The Babies, Pygmy Shrews, and Unnatural Helpers
Monday, August 30
It’s been a year since the Babies begged listeners to meet them in the city. In the time that’s passed since, songwriters Cassie Ramone and Kevin Morby have toured extensively and released new material with their main bands, Vivian Girls and Woods. Last night, though, the Babies headlined a gig at Shea Stadium–one more step in the band’s evolution from side project to full fledged New York presence. Indeed, just after the show Force Field PR, which handles both Woods and Vivian Girls, tweeted: “full length soon via Shrimper, fyi.”
As with most collaborative projects, the two songwriters showcase distinct voices. Ramone’s songs are a bit more straightforward lo-fi garage rock; Morby’s are textured and angular, not totally unlike his guitar work in Woods. But Babies are best when Ramone and Morby work together–listen especially closely for their call and response vocals. While past shows have shown promise, last night a promise may have actually been made.
The show was curated by Todd P with Under Aurora, and together, they pulled together a typical Monday night type bill–diverse and not at all genre specific. Pygmy Shrews, a Brooklyn hardcore three-piece that’s been kicking around for a few years now, were the first to go on. The band played a blisteringly loud set to a hot room, cooled only by fans. Unnatural Helpers, from Seattle, rounded out the bill. While the band’s songs were pretty straight-ahead punk, with pop flourishes, each member brought a kind of deliberate anxiety to their playing. They sounded, at times, like they were raised on a different type of water–which, well, they were. No boring bass lines here. Also, frontman Dean Whitmore is a ferocious force, both drummer and singer. That, in and of itself, is reason to see the band before they leave the city–they’re at Cake Shop on Thursday.