January 19, 2010

Preview: Freaks Ball X @ Sullivan Hall

This Saturday night, New York City’s Sullivan Hall hosts the tenth annual Freaks Ball, aka Freaks Ball X, featuring longtime Freaks’ favorite Scott Metzger with drummer Eric Kalb and bassist Ron Johnson, New Jersey natives The Black Hollies and roots rocker Anders Osborne starting around 9PM. Freaks Ball X celebrates ten years of the influential NYC-Freaks e-mail list which has helped launch the careers of Robert Randolph, The Duo and the American Babies among others in its decade-long existence.

We recently spoke with NYC-Freaks list creator – and one of the original Hidden Track contributors – Aaron Stein about how the e-mail list started, how the first Freaks Ball came together, his favorite Freaks Ball moments and much more. Here’s what Aaron had to say…

Scott Bernstein: How did the NYC-Freaks e-mail list start?

Aaron Stein: The story is long and not that interesting. The back story was moving down to the area, living way out on Long Island for graduate school and having to schlep into the city to see music. I knew a handful of people who were occasionally interested in seeing live music with me, but more often than not I went by myself or my girlfriend/wife. After a while I’d start to recognize people at shows and it was quite clear there was a community out there waiting for something to bring it together.

There was a small number of people on the WSP list (Spreadnet) who lived in the city and we got together once or twice or bumped into each other at a few shows in the city, or pre-Panic get-togethers, etc. Finally, one night in January of 2000, we all went out together to see the Justice League of America (w/ Jimmy Herring, T. Lavitz et al) at Wetlands and had a raging, debaucherously good time. I took one day to sleep it off and then started the Freaks list (on the now-gobbled up eGroups site). Around the same, other regional Panic fan list groups were popping up in Atlanta and Chicago.

Even though the list started with a bunch of Widespread fans, I think one of the keys to what it became and what it is and isn’t today is that I made a conscious effort not to make it the “NYC Panic fans” — it was the NYC Freaks from day one. The second major factor in what made the Freaks list the Freaks list is that it wasn’t *just* an email list with the normal shade of anonymity and blowtorching of each others opinions. The point of the list was to get together with other people in the real world and see live music.

for more from Aaron about Freaks Balls’ past and future…

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READ ON for the rest of this week’s contestants…

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