dan graham & indie music take over the whitney

Dan Graham performing "Performer/Audience/Mirror" at P.S.1 Institute for Contemporary Art, Long Island City, NY, 1977, photo courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art

A critic and theorist, Dan Graham has become a central figure in contemporary art. “Dan Graham: Beyond” charts where Graham started, with conceptual ‘zines and photography to his later pavilion installations that question the public versus the private, while blurring the boundaries between sculpture and architecture, complete with his signature two-way mirrors. Graham worked with every medium imaginable, from writing to performance art, often infused with scientific and philosophical perspectives. He pioneered video and film installation and musical collaboration as well, and has worked with Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca and Japanther.

Dan Graham, still from "Rock My Religion", 1982-84, single-channel video, 55:27 min., black and white and color, sound, image courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

Dan Graham, "Figurative", 1965, printed matter, collection Herbert, Gent, Belgium

Dan Graham: Beyond
Exhibiting now until October 11, 2009

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York, NY 10021
General Information: (212) 570-3600

Wednesday–Thursday: 11 am–6 pm
Friday: 1–9 pm (6–9 pm pay-what-you-wish admission)
Saturday–Sunday: 11 am–6 pm
Monday & Tuesday: Closed

Adults: $15
Senior citizens (62 and over): $10
Students with valid ID: $10
Members, NYC public school students with valid student ID, and children under 12: Free

In conjunction with their retrospective on Dan Graham, the Whitney has booked some of the best new bands in the world of independent music to perform every Friday in July.

The concerts are part of the exhibit and start at 7 PM. That means they’re essentially FREE if you get there after 6 PM (admission to the Whitney is “pay as you wish” from 6 to close on Fridays), but there are no reservations and space is first-come, first-served.

Live performances every Friday include:
July 10: Titus Andronicus / Real Estate
July 17: Abe Vigoda / Grooms
July 24: Woods / Yellow Fever
July 31: Vivian Girls / These Are Powers

Titus Andronicus

Glen Rock, NJ’s Titus Andronicus are almost as discipline-defiant as Graham.
Their debut album, the 2008 indie favorite The Airing of Grievances (re-released this year in the U.S. on XL Recordings) brims with literary and artistic allusions (to Hunter S. Thompson, Albert Camus, and Shakespeare before you even get to their lyrics), all while being an innovative work of wailing and ethereal punk.

Real Estate

Also from New Jersey, Real Estate make drowsy psych pop songs with contemplative riffs, surf rock slides and titles like “Pool Swimmers,” “Beach Comber,” “Black Lake” and “Let’s Rock the Beach.” In “Suburban Beverages” (mp3 available here) their voices chant the song’s only words, “Budweiser, Sprite, do you feel alright?” in echoing harmonies. Their 7-inches from Woodsist and Underwater Peoples could make a lazy summer day on the Jersey shore out of any time of year.

Abe Vigoda

L.A. punx Abe Vigoda’s thrash and no wave roots don’t keep them from generating the sort of tropical ambience popularized by this same showcase of bands, with layered guitars and lo fi production. But, jagged, percussive guitar parts add to the noise on their 2008 album, Skeleton and less tropical 2009 EP, Reviver. Singer Michael Vidal shouts in frantic rhythms, always receiving a high boost of energy from ex-drummer Gerardo Guererro (since traded for a Dane Chadwick).

Grooms (formerly Muggabears)

The male-female vocals of Grooms immediately switch on a Kim Gordon/Thurston Moore-shaped light bulb. Layer them over the sonorous electric guitar picking and spacey feedback on the Brooklyn band’s forthcoming LP Rejoicer (Death By Audio) and you have a revival of Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth, and when is that ever a bad thing?


Psychedelic folk rock with the tie-dye to prove it. Their quirky, layered vocals and warm, distorted guitar solos are refreshing like no other self-described jam band could be, possibly since they keep the jams dirty with tons of feedback. Singer Jeremy Earl also heads Brooklyn label Woodsist that put out the band’s album Songs of Shame.

Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever is Jennifer Moore from Voxtrot, Luis Martinez and drummer Adam Jones, a minimalist art pop outfit from Austin, TX. Moore’s voice is clear, straightforward and lovely, following or floating above the simple beats and strumming on their Culver City and Cats and Rats EPs (Hugpatch, MP3s here). This is one of five shows they’re playing in New York this month.

Vivian Girls

This surf-punk Brooklyn trio with ghostly, three-part female harmonies awash in Shangri-las and Beach Boys nostalgia writes songs that are equal parts dreamy and gritty. Their lo-fi, shoegazey records from In the Red and Woodsist have created a resounding buzz in music media that will send them to Japan and Australia this fall after they finish their US tour.

These Are Powers

These Are Powers bring tough electronic beats based on a Brooklyn-Chicago connection between members Pat Noecker, Bill Salas and Anna Barie, whose sultry vocals teeter between singing and rapping à la grime superstar M.I.A. Always fun live, tracks on All Aboard Future (Dead Oceans) are dark and debauching with bright guitar hooks and samples to light the way.

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