A Guide To The Indiepop Explosion That Will Be Chickfactor’s 20th Birthday Party At The Bell House


The resurgence of the concept of “twee” (for better and for worse), and the fact that 2012 serves as the 20th anniversary of the seminal indiepop fanzine Chickfactor, probably made the three-night Bell House birthday blowout the publication announced yesterday inevitable, but the lineup that’s been booked for the three shows—for which tickets go on sale at noon; they’ll cost $25 a night or $70 for a three-day pass—made this former indiepop-list subscriber’s heart go pitter-pat when it was announced yesterday, because it is so good, starring as it does a lot of artists who haven’t played shows in the New York area in years and years and whose back catalogs are stuffed to the gills with smart, driving pop that can express heartbreak and elation in the same verse and without being maudlin. A YouTube-assisted tour through the 12 bands that have (so far) been booked for the gigs below.

April 10
Black Tambourine (indiepop pioneers from DC that count Slumberland honcho Mike Schulman, Chickfactor‘s Pam Berry, and two members of Velocity Girl among its members)

Small Factory (This is the seminal Providence group’s first show since 1995, a fact that made me feel olllld)

Versus (NYC powerindiepop trio; their 2010 album On The Ones And Threes was a master class in what the term “indie rock” means)

The Lois Plus (If not the best one of the top songwriters of the indiepop movement, penning spry yet shuffling songs about moments in miniature that were so well-crafted it was easy to forget that a lot of the time she was playing with only her guitar; I could probably just post Lois videos for the rest of the day if I knew that it wouldn’t be frowned upon; here she’ll play with former Talulah Gosh/Heavenly guitarist Peter Momtchiloff)

(oh and here is a song from Maffeo’s record with Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, The Union Themes)

(and here she is serving as “hook girl” for Calvin Johnson’s dancefloor excursion Dub Narcotic Sound System)

April 11
The Aislers Set (Sharp, smart Bay Area twee led by former Henry’s Dress member Amy Linton)

Pipas (Transatlantic duo that’s apparently getting ready to do new things; this is their first show since 1998)

Bridget St. John (British folkie whose recordings from the ’70s were championed by John Peel; the below clip is from 2004, but there’s tons of stuff from 30-plus years ago on YouTube)

The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group (Basically I am expecting this set by the slick Minneapolis band to transform the Bell House into Fez (R.I.P.), if only for the night)

April 12
Stevie Jackson (Lead guitarist of the indiepop legends Belle & Sebastian who penned a song called “Chickfactor,” which appeared on the band’s 1998 album The Boy With The Arab Strap)

Honey Bunch (Velvet Crush’s Jeffrey Borchardt/Underhill was in this trio, which was on Slumberland decades before the label’s current resurgence)

A Girl Called Eddy (The musical alias of Neptune pop classicist Erin Moran)

The Softies (Wonderful indie-pop duo with former Tiger Trap lead singer Rose Melberg and quietly virtuosic guitarist Jen Sbragia, and after Lois the band I’m marking out the most about seeing)

There are also shows in Washington, D.C., featuring current Slumberland highlight Frankie Rose and the genius polyglot-pop outfit Lilys; they’ll take place at the Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia. Road trip?