Slothrust – Live at Suburbia – 7/10/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
by Steven Spoerl
One of the best things about a place like Brooklyn is that if you wind up having to miss out on one show, there’s another one happening just a short distance away that could very easily have or exceed the impact of the show you missed. While my initial plan to see Rainer Maria fell through, it was heartbreaking for a moment- until I was reminded that PWR BTTM and Slothrust were headlining a nearby show. Anyone that’s come across this site lately likely already knows exactly how this place feels about PWR BTTM and eagle-eyed observers with an astounding memory capacity may recall that Slothrust got shortlisted in our round-up of 2014’s best releases for the extraordinary Of Course You Do. Having both acts on the same bill made for an easy decision, despite quite a bit of competition.
Lowlives and Nonsense opened the show and while my late arrival meant having to miss the former entirely, I did manage to catch the end of the latter’s set. Suburbia- the venue that hosted the show- proved to be a better fit for the band than Aviv, where they’d recently played as part of the collaborative Northside showcase that was put on by Ipsum, Gimme Tinnitus, and Exploding in Sound. Playing to an appreciative crowd, Nonsense played off of each other quite well and se the stage nicely for PWR BTTM. Once again, PWR BTTM proved to be an absolute force- even in the face of lost pedals and a string breaking, the charismatic duo never had a moment that was anything less than obscenely compelling. The band’s putting out Ugly Cherries– one of the year’s best records- in September and their set previewed a lot of material from that release while also still incorporating long-standing staples like the anthemic “Hold Yer Tongue”. As usual, their set was a convincing (and probably even inspiring) demonstration of energy, resilience, mischief, and enviable skill. In short; it was just about perfect.
Slothrust, a band that I’d previously only ever maintained a glancing familiarity with, followed PWR BTTM with a powerhouse set that more than justified their top bill placement. From the onset, it was evident that the band’s built up an extremely loyal and devoted fan base. By the end of their set, it was easy to see what inspired that devotion. Both on record and live, Slothrust are operating on a very different level than just about any band running their circuit(s). Combining elements of grunge, folk, Americana, punk, powerpop, and even prog into something that feels remarkably singular, they’ve crafted an identity that manages to both be accessible and refreshingly unique.
With Leah Wallbaum’s biting- and frequently deeply personal- lyrics leading the band’s frenzied charges in their most chaotic moments (and anchoring the band when they exercise their restraint), Slothrust very quickly transform into a band that people not only strongly identify with but want to see succeed. Even at their most irreverent, there’s a level of conviction that translates so easily for Slothrust that it’s nearly impossible not to be mesmerized by the music they’re making/playing. That aspect of the band held especially true for the 1-2 punch of a genuinely stunning Britney Spears cover (“…Baby One More Time)” and “Crockpot“, their extraordinary closing number and current career highlight. In those climactic moments, the band managed to showcase nearly all of their varying draws and limitless appeal, ultimately providing an emphatic endpoint to an exhilarating set- and ensuring that this site will be covering them a lot more closely in the following months.
A photo gallery of PWR BTTM and Slothrust’s sets can be seen here and a video containing a large portion of both bands’ sets can be found below. Enjoy.