Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: NYC

CMJ: Day 6 (Pictorial Review)

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With this post, the site’s focus on CMJ will recede into the background and give way to music’s present release cycle (and some sporadic film coverage). Having covered every angle of the festival up to this point, the only thing left is the unveiling of the photos from the collaborative Father/Daughter and Miscreant showcase that served as the festival’s Homecoming-themed epilogue. The videos from that day can be seen here, the review can be read here, and the photo gallery can be viewed here.

 

CMJ: Day 5 (Pictorial Review)

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More than 100 photos into the pictorial review of this site’s CMJ coverage, this fourth gallery of photos covers the festival’s fifth day. As always, the videos from the fifth day have been compiled here and the official review can be read here. The full gallery has been moved to flickr and can be accessed by following this link.

 

 

CMJ: Day 4 (Pictorial Review)

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With the first two galleries now up and running, the night continues on with the third. On the fourth official day of CMJ, once again, videos of the bands were posted shortly after the official review went live. Rounding everything out is this photo gallery. Enjoy.

Watch This: Vol. 100

Over the past 100 weeks, this site’s dedicated itself to a variety of pursuits but the defining one seems to be the only recurring series that operates on a regular basis: Watch This. Ever since the first installment, this series has featured the very best live performance captures. Utilizing a wealth of resources that range from band’s personal accounts to radio stations that host high-quality session captures, like KEXP in Seattle or 3voor12 in the Netherlands.

Very rarely has that gaze turned inward, despite producing over 300 live videos in the past four months. With this series now at a landmark number and all of the CMJ reviews accounted for, it seemed appropriate to bypass the outside sources to focus exclusively on the crop of videos that was taken over the past week. Approximately 50 bands, 90 videos, and 100 songs, these clips will be presented in groupings according to which day they were filmed. A few slip out of focus, some start a little late, and some cut off just before their ending, and a few bands are missing due to unfortunate and/or unforeseen circumstance (a dead battery, lighting, and a maxed out sd card were the three most prominent issues) but as a whole, it’s a comprehensive look at the kinds of performances the festival has to offer. So, as always, sit back, relax, ignore any worries, adjust the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. CMJ: Day 2

To make things just a touch easier, each of these introductory segments will simply be a very brief recap including a link to the respective day’s official review and the list of artists that appear in the video. Having spent the first official day of CMJ preparing for the rest of the week, the timeline’s off by a day but had this been the first official day, the festival would have kicked off with a band. Splitting time between The Cake Shop and Santos Party House, I managed to get videos of performances from the following artists: Worriers, Hooton Tennis Club, Car Seat Headrest, Seratones, Nico Yaryan, Yung, Shopping, Protomartyr, Downtown Boys, Perfect Pussy, and Dilly Dally. The official review of the day’s events can be found here.

2. CMJ: Day 3

Things kept moving along quickly on the second day, which included a long stretch at an early show over at Rough Trade before taking a brief pause to organize that show’s footage and prepare for the late show at Aviv. Between the two venues, the lineup was characteristically stacked and led to videos of performances from Shopping, Ezra Furman, Georgia, John Grant, What Moon Things, Mumblr, Meat Wave, Painted Zeros, Turn To Crime, and Yvette. The official review of the day’s shows can be found here.

3. CMJ: Day 4 

The festival’s exhausting nature started to creeping in on the third consecutive day of showgoing, though the deliriousness will always be worth the effort in the case of celebrating things like Exploding In Sound (who themselves were celebrating their fourth anniversary), Big Ups (who were celebrating their fifth year as a band), and Double Double Whammy. Once again splitting time between two venues– Palisades and The Silent Barn– I managed to get footage of performances from Leapling, Swings, Mal Devisa (backed by Swings), Dirty Dishes, Kal Marks, Washer, Stove, Palm, Greys, The Spirit of the Beehive, Big Ups, Palehound, Downies, Eskimeaux, and LVL UP. The official review of those events can be read here.

4. CMJ: Day 5

Easily the most exhausting of the five day stretch, the fifth official day of the festival found me completely ignoring food in favor of sprinting a mile to catch one of my favorite acts four times over. While a fraction of the day was spent running to and from an official CMJ showcase and the AdHoc Carwash (which was detached from the festival completely but boasted one of the week’s strongest lineups), the effort proved to be worthwhile, as a large collection of bands delivered knockout sets and everything culminated in a triumphant moment for one of my closest friends. In all the back-and-forth, I was still able to manage to capture performances from the following artists: Protomartyr, Potty Mouth, Pity Sex, Dilly Dally, LVL UP, Porches., Perfect Pussy, Meat Wave, Mothers, and Cloud Castle Lake. The review of that day of relative mania can be read here.

5. CMJ: Day 6

Despite the festival’s posted end date being the October 17, this collaborative showcase a day later between Father/Daughter and Miscreant was still billed as a part of the festival and felt like an appropriate epilogue; a summation of what’d come before and a fitting end-cap for a very strong run. Confined to just one venue, the sleep deprivation caused me to miss the first trio of acts (and quietly curse myself out for doing so in the process) but still show up in time for the final 10. On the final day of reckoning, I captured videos of performances from the following artists: i tried to run away when i was 6, Downies, Romp, Comfy, Vagabon, fern mayo, Bethlehem Steel, Diet Cig, Sports, and PWR BTTM. The official review of the festival’s final event can be read here.

CMJ: Day 6 Review

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Even though CMJ’s official schedule had been capped at October 17, the stacked collaborative showcase between Father/Daughter and Miscreant was still being rightfully billed as a CMJ event. It also turned out to be the day where my schedule finally caught up to me and caused me to sleep through multiple alarms before, for the third consecutive day, realizing I was in jeopardy of missing much more than I wanted to and booking it for the nearest venue or transit option. Getting approximately 16 hours of sleep over the course of five days occasionally has that effect.

By the time I made it to Palisades, Bad Cello, Nicholas Nicholas, and Hiccup had already wrapped their sets. Fortunately, the blow of missing those acts was at least somewhat alleviated by the bill’s remaining 10 acts. A few minutes into the event and a brief look around at a gaggle of audience and band members in formal wear also managed to act as a kind reminder that the event had been constructed with a Homecoming theme. free cake for every creature‘s Katie Bennett was on hand to augment a lovely set of folk-leaning bedroom pop songs from i tried to run away when i was 6. It was a gentle introduction to what would prove to be another ridiculously stacked day, even if it was only confined to one venue this time around.

Downies upped the energy and intensity considerably, once again taking a headlong dive into a set of gritty basement pop that’d feel right at home on Dirtnap. Ripping through songs from their outstanding debut EP and their forthcoming LP with an excess of energy, their set felt like a major statement from an emerging band that’s coming charging out of the gate on sure footing.

Some of their energy bled over into a strong outing for Romp, an upstart act hailing from New Brunswick who have a penchant for smartly crafted basement pop that’s sugar rush is matched with a punk tinge. Largely sticking to new and unreleased material, the quartet seemed to be in a state of perpetual motion, underscoring their own music’s immediacy. Catchy and substantial, it was a welcome addition to a lineup of mostly familiar faces.

A few of those familiar faces belonged to Comfy, who were fairly enjoyable back during Miscreant’s Northside showcase but clearly came to CMJ ready to make an impression. Showing noticeable improvements in every conceivable facet of their live show, the quartet was endlessly entertaining and fully committed to pouring themselves into their performance. The band played out of their minds, turning all of their songs into an emphatic series of blows.

The trio of Vagabon, Fern Mayo, and Bethlehem Steel handled the next three slots with an assured confidence. Vagabon, judging by the press that’s come out since the event, made a few influential friends thanks to a dynamic set that served their songs to a quiet perfection. While the band’s fuzzed-out passages did manage to hit hard, it was their gentler moments that actually managed to leave a lasting mark. Either way, no false moves and a few unique angles at this level is always going to pique a lot of people’s interest.

Fern Mayo’s been covered here multiple times before but, while all of those shows and songs were definitely memorable, it wasn’t until this set that the band registered as truly exceptional. Having just wrapped up a short tour, the band was in finer form than ever, playing off each other with a collected attitude that eventually transmuted into a subtle bravado that suited them well. Katie Capri, the band’s guitarist/vocalist, continues to transition into an excitable live wire onstage while bassist Nicholas Cummins continues to have one of Brooklyn DIY’s more arresting stage presences. Throw it all together with the learned traits of tour and it’s easy to see how the band wound up with another one of the day’s several standout sets.

Apart from delivering on their own, Fern Mayo also set up the (at least somewhat) similarly-minded Bethlehem Steel perfectly. After releasing a batch of promising records, the band’s on track to gain some traction with their forthcoming release, which is what they mostly drew from for their set. Stealthily sliding in some lighthearted banter between the songs, the trio clicked in their darkest, most pulverizing moments. By the time their set ended, their levels of conviction were as evident as the new material was promising.

Before too long, Diet Cig’s Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman were taking the stage to their entrance music, Taylor Swift’s inescapable “Shake It Off”, flailing around and encouraging their audience to do the same in an endearing communal act. Only a few minutes into that routine, Bowman was behind the kit and Luciano was bounding around the stage, anxious to get their set off the ground. Every time Diet Cig plays, they bring an infectious joy to the proceedings, completely shedding any inhibitions to simply live in the moment and coax as much out of it as humanly possible. When the band invited up a couple intent on recreating their wonderful “Scene Sick” video, everyone was all smiles and it was hard not to think of it as a somewhat definitive moment for the band, who kept that vibrant energy alive for the remainder of their set.

Feeding off the goodwill Diet Cig had built up during a set that had balloons and streamers flying in the air (and more than a few people laughing along with them), Sports took the stage to an almost deafening scream of applause. Balancing their set list between their previous records and their forthcoming All of Something (which is easily their best collection of songs to date), the band dug their heels in and took off at a sprint without ever bothering to look back. With the audience continuing to grow in size throughout Sports’ set, Palisades was packed for the evening’s headliner: PWR BTTM.

At this point, I have seen PWR BTTM more times than any other band in New York and they continue to find ways to improve their live show, which might still be their biggest selling point (despite 2015 highlight Ugly Cherries). Making this particular night extra sweet was the fact that it was Benjamin Hopkins’ birthday, a declaration that Hopkins made more explicitly at the start of their set, which was greeted with screams of approval.

Somewhere along the line, PWR BTTM became a band that everyone unified behind, each bringing varying reasons to their dedication. Their live show, their ideology, their message, their presentation, their banter… it’s become a pick-your-poison with the duo (now sometimes trio, thanks to the assists from Fern Mayo’s Cummins) and they always deliver in full. There were times during their set where the crowd’s vocals would override those of Hopkins or Liv Bruce, who occasionally takes over on lead vocal and guitar.

Everything was going as well as it possibly could for the band, who had rallied the now fully energized crowd into a swarming mass of dancing bodies, everyone fully immersed in the band’s music. Their momentum didn’t even falter when the band got stopped towards the end of their set by Jeanette Wall and Jessi Frick (the people that run Miscreant and Father/Daughter, respectively) for the coronation ceremony.

After sashes and other assorted items had been bestowed to both members of Diet Cig, Miscreant artist Elizabeth Scafuto, and one was basically just dedicated to Fern Mayo’s Capri, Bruce and Hopkins set back to work. Whether using a balloon to mime being pregnant, talking about playing into the “Hot Mom” look, ripping off a string of solos or vocal runs, or even just commanding attention without ever losing their natural cadence, PWR BTTM kept their crowd entertained.

The band even came within a minute of making through a show without any glaring technical difficulties (Hopkins’ cable got briefly pulled out towards the end of their final song- but it’s just not a PWR BTTM show without that kind of mishap) before leaving the audience screaming for an encore that never came, all but guaranteeing a large portion of that audience will be checking their calendars to make sure they can catch the next show. Then, after a near-sleepless week, 62 sets stretched across seven venues, CMJ was over and it was time to head back home, exhausted and content.

CMJ: Day 3 Review

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After a loaded schedule on what was my first full day of CMJ, I probably should have tried to get more sleep but CMJ doesn’t really play by a logical set of rules and it demands the same from the people committed to covering the various goings on of the week, so as soon as I was up, I was running out of the door to rough trade to catch Shopping at Rough Trade for the second time in two days. The band didn’t disappoint, jumping into another wiry set delivered with verve and a casual ease that clearly demonstrated they weren’t anywhere close to succumbing to fatigue.

After a brief pause between sets, Ezra Furman (who has replaced The Harpoons with His Boyfriend) took the stage with a maniacal energy that translated into a surprisingly compelling live show. I hadn’t seen Furman’s live set for five years or so and the songwriter’s grown considerably as a performer in that time. Emphasizing the bluesier elements of his band, it seemed like every other few songs was a solid highlight and the band’s heaviest moments also tended to hit hardest. It was a memorable set that showcased Furman’s stray dog voice and zippy wordplay with enough force to make it stand out pretty easily.

Of course, that energy can also turn a little sour if things start going wrong and while Furman and his band never fell victim to that dynamic, it was difficult not to at least be a little frustrated with the massive assortment of technical difficulties that delayed Georgia’s set by approximately 40 minutes. Going from relatively contained (but very apparent) to volatile bursts, it was the kind of setback that left both the artist and the crew more than a little flustered.

Finally, after what seemed like two dozen patches, Georgia’s set started in earnest. It was something of a homecoming for the UK songwriter, as she’d previously worked at Rough Trade’s London location. Exhibiting impressive musicianship, the project (which currently plays out as a duo), put on a very convincing show and likely created a few converts. At the tail end of the set, there was some endearing fawning over the showcase’s next act: John Grant.

Grant’s a subversive songwriter, utilizing levity, pathos, and directness in ways that are frequently as disarming as they are entertaining. Playing out on his latest collection, the fantastic Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, Grant found a myriad of ways to make sure his singular voice was heard, loud and clear. Close to every song in Grant’s set straddled an enviable divide and would have worked as well as an opener as it would a finale. Of course, none of them would have been effective in the latter slot as the set’s rightful final number, “Queen of Denmark”, a wry, sprawling ballad punctuated by staggering walls of sound that find the band digging into the heaviness they’re capable of conjuring.

With “Queen of Denmark” bringing things to a tremendously satisfying conclusion, it was immediately back to organization and preparation before running out to Aviv for an unofficial show presented by Exploding in Sound, Gimme Tinitus, and Ipsum, featuring a characteristically stacked lineup of bands that aren’t afraid of embracing music’s inherent noise. Video Daughters were first up and content to dive headfirst into long noise explorations that eventually culminated in a chaotic, piercing number that likely came close to blowing the PA speakers.

It was a fascinating set that set the evening up nicely, acting as a perfect lede for What Moon Things, who are coasting on a perpetually-building wave of buzz and capitalizing on every opportunity with significant force. Mixing elements of grunge and post-punk in a way that feels unique is no easy task but the trio manages to pull it off with aplomb, ripping through sets of memorable songs that don’t back away from left turns or relative fearlessness. More thTuran a few pairs of notable ears were piqued by their final song’s ultimate descent into feedback.

Mumblr and Meat Wave took the next spots, in an eerie, déjà vu-inducing reprise of this site’s first official showcase almost exactly a year ago to the date of their appearance at Aviv. Only, this time, their roles were switched and both bands have shown exceptional growth in that time. Mumblr have been gradually settling into darker territory that slowly unfurls, effectively wrapping listeners up in its coils. While their old songs remain favorites, their new artistic direction’s a fascinating one with seemingly endless possibilities and quite a bit of potential.

Meat Wave, for their part, have been not-so-quietly putting together one hell of a year. The trio’s released an acclaimed record, gone overseas a few times, signed to SideOneDummy and sharpened their live show’s claws into something significantly more intense. All of the new songs the band played sounded considerably heavier and a lot more foreboding (and, as Exploding in Sound founder Dan Goldin mentioned, a lot meaner). Their five-song set (the planned schedule was kept to on a pretty severe level) was a definite highlight for me and I’m positive that’s true for a handful of others as well. After all, it’s hard to argue any Meat Wave set that includes the explosive, jaw-dropping outro of “Panopticon”.

Painted Zeros took the stage after Meat Wave cleared out, eager to continue to test material from their full-length debut (their first effort for Don Giovanni). The level of affection the band has for their new material is palpable and that affection was definitely channeled into their performance, which felt like an improvement on the last set I was able to catch them play (which was fairly impressive in its own right). The slowest, most delicate material played best in a setting that had almost exclusively disallowed anything resembling that band of music through four acts. It would have been a nice reprieve even if it hadn’t been deeply impressive.

Effectively bridging a gap and providing some much-needed air (while still managing to get in a few vicious punches), Turn To Crime and Yvette dragged things back into more primal territory. Turn To Crime did this on a slow-build basis (Meat Wave correctly noted their set’s hypnotic, trance-like effect) through songs that could simultaneously feel meandering and extremely calculated.

Yvette, on the other hand, made the most of their headlining slot by diving into their characteristic insanity. Over the course of the past few years, Yvette have released a handful of very good to great records, including Time Management, their most recent (and a 2015 highlight). The duo’s built up a solid following in that time, who revere their live show- and for good reason. The duo committed themselves to their performance, letting their clothes soak up their sweat and turn a few shades darker. Equal parts performance and process, it was a nearly non-stop barrage of searing noise-punk at a punishing volume that was never anything less than gripping and likely left a few people reeling. As they packed up, it was hard to imagine anything could follow, making it the perfect endcap to another very full day.

Ought – Live at Secret Project Robot Art Experiment – 10/2/15 (Pictorial Review)

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Pile, LVL UP, and Ought have been shown no shortage of love on this site in the past so when it was announced that all three would be sharing a bill, plans were made accordingly. All three showed up in some way or another over the spread of the various best-of lists that this site ran at the end of 2014 and all three have released strong new material since the start of this year. More importantly than any of that, though, is the fact that all three are renowned live acts.

Before his October 2 performance, I’d never seen Rick Maguire (Pile’s guitarist/vocalist) perform without his main vehicle and had only heard whispering of what that experience entailed. While the set I got was just Rick performing solo, it was in a different, more expansive, capacity. Maguire’s recently introduced a looping pedal to his solo shows and wields that freedom to maximum effect, without ever losing the innate ability to completely command the attention of a room. Pulling from several patches of Pile’s discography and showcasing a tight-knit control over all aspects of his musicality, Maguire tapped into something transfixing, rendering most of the audience speechless.

LVL UP took the stage shortly after Maguire ambled off, intent on testing out some new material. Capitalizing on the overall moodiness of their Three Songs 7″, they pushed even further into territory that seemed increasingly concerned with dynamics (and atmospherics). While old standbys still rang effectively (something that’s especially true for “Soft Power”), it was the new material that prompted the most intrigue. Darker, heavier, and more freewheeling than anything in the band’s discography, their set operated at a tantalizing glimpse of their next release, which promises to be nothing less than fascinating.

After LVL UP’s final static-laced, feedback-heavy noise freakout, there was an almost maddening break of 40 minutes before Ought took the stage, generating more than a little restlessness among the crowd. Any pent-up negative feelings had all but dissipated by the time Ought’s wheels had started running. While it did take the band about a song or two to really click, they were locked into something fierce before too long.

Building energy and momentum as their hour-long set progressed, the members of the band each got increasingly more aggressive with their presence, slowly building the audience to a heightened pitch that was egged on by “Beautiful Blue Sky” before being cracked wide open into complete madness with “Today More Than Any Other Day”. At that point, the audience had morphed their dancing into a chaotic swirl of bodies that saw a large portion of the people positioned towards the front pushed over the lip of the stage at one point (to his credit, Ought’s guitarist/vocalist– Tim Darcy– did issue a concerned, seamless, mid-vocal “calm down now”, without ever breaking from the trappings of the song).

By that point it was a madhouse of energy that saw the sold-out Secret Project Robot Art Experiment (Secret Project Robot, alternately) feeding into the mutual frenzy created and sustained by audience and band. Then about an hour after they started, the band closed their main set with a vicious, explosive, extended take on More Than Any Day highlight “Gemini” that saw them drag out the song’s staccato bursts to a strangely hypnotic effect.

Naturally, the crowd pleaded for an encore and likely got even more than they bargained for with an especially fiery rendition of “New Calm, Pt. 2” that loosed Darcy free from the restrictions of his guitar strap when a friend tapped in, allowing him to completely lose his mind on stage while the fresh burst of energy from the substitute guitarist elevated the song to ridiculous heights. It was a perfect closer to a night defined by nervous energy, injecting the proceedings with a shot of adrenaline that sparked an already energized crowd to liberate themselves from any remaining inhibitions while simultaneously reinforcing Ought’s position as one of today’s more exciting live prospects. Buy tickets if the tour comes to a nearby town, this is something everyone deserves to experience.

Scan through an extensive photo gallery of the show here.

 

 

Daughter – Live at Baby’s All Right – 9/30/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

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Shortly after Mike Krol’s set finished, I received word that Daughter were playing a secret, unannounced-to-the-public 1 AM set and immediately made sure I found an attendance spot. The band’s been one I’ve held in high esteem and one of their quietest performances has stuck with me ever since my initial exposure to it several years ago. Very shortly into the set, it was made clear why it was kept under wraps: this was a show that the band wanted to make memorable for everyone in attendance- and it was also the show where they announced their forthcoming album, Not To Disappear.

Gracefully moving through a set that relied heavy on material from Youth but still made room for the new material, the band found themselves in fine form and silenced a sold-out room, who all grappled with various stages of awe. No matter what mode the band is in, whether they’re idling at a slow tempo or switching over to hard-hitting, they exude an impossible amount of grace. As the members trade off instruments (or trade endearing witticisms), they never seem anything less than serene.

Occasionally that calmness translates over to their music and creates an arresting, engrossing atmosphere. That intersection was never more evident than it was when the quartet unveiled the live premiere of their new single, “Doing The Right Thing” (which they’ve affectionately shorthanded to “Detroit” for the way the acronym appears on their set lists). Now that the song has a powerful video (one of the year’s finest) as an accompaniment, this memory rings even more fiercely but as the song’s closing lines were drawn out in a whisper, there was a silence so complete that thinking about it now, weeks after the fact, is enough to induce chills.

Everything in their set that had come before that moment and everything that will always have that singular performance as a reference point; it was that strong of a moment. As their set wound to a close, the band proceeded with a characteristic amount of elegance, never striking a false note. As the skies opened up outside and loosed a torrential downpour, their crowd filed out into the late-night storm in states of quiet reverie. In passing, I overheard a hushed “wow” that was immediately met with a silent nod, an exchange that acted as the perfect summation of a genuinely memorable evening.

Watch the band perform the title track from Youth below and explore a photo gallery of the show here.

 

Mike Krol – Live at Baby’s All Right – 9/29/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

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Just a handful of weeks ago, this site was singing  the praises of Mike Krol‘s latest effort while dissecting the enigmatic  songwriter’s curious history of rotating backing bands. A little over a week ago, he brought himself and his latest group of misfits to Baby’s All Right. Before they took the stage, Dead Painters delivered a set built momentum as it went along, hitting several sweet spots along the way and converting more than a few uninitiated audience members (myself included). Before too long, Krol and everyone with him on this tour, started frantically setting up an impressive assortment of props around the perimeter of the stage.

After a brief recess and with an array of barbed wire, flood lights, strobe lights, police lights, and pedals meticulously fixed to the stage, Krol and four other members (three of which came from the sorely missed Sleeping in the Aviary) suddenly appeared in near-blackness. One foot stomp on a pedal that triggered all of the lights going off simultaneously revealed each member in full police officer attire (true to the image that Turkey‘s album art boldly presented). From that point forward, the band were a blur, careening through a discography-encompassing set with reckless abandon. Suddenly, it was a surreal cops vs. prisoners scenario where the dividing lines were continuously blurred as artist and audience fed off of each other’s incessant, insistent level(s) of energy.

Songs came at a rapid-fire pace and nearly everything in Krol’s impressive collection found representation. Everyone in the band seemed like they were trying to tear their way out of their own skin, never showing any signs of fatigue, skewing closer to a startlingly pure state of delirium. A little past the set’s mid-way point, Baby’s lights person decided to get in on the action, triggering flashes of the venue’s iconic LED backdrop, much to Krol’s excitement. By the evening’s frenzied conclusion, both the band’s lights and the venue’s lights were firing on all cylinders while Krol and his band lost themselves to their own maelstrom of limbs.

As “Less Than Together” gave way to a clever guitar-driven reprise that echoed Turkey‘s closing number, the audience was already clamoring for an encore. On the whole, it was one of the mot well-received sets I’ve ever seen at the venue; on it’s own, it was the single most memorable standalone set I’ve seen take place on that stage. Anyone that has the chance to see this band play a date on this tour should immediately make it a priority or resign themselves to kicking themselves for years to come. This was one for the books.

Watch a collection of live videos from the show below and explore a photo gallery of the evening here.

 

A Short Stretch at The Silent Barn (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

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One of Brooklyn’s most attractive attributes has always been its thriving music scene, aided in no small part by an impressive string of venues. One that’s consistently booked incredible shows, fostered a sense of community, and remained a point of pride for several communities is The Silent Barn, which has been covered here on more than a few occasions. Over the past month, the Barn’s hosted a handful of shows I’ve been fortunate enough to attend, starting with a strong bill that included site favorites Washer, Slight, Vagabon, and Downies. All four played strong sets and included incredible new material. Spit proved to be a highlight of a fundraiser for a community bail project a few weeks later and everything culminated with an unbelievable set from PWR BTTM as they celebrated the release of Ugly Cherries with Kississippi, Fern Mayo, and Charly Bliss (which also had the benefit of being hosted by the ceaselessly entertaining Mary Houlihan). It was a show that was immediately preceded by a more intimate affair that was highlighted by a set from Yohua.

While all of the bands that played delivered memorable sets, PWR BTTM’s deserves greater focus. After being impressed with some of their earlier songs, their live show wound up securing them as a spot as one of my favorite bands of the moment. I’ve talked a lot about the additional reasons that they’ve earned so many words here, with their presentation of identity playing a major factor, and I’m far from the only person that’s found an element to latch onto when it comes to the band and their music. After Charly Bliss had enticed everyone with a characteristically extraordinary set and the promise of Ugly Cherries-themed cupcakes, PWR BTTM took to the stage and delivered one of the most memorable sets of the year.

People screamed along to key lines of songs, crowd-surfed, danced, and moshed, as the band tore through a discography-spanning set that peered into the future once with the unveiling of a devastating, bass-led song that prompted genuine tears from a few audience members (also notable: PWR BTTM’s Benjamin Hopkins’ parents were in attendance, as was the mother of Charly Bliss’ Eva Hendricks). Hopkins went into the audience on more than a few occasions and at every moment during their set (one that included Fern Mayo’s Nicholas Cummins on bass duties for a small batch of songs), it was abundantly clear that their audience has only grown more passionate since the start of this year. By the time “Carbs” was coming to its conclusion, a few bodies were being hoisted above the crowd, both Hopkins and Liv Bruce’s dresses were half off or more, and everyone was drenched in sweat- but, more importantly, they were smiling.     

Watch a composite video of several of the performances that have occurred over the month of September and view a photo gallery of the shows mentioned here.