Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: rebel t5i

Toys That Kill – Live at The Acheron – 6/23/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Toys That Kill I

Over the past week, I attended two shows and saw close to ten bands, everything happened in the same venue: The Acheron. June 23 was the first of the two nights/shows, so it’ll be receiving the early focus while a recap of the show on the 25th will be posted in the very near future. The show on the 23rd opened with Hatrabbits (a band featuring former members of The Measure [sa] dutifully filling in the local slot with a very straightforward, no-nonsense take on punk. Former WI resident and DIY mainstay Nato Coles (with his Blue Diamond Band in tow) pulled out all of the usual stops during a characteristically high-energy set. An unexpected highlight came in the middle of “An Honorable Man”- a classic tune by Used Kids (a Brooklyn-based band Coles used to co-front with Big Eyes’ Kaitlyn Eldridge, who was also in attendance)- with Used Kids bassist taking over on the instrument for the song’s remainder, ultimately receiving one of the nights loudest cheers.

Site favorites Benny The Jet Rodriguez played next, with an expanded lineup boasting two familiar faces: Todd Congeliere and A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor (not to mention Swearin’ and Radiator Hospital member/Stupid Bag Records founder) Jeff Bolt. Front to back, the set was nothing but electrifying highlights, including some new songs and a few particularly impassioned takes on some of Home. Run‘s best material. Shellshag followed up with a set full of the kind of off-kilter charisma that made them one of Don Giovanni Records’ most quietly revered bands (especially among the musicians who exist in the label’s circle, several of whom refer to the duo as “mom and dad”). By the time they’d pulled the plugs on their lighting rig and made a precariously balanced tower of drums, the venue had either neared or reached capacity.

Toys That Kill rewarded the crowd with an intense set that more than lived up to the hype surrounding the band’s live show (I’d only heard it discussed in awed whispers or deafening proclamations). The band’s achieved something of a legendary status after cultivating a rabid following via a string of genre classics, their live show, and the success of guitarist/vocalist Todd Congeliere’s vaunted label, Recess Records [EDITOR’S NOTE: this hyperlinked clip contains a scene of praise for Hot New Mexicans, which I can’t recommend strongly enough and still leads the pack for my personal “Album of the Decade” pick]. All of that success has been culminating in fiery, passionate performances in which the crowd reciprocates the band’s staggering amounts of energy and that was certainly the case at The Acheron. One of the only shows I’ve seen this  year that ended with a successful (and completely warranted) encore call, Toys That Kill gave the audience exactly what they wanted and more, providing a perfectly raucous endcap to the night.

A video embed of the touring bands on the bill can be seen below and a photo gallery of their sets can be seen here.

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 5

Speedy Ortiz III

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives for every given band that headlines a post, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement.

Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision behind a headfirst dive into photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time.

Pt. 5 will be the final installment of this series and the preceding galleries can be accessed via the links directly below. Enjoy!

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 1
2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 2
2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 3
2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 4

 

METZ at Smiling Buddha – 6/22/14 (Review, Photos, Video)

METZ XXVII

The last full bill to get taken in during the Toronto trip wasn’t part of a festival but it was at the venue that housed several of the best NXNE shows: Smiling Buddha. Up to bat for the all-ages isolated bill this time around was Pleasure Leftists, Holy Fuck, and noise-punk titans METZ. Pleasure Leftists had already torn apart Soybomb HQ the night before, in what was easily the most stacked non-festival bill to take place all week and were more than poised to take Smiling Buddha over in the exact same fashion: fearlessly and without pause. Once again, vocalist Haley Morris proved to be as spellbinding as the music pouring out of the cabs behind her. Frantically shifting from side to side, Morris commanded attention and channeled the relative bleakness of the increasingly spectacular songs into something entrancing and indefinable. There’s a certain spirit permeating throughout Pleasure Leftists’ work and presentation that so many bands are trying to do but failing miserably in their attempts. It’s an intangible element and it resonates throughout all of their songs to an absurd degree. Moments of nervousness, dread, tension, fear, anger, and the unknown all get emphasized in one way or another through Pleasure Leftists’ songs and the band, time and time again, manages to find a way to harness it. Both of their performances were unforgettable affairs but the masterfully mixed levels at Smiling Buddha put their second performance just a notch above the first. Both outings proved that the band has found the perfect balancing point between the graceful and the intimidating. Both times it was extraordinary.

Toronto noise/electronic/experimental trio Holy Fuck graced the stage after Pleasure Leftists’ set left a few more uninitiated attendees completely stunned. If there was any trepidation over how well Holy Fuck’s set, a relative outlier, the band eased those doubts within a few songs. Being one of the few acts playing their brand of music to feature live drums on a full drumkit worked out to the band’s advantage in more ways than one. Did it make them a more suitable fit for the bill? Yes. Absolutely. Was it beneficial during the band’s early sound problems? Undoubtedly. Each member of the trio attacked their instruments with unbridled passion, clearly loving every moment of their time on stage. While the drums were being pounded into oblivion, both multi-instrumentalists set about utilizing everything in their arsenal to its maximum potential. Their audience ate it up; people were headbanging, dancing, and attempting to project as much energy onto the band as the band was projecting onto them. What some assumed would be an unmitigated booking disaster instead wound up presenting a clearly-loved contrast (or reprieve) from the moodiness exhibited by both Pleasure Leftists and METZ. Holy Fuck kept things going for as long as they could, smiling all the way through. At set’s end, they were all drenched in sweat, still smiling, and looking at an entire venue smiling right back at them.

After delivering an insane set last year in a very small room of an arts center in Champaign-Urbana, IL as part of the Pygmalion Festival, expectations were considerably lofty for METZ- especially considering the fact they were playing to a hometown crowd. They didn’t disappoint. They didn’t even come close. METZ didn’t even manage to make it through their first few songs before the crowd had tipped over into verging-on-volatile, killing the stage flood lights completely. Instead of getting hung up on an understandable technical issue, the trio subverted expectations in a way only they can, pleading with the photographers present to use their brightest flashes to create a natural strobe light effect. All of them obliged. What followed from that point forward was an exercise in endurance for both the audience, a constantly shifting heaving mass of bodies, and the band themselves, who each managed to turn their clothes a few shades darker via profuse, hard-earned, sweat. The band’s self-titled Sub Pop LP is still their defining achievement and most of it was played- but they did manage to throw in a crowd-assisted cover of “Neat Neat Neat” as well as a new song or two, while providing discography balance wherever they could. Audience members were actively encouraged to climb onstage and hang out for a song or two while also being given the standard reminder that “if you see anyone fall down in the pit, pick their ass back up, give them a kiss on the cheek, and keep going”. No one gets hurt at a METZ show and everyone looks out for each other. No matter how much screeching feedback, pure chaos, total noise, and unrelenting darkness there was, it never felt too dangerous. METZ refused to let it get too dangerous, even though they know exactly how to walk right up to the border. That underlying humanism is part of what makes a METZ show feel so enlightening; this is outstanding music being made by genuinely great people- and it’s worthy of being celebrated on all accounts.

Follow the link provided below to see a photo gallery of this show. Beneath that is a video of Pleasure Leftists’ set hitting its stride.

Smiling Buddha: Pleasure Leftists, Holy Fuck, METZ (Photo Gallery)