Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.
I first heard about Bad Waitress from a friend who described their live set as “a 100mph party train ride,” and they have been on my radar to see their next grand return to NYC ever since. Hailing from Toronto, ON, Bad Waitress are Canada’s premiere alt-punk party band consisting of Kali-Ann Butala (vox/guitar), Katelyn Molgard (guitar), Nicole Cain (bass) and Eva Moon (drums). Today they have released “That Sedative,” their first single and video since 2018 (watch below), and this week they will be rocking NYC at Mercury Lounge on January 22nd with Castle Rat and Old Lady. We chatted with them about their experiences touring in the US vs. Canada and their upcoming trip to Las Vegas.
AF: What is the difference between touring in Canada vs touring the US?
BW: US has shorter drives… and a lot of signs for selling fireworks and Jesus.
AF: What are your favorite cities to play in the US and Canada? What’s the craziest drive you’ve ever done on tour? Craziest tour story in general?
BW: It’s hard to choose really! Every city has its own place in our hearts but so far Detroit, Brooklyn, and Montreal have been major highlights. Our craziest drive hands down was straight from Toronto to Saskatoon which lasted 32 hours. Still have nightmares of that… woof!
We have so many crazy stories. One that sticks out is the mysterious black eye Kali got after our weekend playing Fest in Gainesville. Still don’t know to this day! Playing Crystal Lake fest two years ago was insane too. Katelyn met a woman who was former world champion body builder and ended up crashing at a Christian retreat owned by said body builder’s father while Kali disappeared into the woods while on acid to softly fall asleep in a nest of pine needles.
AF: You’re playing Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas next May. What bands are you most excited to see?
BW: We’re definitely stoked for Lunachicks. They are clearly a huge inspiration for our drummer Eva’s fashion sense. Haha. Also Cock Sparrer and Propaghandi.
AF: What other plans do you have for 2020 post-record release?
BW: We are playing at the Mercury Lounge in Manhattan January 22 and also playing New Colossus in Brooklyn in March as well as SXSW and Pouzza in Montreal! So much to do!
Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.
After seeing Godcaster for the first time, I imagined they all grew up together on a purple mountain surrounded by space dragons on one of Saturns moons. Turns out I was half right: they have been playing music together since they were kids and called themselves a band before they even played instruments. Their members are split between Philadelphia and Brooklyn, and played 25 shows of their well-composed glam chaos in NYC last year, landing themselves on Oh My Rockness’ list of Hardest Working Bands of 2019. Their first show of the new decade is on 1/10 at Baby’s All Right with many of the other bands on this list including Cindy Cane, Darkwing, Gesserit, Top Nachos, and New Myths. We chatted with Godcaster about flute solos, Europa and the hand seekers…
AF: What was your favorite moment of your 2019 shows? Who was the best dancer you saw at one of your shows? Where and with what band do you want to play in the next year that you haven’t yet?
GC: When the piston misfired in the old van / big wheelie across Utah. Best dancer: David! Who we want to play with: Deerhoof!
AF: How large is your collection of fringe jackets? What’s the most creative use of the fringe on your jacket?
GC: Keeping in terms with the hand seekers, we are big we are valid
AF: If you could play on any planet, moon, black hole or another celestial variety in the universe, where would it be & why?
GC: Europa the frozen moon with the elves!
AF: What is the most inspirational flute solo you have ever heard?
GC: Keeping in terms with the hand seekers! Delving quick and valid
AF: What are your plans for 2020 + beyond?
GC: Continue commencing big velocity undergoing valid dirth and keep rockin around!
Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.
New Myths are a Brooklyn-based alt rock power pop trio comprised of Brit Boras (guitar/lead vocals), Rosie Slater (drums/vocals), and Marina Ross (bass/vocals). In 2019 they released three new singles (including a cover of “Unbelievable” by EMF), made two music videos, and went on tour with The Joy Formidable. I saw a lot of great New Myths shows last year, but my favorites were their direct support slot for Crazy Town at Sunnyvale and their Halloween cover set as The Go-Go’s, where they dressed as The Beauty and The Beat album cover, complete with their hair wrapped in towels and white face paint to look like face masks. Their first show of the decade is on 1/6 at Our Wicked Lady with Looms, Jelly Kelly, and Color Tongue, and we chatted with them about their favorite gas station food, Brooklyn bands and future plans.
AF: How did you meet? What was the first movie you all watched together?
Brit Boras: We met a long time ago individually – Marina and I went to middle and high school together and were on the same school bus, but didn’t become friends till after high school. Rosie and I met at music school; we were two of only like six females in the whole program which is part of why I really wanted to start a band together. Also ironically, Marina and Rosie played in a band together throughout high school. I don’t know if we’ve ever watched an entire movie together honestly… If the three of us are in a room together we are usually chatting, writing, rehearsing, recording, playing shows, or dancing.
Rosie Slater: Marina and I had been playing together in another band through high school and college, and then Brit and I went to college together. I’m not sure what movie? We talked about Spinal Tap a lot?
AF: Who are your favorite Brooklyn bands to play with? Who is your favorite band that you opened for?
MR: Oh my god, Wet Leather, Jelly Kelly, Ash Jesus, Mother Feather, Yella Belly, Power Snap, Lola Pistola, Desert Sharks, Catty, Max Pain and the Groovies…we’re just surrounded by endlessly talented people.
BB: All of the above plus Darkwing, Grim Streaker, Monograms, Stuyedeyed, Sharkmuffin, Slow Caves… My favorite bands that we’ve opened for are Metric, Warpaint, and The Joy Formidable.
RS: My favorites are Jelly Kelly, Wet Leather, Sharkmuffin, and The Muckers! Opening for Metric was wild… I’ve been a huge fan since high school.
AF: What are your favorite gas station snacks?
MR: Smart Food popcorn, git OUTTA here with anything else.
RS: Peanut M&Ms and the red Doritos.
BB: Cheetos, Cheez-Its, Goldfish all the way. Basically anything with cheese…
AF: I love your cover of “Unbelievable.” Why did you decide on that one and are there any other covers you plan on recording?
RS: Thank you! “Unbelievable” kind of just happened… Brit suggested it when we were in the studio recording something else, and Marina and I were super into it but thinking about making it really sludgy and then we recorded it the next day! There may be some other top secret covers coming soon…. maybe!
MR: It was the one we were all stoked about! Years and years of middle of the night texts of “Wouldn’t it be funny if we covered…” and this was the one we were all, like, yah…yah, that would be sick.
BB: Yeah we were in the process of recording our original songs and I was listening to “Unbelievable” on the way to the recording studio, thought it’d be a cool cover, brought it up to Marina and Rosie, they suggested we slow it down and sludge it up, we worked on it, and then recorded it the next day. We are in the process of recording another cover but that is in the vault for now!
AF: What were your favorite moments of the past decade and what are your plans for 2020 and beyond?
MR: Christ, there’s so many good ones. Our first show ever was of course one of my faves – opening for Lucius at Cameo Gallery. We played a street fair in Worcester YEARS ago which has grown to be one of my favorite moments because we still to this day get support from them and everyone has just been lovely. Watching Metric up close and personal after opening for them at Music Hall of Williamsburg was amazing. There are so many “moments” that I love so much that are so small but so indescribable.
BB: Yeah this decade has been really fun. I love the weird shows; dressing up in towels and face masks and performing as The Go-Go’s for Halloween was super fun. SXSW festival is always a blast to play every time. Going on tour with Cindy Wilson of the B-52s and The Joy Formidable were also times I’ll never forget. We have a lot of new music that’s still unreleased so we are looking forward to putting those out. A new music video and single are currently in the works. We’re playing Treefort Festival in Boise Idaho in March which I’m really looking forward to as well.
RS: The last decade was a doozy! I don’t know if there’s anything specifically planned except to keep doing what we love, making music, and seeing what happens next!
Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.
Providence, Rhode Island rockers GYMSHORTS join Dune Rats on a couple dates of their tour, including this Tuesday 11/12 at Rough Trade. Frontwoman Sarah Greenwell formed GYMSHORTS with guitarist Devin Demers in 2012. They’ve been heavily touring ever since, bringing their stoner punk goodness to the world. We chatted with Sarah about how they spend their time on tour and the best ways to spend your extra daylight savings hour…
AF: How do you pass the time in the van on tour?
SG: We play the coolest game ever!! It’s called “cows on my side!” Basically you just yell out when you see cows! And when you see a cemetery you say “ghost cows.” It gets super competitive and we’ve made some new rules along the way but it’s pretty much the best tour game I’m pretty sure.
AF: What’s your favorite city/venue to play in?
SG: I love playing anywhere in California – it’s so fun! And Fort Wayne! The Brass Rail rules!! Honestly, I love playing in New York too. We played in Bangkok back in May too which was very sick!
AF: Daylight savings just happened last weekend, what did ya’ll do with your extra hour?
SG: This question is the best!! We actually have a song about daylight savings and how it’s so cool cause you get an extra hour of hours!! I think I was probably sleeping this daylight savings but there was one daylight savings where we were driving overnight from Detroit to Chicago and there is a time change of one hour and then also it was daylight savings so it was like 2 am for 3 hrs or something crazy like that! It was wacky as hell! That was a good daylight savings!
RSVP HERE for GYMSHORTS with Dune Rats, and Sonny Hall @ Rough Trade Tuesday 11/12! 18+ / $15
Four-piece ensemble DeVotchKa returned to a packed house topremiere a handful of new songs at their album release show at Rough Trade. I found myself surrounded by fans of all ages in the dimly lit venue, though not too dark to notice a few people around me clad in the band’s tees. Chatter of the new record was alive as we anticipated DeVotchKa, who took the stage twenty minutes late.
“We are gathered here today to celebrate the release of our new album,” preaches lead singer Nick Urata, met with cheers from his congregation. “It was a long and difficult birth, but we’ve arrived.”
DeVotchKa are perhaps best known for their work in film scoring, most notably the Grammy-nominated soundtrack for 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine. Seven years since their last studio release is a long and difficult birth indeed, but new record The Night Falls Forever does not disappoint, at least not live.
The band kept to a high energy setlist. Setting off a string of new tracks was “Straight Shot,” the lead single from the new record. Charmingly cozy while still anthemic, I had fallen in love with the lyric video for this track prior to the show but it doesn’t compare to hearing it live. Urata’s vocals carry over an animated, optimistic beat that had a couple salsa dancing right next to me in the limited space there was, others even taking a step back to give them more room. It’s a small sentiment that characterizes this room of DeVotchKa fans: cheerful, untroubled, and ready to welcome you with open arms.
It’s fun to hear a new record live prior to its release, given that I wasn’t familiar with any new singles other than “Straight Shot.” A track called “Break Up Song” slowed things down, but not at the loss of their momentum. Another stand out is “Empty Vessels” an uplifting anthem that exhibits what DeVotchKa do best.
During his opening set, solo singer-songwriter IRO stated, “There are so many instruments on this stage right now, I feel lonely.” There was no doubt that DeVotchKa would make use of them all, but watching them in action was really something else. “Let’s bring out another horn!” shouted Urata, before welcoming trumpeter Kenny Warren, who has also performed with the likes of Spoon and The Walkmen, on stage.
Jazz saxophonist and flautist Jessica Lurie also joined the band for a handful of songs. Jeanie Schroder had blue lights drawing eyes to her sousaphone, but portrayed her skills on upright and electric bass, as well as the flute (“How many shows do you get to see two flautists?” asks Urata, and I realize this is probably the only time I’ll ever experience that.) Tom Hagerman exercised his talents on accordion, violin, and piano. Urata, too, swapped instruments during the set, from guitar to theremin, even bringing out a bouzouki for the latter half. None of this outshone Shawn King’s resonant polka-like percussion. They chose to play with isolation of sound on both sides of the room, making the audience feel enveloped by sound.
Older tracks like “100 Other Lovers” still had the same life years later. After that song, I overheard the guy behind me tell his friends, “You know what? Holy shit! I knew this song, a couple of songs, whatever, but holy shit, they’re really fucking good.”
Of course, the night was not complete without an encore: a solemn, yet rhapsodic rendition of their famed track “How It Ends.” Most of the crowd didn’t miss a single word, and seeing the immaculate joy on the bands’ faces show that they’re happier than ever to be back doing what they love.
Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but in Brooklyn, the informal kick-off feels more like the first week of June thanks to the annual Northside Festival. Growing exponentially since its inception in 2009, Northside provides sensory overload in the best way possible, with hundreds of bands playing intimate showcases in various venues stretching from Williamsburg up to Greenpoint and out toward Bushwick’s borders. But in order to make your hunt for great live music a little easier, here are a few of our concert picks for the upcoming long weekend! See you on the dance floor (or in the mosh pit).
The renowned jazz saxophonist, producer, composer, and bandleader will take the stage at McCarren Park on Thursday night. Sandwiched on a killer bill between openers Jay Som and headliners Dirty Projectors, Washington might melt your face off with his searing tenor sax. If that scorching woodwind sounds familiar, it’s because he’s played with the likes of Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp A Butterfly, DAMN), Thundercat, and Ryan Adams. — Madison Bloom
If this goth-folk New Zealander doesn’t bewitch you with her stunning voice, we don’t know what will. Aldous Harding recently released her sophomore LP Party, and its mournful hymns will surely become all the more staggering within the high ceilings of the Park Church Co-op (she also plays Baby’s All Right on Saturday). Saps beware: you may want to bring Kleenex. — Madison Bloom
We’ve long admired shoegazey shredders No Joy, who released their four-track CREEP EP this February. They don’t just bank on head-banging distortion (though the dual guitarists’ hypnotizing ripples of blonde hair prove there’s plenty of that), deftly deploying well-crafted hooks with every ferocious track. They headline a bill featuring chilled-out Dutch power pop from Amber Arcades (fans of Camera Obscura or Still Corners take note) and Eartheater, the solo project of multi-instrunentalist Alexandra Drewchin that has to be seen to be believed (vacuum cleaners are often part of the show). — Lindsey Rhoades
A harmonium-wielding heir to Patti Smith, Shilpa Ray is no one to be trifled with. Her snarl alone makes for a compelling live performance – but when it’s paired with heartbreaking melodies and the occasional pedal steel, you really feel like you’re in the presence of the rarest and rawest of performers. — Madison Bloom
If you’re looking to hear something atmospheric, experimental, or just downright gorgeous, pop by National Sawdust for a set by composer and multi-instrumentalist William Basinski. Basinski is perhaps best known for his collections of dissolving tape loops entitled The Disintegration Tapes, and his contemporary work is very in keeping with that hypnotic, cyclical aesthetic. If you’d like to be lulled into a tranquil dream state, don’t miss this set! — Madison Bloom
Conversely, if you are absolutely not trying to chill out at Northside, and prefer to move your bod a bit more brashly, get thee to Terra Firma, where local noise duo Yvette will rev you up. This band is a must-see for anyone into distortion, shouting, and infectious, driving drum rhythms. — Madison Bloom
It’s hard to follow up a breakout debut, especially when it’s named Masterpiece. But Brooklyn band Big Thief aim to do just that with Capacity, which happens to drop the same day they take the stage at Rough Trade for a Northside appearance (they’re also playing Saturday at Park Church Co-op). Lead vocalist Adrianne Lenker is easily one of the best lyricists we’ve come across in recent years, her sweet voice often breaking into a raw moan as her bandmates’ backup fury blooms. — Lindsey Rhoades
We’re sort of obsessed with Jenn Wasner, whose soaring vocals first made our hearts pound as one half of Baltimore-based duo Wye Oak. Now relocated to North Carolina (after a tip from her pals in Sylvan Esso), Wasner’s still one of the hardest working women in indie rock. Last September, she released If You See Me, Say Yes, the debut LP from her solo electropop project Flock of Dimes. If you can stay awake long enough for the late show at Baby’s, definitely say yes to seeing Wasner live. — Lindsey Rhoades
Riding in on the brilliance of their new record Sincerely, Future Pollution, Timber Timbre are likely to knock your socks off on Saturday night. Expect spooky, swampy, synth-washed blues atmospheric and elegant enough to soundtrack the new Twin Peaks. — Madison Bloom
There’s a nebulous quality that the name Nightspace implies – one of liminality, of dissolution, of suspended time and identity. It’s appropriate then, that queer artist of color Bailey Skye would adopt such a moniker to create their glimmering electronic darkwave debut Birth/Decay. Beautiful and surreal, these six tracks offer throbbing post-gender post-punk that’s unlike anything else you’ll hear at Northside. — Lindsey Rhoades
Come hang out with us and listen to some of our favorite new artists! We’re co-hosting an awesome, five-hour daytime showcase with Glamglare featuring Blonde Maze, Gold Child, Letters to Nepal, Kinder Than Wolves, GIRL SKIN, and Josh Jacobson – you can read more about these artists here. Sets start at 12:15, so come say hi and hear some mind-blowing music!
When I make it to Rough Trade well past 9, people are still lingering around for the end of the shop’s day-long event full of performances and DJ sets. At the end of this year’s Record Store Day, Honduras closed out their tour with a hometown show at the Brooklyn staple.
Honduras have spent the last month touring with Acid Dad, switching back and forth headlining shows. It’s not the first time I’ve seen them: I’ve shot a show of theirs, coincidentally caught them not realizing that they were opening, and I’ve learned that the guys are all friends of friends of mine (as so happens in Brooklyn). That informal attitude characterizes the feeling of community you get at one of their shows – everyone is out to have a great time and enjoy great music. It might be the fourth or fifth of their shows I’ve been to, and even if I’m starting to see familiar faces among the crowd, everyone still has just as much energy as any punk show demands.
After the more playfully mellow opener Yucky Duster, the attitude of the crowd was quick to change when Honduras took the stage. Opening up with “Hollywood” off of last year’s Gathering Rust EP, things went a from head nodding to hair flipping, at least for me and for the guy a few feet away from me, whipping his dreads in every direction. It took about three songs for a mosh pit to form organically from people jumping around, all just a little bit off beat. “Thank you guys for dancing,” lead singer Pat Phillips says between songs, “or whatever that’s called.”
What I’ve come to expect at a Honduras show is a characteristically high-powered set that draws from the punk purity the band embodies. This was no exception, especially when to my surprise, I turn around to find guitarist Tyson Moore playing on his knees in the middle of the crowd. I still don’t know how I even missed him jumping off the stage.
This time around though, a number of new songs mixed into the set changed up the pacing, but not in a way that lost anyone’s attention. I find myself trying to decipher some new lyrics; I manage to hear, “Find a way to cope/Cigarette on the way,” and I hope I didn’t butcher that. When I catch up with Pat long after Acid Dad’s set, I tell him I’m liking the new material and he tells me they’ve been working at keeping up with the whole punk thing, but getting a little more introspective.
Now that their tour is over, they’ll be playing local shows around the city and continuing to work out their next steps. You can catch them with Omni and Patio for a rooftop show at Our Wicked Lady on Friday, May 5.
A friend recently mentioned something that’s never occurred to me before. He said that making music requires an enormous amount of restraint. That, whether it be at the songwriting or recording stages, holding back is of utmost importance.
Restraint. Patience. Modesty.
These may not be the first words that spring to mind while listening to the screeching sprawl that is Girl Band’s music. However, if you zoom in on their 2015 LP Holding Hands With Jamie, which was meticulously written and self-produced, you can hear the discipline. It is a methodical record; each stab of guitar and gurgle of bass strategically placed to maximize discomfort.
That same level of focus was evident at Baby’s All Right last week, where our own Emily Daly covered the group’s rapturous gig. The Irish foursome, comprised of guitarist Alan Duggan, vocalist Dara Kiley, drummer Adam Faulkner, and bassist/engineer Daniel Fox, were on point throughout, delivering a streamlined spike of rage in sound only.
At times, his feet obscured by heads in the crowd, Duggan looked as though he was kicking someone’s head to the curb. Snapping at the waist and convulsing slightly against his own instrument. Turns out, that’s just how he plays guitar.
But for all of their sonic violence, the guys in Girl Band are an amicable bunch. I sat down with Duggan and Fox before the show to chat about concept albums, Glenn Branca, and a winking dog.
Audiofemme: It seems like people have finally come to grips with your sound. Have the horrible comparisons to grunge you’ve faced in the past stopped yet?
Alan Duggan: Yeah it’s finally stopped.
Daniel Fox: Yeah, like Pearl Jam references and stuff…
Oh! I didn’t see a Pearl Jam reference! It was a Nirvana reference I think…
DF: Yeah, it was a Nirvana reference.
Which is worse? I think Pearl Jam.
DF: Of course, Pearl Jam! I really like Nirvana. I hate Pearl Jam.
What are you guys currently working on?
AD: We’re just writing new music. Pretty much.
DF: Got some songs, yeah. We’re not going to play any of it today, (laughs) but uh, yeah we’ve got loads.
I know you guys have said in the past that techno/electronic music has been more of an influence than people might assume. What electronic musicians have been listening to lately?
AD: At the moment I actually haven’t listened to much techno in a while. I’ve been listening to a lot of Tim Hecker for ambient electronic stuff. That new Factory Floor song sounds pretty cool. It’s called “Yah.” They’re really cool. They’re on DFA Records. They’re from London. I think. But yeah just really good techno, kind of early techno sound. I don’t think they still have a live drummer, but they had a live drummer and weird guitar sounds-all very stylized as far as the visual aspect…I don’t know. They’re just really, really good.
That’s an area of electronic music that the mainstream doesn’t always grasp: that there are sects of it that are outside of just trying to make people dance…something more orchestrated than just “four on the floor.”
DF: I’ve been listening to early electronic music people. The BBC had a lab where they were basically figuring out how to do it, called “The Radiophonic Workshop.” It was in the ‘50s. There was this woman Delia Derbyshire who wrote the theme for “Doctor Who.” So it’s all these weird like (makes space noises). A lot of those kind of people really set the tone for what ended up being electronic music. But there’s a lot that can be done with it as opposed to just dance music. It’s a whole sonic palette that people just associate with dancing, really. Which I always thought was weird.
Since you signed to Rough Trade and you started touring internationally, have things changed with your place in Dublin? Are you still accepted in the local music scene?
AD: Yeah, it’s always like a real warm welcome when we go back and play Dublin, you know what I mean? Ireland’s pretty supportive.
I know you guys produced this record, which sounds fantastic. Is there a dream producer you’d love to work with? Or do you think you’ll continue to do it yourselves?
DF: I like producing. I mean, it’d be cool to get peoples’ perspectives, but-
And you worked as an engineer, correct?
DF: Yeah. That’s what I do in my spare time. So yeah…sometimes working with a producer could be-especially for the first record, could probably be a hindrance really, to have to re-explain something…
It [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][the record] would be covered in horn sections…
DF: Yeah, like a string orchestra.
I find that it rare that bands truly collaborate as a group, but it seems like every little detail has gone through everyone’s hands at this point. How do you guys write songs together?
DF: Sit in a room and hammer it out for ages.
For you guys personally, what were some of your earliest urges to make music? What brought you to it?
AD: For myself, all of my brothers were in a band. All of my family has always been really into music, so when I was a kid I used to sit down and watch them play, when I was about four or five, and just be like, “oh, that’s really cool.” They were real bad. They were terrible. They used to rehearse in my sitting room and face like they were playing a gig, so they wouldn’t even face each other, it was like real funny if I think back to it.
DF: They did it in the front room?
AD: Yeah, in the sitting room. But they’d set the PA up and face it out that way.
Oh, they had a PA?
AD: Yeah, it’s actually the PA that we use.
DF: It’s survived a long time.
AD: Yeah, cuz that would have been like, early nineties. It’s crap as well.
DF: It’s really not a very good PA.
(to Daniel) And what about yourself?
DF: My dad was a musician, like played bass as well, and I was around music a lot as a kid.
What aspect of what you guys do brings you the most joy?
AD: For me, I don’t really think it’s one – because you know usually you could be touring and it’s really, really fun, and you really enjoy it but-
I was wondering if someone would say touring because I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone say that.
AD: Oh, I love it.
DF: Yeah it’s a lot of fun.
But it sounds like it’d be a lot of fun, or like, really awful. Correct me if I’m wrong…
DF: Depending on the people.
AD: Yeah, if you’re with people that don’t get along I’d imagine it’s hell, but we don’t fight, we’ve never raised a voice to one another, so we work, we just kind of function really well.
DF: They all have their different perks. It’s like a meal, you know they all have their different things that are good about them. You know, like, touring you get drunk for free a lot, but then when you’re writing it’s like, writing songs is something fun, and then in the studio it’s just, it’s fun as well, so…
We’re supposed to negate the Irish stereotype. Come on!
DF: Yeah, “get loadsa cans!”
That’s gonna be the header: “Get Drunk For Free.”
What kind of milestones, or, maybe it’s just kind of an in-the-moment thing for you guys, but do you have artistic milestones that you want to achieve, that you strive for?
AD: I mean, I just wanted to put out a record that I was really proud of.
Well you did that. You’re done!
DF: Double album
DF: I want the fifth record to be a double-
DF: Yeah a double concept record. I just want to rip off Rick Wakeman and do one about Excalibur.
Oh yeah, and then like, it will be a pop-up in the center?
DF: Oh yeah.
AD: That would be pretty cool actually…
Just an idea. Just throwing it out there. Your prog rock record, ha. I know I just condemned comparisons only a moment ago, but when I was listening to your guys’ stuff I was thinking: are you guys fans of Steve Reich or Glenn Branca?
AD: Yeah, big time.
Ok, I was thinking you must be.
AD: Yeah, hearing Steve Reich for the first time was a real kind of eye-opener, so that kind of just-
DF: “I can do one thing for ages…”
AD: Yeah, that whole No-Wave scene in New York.
Yeah, he’s incredible. I saw his orchestra live a few months ago and he’s a real…I mean he’s kind of like a Tom Waits, he’s just a weird guy-
AD: Did you meet him?
Oh, god no! No I was just there, I didn’t cover it, but…what a weird dude!
AD: Interesting! But yeah humor’s very important. I always think humor is a very strong way of conveying a maybe very meaningful thing.
DF: Especially since some of this stuff is quite dark. Like the music’s so bloody angry sounding anyway, so it kind of like, negates that a little bit so it’s not just like, “I hate you mom!” you know?
I think I was reading something about when you did the KEXP performance you were like, “this is our poppy song!” which I thought was hilarious.
AD: Yeah, heh.
I listen to it, and I’m someone who listens to music that some people might deem “difficult,” and I hear a lot of melodic things in it…but I understand some people might not feel that way (laughs).
AD: Especially if you’re rehearsing, and then you’re touring it, and then you’re recording it, which is what we were doing, when it came time to put it out, you really lose context of how-
DF: Aggressive it might be.
AD: Yeah, we were like, “oh, this is a radio smash!”
Top Of The Pops! Another thing I picked up from an interview with DIY Magazine, was something about how on “Umbongo” you threw around some car parts and someone threw a spoon…
DF: (to Alan) you threw the spoon.
I tried to hear it today and…
DF: (laughs) It’s in there!
I don’t want to disappoint you by saying I couldn’t hear it, but I was trying…
DF: It’s buried in the mix.
AD: It was actually just like, a slam-dunk from across the room.
DF: Yeah we played parts of like, big huge springs…
Have you guys ever thought of going even further to create specific sounds? Maybe even building your own instruments?
AD: Yeah, definitely. We really want to try getting in touch with this guy called Yuri Landman. He’s built guitars for Lee Renaldo and…
DF: He’s a Dutch guy.
AD: Yeah, we played a show with him in Amsterdam, about two years ago now I suppose…but he built all these insane instruments, and he’s obsessed with noise. It is something that I think all of us would be really keen on doing. Like, Adam’s drum kit is very creative. He’s got loads of different cymbals like, stacked up on one another…that kind of stuff.
DF: Yeah, pipe cleaners…
Like the fuzzy ones?
DF: No, no. Like, long springs (laughs).
Ohhh. Lastly, what do you both plan on doing, for leisure or work, when you return home?
DF: (to Alan) What are you going to do? Walk your dog?
AD: Yeah, probably walk the dog. I got a little puppy.
(gasps) what kind?!
AD: Uh, it’s a Collie cross. He’s quality. He can wink as well.
Really? On command?
AD: No, but soon though! Check it out…
It’s just a twitch…
AD: No, well, it is a twitch, but
DF: His dog is adorable.
AD: It is a twitch but it will soon not be a twitch.
What’s the dog’s name?
AD: Boomers. Check that out: (shows winking dog pic) What a wink!
Oh muh lord. He is just always winking though…
AD: No he just-
That’s a moment you caught?
He looks kinda badass when he does that.
AD: Yeah. This is him when he was just a little pup: (shows fluffy, adorable puppy pic)
AD: He’s really cool. But he’s gettin’ a snip soon.
(to Daniel) And what about yourself?
DF: Me? Ehh, I have to mix a record for a guy when I go home.
Nice. That’s fun.
DF: Yeah, it’ll be very fun, because I thought I’d have it finished ages ago, and uh I don’t! (laughs) So I’m going to finish it when I get home.
Ryan Egan’s new video for his single “Finest Hour” showcases some groovy dance moves, hypnotizing falsetto vocals, and an overall air of mystery.
The video sees Egan decked out in a white turtleneck showing off simple yet perfected dance moves. Once the chorus hits, some shadowy background figures shimmy out from behind him and bust into their own more fluid moves. It’s the perfect contrast between black vs. white, light vs. shadow, simplistic vs. ornate. And Egan’s airy falsetto only reinforces the video as a mysterious yet enticing piece.
LA electronic project, YACHT (Claire L. Evans (vocals), Jona Bechtolt, (vocal & programming), Rob Kieswetter (bass)) headlined a sold out show with supporting act Larry Gus in celebration for the band’s latest album, I Thought Future Would Be Cooler (Downtown Records) at Rough Trade.
With a huge LED screen on stage and the band’s dancey tunes, YACHT turned the venue into a giant club. Throughout the set, Evans left the stage several times, to sing, dance, and shout with fans. YACHT played tracks from both their previous albums and the new one, including “Ringtone,” “I Wanna F— You Till I’m Dead,” “L.A. Plays Itself” (The first music video the band released for this album, but could only be viewed when Uber in LA begins to surge pricing), and title track of the new album “I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler.”
For the rest of November, YACHT will be touring in Europe.
Opener Larry Gus also put on an impressive show. His set was full of movement, energy, strength and sweats. The Greece-born multi-instrumentalist just released his new album, I need New Eyes (DFA Records), and has been touting with YACHT.
Holding Hands With Jamie by Girl Band is a beautiful mess, more musical noise than noisy music. Guitars squeal like pieces of metal screeching together in a car crash, the bass rolls up and down the fretboard wildly, and as well as some brief singing, vocals come in the form of screams, growls, shouts and intense monologues. There is structure, but it’s threatening to disintegrate at any moment. You’ll think you’ve identified a melody, only for it to come crashing down.
Whether singer Dara Kiely is remembering an encounter with a doctor who likes Abba on “The Last Riddler,” being honest about his vanity by drawling “I look crap with my top off” on “Pears For Lunch,” or vocalizing about something that isn’t quite intelligible but can be understood viscerally, every song on Holding Hands With Jamie is as riveting as it is challenging to listen to. However, the album’s standout track, possibly because of its weird, sad, disturbing and amazing video, is “Paul.” It starts with an ominous, surf-y bass line and relentlessly simple drums. Kiely seems to be talking himself in circles as the track builds and builds, until it can’t anymore and just explodes into the noise and feedback that’s been crackling in the background (As for the plot of the video, it’s better to just watch it than read about it).
If it sounds like the Irish rockers are on the verge of completely losing it at any moment, it’s on purpose. The album takes on an important context when you learn that it was inspired by the time leading up to a psychotic episode Kiely went through two years ago. Listening to Holding Hands With Jamie definitely feels like taking a break from reality, but Kiely remains in control the whole time. He’s admitted his inspiration for the album in interviews, so he’s obviously not ashamed of his past struggles, but he’s gone a step further by taking control of them, reframing them and sharing them on his own terms. The result can only be described as cathartic. And awesome. And noisy.
Holding Hands With Jamie is available now via Rough Trade; check out “Paul” below.
“We went overseas for about two years and became a really good band, and now we can do whatever we want.” Ezra Furman, the eccentric Chicago native who sold out Rough Trade on Wednesday strikes me as someone who’s always done whatever he wanted. He can do such things as wear red lipstick, a striped boat neck shirt, and tiny shiny gym shorts with oxford shoes and still look sexy, for instance.
Furman has just released his third full-length record Perpetual Motion Peopleon the acclaimed Bella Union label, and it’s a true gem. Tossing together rock n’ roll, folk, and delicious sax licks; PMP rests in a unique niche of contemporary music in that it doesn’t sound quite like anything else. I suspect one of the best compliments you can pay a musician is that their sound is truly their own, and true to that: Ezra Furman doesn’t sound like Mac Demarco, or Sunflower Bean, or Foals. Ezra Furman sounds like Ezra Furman.
Lyrically the album is brilliant. Furman not only possesses a knack for writing pop songs, but for equipping them with profound wit, wisdom, and heartache that stretches far beyond his 28 years. A personal favorite comes from the ennui-charged “Ordinary Life”: “way back in our mothers’ wombs, folded like notebooks, we had no idea of all the tote bags and the meathooks waiting out in the world.” A grim remark rendered cheeky when you realize it’s coming from someone who’s endured severe depression and mental illness, as Furman has. In a beautiful letter printed on the album’s lyric sheet Furman confesses that for the majority of his life he was gripped by a fear that he would die at 17. It’s no wonder his songs strike so deep.
Yet there was no shred of a tortured soul on Wednesday evening. Opening for Furman was Emily Einhorn and fellow Chicagoans J. Fernandez. Ezra could be spotted at the back of the crowd, politely chatting with fans and cheering on his supporting bands. You gotta love a headliner who watches the early sets with the sweaty rest of us. When Furman and his band (The Boyfriends) took to the stage the floor was packed out with admirers. They opened with “Day of the Dog” a track off of 2013’s album of the same name. “Well, this is interesting. This isn’t how I remember New York. I remember five people in the crowd at Arlene’s Grocery in 2007.” Clearly absence has made the heart grow wholly fond.
I could gush about Ezra for paragraphs, but his band demands some serious fawning. Not one of them is assigned a solitary task; Ben Joseph swapped between keyboards, guitar, whistling and singing, as did bassist Jorgen Jorgensen. Though he didn’t have a mic, drummer Sam Durkes insisted on mouthing the lyrics and whistling between beats. But the most dazzling to watch was sax-man Tim Sandusky, who produced, engineered, mixed and mastered Perpetual Motion People. He flailed around the stage filling out each song with defining woodwind phrases that congeal Furman’s sound.
Ezra played the majority of Perpetual Motion People as well as Day of the Dog, and the crowd ceased to dance throughout. During “Wobbly” Furman shelved his guitar for a shimmy break. He twisted around the stage with a strange mixture of girlish flirtation and proper sex appeal, though a clumsier side emerged while dancing by the drum kit and accidentally knocking the crash cymbal to the floor.
It was a show no one wanted to end. And though it had to, Ezra Furman was kind enough to gift us not one, but two encores, the latter of which being a smashing rendition of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” Higher and higher indeed, Ezra.
An unlikely lineup at the last night of Brooklyn’s seventh annual Northside Festival, one angsty crooner Shilpa Ray opening for the sparkly and jubilant Sun Ra Arkestra. In a way it was the perfect bill, not only due to the heightened quality of the musicians on it, but that their disparity satisfies every longing you would ever have. To feel deep pain and anger out the mouth of Shilpa Ray, and then to have it lifted and kicked into the cosmos by Sun Ra…what more could you want?
If you haven’t heard of Shilpa Ray, I am so sorry. Now you have. There was a time when I too had not. I saw her by chance at an Eric Garner benefit gig at Shea Stadium, and was instantly bowled over. She was center stage playing a harmonium with an angry sensuality, and had voice like Patti Smith wrapped in Bette Midler. Her performance was gritty and passionate, and quite frankly left me stunned. Where had this woman been all my life????
Her impact was no less intense last Sunday at Rough Trade. Her backing band, or, her Rayettes as she calls them (“aren’t they sexy???”) includes guitarist Alistair Paxton, the energetic drumming of Russ Lemkin, and Jon Catfish DeLorme on a wailing pedal steel. Ray puts out a mixture of arrogance and sweetness-she’s one of those performers you can’t quite explain…there’s no quantifiable measurement of her charisma, she’s just got it. “This song’s called “Shilpa Ray’s Got a Heart Full of Dirt.” One time a journalist asked me why I put my name in my song titles, and I told her, ‘because I’m a narcissist.’” It’s the kind of remark that rubs you in two different directions, but you can’t begrudge Ray for the honesty. In some ways that’s shorthand for how her music makes you feel, like a cat being pet backwards.
If Shilpa Ray brushes your fur the wrong way (in the best manner possible, of course) then Sun Ra Arkestra will no doubt have you purring. Though the original Sun Ra died over twenty years ago, his Afrofuturistic, psychcosmic funk deities keep the son of Saturn’s soul very alive. The Arkestra’s set up is incredible. No fewer than a dozen men in their seventies playing some of the most searing avant-garde jazz you’ve ever heard-all while wearing sparkly capes and hats. Fronted by saxophonist Marshall Allen, the group is an indefinable tour de force of soul, jazz, funk, and experimental jams. Occasionally punctuated with the vocals of Tara Middleton, the sound was predominantly instrumental, even if some of the instruments were sublime and unrecognizable.
The crowd was fully entranced by the performance-how could you not be? Even if the deepest thought you could muster was: “Will I ever be half as cool as these geriatrics?” (no) there was no resisting sheer enjoyment. By the tail end of the set, three quarters of the band trailed off of the stage, blowing their horns in the air and shimmying through the audience in a slack conga line. We encircled the musicians and danced first around and them with them. It was as if, for a moment, that barrier between performer and observer had been completely dissolved. Just like Sun Ra believed he belonged to the cosmos, so we believed we belonged to Sun Ra.
Pearl and the Beard are some of Brooklyn’s finest, the pearl in our oyster. The band consists of Jocelyn Mackenzie (vocals, drums, percussion) Emily Hope Price (vocals, cello, keyboards) and Jeremy Lloyd-Styles (vocals, guitars, percussion) who all met an An open mic night. As a hint of what’s to come for their much anticipated forthcoming album, Pearl and The Beard recently released their new single “You,” a fuzzy-love pop rock track that will have your heart glowing and your booty bouncing.
Shortly after their sold out show at Rough Trade, we spoke with Jocelyn about their upcoming third album, drunk voicemails, and self-love. “It’s humbling and overwhelming to feel the love of hundreds of people directed at you all at once, like a giant Care Bear Stare being rainbowed directly into your heart. That’s a high we’ll ride on for a long, long time.”
AudioFemme: How did the three of you meet?
Jocelyn Mackenzie: Open mic nights. That shit works!
AF: What are your favorite words used to describe your sound?
JM: Intense, cinematic, sexy… we love feeling powerful through our music and it’s amazing when other people feel that too!
AF: What was the inspiration behind “You?”
JM: My husband left me a (drunk) voicemail one night while we were away on tour, ‘I love you! Get it through your f*!king skull!’ I thought it was really sweet that he was so determined to profess his love for me that it made him angry. It’s funny that the ones we love the most usually need the most convincing of that, so we turned that feeling of raw desperation into a chorus and verse.
AF: Who is the “You” in the song?
JM: Well, originally it was my husband, but as the song grows and takes shape, I also relate it as someone speaking to him or herself. Self-love is an undervalued practice, and it can be hard to convince yourself that you’re worthy of your own care and praise. The song is becoming an anthem to me about proclaiming your love for yourself as loudly as you would to another human being.
AF: The track is pretty romantic. A bit cliche, but What are your relationship deal breakers?
JM: Hatefulness and closed-mindedness. Also I dated someone once that didn’t like birds. That didn’t end well.
AF: As a group you have a very distinct fashion sense, who and what are your style inspirations?
JM: Thank you! We talk a lot about how we want to FEEL rather than how we want to look. If an outfit makes us feel confident and sexy, we wear it. Normally we pick a color or two and then each of us picks out our own outfit based on the color limitations. Putting together a more stylish element, like something from ASOS, with a handmade item or something from the thrift store creates a look that’s unique and personal. We really inspired by Sia’s sleek and modern art-meets-fashion look that intertwines so flawlessly with her music. I also have a background in textiles and fashion, and I’ve done some styling for other bands too.
AF: You’re currently on tour – what has been the most memorable moment so far?
JM: We absolutely loved the show in Brooklyn at Rough Trade. It was truly incredible to be home, playing a sold out show in our home town, with people singing along, really getting into every single minute. It’s humbling and overwhelming to feel the love of hundreds of people directed at you all at once, like a giant Care Bear Stare being rainbowed directly into your heart. That’s a high we’ll ride on for a long, long time.
AF: What comfort of home do you miss most while touring?
JM: My bed! I have a mountain of amazing pillows and a very snuggly husband back there who is really good at keeping me warm… and other stuff.
AF: Can you speak to the sense of accomplishment that must come with selling out shows, such as your performance at Rough Trade in your hometown of Brooklyn?
JM: Every show is like hosting a party: beforehand there’s always that little fluttering worry of “Is anyone REALLY gonna come?” After seven years of touring that feeling still hasn’t gone away! This tour, thanks to being paired to support Wild Child, has been almost 100% sold out. It’s just awesome, and kind of indescribable. We’re very aware that we can’t do our jobs without the support of music fans, and knowing that they’re all going to be there before we even walk in the door lets us pause and feel grateful without those jitters. We can then be more fully immersed in the moment and it helps us host a better party.
AF: What’s next for Pearl and the Beard?
JM: In March we’re thrilled to be touring in support of Ani DiFranco, for our first time out on the west coast. Can’t wait! Then after that probably Disneyland, then death.
AF: How does your third album differentiate your sound from your pervious records?
JM: You’ll just have to get a copy when it comes out and tell me yourself…
Dream-pop, garage-rock, black-punk. In an era where the blogosphere battles to name genres, sometimes it’s nice to simply return to rock ‘n’ roll, which is just what we have for you in the first Artist of the Month profile of the new year. “As cliche as that is, I think that’s what we’re going for. A fun rock and roll band,” said Penny, a newly-minted member of the Oklahoma rock group, who recently joined with her partner Mandy, adding a much appreciated feminine flavor. They do after all, have a sky-rocketing new album titled Just Enough Hip to be Woman.
BRONCHOperforms at Beacon Theatre tonight supporting the one and only Billy Idol. Shortly before they hit the road, Sophie Saint Thomas caught up with Penny as she was getting ready to embark on a six-week tour.
ST: What is your experience with touring?
P: Honestly, I’ve loved it since I started doing it. I went on my first tour as a solo artist with another friend of mine who was also a solo artist at that time. I just love it, I love traveling. I love kind of having everything I need with me girl scout style. I see it as not much different than outdoor survival camping. I just kind of see it as the urban woods.
ST: Is this the first tour you guys as a group have done together?
P: No, Mandy and I just joined the band this last summer. We did our first tour with the guys I believe in August. It was like a five week run. We were basically touring from August to December with a few breaks and then we had December off, and now we’re at it again.
ST: How did you end up joining the band?
P: I’ve known Ryan for a few years now. I grew up in Norman, which is the town that they’re based in. Where they were hanging out and went to school. So I had hosted house shows at my house with them, and I’ve been to a lot of shows, just between musical mutual friends I guess. When I met Mandy we started playing music together. I heard that their old bass player was leaving the band. So I kind of pursued it a little bit, and six to eight months later I talked to Ryan, and he invited both of us to be in the band which is awesome because we live together and we’re partners. She’s kind of the only thing that keeps me from being on the road. So it’s really awesome to be able to bring her with me.
ST: How is it being with all those guys?
P: It’s good. The bands I previously was working with and touring with was much different. Musically, and also socially I played with two girls. And so I was mainly traveling with three girls which was a totally different experience. All three of us were around the 21-24 age so needless to say we were kind of crazy all over the place. I think the energy of this current group is like… I just feel like they’re my brothers. I have always been a tomboy so we just feel really comfortable.
ST: “Class Historian” is really blowing up and getting a lot of attention. How has that experience been?
P: I definitely feel lucky to be with them at this time. I’ve been watching these guys tour kind of parallel to my former musical life, and to be able to be in this band at this moment in time is pretty amazing. I do my best to not take too much credit for any of the actual success that’s going on right now. But it is super exciting. And I’m just constantly being flattered by people always hearing it on the XM Radio or wherever they’ve heard it. It’s kind of far out; We had a spot in the local paper recently, which was definitely the first time I’ve been called out like: “You’re that girl in that band!” It’s very weird, it’s very new, I’m trying not to get too used to it.
ST: I hope you’re enjoying it!
P: Definitely. I’m just trying to let it in and let it be real.
ST: I’m sure you and Mandy joining has changed the dynamic, can you speak to what you’ve brought to the band?
P: One obvious change is certainly the vocal presence. I think we’re moving to a really awesome place vocally where Mandy and I get to be sort of this more angelic presence over kind of the rougher vocals of the guys. It rounds it out really well. I was definitely worried at first about the former fans…I don’t know, it’s probably just girl insecurity. I never wanted people to be like, “Oh you’re good for a girl.” I think especially as the bass player like their former bass player, I respect him a lot. So the first show I was definitely watching a lot of people like, “You approve right?” I’m less about seeking approval now, and I’m just having a really good time with the guys. I’m no longer feeling like I don’t fit in anymore.
ST: I enjoy the female aspect; I love how it’s all come together. The album title Just Enough Hip to be Woman – were you part of the creation?
P: I honestly was not there but I totally can imagine how it came up, and it was probably the guys and some friends totally joking around and one of them probably said it in one way and another one said it in another way and then it went around in circles because it’s worded so strangely. I thought it was funny when I found out what it was because I didn’t even hear the new record or know the title until he had already asked me to be in the band. So part of me was like “Maybe he knew…” but I don’t think that he did. I think it’s just that perfect.
ST: How would you label your sound? I’ve read the term “garage punk” thrown around a lot on the internet.
P: Anytime we’re asked that at a border crossing, because they always ask “What band are you in?” and then “What kind of music do you play?” We all collectively answer with “rock and roll.” As cliche as that is, I think that’s what we’re going for. A fun rock and roll band. We’re all just having fun and ideally we just want everyone in the audience to be loose and crazy. I think “punk” is a bit of a stretch I think “garage rock and roll” is kind of where it’s at.
ST: Well, rock and roll is a cliche for a reason, it’s great. Are you excited to play with Billy Idol?
P: Yeah, I’m so stoked.
ST: Well congrats on everything that’s happening, and thanks for taking the time to speak with me.
Hype is a strange, ephemeral beast. While it doesn’t come without its negative connotations – that that which is hyped is undeserving of such interest, for one – there are very few independent bands who can make much of a name for themselves these days without at least a little bit of it. When pressed to define what constitutes hype, what is a ‘good’ level of hype for one’s project to have, or where hype comes from, it’s a bit tricky to nail down. We’ve long heard terms like ‘the next big thing’ being fastened to all manner of artists, some that go nowhere, others that reach the level of success predicted, and still others that become popular only to self-destruct.
In the case of UK punks Palma Violets, it’s impossible to know how far they will go and what will become of them, seeing as how they’ve not yet released more that a single. No one can predict the future, after all. But it’s certainly interesting to note their trajectory as a virtually unknown band that grew a great reputation on the strength of their live performances, then blew up overnight when NME named “Best of Friends” single of the year for 2012.
That sort of occurrence is pretty much the definition of hype and a perfect example of what it can mean to bands with burgeoning careers. Palma Violets have signed to Rough Trade and will release their debut LP, 180, on February 25th. And because the band clearly needs to generate yet more buzz, they crossed the pond for a handful of Brooklyn appearances, including a loft party, an appearance at DIY venue Shea Stadium, two dates at Glasslands and a BrooklynVegan-sponsored early show at Piano’s announced just hours before it took place.
After seeing their final show in Brooklyn last Monday, it’s a wonder that had the energy to do this. Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson are known for exhibiting an animated camaraderie on stage, each reacting to the others’ movements, playing guitar and bass while facing one another, singing in call in response or shouting in unison. Their pep is absolutely contagious – they look as though they’re having the time of their lives and are just trying to provide fun for audiences in leading by example. Their effervescent merch guy served as hype-man by introducing the rockers, reminding everyone that it’s rare to get second chances (though if he’s referring to a chance to see Palma Violets in action, this was really more like the fifth chance). He would appear again bouncing through the audience and heckling the band during the brief interlude between the proper set and the one-song encore in his cheeky British accent. When it came to stage banter from the boys, Chilli Jesson did most of the talking, at one point professing a deep, deep love for the whole of Brooklyn before diving offstage (later he would express this sentiment again before pulling several members of the audience, myself included, onstage for the final number and some very bouncy dancing). Comparatively speaking, Pete Mayhew seemed stoic behind his keyboard while Will Doyle’s assured, kinetic drumming provided an anchor to the more extroverted antics of the two singers.
But Palma Violets are not the first of their ilk to provide a spirited stage show. It’s not just their youthful vivacity that’s so intriguing, but the quality of each of their songs that makes the band unforgettable in a sea of snarling garage bands. Each song is fully formed and well executed; moreover each sounds detectably different from the last, a pitfall that many folks playing music in this genre can’t seem to avoid. They also seem like nice guys – gentlemen, even… albeit party-ready gentlemen who love to have a good time, to which their flashy rainbow-colored stage lights can attest.
Absent is the brattiness exuded by bands like openers Devin, whose baffling choice of a supposed Ike & Tina Turner cover described a thirteen year-old girl forced into a threesome after being molested by an uncle. That was just one misstep in a set plagued by them. Folks in the audience didn’t really seem to mind the (almost) impressive range of the the lead-singer’s squeals, yelps, shouts, and screeches, but the general nasal quality to his tone and snotty delivery turned me completely off – not to mention the immature content of the band’s original lyrics, which included praise for a girl who “looks like she’s starvin’ to death”.
Palma Violets, though, are a punk rock band apt to provide discerning audiences a more fulfilling experience than what they might otherwise see. Their eagerness to do so is no doubt the biggest driving force behind their becoming darlings of the scene. They will, of course, be returning stateside for SXSW and are likely to play a handful of dates elsewhere. With performances not to be missed and near-complete certainty that 180 will pack as much punch as their live set, it’s lucky for us that the hype in this case is well-deserved.