An Indie Music Label Still Grows in Brooklyn

Indie record label Mexican Summer marks 10 years in business with a proper rager at Red Hook’s Pioneer Works. Come dance!

Musician Arp / Photo courtesy of Mexican Summer

In the years before streaming dominated, there were few business decisions more risky than starting your own music label. Post-Spotify, it’s even harder to imagine finding success as an independent. Mexican Summer, an imprint of the Brooklyn-based Kemado Records, is beating the odds and celebrating with a 10th anniversary blowout—featuring live performances of its most popular artists—this Saturday at Pioneer Works.

Venue Art Music Party
For those about to rock. / Photo courtesy of Pioneer Works/Facebook

For those too young to remember, indie labels once acted as clubhouses for like-minded musicians to reduce costs and farm out the red tape of recording, shipping, marketing, and tour logistics. Label executives were glorified tastemakers who personally assumed the risk of investment in exchange for the lion’s share of album sales. It’s a position that has mostly atomized onto the web, with SoundCloud taking the lead as distributor and Facebook as PR, and digital distribution rendering physical media mostly obsolete.

Mexican Summer had to rethink the role and developed its name by focusing on limited-edition vinyl LPs and out-of-print catalog reissues. For new music, the label predominantly staked its claim in the field of psychedelic and alternative rock, providing an early home for now-popular East Coast artists like Best CoastReal EstateKurt Vile, and the Beaches. Vinyl travels well internationally, and Mexican Summer LPs played by overseas DJs has made the label a hot destination for European rock bands seeking the imprimatur of Brooklyn cool.

Live Music
Surf rockers Allah-Las can also show you a few good ways to sit. / Photo by Laura Lynn Petrick

For this celebration of Mexican Summer’s impressive first decade, the label has assembled a hit list of its hottest current signees for an all-afternoon-and-evening concert taking place on two stages. Expect sets from experimental pop musician Drugdealer; dreamy drone composer Jefre Cantu-Ledesma; noisy prog duo Tonstartssbandht; surf rock revivalists Allah-Las; and the evening’s undisputed headliner, influential psychedelic bandleader and solo artist Ariel Pink. Mexican Summer is also teasing the special appearance of “a very special Swedish guest”…could that portend a set from Nordic folk-rock stars Dungen? You’ll have to be there to find out!

Live Music
Jess Williamson will see you now. / Photo courtesy of Mexican Summer

A Decade Deeper: Mexican Summer’s 10-Year Anniversary
Pioneer Works
159 Pioneer Street, Red Hook
Saturday, November 17
2 p.m.
$25; tickets available only at the door

You might be too busy raging to think about eating. Good thing we have you covered!