Us Black Girl Punks Are Right Here! Where the F*#k Are You?

Originally posted on #blkgrlswurld ZINE :

I am tired of seeing articles scurrying across my social media feeds complaining about a lack of minority presence in the punk and metal scenes. With all the underground music I’ve witnessed in both rural and urban communities for the past decade, I can’t believe that all we have to show for it is mainstream reports that my being in the crowd with my friends isn’t enough.

How is it that writers are quick to forget the Black women music enthusiasts that actually attend shows and support bands? My younger sister and I grew up in midwestern suburbs listening to any style of rock we could get our hands on. She had her life band and I had mine. For us a life band consisted of every album of one artist played on repeat everyday at anytime until the weekend when we might jam on new artists we’d heard about…

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The Annual Lestat Coronation Ball #NOLA

Originally posted on #blkgrlswurld ZINE :

This Halloween #blkgrlswurld caught up with Anne Rice and crew at the UnDead Convention in New Orleans to celebrate the debut of her new book Prince Lestat. The Vampire Lestat Coronation Ball is an annual formal where fans come together for all things goth, vintage and vampy. The costumes were so cool! My lil sis and I spent a bit too much on our formal gowns but other folks went all out with hand made bodices and Victorian hoop skirt dresses. The men were in top hats, formal suits and tuxedos :D

My favorite part was the wild and feathery parade troop that escorted Anne rice into the venue. There was music, dancing and huge elaborate costumes that made me feel as if I had been transported to a Haitian music festival.

The evening featured several talented bands and vocalists and as they performed on stage to some of New…

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#blkgrslwurld Zine Edition 2 Ad

#blkgrlswurld ZINE Edition 2.0 is here!

She’s finally here! The 2nd edition of #blkgrlswurld ZINE. We are so grateful to all of the artists and writers who submitted work for this edition. Music crosses all boundaries and this edition shows a range of styles and interpretations of how Science Fiction plays a key role in our imaginations. Sci-Fi Girls don’t die, we multiply!

Stay tuned for a special edition print of the zine in the coming weeks :)

Edition 2.0 is ready for download| October Theme: Sci-Fi Girl | View PDF Here

#blkgrslwurld Zine Edition 2 Ad  #blkgrslwurld Zine Edition 2 Ad

Caption: Gerard Way thanks fans in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. 10/23/14. Photo by C.Long

Gerard Way’s Hesitant Alien Rocks Out Webster Hall 10/23/14

Written by Christina A. Long

When Gerard Way announced earlier this year he’d been working on a new solo album, Hesitant Alien, I was one those hardcore My Chemical Romance (MCR) fans that couldn’t wait to check it out on principle alone. Attending high school in the early 2000s, it was hell waiting to be old enough to see one of their sold out shows. And naturally by the time I was old enough to go, the band had broken up!

Lot’s of kids naturally identified with MCR when they came on the scene in 2003 with Way as lead vocalist. At that time narratives of the underdog misfit had quieted down since the time of The Cure and we were all huddling close to a supposed “emo fandom of freaks and geeks” that was indeed underground. (This so called “emo scene” was a term created by outsiders who only glanced over at us once or twice, wondering what Jpop meant and why we had our noses in Manga books you had to read backwards).

Caption: Gerard Way performs in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. 10/23/14. Photo by C.Long

Caption: Gerard Way performs in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. 10/23/14. Photo by C.Long

Way’s solo album is a slight change in style from the days of post-punk mayhem, exploring pop-rock rhythms and gritty, up-tempo chants. What keeps songs like “No Shows” from fading to the background of my playlist is the sharp energy coming from Way’s vocals and the catchy guitar riffs supporting contagious melodies. I find bouncy songs like “Zero Zero” and “Juarez” to produce visions of Way’s wily characters from his comic book series The Umbrella Academy.

There has been profound enthusiasm from fans since his return to the stage over the course of this brief tour across the states totaling 8 full performances. I suspect it’s because we have all really, Really missed him. While he’s exploring a lighter Britpop sound with this new album, I noticed on Instagram during the afternoon of the Webster Hall show that some fans had been camping outside the venue in the rain since 2 a.m. for an event that wouldn’t get started until 8 p.m. that night. Yep, hardcore follows this guy.

However, we all know that too much of anything can tip the scales. Metal head-banging writer that I am, I always take photos of a show from within the crowd, never standing on the sidelines or near the front stage barricades. During the show this became a blessing as the audience of excited fans got so enthralled pushing towards the stage that a few people were crushed (including photographers) and fortunately were pulled to safety by staff. I watched within arms length as one girl lost her footing and disappeared beneath the sea of fishnet stockings and converse sneakers. Way only made it through a couple of songs like “Action Cat” and “The Bureau” before stopping the band and announcing to security that folks were pushing and the stage barricade was breaking. Having attended hundreds of metalcore performances, I’d never seen anything like this before. It got me wondering whether the pop-rock scene is more thrilling than I’d imagined.

Caption: Gerard Way thanks fans in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. 10/23/14. Photo by C.Long

Caption: Gerard Way thanks fans in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. 10/23/14. Photo by C.Long

Similar to those long family road trips with everyone piled into the mini-van, eventually we got situated and the music started up again. The performance was a great conclusion to the U.S leg of the tour, featuring a number of conversational moments where Way thanked his family and friends who were watching from the balcony. Comments and references in regards to songs like “Brother,” were supportive of gender equality and LGBT inclusion.

As the night came to a close it was clear how thrilling this journey of retuning to the stage had been for Way. Before singing “How It’s Going to Be,” Way noted to the crowd “A lot of us never thought we’d live past a certain age, and now we have gotten there and we have to think about what to do with the rest of our lives.”

With fans cheering for an encore after his set was over, the evening concluded with Way covering the Sleater-Kinney song, “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.” It’s so great that Way has come back to us through rock music. I’m curious to see how this new solo album is received by the mainstream. #

Christina A. Long, MFA is a Harlem based visual designer who manages a music zine for girls called #blkgrlswurldZINE // Twitter: @christinalong12

Caption: Gerard Way thanks fans in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. 10/23/14. Photo by C.Long

Caption: Gerard Way thanks fans in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. 10/23/14. Photo by C.Long

Caption: Gerard Way in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. 10/23/14. Photo by C.Long

Caption: Gerard Way in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. 10/23/14. Photo by C.Long

bell hooks and gloria #blkgrlswurld

bell hooks @ the New School | 2014

For the past couple of years the New School has invited the esteemed author Gloria Jean Watkins also known as bell hooks, to host a week long series of talks and lectures as a Scholar in Residence ($$$) lol. This year the line up was pretty exciting with conversations taking place for public consumption and featuring some of bell’s most well known colleagues like Gloria Steinem, Cornel West and Samuel Delany.

With the life and times of New York City whirling me around, I was only able to attend the talk with Gloria Steinem and the closing conversation with filmmaker Arthur Jafa. I caught the livestream of her talk with Cornel West as well, which was very entertaining and reminded me alot of past family reunions at my grandmother’s home in Chicago.

Anyone can recognize that these great writers and social activists of our time have been important leaders for civil rights and equality within the past 50 years. And with the generational shift towards the politics of the 2000s it comes as no surprise that most of these intellectuals are not happy with the progress that’s been made. In many ways the legal rights of women, children and people of color have reverted backwards to conditions worse than the time of folks like bell hooks and Gloria Steinem.

I consider these points a given under the conditions of any person not thinking they’d live long enough to see if the groundwork of their legacies could sustain for decades to come.

What truly surprised me in listening to these brilliant minds was my realization that they were members of an entire age demographic I’ve had little to no exposure to. Aside from one Granny I still get to visit about once a year. At this point you might be thinking, so what? You don’t know alot of old people, big deal. Sure, it may not seem that bad, but I believe the disconnect to previous generations is why my people (Americans between the ages of 18-30) lack a foundation in community, history and personal identity.

I’m sure you’ve heard some old person declare something like this before, muttering on about kids today lacking respect for their elders- you’ve likely also seen a young person like me roll their eyes at such statements. What makes this lack of elderly exposure relevant is how hard I’ve been finding it to listen to the advice of this older generation, mainly because of cultural disconnect. I feel that if I had spent more time around this population I’d have more respect for them and actually be able to consider their thoughts on things more earnestly. As it stands I don’t always get where they are coming from and often find myself skeptical of their perspective even though they have years of life experience.

Why do we doubt them? First of all, I know I speak for many of us in regards to having young family trees. The one Granny I’ve ever known just turned 80 and outlived her 9 siblings. She’s likely to become one of the only people to make it past age 65 in my family lineage for generations to come. (we’ll cover healthcare another day) Every year my cousins are becoming grandmothers in their 30s and 40s. With the cultural norms of the African American diaspora being what they are, my parents come from estranged families of the 1970s where brothers didn’t talk for decades, mothers often introduced long lost “Uncles” and fathers were unclaimed whispers hidden in group photos on the living room mantel.

So what can we do? Listen.

We’ve got to try to listen to the wisdom of these great thinkers, even if we don’t agree with their perspective at times. When I am next presented with an opportunity to hear the perspective of someone older than my parents, I will listen hard.

#blkgrlswurld, 2014

View the bell hooks/Gloria Steinem lecture at the New School here

Christina Long Art, 2014 MFA SAIC #blkgrlswulrd Alesana

Chaos is a Ladder Tour Concludes at Webster Hall

Published on Webster Hall’s Blog September 30, 2014

The heavy bass of melodic post-hardcore metal shook the foundations of The Studio at Webster Hall due to the return of the band Alesana on Saturday, September 27, 2014. A sextet that has been rockin’ out for a decade, the band concluded a two week tour with friends Megosh, The Funeral Portrait, The Things They Carried, and From The Depths.

Performing in Webster Hall’s most intimate space, The Studio, allowed fans to have a closer interaction with the musicians as they leapt across the stage and swung from the rafters. Known for bringing exceptional energy to every performance, this show illustrated their natural talent for inspiring the audience with its positivity and celebration. The size of the crowd never matters, you can always tell Alesana is there to have fun and put on a great show.

Christina Long Art, 2014 MFA SAIC #blkgrlswulrd Alesana

Alesana performs at Webster Hall, NYC Sept. 2014

These days little metalcore bands for young crowds sprout up quickly, featuring auto-tuned albums, gelled black hair and really, really tight jeans. Alesana is not one of those bands. With the lighter vocals of Shawn Milke contrasting with the heavier screams of Dennis Lee, the band has a dedicated following across the globe known as Alesana Army, holding in its membership many young New Yorkers.

Throughout the show people chanted lyrics back at lead vocalist Shawn Milke with true conviction. Among the crowd, the movement of arms and legs was not the old sport of moshes and crowd surfing, but more about a community expressing their joy of the music and their personal resonance with the lyrics. The performance of their latest song, Nevermore, was a special treat to witness.

Christina Long Art, 2014 MFA SAIC #blkgrlswulrd Alesana

Alesana and friends celebrating the end of the tour at Webster Hall

I sat down with band members Shawn Milke (lead vocals, guitar) and Dennis Lee (screamed vocals) before the final performance to discuss the conceptual elements in their previous albums and what we might expect from their upcoming album that’s still in production. The album will be the third installment of a rock opera trilogy inspired by classic literary works like Edgar Allan Poe and Dante Alighieri.

How do you feel about making it to the end of this tour, here at Webster hall?

SM: It’s always bittersweet because what we do is really unique and special and we’re so grateful we can do this.

DL: It is bittersweet because the tour family is like your cousins and brothers, it’s a real family reunion when we get together [like this.]

How have literary classics influenced the band’s more conceptual albums?

SM: It’s exciting to hear [younger] fans say they weren’t really into reading, and then realized we’ve based our work on famous literature, and now they [like to] read.”

What are your thoughts on how artists and creatives can sustain a practice for the long term?

SM: It’s about putting [the] art first. If you put the art ahead of [everything] it will always be the driving force and therefore sustain…we could potentially play for the next 20 years because we put the art first.

 What sort of literary works have inspired your upcoming album in the Annabel trilogy?

SM: The next album will be intense…Madeline L’Engle and her sci-fi works like A Wrinkle in Time [are important].

DL: Parallel universes and multiverses…Time travel is something so intricate in so many ways…we’re hoping to try and come up with our own twist…that’s all we can say for now, it’s definitely the youngest [literary] work we’ve explored for an album.

With a passion for meaningful lyrics and putting their love of music first, I can’t wait to discover what Alesana will create next.

Written by Christina Long, MFA | Guest Writer for Webster Hall, NYC

Bio: Christina Long is a Harlem based designer who manages a music zine titled #Blkgrlswurld

Christina Long Art #blkgrlswurld 2014 christinalongart.com

Chevelle’s NYC Show

Chevelle came through Manhattan last week so there was No way I was missing this show. This band started it all for me over a decade ago (trying hard not to feel old right now, lol)

Anyways, back in high school, I didn’t know anything about hard rock or metal aside from the Pop stuff Linkin Park was up to. Chevelle’s song “The Closure” changed it all for me, I’d never heard anything like it and wanted more immediately. Ever since, I’ve caught them at least once on any annual tour they’ve done and am thrilled to see they’re still making music after 15 years. *Can we take a moment to appreciate all the artists out there who actually sound as good live as they do on the album?* Yes!

The show at Terminal 5 in Manhattan was a great set, featuring some old and new songs. The band ended a little abruptly though and it definitely surprised the crowd. Not sure if that was just a time constraint or what but it left the majority of crowd begging for an encore that never came. I was also surprised to see so much crowd surfing- now that my people are getting older and considering this was still hard rock, I hadn’t expected anyone to attempt such expression. Must have been all that good music :)

I really look forward to these guys staying in the scene for years to come and hope they head back this way soon. xoxo #blkglrswurld

Pete Loeffler of Chevelle at Terminal 5

Pete Loeffler of Chevelle at Terminal 5

Dean Bernidini of Chevelle at Terminal 5

Dean Bernidini of Chevelle at Terminal 5