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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
Marvel superheroes, DC supervillians, video game characters and cosplayers (including Jessica Nigri) of all sorts make New York Comic Con a blast to attend.

Just outside the convention floor, DC Comics was celebrating the 75th anniversary of Batman with a showcase of costumes while the US Postal Service was selling a limited print of stamps honoring the Caped Crusader. But for several blocks around the Javits Center, superheroes like the Caped Crusader, supervillians, video game characters and cosplayers descended upon the 2014 New York Comic Con to share their fandom and enjoy the company of like-minded folks. Attendees wore spandex, painted their hair, crafted cardboard weapons and masks and basically tried to differentiate themselves from the twenty plus other Spiderman or Harley Quinn variations that were around. Some people, like Doc Ock, struggled to make their way around the convention floor given the width of their appendages especially in the areas where fans were lined up in droves, like those gathered well in advance of the appointed time for famous cosplayer Jessica Nigri’s appearance. Then there were those who planned collective costumes with their friends, like the Tetrominos or the Batman villians or the LEGO Marvel characters. Check out some photos of the cosplayers below and see why NYCC is a blast to attend.


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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Blake Mills is touring in support of his new album Heigh Ho with instrumental group yMusic backing him. Friend Fiona Apple joined in in New York.

Singer-songwriter Blake Mills is touring in support of his new album Heigh Ho out on Verve. The album is a showcase for Mills powerful country and blues guitar work and features several renowned musicians including Jim Keltner on drums, Jon Brion on keys and Don Was on bass (amongst others) plus Fiona Apple lending her voice to a couple of tracks. Perhaps it was because Apple was likely to appear (as she had on many other dates) that Mills’ two shows in New York (one at Le Poisson Rouge the week before this one) were sold out, but it would be unfair to suggest that Mills alone doesn’t deserve the attention. According to the NY Times, Mills has received praise from many artists, “Eric Clapton recently called him ‘the last guitarist I heard that I thought was phenomenal.’ The producer Don Was says he is ‘one of those rare musicians who come along once in a generation.‘“and he’s played with many of them too. It’s worth checking out his headlining tour when you can to witness his guitar virtuosity.


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Friday, Oct 10, 2014
Ásgeir took a quick stab at PopMatters' 20 Questions before his show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Ásgeir is a rapidly up and coming Icelandic singer-songwriter who has played New York several times in the last year (I first caught his show at CMJ in 2013). He continues to win over fans as visible by the larger and larger venues he has been performing at, and selling out. His recent jaunt in New York included two shows, one at the Bowery Ballroom and one at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t actually sold out at MHOW but that wasn’t a deterrent from the musician diligently performing his soaring songs.


As before, Ásgeir played a cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” but even more exciting were the Icelandic versions of his songs, like the original “In the Silence”, the stunning “Dýrð í dauðaþögn”. He also included a few non-album songs that kept the audience transfixed especially as the artist remains on the quiet side. The highlight was still his most propulsive, “Torrent”, which he saved for the finale.


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Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014
After spending summer playing festivals, Danny Brown has beens holed up working on a new record. But that didn't stop him from doing three NYC shows including one at the tiny Sonos Studio.

Last week, Sonos Studio and Pandora presents arranged for pop-up event space at the NeueHouse in New York to feature over a dozen free events and performances (including free booze) for small audiences. Spoon introduced a collaborative art project, Best Coast, Mikky Ekko and The Skins all performed as well as Dev Hynes but he also participated in a Q&A session. On Thursday evening, the “headliner” was Fool’s Gold rapper Danny Brown, who was performing two other shows in New York the same week at Webster Hall and House of Vans, both larger venues. He had spent his summer touring and performing at festivals (including a massive gig at Wembley opening for fellow Detroit resident Eminem).


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Monday, Sep 29, 2014
Almost 50,000 people gathered in Central Park for the 3rd Annual Global Citizen Festival, a star-studded affair that draws attention to extreme poverty with world leaders pledging funds for relief.

The scope of the Global Citizen Festival remains the same as it did for the prior two iterations, to mitigate extreme poverty worldwide though this year the organizers directed additional attention to the subjects of vaccines, education and sanitation. Regarding sanitation, there was a lot of attention directed towards open defecation, a huge issue in India in particular. Amongst the global leaders in attendance (as the festival is timed to coincide with world leaders being in New York for the U.N. Global Summit) was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi had been implicated as one of the instigators of religious violence against Muslims (by Hindus) in Gujurat in 2002 where he was Chief Minister at the time. And he hadn’t been permitted to enter the United States from that point on, until he became elected Prime Minister in 2014 so he was given a moment at the festival to pledge that Indians citizens will have access to toilets by 2019. Other world leaders were present, including Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who pledged over $1.2 billion towards vaccinations worldwide over the next several years, and some NGO leaders including World Bank President Jim Kim and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.


But for many of nearly 50,000 people in attendance at the six hour event, including one girl who drove up from Tennessee, the primary attraction was not actor Hugh Jackman introducing Ban Ki-Moon or Olivia Wilde talking about her recent charitable endeavors, but the powerful and diverse line-up of musicians. Via an online lottery, for which people earned entries by completing socially conscious activities, the lucky people in attendance got to see performances from Jay Z and Beyonce, No Doubt (their first show in a couple of years) do a set with Sting guesting for one song, Carrie Underwood, Alicia Keys with Idan Raichel, The Roots and more. The concert was available as a stream online or live on MSNBC (with noticeable delay) for those that couldn’t go, but given the opportunity to be out on Central Park on a lovely summery day, Global Citizen Festival was a perfect outing… if you could get in (VIP ticket holders complained of long lines). It may be hard to determine what the attendees’ motives were but if they were genuine, but if even a small percentage of them feel urged to donate, or be more socially active that is a good start.


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