Summer’s finally arrived, Bushwick! Over the weekend, the season was given an unofficial kick off with not just the Bushwick Collective’s annual block party, but also with Color Me Bushwick, a three-day run of local bands taking up residency in the back room of a local salon, Pickthorn, while hair stylists and tattoo artists worked their magic in the front.
The lineup was jam-packed with talent, including bands like Revel in Dimes, Monograms, Thunderpussy, and Fiona Silver. With free beers in the backyard, a friendly dog ambling through the crowd between sets, and about the best weather you could hope for, the whole scene had a buoyant energy about it.
It was in this spirit we got to chat with Fiona Silver down the block from the salon. Between passing cars’ subwoofer blasts, motorcycle tailpipes, and the din of the band currently playing at Pickthorn, we talked about her life, music, Bushwick, and how they all connect.
Fiona is a true New Yorker, having split her time between Bushwick and the East Village since she was 15, juggling between playing music under her own name and playing in bands. Silver’s songs are evocative of ’60s rock and pop, though she’s careful not to let herself get typecast.
Referring to that time and its influence, she explains, “I’m drawn to it, so naturally it comes out. We try to blend it all together. I never want to be too reminiscent of something else, but I love blues, I love rock and roll, I love ’60s garage pop.”
Regardless of whatever style she’s obsessing over at any given moment, the constant factor for Fiona is her voice. Able to flip on a dime from tender and yearning to raw and fierce, Silver’s voice is versatile and powerful, a weapon and a treat, venom, and sugar. I asked about her vocal influences specifically, and she rattled off some that you might guess after listening to her music—Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, and Billie Holiday—and some that were less expected, but also make a lot of sense—Gwen Stefani, Blondie, Garbage, and Hole.
All of those sounds and influences will be apparent soon, when Silver’s debut album is released. “It comes out June 23. It’s called ‘Little Thunder,’ and it’s gonna be all that stuff—rock and roll, soul, pop,” she explained.
Before she left to play, we got to talking about Bushwick and the endless cycle of rebirth and death within the bar and restaurant scene. I asked if she had any spots where she spent a lot of time.
“There’s a place—I hope it’s still there—The Shop?” When I told her it closed last year, she said, “Ah, fuck, man! See, everything I like closes!”
Instead, she decided on Our Wicked Lady on Morgan Avenue, a bar with a rooftop that features live music as well (sensing a pattern here?).
At the show Fiona lived up to the expectations she set for herself. The band was awash in ’60s guitar-pop sounds, all “Be My Baby” drum beats and reverbed guitar twangs. Fiona, clad in a leopard print one piece was all charm, her sultry looks one moment giving way to smiles and dancing.
“I’m your thunder,” she belted, her roar rippling through the room as she crumpled to the floor. Just a song before, she was grooving on stage, sharing her microphone with her guitarist as they harmonized for the chorus.
The whole band were pure professionals, dealing with a kick drum that wouldn’t stop inching forward, a snapped string on a guitar, a fussy pedalboard, and a few audience members chatting loudly right at the front edge of the crowd. If you were only listening, you wouldn’t have heard or noticed any of that. All you would have noticed was Fiona Silver, with her sparkly silver guitar, singing and playing her heart out.