Ambassadors Play to Save the Gowanus Canal

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The Gowanus Canal Conservancy held their Winter Festival this past Saturday, at Build It Green; a sort of buy-as-you-like warehouse space in Gowanus. A general knick-knackery, which housed about a hundred guests for a farm-to-table catered dinner of chicken and sausage gumbo, coleslaw with pickled pepper vinaigrette, buttermilk and honey cornbread and apple crumb bars. More importantly there was beer. Delicious, dark, light, loving beer, all on tap. Such a miracle it is. Sigh.

The event was held to create awareness for the over-polluted canal. Dressed in yellow foam, the canal runs for a mile and half, or perhaps walks? Or crawls? or is wheeled along by an elderly care nurse, helping the canal along with an oxygen tank and a spare pair of senior citizen spanks. Its youthful skin is wrinkled with the likes of pesticides, heavy metals and carcinogens. This geriatric is in major need of a facelift, or at the very least some green shrubbery injected into its industrial cheeks.

The scene of the event was like that of an indie movie. When watching it onscreen you roll your eyes and think, "God, look at those hipster douche bags," but then, when you're the hipster douche bag, it turns out to be a lot of fun. Politically savvy youths drinking and dining, laughing and chatting. It's refreshing. There's a cause beyond getting laid to the evening, though of course that's an underlying factor at any social event. The evening progressed from polite dinner party into all out rock concert as Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls kicked off the musical portion of the evening, standing and singing alone on a table with her ukulele. She was followed by Japanese girl-rock band, The Suzan and Brooklyn-based Savoir Adore. All of whom were fantastic in their own way. Amanda played like a lilting muse. The Suzan thrashed about as only foreign bands can. And The Savoir Adore played catchy, pop anthems to be. But it was the headliner of the evening that turned this head. My head. This hipster douche bag head.

Ambassadors took the stage at 11 o'clock, and held the crowds attention thereon. People didn't get beer. People didn't talk. They danced. They smiled. They listened. The lead singer, Sam Harris, had the comfort and confidence of a young Bruce Springsteen and the voice of a young Sting. Ambassadors opening track, "Mirror Talk" sounded similar to that of recent "it" band, Sleigh Bells, with a booming backing synth. They transitioned from one song to the next, with ease and fluidity. What stood out most was their lack of bravado. They didn't seem worried about looking cool or having their picture taken, they just had fun playing the music they wrote. Indeed, they're the first band I've seen in? I don't know how long, who didn't either have long lovely lady locks, or pomade swooped bricks on their head. It's not about the look. It's about the music.

I look forward to getting to know the Brooklyn-based band more in the future. In the meantime? SAVE THE CANAL

For more info on the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, visit

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