Live: Sweating Out The Summer With EULA, Sleepies, The Kills, Daytona, And Ice Balloons
In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.
As the second half of August wrings the last drops of sweat from us, it's important to make the most of the time we have left before fall makes us feel like we have to go back to school. To that end, Waste of Paint spent the weekend at three archetypical seasonal entertainments: the sweaty loft show, the grandiose riverside concert, and the friendly beach jam.
Friday we hit up Dead Herring in Williamsburg for the record release party of ascendant Brooklyn sludge-punkers Sleepies. But first, opener EULA thrilled me immensely by combining several different sounds in some pleasantly surprising ways. A petite, blonde, bundle of energy, singer/guitarist Alyse Lamb can shriek like Yoko Ono, belt like Screaming Females' Marisa Paternoster, and sing a pentatonic scale like Deerhoof's Satomi Matsuzaki in the course of one song. Despite the sauna-like heat, folks nodded along, and the three-piece set-up produced a punchy, post-punk spareness. I'd call it "art punk," but I don't want to make them sound pretentious: more than anything else, EULA wants you thrash around and have fun.
Following a competent (if more predictable and less raw) performance from Mr. Dream, Sleepies unleashed an intense maelstrom of weirdo-punk that inspired the already damp crowd to form a chaotic mosh pit in the middle of the floor. These guys are great at knowing when to back off and when to let loose and make as much noise as three dudes with instruments can. Guitarist/singer Thomas Seely did that neat early-'90s trick of sounding both exuberant and disaffected when he screams, and Josh Intrator held things down with some great distorted bass riffs to go with Max Tremblay's hyper-caffeinated drumming. For the finale, Josh continued to play while crowd surfing triumphantly... and then, in a burst of punk rock solidarity, someone shouted "free Pussy Riot!" and everyone cheered. Needless to say, Weird Wild World is already on heavy rotation in the Waste of Paint household.
Saturday we journeyed to Manhattan's westernmost edge to see The Kills perform on the Hudson River. Opener Black Bananas sounded like all the mistakes I made in my early '20s combined... think pounding electro beats, a woman singing in a raspy voice, and a guy playing a noodle-y guitar solo to a separate song that only exists in his head. JUST SAY NO. As the Kills prepared to go on, the grassy space filled up with legging-clad fans sincerely stoked to see their early-'00s icons of cool, and when they finally took the stage, they didn't disappoint. A rock star through and through, Alison Mosshart strutted around like a total badass, appropriating bravado left and right as she purred out catchy lines like "we are a fever, we are a fever, we are a fever, we ain't born typical." The Kills' lyrics are playground simple, but good luck shaking them out of your brain. Guitarist Jamie Hince was less bombastic, but held up his end of the performance, pointing his guitar at Mosshart like a gun. As if the sun setting over the water weren't dramatic enough, they also had a line of drummers in back performing some basic but effective choreography, and while the sound could have been better, they certainly made the most of things. They performed some newer material, but what garnered the most cheers were the songs off 2008's Midnight Boom, from the clap-along butt shaker "Cheap and Cheerful" to the slow burning "Black Balloon."
Sunday we drove out to Rockaway Beach for the musical birthday party of Martin Cartagena, drummer of Brooklyn scene standby Wild Yaks. We arrived to find a guy in a giant fly mask singing through a heavily distorted microphone as the rest of the band grooved along on some fuzzed-out slacker-punk. This was made even weirder by the layering of spacey sound effects over everything. The name of this brilliant band of bizarros, we learned, was Ice Balloons.
As people (me) avoided the water and complained about how it wasn't hot enough to swim, Daytona played some bittersweet jams that fit the late-summer setting. The new project of Jose Boyer (formerly of now-defunct indiepop group Harlem), Daytona explores more melancholy territory than Jose's past projects. This is due in part to the raspy, yearning voice of guitarist Hunter Simpson (also of Wild Yaks), who sounds like a less marblemouthed version of The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser. There was something of the beach in Simpson's tinkling guitar lines, but they were used to season pensive, midtempo songs bearing words like "the leaves they are nearly gone," "might as well be ghosts, no color in our eyes," and "I remember how we were." And a hundred hearts steeled themselves against pre-emptive nostalgia.
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