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The Next The Strokes



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The Head Set + The Harlem Shakes @ Pianos
July 26

Harlem Shakes Download:A Night

These Head Set motherfuckers–didn’t they win an award for something a while back? They should have–for something. Now I’ll hear straight-eighth strums or some peppy post-grad sloth, and within secs I’m ready to blowhole some serious This Is Not It fire on frumps. Your bandmates got on-sleeve personalities and I’m chomping snark bites: Oh, you’re the sensitive one; you’re somebody’s little brother, I get it; you’re the guy the rest of the band has to shut up whenever you’re drunk. And yep, I just checked: NYU grads who started as a “pickup band for a student show.”

And yet as much as I wanted to sac this hard-working post-Strokes tali band–even steeping so low as to think, “Oh my god, they’re wearing t-shirts?! That’s so pretentious”–I have to admit the Head Set are good at what they do, and better than most bands who want essentially the same sound. I like their songs (live this one killed, so did this one, which has some Walkmen flavor too–hey, the Head Set, the Walkmen, makes perfect sense to me), the lead guy’s Casablancas impersonation is spot-on, the guitar, physically, sounds interesting, and we can’t ask for much better of a straight-up rock drummer who knows what to fill and where to leave room. Nothing knocked me sideways, but if I saw my 11-year-old sister rocking to a Head Set jam on Clear Channel (six months away, tops), I wouldn’t be too upset.

Another H. S. band, soul-rock-poppers the Harlem Shakes played a gig I saw in New Haven a few years back in an art barn, and the day schoolers insist, despite my memories elsewhere and otherwise, that their set caused said art barn to collapse mid-party. Whatever dudes, rock’s a bottle of shitty beer: You twisted off the cap but I did all the work.

Anyway these guys played after the Head Set, with an old guitarist because their current one got into a Vespa accident. Sounded fine to me. Thing is, I would have more to say about the Shakes’ set except that I got stuck standing next to the lead singer’s mother. Really I have no idea who this woman was; she might have just been someone’s aunt, or a fan (the Shakes have opened up for Maroon 5 and Wire, so anything’s possible). But what this means, in Riff Raff terms, is that all the things I would have written down, or said aloud, or punched, never materialized because this guy’s mom was right there. Yeah, like I’m gonna moleskine “lead singer would make for a good villain in an off-broadway musical” when she’s standing beside me, crying tears of joy because she’s thinking the same exact thing.

On good days I’m a web columnist; on bad days I’m a blogger. Today is a very bad day. If you need proof, here are all the things I remember wanting to say or write down during the Harlem Shakes’ set, but ultimately didn’t because I didn’t want this woman to know my thoughts:

-holy shit woman in front of me looks exactly like lead singer wtf

-omg rockstars wearing ties–new trend in rock?

-lead singer guy should stop singing so much

-write piece from perspective of lead singers mom?

-“i hope my son never stops singing”

-“rock music is so loud!”

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