Jack and Joe Kerwin Don’t Want You to Miss It
The party-throwing brothers behind the concert series "You Missed It" say you'll hear the next wave of New York music at their New Year's Eve party.
4:15 PM EST on December 29, 2023
I like bloggers. I just do. I started reading "You Missed It," a Substack by Joe Kerwin where he recaps his life of going to shows around the city almost every night, in a clipped, text message-y style, in summer 2022 when he launched it. The blog's sardonic tagline is "real boots on the ground reporting," but in all earnestness, I liked it for that very reason, because it was exactly the type of music writing I like to see—blogs that sound like dispatches from real places that you can almost smell.
Working at Baby's All Right occasionally, Joe would refer to musicians from his scene, widely described as "Indie Sleaze," like The Dare, Blaketheman1000 and May Rio, by their first names, expecting everyone to know who they were, and talk about things like letting Lorde into the VIP section at a Blood Orange show. The blog was aptly named: "You Missed It." Himself a newcomer to New York, Joe unapologetically cultivated FOMO, a sense that his friends were on the verge of becoming famous (they kind of were), but more crucially a sense that cool, artistically important things were happening in the city, if you go out and look for them. Still a stranger, I sent him a DM: "Love reading this kind of thing. Keep doing it!"
Since then, he has kept doing it, kind of. After his brother Jack moved to the city last year, they transformed "You Missed It" into a kind of concert booking operation, throwing parties and shows around the city, mostly in Brooklyn. As the booking business picked up (they started by booking a New Year's Eve party at Baby's All Right last year, and since then have booked shows at South By Southwest), Joe's blogging dried up. In a phone call with the brothers, ahead of this year's New Year's Eve party, Joe told me he's mostly dropped the blog, because the attention he and his friends have gotten introduced some weird dynamics. But he says he wants to pick it back up.
"It's challenging, because it used to feel like I was just fucking around and now it feels a little name-droppy, even when I'm talking about the same friends, because they've had success," Joe told me. "The blog isn't gone. I hope to return to it, because I'm having so many experiences that I'm so grateful for. And it's just a memory log of experiences where I feel blessed to be around talented, high-performing artists." Instead, booking shows is what feels generative now, he said: "All my experiences reinforced the idea that these communities are actively created, and it takes somebody putting events together and getting everybody in the same room to facilitate a cultural moment."
"There are overnight successes where people have been grinding for years," Joe said of the scene. "I'm thinking about The Dare. That's a guy who's had years of DIY touring and grinding it out as an indie artist." Like many of the scene's artists, The Dare shed an approachable 2010s indie pop skin and re-emerged in the 2020s with a slick new Indie Sleaze persona, earning new fans and new haters. Jack chimed in: "Just over a year ago, he was down to go play a basement for little to no money in Boston."
"I remember going to some basement show and [Frost Children] being like, 'I think we're on at 4:00 a.m.,'" Joe recounted. "'We'll play for two hours.' And this was at 1:00 a.m., and already nobody was there." Joe said the point of "You Missed It" was never really to give a critical perspective, but to gas his friends up, because he knew firsthand how hard they were working. "I also have the experience of being a touring artist," Joe told me. He's a bassist in his own band, Voyeur. "Both in writing and show-booking, being artist-first is a core value for me."
Joe said it was jarring seeing his community sometimes getting a rocky reception when they would start getting attention from big outlets and labels. "It's weird to be close to stuff and then see it get talked about," Joe said. "People get torn to shreds in Pitchfork by people who couldn't play a drum beat. Giving artists the benefit of the doubt is something that's important to me."
The acts around the Kerwins would often be referred to as "Dimes Square" acts, which I never really understood, because I thought of them as incubated primarily at Baby's All Right. Joe concurred: "Baby's has artists working at the venue, so the artist community knows the people in the space and often can get access to it," Joe said. "A place where people can go and feel welcomed and encouraged to be there is powerful."
The "You Missed it" shows give Baby's All Right the atmosphere of an artists' haven, a place where ambitious DIY kids can play a stage where they might have seen their heroes play last week. "There are big artists looking to do an intimate show, and local bands who might have a few hundred Instagram followers," Jack said.
"The potential to get real star power coming through keeps it sexy," Joe said, "but it's also a room where we could take four local acts who couldn't fill the room independently, put a little bit of our blog buzz behind it, and have a full room for a showcase of local artists that we're really hyped on. And that's kind of what New Years is looking like."
Check out why the Kerwins are so excited for the New Year's Eve party, and the rest of their recommendations below:
Friday, December 29: Frankie Cosmos at Baby's All Right. 146 Broadway, Brooklyn (Sold out)
"A home-court heater. Thank you, [Baby's All Right talent buyer] Alex Gleeson. I'll be sticking around for the late show too: Baile Funk vs. Reggaeton. An embarrassment of riches."
Sunday, December 31: You Missed It: New Year's Eve at Baby's All Right. 146 Broadway, Brooklyn ($52.94, use code "youmissedit" for $10 off)
"We've got Isabella Lovestory, Suzy Clue, Mercury and JessX for the live acts. They're all artists that we've been really hungry to book for a while now. Suzy Clue is an artist that we've been repping hard and somebody that I'm really personally excited about. There's been all this hype around the original artists that we were hanging out with, and I'm thinking about how things are going to move from there. Playing a part through booking and driving which way it's going to go is a really interesting thing to be involved in. And Suzy Clue, her song 'Remember Me' has really given me a vision of what I would like to hear things sounding like."
"If you look at the talent in NYC, its one guy who does electro clash and all these dark, sexy rock bands. Trying to bring different genres and different groups of people in New York together is all what's going into this bill. There's all this hunger for what's next, and a sense of possibility for artists, so people are really bringing their A game."
Friday, January 19: Aerosmith Farewell Tour with Black Crows at Madison Square Garden. 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Madison Square Garden. (Prices vary)
"I've never been to MSG. Probably won't actually see this one. But one time I walked past Steven Tyler on Newbury Street in Boston and thought he was just someone who'd gotten plastic surgery so he could look like Steven Tyler."
Wednesday, January 24: Nat and Alex Wolff (formerly of the Naked Brothers Band) at Baby's All Right. 146 Broadway, Brooklyn (Price TBA)
"This is on my birthday..."
Friday, February 2: Frost Children with Olth and Jeffrey Lewis at Elsewhere, 599 Johnson Ave ($29.92)
"So bizarrely stacked."
Whenever: Ornithology Jazz Club. 6 Suydam Street, Brooklyn ($10)
"I don't know their calendar, but you should just go to Ornithology. There's an outside deck upstairs."
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