This Weekend In New York: Wild Yaks, The Death Set, Woods, And Crystal Stilts Get No Sleep In Brooklyn



In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.

This weekend, Waste Of Paint caught four rather different bands united by their status as beloved standbys of the Brooklyn DIY scene. It also marked the beginning of uncomfortably sweaty show season.

Friday we attended an all-ages rager called “Summer Bone” at Shea Stadium. Said rager was thrown by Bikes In Kitchen, who can be counted on to bring out lots of intoxicated youngsters who will mosh and throw beer around any chance they get. After a bouncy set from French dance rock duo Total Warr, Wild Yaks started the slam-dancing in earnest with their brand of beer-soaked, tuneful yet messy Americana that balances the mournful and the exuberant, “fuck it all” and “fuck yeah!” Singer Rob Bryn delivered lines like “my real locomotion is her angel eyes” with raw sincerity, and when the other guys joined in on vocals, they reminded me of Man Man in the best way possible. (The “anarchic bands of weirdos” way.)

Next, The Death Set excited the crowd even further with some insanely fast and loud electro-punk. Johnny Siera began by dedicating the set to Adam Yauch of The Beastie Boys (R.I.P.) and performing a fairly decent rendition of “So What’cha Want,” to everyone’s sad delight. Although they’re technically a punk band, The Death Set takes quite a bit from hiphop, from their collaborations with Ninjasonik to their electronic elements to their frequent self-referential cries of “motherfucking Death Set!” so the tribute seemed apt. Plus, when Jonny talk-sings fast enough in his screamy falsetto, he even sounds a bit like a Beastie Boy.

Things only got crazier from there, with each song causing the hopped-up crowd to spazz out even harder, jumping off of things and throwing around an abundance of disconcertingly moist beach balls and inflatable sharks. They moshed a bit more gently during “I Miss You Beau Velasco” (yet another memorial song, this one for a deceased member of the band), but chaos resumed for the thrashy closer, a balls-out cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings.”

Saturday we hit up 285 Kent for a solid bill presented by Todd P, who seems to be compensating for his decreased scene ubiquity by going bigger for the events he does do and making each one count. We arrived to find the super-sold-out show packed front-to-back, but fortunately the crowd was docile. A stick of burning incense and some hand-drawn black and white projections set the mood for Woods’ long, meditative set, which combined catchy folk tunes and drawn out psych jams to good effect. Singer/guitarist Jeremy Earl evoked a happier Bon Iver with his lovely, high, campfire appropriate voice, but he let the guitars do the heavy emotional lifting, with noisy, slow-building instrumental passages providing the set’s numerous climaxes. But unlike many who speak this language, the guys in Woods have the pop sensibilities to know when to stop noodling and go on to the next song.

Headliner Crystal Stilts roused everyone out of their woodsy daydreams, despite (or maybe because of) the looming, Xanax-eyed presence of singer Brad Hargett. Although this band is probably still best known for the reverb-cloaked neo-post-punk songs that made up 2008 LP Alight Of Night, their more recent release In Love With Oblivion saw the sun come out a bit, incorporating more jangly guitar pop reminiscent of New York in the ’60s, especially when layered with keyboardist Kyle Forester’s buoyant organ lines. People disagree on Hargett’s worth as a frontman, but I found his deep, wistful mumbling more effective when not hidden behind so many effects (fewer than on the new album), because it meant he was unabashedly committing to it. The fans present seemed not to mind these evolutions, dancing non-stop to songs old and new, although it was the encore performance of 2008’s catchy “Departure” that really split open the pit.