Panthers, not at the Knitting Factory; photo by Sidney Lo
Big Business + Panthers
by Zach Baron
There’ll be pictures of this somewhere, but so what: Imagine a man, mid six-feet, early thirties, bulky everywhere, cougar glaring off his shirt, untamed beard and, above his ears, twin braided pigtails, a pair of sideburns coming alive. Big bass, bigger amplifiers: you’re looking at Big Business’s Jared Warren, who in person resembles nothing so much as an inhabitant of one of his own songs, a kind of force of nature.
Big news of the night, though, belonged to Panthers: regular drummer Jeff Salane was conspicuously absent; Jay Green, their singer, dedicated a song to him. Salane just had his first child—dunno if his absence signaled paternity leave or something more permanent, but congratulations are due either way, no?
Last fall, Panthers killed at CMJ—see here—but the MC5-flavored, riff-riddled energy they’ve finally tracked down took off in low-gear last night. Blame the sound: no guitars whatsoever, guitars being one of the bigger pleasures of Panthers’ pretty fucking good The Trick of a few months back. The soundman, cranking the low end beyond all reasonable justification, was obviously holding out for the subsonic absurdity that scheduled to come on next.
“STAMPEDE!” Here Come the Waterworks’ venue-wrecking anthem “Hands Up” was in fine form: no sooner did Warren call out the charge than a sucking vortex broke out on the Knit’s floor, an old-fashioned melee stalked by the kind of oversized men you don’t often see in an undernourished city like New York. The battle was not for the small or sober. “Don’t throw your drinks,” said Warren. “They belong in your mouth—they taste better that way.” The volume was Merzbow-calibrated absurd: when frequencies are that persuasive, even clothing becomes a kind of instrument, vibrating along in sympathy. Add the nauseating cloud of weed-smoke and an underpowered smoke machine and the scene could’ve been lifted out of Apocalypse Now.
Mythic is what this band is—impossibly proficient, statuesque, and merciless. Coady Willis, batting glove-d up, headset attired, body a blur; Warren, looming, back lit—even the guitarist they brought along, an undersized guy introduced as Toshi, bulked up by virtue of the size of the sound behind him. The lesson, for those willing to take it, was clear: listening to Big Business makes you a bigger man. Or something. Women, clearly still women at the end of the set, cheered just as madly, but though they left the amps on, the band was not to return.