There was no real stage, but that didn’t seem to matter against the beautiful backdrop of the New York City skyline. The roof of the Cooper Square Hotel, the venue for a new musical showcase hosted by former music publicist Annie Ohayon, was entertaining enough, but it served as the perfect venue for this event, which promised to be part artists’ salon, part cocktail party. Officially titled the Annie O. Concert Series, the curated evenings will be open to bands and musicians from around the world.
The series launched on March 2nd with a performance by the band Bipolar Explorer. Lead by Michael Wells on lead guitar and vocals, with Sean Lahey on guitar and Elizabeth Rossa on the bass, the band is proof that indie rock can be a truly organic effort. The eclectic group played with a soft, steadfast sincerity. Each of the musicians seemed to be conducting his or her own exploration; the harmony and synthesis felt like a happy accident. Each member comes from different origins, but they clearly share the intent to make new and truthful music.
Wells has a long musical career behind him–most notably as the frontman of Uncle–but his performance was full of discovery and a quiet curiosity. Rossa has been an actress and a yoga teacher, only learning to play bass later in life. If her inexperience was apparent it simply enabled a soulful and earnest performance, one free of pretension. The songs were rock without the edge; powerful without the punch. Guests lounged on the floor or huddled in a semi-circle around the band, adding to sense of creative flexibility. The simplicity of the space allowed the complexity of the art to resonate, discretely yet omnipresent—kind of like the panorama twinkling in the background.
Photos by Rachel Balik