Pancakes & Whiskey for me came at a time after I had just gotten fired for having what I was told was a bad personality—I shit you not, that was the legitimate reason I was given—and I was suffering an extended bout of ennui. I was spending my days searching for jobs and when I wasn’t finding any jobs, writing. It had always been a passion of mine, but I never found a vehicle that allowed me to pursue writing, but hell, I had the time.
At first, pieces would be sent out into this black hole at the other end of the “contact us” page. Then I read about Medium, and started to publish my not-even-rejected-just-ignored pieces myself, saving them from the event horizon to see the light of day. I saw a small readership build, fortunate to have gotten on Medium when it was still small, until I had a writer I looked up to promote one of my pieces. David Carr, the late great New York Times writer shared something I wrote on the emotional differences between streaming music and vinyl records, and he shared it to his followers on Twitter.
That was an ego boost for sure. Suddenly I’m applying to writer’s conferences (getting into the one at Yale), I got a job proofreading, and this website I hadn’t really heard of responded to one of my emails from months prior saying they were interested in my work. I had sent over that same streaming music piece, and a longer piece on classical, which just goes to show how little I knew what I was doing. The email was from Shayne and it started “Hello Shaun.”
Even if the message wasn’t meant for me, I was going to pretend it was. I gracefully accepted Shaun’s invite and wrote up my first album review. What I didn’t tell them was that I hadn’t written an album review since I had a geocities website. When I wrote my first live review, I neglected to mention that was my first live review. And when I was asked to interview Beth Hart, I said yes, then googled “how to interview someone.”
In the eighteen months since I started writing for Pancakes & Whiskey, I’ve seen it blossom into this strange collective of highly talented individuals under the extremely open leadership of Shayne and Jonathan—I mean, I compared Brit Pop to pornography and wrote an entire album review by reviewing album reviews and they still let me write for them; I’m not actually sure where the limit is.
We the music lovers get to shape the words and images, and with each post it shows that we are making something we love, and what’s a better way to celebrate than with a concert and free whiskey?
The show was held at Rough Trade NYC. I had never been before. As a rule, all venues must now have a record store and all record stores must have a stage. It just makes sense. There I ran into Shayne, and talked before meeting Jonathan, who is much taller than I imagined. Then I drank whiskey, free whiskey. George Dickel, to be exact, one of our shows sponsors. I wish George was a real living person, for I would give him a hug for free whiskey that didn’t taste like the stuff your cheap relatives have at their open bar. In fact, only teetotalers have any excuse for not coming to get this whiskey. Seriously.
Three acts played the night: The Meaning of Life, Psychic Twin, and Emily Wells. All bringing their unique sensibilities to new new wave (nouveau nouveau vague?) that has been taking over rock radio for the last five years now. It was funny to watch the stage shrink over the course of the night, though. TMOL came out with four members, Psychic Twin with two, and Emily Wells, with, well, herself.
My one regret over the course of the night is that I didn’t get to meet everyone on the team. I’d be more upset if it weren’t for the fact that they were all out covering a ton of other shows. But at some point I’d actually like meet these people. Anyone who’s read anything I’ve written for here knows I live in New Haven, I find a way to mention that in every post (see?), so I don’t get to make it out to Brooklyn every night. Because of that, I had to bust out right at midnight like some highly awkward Cinderella, replacing the pumpkin with Metro North.
I have what David Carr called the “immigrants love” for Pancakes & Whiskey. Like Creem magazine and early Rolling Stone, the zines in the 80s, and blogs and e-zines at the end of the century, we constantly create places like Pancakes & Whiskey out of necessity. It’s a place where I and so many others get space to create the music site that we want to see and read. And people love that, I know they do because of how much growth the site has seen in the past year alone—new hires, new partnerships, bigger concerts.
So here’s to Pancakes & Whiskey, and to our next year.
Article: Christopher Gilson
Photos: Shayne Hanley