ‘Cuse Psychs Up and Gets Down to Girl Talk, Jack’s Mannequin and the Cool Kids by 20watts

Not even the rain could stop the insanity on South Campus

Not even the threat of impending rain could keep Syracuse University music-lovers away from South Campus on Sunday.  Muggy, overcast and miserable as it was, several thousand students converged on Skytop for Juice Jam 2009, and no amount of drizzle or line-up cynicism could stop them from psyching up and getting down.

Although the show got off to an admittedly slow start — a problem that has plagued the annual concert in the past — Juice Jam succeeded on the strength of its headliner, Girl Talk, who stirred up over an hour of neon, confetti-filled mayhem on Sunday afternoon.

Chicago based hip-hop group The Cool Kids were the first to take the stage, though a great number of concert attendees seemed not to have noticed.  The crowd gathered in front of the stage was a relatively small group of loyal fans, which unfortunately can’t even be attributed to their early set time, as the line for a lame airbrushed hat was still a mile long.

Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish were still the ultimate flirts, emphasizing the number of pretty girls in the audience more than once before transitioning into “Bassment Party,” instructing, “if you ugly keep your hands by your side.”  This attitude stayed true after the performance, when Mikey and Chuck embraced adoring female fans.

Cool as they might have been, however, the hip-hop duo failed to attract the enthusiasm that greeted piano pop mainstay Jack’s Mannequin.  Seeing Jack’s perform was like a trip down memory lane — and judging by the crowd that gravitated towards the stage, others felt that way, too. Friends likely reminisced about high school as they danced in groups to Andrew McMahon’s piano melodies during “Holiday from Real.” The band played much of Everything in Transit, including  “The Mixed Tape,” “Dark Blue” and “La La Lie.”  Bassist Jonathan Sullivan helped to keep the high school theme alive with his arm warmers and emo-licious haircut.

After closing with Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” Andrew McMahon climbed atop his piano and stomped on the keys.  Although this move was relatively badass at the time, in comparison to the imminent mayhem, McMahon’s momentary awesomeness was as P.G. as it gets.

The transformation to said mayhem started gradually enough. Sorority girls clad in neon, eager to be Gregg Gillis’ one true love/grinding partner, searched for a way to get on stage. The masses followed suit.  Hints of marijuana filled the air. Antsy people anticipating the ultimate dance party muttered their frustration as Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” blasting through the speakers to pass the time.

But the sunshine finally started to peek through the hazy sky and our host, Gregg “I’m Not a DJ” Gillis, stormed the stage to start the party.  Cue toilet paper.  Balloons.  Balls.  Confetti.  Gillis plays pop music for people with short attention spans and long memories: in his sets, pop music from the last 30 years resurfaces as a hook, a line or a beat, mixed into something entirely new.

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Juice Jam 2009: 20 Watts Asks The Cool Kids about Old School Hip-Hop, SU Frat Parties and their Upcoming Album by 20watts

20 Watts talks old school hip-hop and SU frat parties with the Cool Kids

The Cool Kids have “cool beats, cool raps” — and if you don’t love them already, they sure think that you will soon.  The alternative hip-hop duo, comprised of Chicago native Antoine “Mikey Rocks” Reed and Detroit native Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersoll, opened Juice Jam 2009 at 12:30 on Sunday afternoon.  20 Watts’ Caitlin Dewey sat down for a quick interview with The Cool Kids just before they hit the stage.

20 Watts: A lot of our readers might not have heard Cool Kids before, so can you tell me who you guys are, what you’re all about, and what kind of music you’re putting out?

Mikey: I’m Michael Rocks…

Chuck: That’s a hard question, it’s usually other people’s opinions, ’cause we don’t know what we’re doing. But I’m C, we’re the Cool Kids. We rap about cool shit.

20W: That would make sense.

M: We have cool beats, cool raps. You’d like it. If you don’t know us you’d probably like it once you heard it. So, just check some of our stuff out.

20W: You guys met in a pretty weird way, could you tell me about that?

C: It’s kind of weird, but it’s not… We knew the same people, so it wasn’t like a chance finding while I was in Detroit and he was in Chicago. We were both in Chicago and we were both trying to do the same thing, and some people were like “yo.” They told him to hit me up cause I had beats that people were checking out on Myspace.  So around [then] everyone got to talking, ’cause that was when Myspace was brand new and people were still freaking out about it.  Like nobody had a page, it was like a couple of people on there.

M: Myspace was not even poppin’ yet.

C: [Laughs] It really wasn’t.

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Juice Jam 2009: Exclusive Preview Video from 20 Watts by Eric Vilas-Boas

20 Watts’ Eric Vilas-Boas and Aaron Freeder spent four hours on a cross-campus road trip, asking every student in sight to share their thoughts on this year’s Juice Jam line-up.  Over 60 students stopped to jam out and psych up for tomorrow’s start-of-term show, featuring Girl Talk, Jack’s Mannequin and the Cool Kids.  In elevators, dining halls and South Campus busses, they showed us their dance moves, their enthusiasm, and — occasionally — their total obliviousness to on-campus life.

ARE YOU IN THIS VIDEO?  Stop by 20 Watts’ Juice Jam table tomorrow — we want to shake your hand.

Check back after the show for interviews, photos and all sorts of one-of-a-kind coverage, only on 20 Watts.

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Photos from Desolation Wilderness’ Performance at Spark Art Space by Irina Dvalidze

Washington dream-poppers Desolation Wilderness played Spark on Wednesday

If you’ve found yourself complaining that Syracuse has no music scene, one little venue is out to prove you wrong.  Just a few blocks down from University Hill — past a few of the sketchiest alleys you’ll ever have the pleasure of avoiding — sits Spark Contemporary Art Space, an art gallery and performance space for both VPA students and touring acts.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 9, Spark welcomed three amazing indie up-and-comers to its dimly lit back room.  Two locals repped the Syracuse scene: The Human, a funky, hippy quartet that know how to rock a pair of tree hugger sandals, and Mandate of Heaven, a foursome that sound like Sonic Youth jamming with Cheap Trick.  20 Watts’ personal favorite, however, was Desolation Wilderness, a barely legal trio from Olympia, Washington.  With their chiming, eerie, introspective vocals and quirky stage presence, these guys looked like they just walked off a Sophia Coppola movie set.  And despite the small “stage” space and minor acoustic glitches, it was a musical evening to remember.

Desolation Wilderness are playing a string of East Coast shows with the likes of Real Estate and The Intelligence; they’ll also be embarking on a European tour in late October.  We reccomend following their highly entertaining and endearingly earnest blog.  Their fourth full-length, New Universe, dropped on K Records early last month.

For more favorites from the Syracuse scene, download Mandate of Heaven’s full discography FREE on Jamendo and check out 20 Watts’ phenomenal photos from the show under the jump!

– Photos by Max Nepstad, copy by Irina Dvalidze and Caitlin Dewey

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