Don't Like Your Fucking Attitude


You see this guy last night?

In the state-of-nature madness CMJ brings to the city's rock clubs - dominant hierarchies determined by badges, lists, and access; swift deaths-by-indifference administered to all but the hardiest or most hyped bands - even New York's geography reverts towards a more primordial set of identities. Post up in Brooklyn, and there will be air to breathe, and space to move around. Clothes, hair, etc., will be worse than Manhattan's industry-of-all-kinds parade, but the atmosphere way less fraught - everybody on this side of the river has a little less to prove, and fewer people to prove it to.

So: We begin CMJ proper wading through Greenpoint, little kids trick-or-treating thick on the streets, swarming the sidewalks on an unseasonably warm night. First stop is the 31G label showcase - the legendary San Diego label responsible for the West coast cream of the 90's hardcore underground crop, with releases from Swing Kids, The Locust, Blood Brothers, etc. - at Club Europa, erstwhile Polish dance-club. Tonight's fare has label owner and former Locust bad guy Justin Pearson's Some Girls, the ex-Charles Bronson bi-continental Das Oath, ex-Arab On Radar band Chinese Stars, plus the ex-Orchid Western Mass crew Ampere. Possibly the dregs of a once-vibrant crop, but who knows: Doors are 6pm; show still hasn't popped off by 9pm - see you Saturday guys, when Manhattan's Rebel venue hosts the same showcase.

Further South, at Northsix's Teepee showcase, the first notes of actual music I hear at CMJ come from a man wearing wrap-around sunglasses indoors, at night, spread eagle at dead stage-center, massaging dual keyboards. With his head tipped back he's Chris Cornell with a quarter of the range, and over to my left Witch's J. Mascis looks positively stunned. Best guess is that we're watching Kreisor - one prolonged stop at the bar later, and it's ha ha ha back outside.

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Behind the kit for Ohio's Teeth of The Hydra is former Party of Helicopters guitarist Jamie Stillman, thus bringing the number of angelic, blessed-by-gods guitarists taunting us by handing off the axe-work to others up to two (Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis, who plays drums for Witch, being the other). Their mid-tempo stomach rattle had the Halloween Vikings to my left battling with swords and butting heads with fake horns - got gored during one pick-slid breakdown - while the trio leaned into their lines. The three struck their riffs solidly - like pro ballplayers hitting fastballs for practice - making way, over and over again, for the next bout of square contact. Someone waved a glow-in-the-dark skull, and their dreadlocked singer bent in time with it; nothing got wasted, not a single cascading solo, and the band walked off sweat-soaked.

Wrong-place-wrong-time victims Hopewell had fear in their eyes as they took the stage to play their skinny-white-boy, skinny-white-jeans Libertines-rock - "Let's hear it for the Strokes," as one particularly threatening metal dude had it - and their trebley guitar two-step shrank visibly from the still-reverberating air left quavering behind by the Hydra.

Cue a Halloween themed Witch - Mascis with a glittering alien-antennae headband on his freakishly white witch's hair, Feathers' Kyle Thomas in a farmer-John Puritan high-peaked hat - who began with Mascis' man-sized bass drum. The secret to the band's rounded-out, heavy-smoke drift, it turns out, are songs left just 80% finished, the rough-hewn blocks of sound and section dragged into place yet left unsecured. The bass player, Dave Sweetapple, handles the architecture; the rest just gradually drifts up. As a nightcap it's a good one: the least forced set of songs we’re liable to catch all week, the band light on their feet, playing the kind of metal guys play when they think they might actually get laid before the night ends.

Local Brooklyn five-piece the Besties know though that Halloween only ends once somebody's covered the Misfits, so downstairs at Northsix they send the whole crowd home humming "Attitude," done cheerfully to match their two-keyboards, drum and guitar setup. Pysch-virtuosos and ex-A Perfect Circle-ers Entrance are up next upstairs, but I exit instead. Halloween's over, goes the legend, once Danzig's left the building.

 


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