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Saturday Night Live

113 Ludlow St.
Ameranouche spent their first New York gig criminally ignored by their audience in Mehanata’s lodgelike bar. To be fair, there were significant distractions—there was video of topless girls washing cars projected on the opposite wall, and a disco downstairs—and at least the band focused intensely on their Django Reinhardt–derived tunes. Anyone who bothered to listen was rewarded, especially those who happened to catch their wonderful second set, during which they were joined by three additional acoustic guitarists for five guitars’ worth of gypsy jazz.
Note to Ameranouche: Never compete with topless car-washers.

376 9th St., Park Slope
French artist Féloche and his band mixed vigorous mandolin and stand-up bass with unexpected sounds from the pink-dreadlocked Lea Bulle, who played the accordion, piccolo trumpet, and samples that sounded like a kazoo. Féloche kept things light with dancing, bad attempts at jokes, and introductions to what song the “urban bayou band from the suburbs” would play next. Awkward stage presence aside, he created a fun, carnivalesque update on Cajun music.
Féloche could pass for: a Mary Poppins character.

30 Lafayette Ave., Ft. Greene

The catholic taste of Dana Leong and his collaborators was on full display at BAMcafé, with a live Stevie Wonder remix, a cover of indie band Firewater, and plenty of rapping. Equally impressive was the diverse crowd it got moving—a mix of gray curls, flowing caftans, dapper Fonzworth Bentley–style suits, and quite a few zip hoodies. Even a group of local teens who wandered in a bit confused found themselves mesmerized by the lyrical stylings of M.C. Core Rhythm, sticking around for a solid ten minutes.
Number of instruments Leong played between emcee stints: three—cello, trombone, and keyboard.

Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen St.
Tim Blane and his Boston-based band played an upbeat set that could have passed for an early John Mayer concert. Two audience members were overheard saying he should try out for American Idol. “Better than Jason Castro,” said one, and that’s about right.
Transparency of rock-star ambition: very high.

The Living Room
154 Ludlow St.
Gloria Deluxe seemed to have a song for everyone who’s been in prison, or molested, or dropped out of high school. The bad news for her was that such people don’t patronize tastefully appointed yuppie venues like the Living Room. She’s clean, out of prison, and can play a well-tuned accordion and piano, but most of the audience left during her performance.
Overwhelming emotion throughout the crowd: pity.

(Best With Beer)

A small army of unshaven Park Slope Food Coop–member types were thumping their feet at the Brooklyn Playboys’ fast fingerpicking and twangy three-part harmonies. It was a feverish mash of mandolin, banjo, fiddle, upright bass, and guitar. Everyone in the twentysomething crowd seemed to know someone in the band, and soon the packed bar developed a very strong human smell.
Chance they’d be understood in Manhattan: slim.

Habana Outpost
757 Fulton St., Ft. Greene
One block into its march down South Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, the band had swelled from about twenty members to dozens of stroller-toting, corn-on-a-stick-eating families. The band proper included horn and drum sections (with instruments that looked more steam-punk than shiny), plus twirlers, pom-pomers, a hula-hooper and a break-dancing gorilla. Their music was all original, the band uniforms recycled.
Could easily pass for: a traveling circus.

Joe’s Pub
425 Lafayette St.
The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble performed their first set in primary-colored T-shirts and the second set in white suits and patent-leather shoes. The music also jumped around, with a freestyle mix of songs that might be called “hip-hop-influenced marching-band blues.” With four trumpets, two trombones, a flügelhorn, and a sousaphone, the band blew the hell out of everything they played.
Mistake of the evening: covering Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop The Music.”

Apollo Theater
253 W. 125th St.

Abraham, Inc., can play, whatever you actually call the music they make. Front man David Krakauer’s klezmer-inspired clarinet melodies sounded surprisingly at home over the funk laid down by the band, which looked loose and played tight, mixing razor-sharp horn licks with intricately composed runs. The audience was dancing in the aisles during the encore, as Krakauer loosed an impossibly dense cascade of notes, with everyone clearly enjoying this bizarrely successful musical mash-up.
Grooves: tighter than their pants.

Lakeside Lounge
162 Ave. B
A four-piece composed of somewhat unkempt (but legitimately unkempt, not male-model unkempt) dudes in jeans, the Izzys play tight, melancholic roots-rock. The group’s early-seventies-Stones influence was obvious, but with a set that varied from Gene Autry covers to up-tempo power-chord rockers and jams that occasionally swelled into Guitar Hero territory, it wasn’t oppressive.
Biggest distraction: ugly fish paintings decorating stage.