“I’m moving away from this city in two weeks,” said Nicole Schneit last night, between songs at Zebulon. “It’s been nice living here.”
Schneit is the leader of the Brooklyn indie pop band Air Waves, whose second full-length will be released this fall through the label Underwater Peoples. The album, which was recorded at the Walkmen’s Marcata Studios, is currently being mastered, and if things go right in the immediate future, it’ll be done by the time Schneit boards her flight for Austin, Texas in September.
Last night’s show at Zebulon was Air Waves’ final New York appearance before Schneit’s voyage. It was also the last show the three-piece will ever play with their drummer, Jordan Bernstein, who is leaving after about a year to focus on his five other bands. According to Schneit, she’ll be looking for a replacement for him as soon as she lands in Austin. Her bass player, meanwhile, a shaggy fellow named Dan Bryer, is staying put, and will be flying out in October to accompany Schneit on a West Coast tour in support of the new album.
On the bill with Air Waves at Zebulon were the Wailing Wall and Sail By Night, and overseeing the proceedings were a pair of guys who recently shot a documentary about Air Waves at Schneit’s parents’ house in Nyack. Schneit’s voice was typically scratchy and friendly, bringing to mind Neil Young, and she struggled throughout the set with a badly behaved amp before finally accepting, a few songs from the finish line, that the unappetizing crackle was not going away.
Before the show began she told SOTC that she was moving to Austin because that’s where her girlfriend of two years lives. She and Jennifer Moore, who sings in the band Yellowfever, met while Schneit was working the door at Cake Shop. They’ve been doing the long distance thing ever since, and to date they’ve seen each other mainly while one or the other has been on tour. Starting next month they will live together in a house near the Barton Springs swimming hole, for which Schneit– who has been working lately at Film Forum– will pay a few hundred dollars in rent per month. While she’s not planning to play solo a whole lot in Austin, one thing she’s looking forward to is having the privacy to work on new songs without getting embarrassed about roommates overhearing her, the way she does now when she tries to write in her shared apartment in Greenpoint.
Another thing Schneit is looking forward to is having a dog and a yard, as well as the possibility of having a minimally stressful job to cover her measly rent. She’s expecting a quiet, slow-paced life, and though she has a bunch of friends in the Austin music scene, she’s excited to experience Friday nights that come with none of the pressure to go out that she feels in New York.
Most likely, she said, she will return to the city within six months, but is open to the idea of falling in love with Austin and staying longer.
Before the show last night, she said she wasn’t really sure whether she wasn’t going to even mention her imminent departure to the audience. But as the set got closer to over– and the moment when her band as she has known it for the past year got closer to no longer existing– she seemed to get inspired to address it.
When the trio prepared to start their set-closing “Sweetness,” Schneit looked over at her drummer and her bassist, then refocused on her audience. “New Yorkers always come back,” she promised, and launched into it.