Quarterbacks – Live at Baby’s All Right – 8/13/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
Four bands that have been featured on this site before filed into Baby’s All Right last Thursday and saw the Brooklyn venue nearing capacity once again. Site favorites Jawbreaker Reunion got things off to a strong start with a set that leaned heavily on some genuinely great unreleased material but still made room for a few cuts off of Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club (one of this site’s picks for the best albums of 2014 list). Every song in the band’s set was played with an unwavering passion (a recurring theme throughout the night) that makes them one of the more exciting live prospects currently playing out.
Sitcom, the solo project of Jake Lazovick, was playing without the full band that had previously accompanied him leading up to his stop at Baby’s- the last show of the band’s tour with Bellows- but gained another musician for the evening. Sitcom’s songs are acutely observed tales of existence that gained a sharp edge when presented in the decidedly minimal trappings. Lazovick’s stray-dog vocals and genuine pathos (something balanced out by Lazovick’s sharp-witted banter) made the performance feel utterly human on top of an already strong sense of intimacy. Captivating in it’s own right, it also wound up being the perfect lead-in to Bellows.
The Oliver Kalb-led project’s been a staple of The Epoch for years (something Kalb wrote about in great detail for our A Year’s Worth of Memories series) and has recently started coming into its own. As evidenced by the band’s excellent Tiny Desk session, there’s a fiercer connection at the crux of the group than usual, probably thanks in part to their involvement with each other’s other bands (a congratulations is due to Bellows’ keyboardist/vocalist Gabrielle Smith, whose Eskimeaux project was recognized by Rolling Stone earlier today). This was my first trip to see Bellows and while I’d been lightly familiarized with the band’s live show, nothing could have prepared me for the grounded ferocity of the band’s set.
From the first song onward, the band frequently dipped into a startling heaviness that the recorded work never really even lightly touches. Eliciting more than a few chills as their set progressed, the band also had to deal with a faulty amp that would occasionally cut out- something that somehow rendered their bursts of heaviness even sharper and more damaged. It was a deeply-felt, exhilarating performance that wound up stealing the night and subsequently guaranteeing that this won’t be the last time a live Bellows set is featured on this site.
Still riding high on the unexpected success of their first official full-band release, Quarterbacks took to the stage in front of an attentive audience with close to nothing to prove.
After putting out one of the best records of 2015’s first half in their extraordinary self-titled effort, the band have been tirelessly promoting the new material with an intimidating road schedule. All of their touring’s paid off as the band’s been able to cultivate and refine their live show, which still manages to come off as both compelling and as a delightful mess. Harnessing all the momentum of a runaway train, guitarist/vocalist Dean Engle and his band tear into these songs with a vicious force, never bothering to cast a look back once they’ve started sprinting.
Towards the end of their set, Engle announced it’d be the band’s last appearance for a while so they could take a break to focus on their lives but when they left the stage, it was abundantly clear that they were leaving things on a very strong note (or maybe it was some feedback). More importantly, they were leaving the door wide open for the possibility of future work and an exciting return. All things considered, it was a near-perfect closing to another extraordinary show.
View a full gallery of the show here and a video embed containing a handful of the evening’s performances.