Highlights From The Holiday Weekend: Good Hair, Better Sightlines At Monster Island And Bruar Falls
In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.
Does anyone who goes to local rock shows actually have their shit together enough to get out of town on Independence Day? I didn't used to think so, but now I can say with authority that they do. Half the audience seemed to be missing at all the concerts I went to this weekend, including my usual partner in crime, who abandoned me for the pleasures of a non-mutual friend's cabin in Pennsylvania. She probably drew these pictures while floating in the middle of a lake somewhere, watching the sun set over the forest, and drinking a cocktail made from local, artisanal blackberry jam. What a bitch. (I miss you. Please come home.)
During Friday's sparsely attended Showpaper benefit at Monster Island Basement, Total Slacker gave a performance that was more chilled out than usual, but fun nonetheless. The crowd's laid-back vibe actually suited their self-described brand of slacker rock pretty well; they started out with some languid, fuzzed-out jams, which everyone nodded along to in a way that seemed to say, "We're sad we couldn't escape this concrete hell-box, but we're happy to be seeing you nonetheless, Total Slacker." Front man Tucker Rountree manages to echo both Thurston Moore and Lou Reed with his half-sung, half-spoken lyrics about being young, broke, and in love with a girl (specifically: his girlfriend, bassist Emily Oppenheimer), as well as with New York City. His guitar solos started out with room to breathe, but often ended with him on the floor by his guitar amp, making as much noise as possible. Oppenheimer's solid bass riffs and sweet backing vocals brought Kim Deal to mind. "I'm not sure he's that much worse than Thurston Moore," my friend said to me during the set's noisy climax. That might be going a bit far, but I do agree that TS is one of the more underrated bands in Brooklyn. Tucker's bowl cut isn't a sign that he and his bandmates don't know what they're doing.
Next, the similarly underappreciated Dinowalrus regaled us with a dose of their ever -volving sound. Initially noted for their wide influences (krautrock, psychedelia, noise rock) and fearless embrace of "difficult" music, it would seem they've gotten quite a bit more dance-friendly as of late, without losing the playful inventiveness that first caught critics' attention. Tinkly loops, spacey effects, psychedelic solos, glam-rock falsettos, and even some theremin (!) combined with new wave/post punk bass lines and partially electronic beats to make something that was either really derivative or really fresh-sounding, depending on your point of view. It's as fun to pick apart the different elements of their sound as it is to just dance to it; most people present chose the latter.
I should also note that primary singer Pete Feigenbaum had great stage presence. "Feigenbaum's got the hair...he's got the hair, it's amazing, "Rountree remarked to me at one point, which is high praise coming from such a follically advantaged person.
Sunday, I went to Bruar Falls to check out The Suzan, an all-girl garage rock group from Japan. Like many Japanese rock groups, they utilize traditional Japanese scales and exude a psychotically sunny energy. And, like many garage rock groups, they have a strong base in American blues, rock and roll, soul, and R&B. Also: jazz (!) Lead singer Saori engaged in call and response, constantly asked us to clap (and thanked us for doing so), and even scatted at one point. That girl can belt! She and bassist Ikue also have the adorable habit of announcing what kind of song they're about to play before they play it; "guitar pop," "rock and roll," and "dancing, so please come front" songs all fulfilled their promise, and the audience responded with an appropriate amount of movement. The way the girls jumped around and carried on, one would've thought they were playing to a hundred people instead of, like, thirty (counting the bartender).
It's going to be hard for the Suzan to get past the double novelty of being all-female and foreign, but seeing as they've already played gigs with Titus Andronicus, Hard Nips and A-Trak, as well as having an album produced by Bjorn of Peter Bjorn, and John, it would seem they're well on their way.
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