At last, some ’90s/early ’00s nostalgia we can get behind: the veteran Kent, Ohio guitar-rock quartet Party of Helicopters are reuniting this weekend to play their first two New York shows since breaking up in 2004. Allegedly it was a particularly grim show in the basement of the old Knitting Factory that year that finally persuaded guitarist and chief songwriter Jamie Stillman to split up the band; since then, there have been a handful of mostly Ohio-centric reunion dates (in 2007, 2009, and 2010), but they haven’t returned here until now. In our humble opinion they sounded like a gang of angels shredding in heaven but many friends of ours have violently disagreed over the years, due in part to the dazed and kinda abstractly sexual behavior of frontman Joe Dennis. But no other band had a better way with melody; no other band could flat out play like these guys could. Here’s what our pal Chris Ryan wrote about them in these pages back in 2001, the year they released penultimate album Mt. Forever:
Most of the songs on Mt. Forever snap open like a switchblade and never really retract; they just kind of extinguish themselves. The title track sees Stillman playing tug-of-war with himself and his rhythm section when he churns out a two-minute solo that doesn’t yawn, it just opens wider. “Pounding for Vipers,” the baddest heat-seeker of the bunch, opens with a spiraling guitar line that cuts back and forth between beauty and thrash. Both cuts kick open the door and catch you watching the Heart Behind the Music. Depending on your ears, other guitar lines sound like garage metal or Mould/Mascis. Stillman’s riffs have no makeup on; they just stand there in the doorway with missing teeth. As with all great riffs, you recognize them the first time around, and you whisper, “God, I’ve missed you. Where have you been?”
The two shows are both in Brooklyn with Library Is On Fire: Saturday at 114 Forrest St. #13 (buzzer 3C) in Bushwick, 9:30 p.m., $5; and Sunday, at Death By Audio, at roughly the same time and door price. To our knowledge everyone in the band is still playing out of monstrous full stacks, so maybe be prepared for that.