Cold, cold times in hot musical city

I expected the New York winter to be cold. I wasn’t under any illusions that, once I came back after three weeks in the United Kingdom for the Christmas holidays, it’d be mild. I knew it wouldn’t be.

I knew it was likely to be fresh and crisp. I didn’t, however, think that the temperature would drop so soon. During my first week back, it was chilly but nothing exceptional. Until about a week in. Until now.

The bright blue skies and piercing sun visible through the windows of my apartment are utterly deceptive. It looks like summer, but when you step outside, the full force of winter hits. The last three days – and especially nights – it’s been about minus 10 degrees Celsius. It makes it hard to do anything.

The thought of going outside – of the wind whipping your face and your ears frosting over and your hands, despite gloves, aching all the way through to the bone, your nose numbing in reflex self-defence – is utterly restrictive. All you want to do is stay inside, wrap up and watch a movie or read a book (I just started reading ‘Bruce’ by Peter Ames Carlin, the new, acclaimed biography of Bruce Springsteen, which, although I’m currently only wandering the New Jersey streets of 1968, is great so far).


Life goes on

But, tempting as it is to hibernate, life still goes on in this crazy metropolis, and to self-impose an internment of warmth and comfort is to miss out on a hell of a lot.

And so, with that in mind, a few nights ago, I braved the outside world and made my way to Williamsburg in Brooklyn to see a show. Or rather, one band of a four band line-up. They’re called Tidal Arms, and they’re from New York. I’d actually interviewed them this time last year, over the phone when I lived in London, for a music magazine’s ‘100 Bands To Watch In 2012’, but had never seen them.

So I thought I better make the effort. As ever, I was running late and was worried I wouldn’t make it in time, as they were first on.

As it turns out, I got to the venue, bought a beer, bought a ticket and walked through just before they came on. Not only that, but they began with my favourite song of theirs – a dark, doom-laden, death obsessed lament entitled ‘Hair & Teeth’.

It sounds like Radiohead when they still played guitars but with a heavier, distorted edge to it. It was mind-blowing to watch live – as was the rest of their set. I felt this wonderful sense of rejuvenation and excitement that I’d gone – alone – to see a band purely because I love them.

It reminded me exactly why I started writing about music in the first place, and I’m thrilled that I braved the elements to do so. Sometimes it’s easy to forget why we do things, but there’s nothing like a blast of crippling, ice cold air to remind you.

Having spent six and a half years living in London, but dreaming of New York, Mischa Pearlman has finally made the jump across the Atlantic. Now, you can find him drifting between the venues and late night bars of Manhattan and Brooklyn and grinning manically while gazing at the skyline. He writes about music for various magazines and, just to complete the cliché, is writing a novel. E-mail him, if you like: [email protected]

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