Heliotropes, Dead Stars, Lazyeyes, and Quiet Loudly, Muchmore’s, Brooklyn 12/12/12
At a small DIY space in Williamsburg called Muchmore’s, in a small back room lined with comfy couches and dimly lit, partially painted walls, there was a free holiday celebration being thrown with four local Brooklyn bands playing, all of which have growing hordes of passionate followers.
The night could have been known as “the problem with cords” for many of the openers; however, after a lengthy wait of switching cords, the first band, aptly named Quiet Loudly, brought their local crew to it’s feet with a fuzzy psychedelic sound that brings a classic garage power to the softer harmonies of the shoe gaze genre. Through their mesmerizing track “End Of The World,” it was hard to imagine them as a new band as the sound was so timeless.
Lazyeyes were next, and with a shimmering ambience, lots of undulating harmonies, and skipping rhythms, they belt out and strong sound. “Wait” off their upcoming debut EP was particularly stunning, and I look forward to hearing more! Dead Stars followed, after another malfunctioning cord nightmare, and took no time at all to hit their bombastic stride, with a striking similarity to a Dinosaur Jr. fronted by Thurston Moore, who took on the form of the stirring frontman/guitarist Jeff Moore, really shook my rocking soul. Many impressive tracks including the raw thrasher finale called “Wasted” really got people bopping around the now packed room.
The all-girl band Heliotropes, whom I was fortunate enough to see open for the Screaming Females recently, headlined the event, and frontwoman Jessica Numsuwankijkul has a similar wailing axe appeal, with more of a reckless abandon in a hurricane of whipping of hair in which this dazzling frontwoman really amazes. With a powerful brew of garage rock mixed with touches of bluegrass supplied the adorable tambourine and harmonist Amber Myers, and a rumpus rhythm section, they really bring on the fun to a show on songs like the pile driving “Ribbons” or the breathy swaying sexiness of “Moonlight.” You don’t so much walk away from a show like this rocker as stagger away in a sweaty mind-blown mess, just as it should be.
After an extended absence, the 80’s LA alt-rocking legends Concrete Blonde are back to show us all how seductively slick 80′s rock can be. Opener Jim Bianco amused as a solo acoustic act, blending a wonderfully witty lyrical sense with a hysterical repertoire with the audience. Since becoming the queen of the IRS indy label in the late 80’s, Concrete Blonde quickly grabbed the attention of mainstream audiences for being a more authentic substitute to hair metal and a more attractive alternative to grumpy punk, and by 1990, they also found big label success by, of all things, releasing a dark gothic opus called Bloodletting.
They released many efforts after that, but seemingly got swallowed by the grunge scene, and after having many label troubles, they put the Blonde to bed in 2004. Still, the power trio’s frontwoman and bassist remains a true force of nature to behold in person, sashaying out on stage this night in a breathtaking formfitting grey dress, and under a single spotlight, belted out the ballad “Roalle.” From there, the show was full of total stunners, even to the most die-hard fans in attendance, like a cover of Midnight Oil’s “Bed’s Are Burning,” that stirred as a tribute to the 20 children who had just been killed in a national tragedy, then a brand new single, and a song she did solo with the Talking Heads spin-off The Heads called “Damage I’ve Done.”
They then did a string of their biggest sad drinking hits like “Joey” and “Take Me Home,” and as Johnette got looser and sillier on wine and adrenaline, broke into a cover of the western great “Ghost Riders In The Sky,” which truly showed how amazing her voice continues to have, sailing effortlessly through some of the most impossible notes, as was the case with their famous cover of the Leonard Cohen classic “Everybody Knows” and Marianne Faithfull’s “As Tears Go By,” joined with plenty of original rarities, like “100 games Of Solitaire” which I really did not expect, and early tracks, like “Heal It Up,” as well as some of my favorites, like “Caroline” and the superb “Bloodletting (Vampire Song),” as a commanding closer that had the whole audience singing along at the top of their lungs with reckless abandon.
Nada Surf made a triumphant NYC homecoming, back after an extensive tour to support one of my favorite albums of the year, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy, with a pair of back-to-back sold out shows at one of the Big Apple’s finest small venues, The Bowery Ballroom.
Eternal Summers opened up the first night, and the trio made up a punky brew of dreamy rock, with the adorable guitarist Nicole Yun taking most of the vocal leads, in between her blistering solos, the vigorous off-time drummer Daniel Cundiff took a couple impressive lead singer turns, all the while Jonathan Woods kept the power backbeat thumping, and they were even joined by Nada’s resident lead guitar man Doug Gillard for the last couple power jams.
Obviously, I have had a resurgence of respect and admiration for Nada Surf since they dropped this new album, which displays a new lyrical and musical maturity within a theme of getting older and looking backwards to see forwards in life, despite them being still best known for songs like “Popular” in the late 90’s, that all but defined youth and high school life, albeit very sarcastically. Most of the trio no longer live in NYC, which made the show even more forlorn to great days gone by, lead singer Matthew Caws, who lives in England now, still has that big mop of hair, although it’s a bit more grey than blonde now, Daniel Lorca still plays amazingly deep and playful bass, even though he looks more like an older dock worker at a pot factory with some of the thickest and longest dreads you’ve ever seen, and Ira Elliot continually kicks in some of the more complex drums lines found in popular music.
The night’s emotional evolution started with a couple of the finest from Stars “Clear Eye Clouded Mind” and “Waiting For Something,” which gave you the clear direction, “Do It Again” from 05’s The Weight Is A Gift that got the blood pumping in youthful abandon with that playful bass line alone, and it was “Weightless” from my previous favorite Nada album Lucky that sent my head into a tizzy. “Hyperspace” served as the hammer of all great riffgasms and was one of the many unexpected tracks of the night, as was the gorgeously dark sway of “Killian’s Red,” the shimmering of “Paper Boats,” as “No Snow on the Mountain” made a great way to tackle the subject of the recent NYC floods, and “The Way You Wear Your Head” kicked in the sweaty home stretch.
In a hefty encore, they brought out some true greats, including the first time I had ever seen them play “Popular” and one of the rip-roaring finale songs ever made called “Blankest Year,” where Matthew gets the whole to scream “FUCK IT! We’re gonna have a PARTY!” over and over again until everyone is totally spent. As an extra wonderful nightcap to the show, Matthew appeared on the downstairs steps to play a few songs acoustic, including one of my favorites “Blizzard Of ’77,” but he finally had to end it, for as he said, “Bye! I’ve got to go, my mother is waiting for me, and it’s been forever since she got to send time with me…” It made for a perfect way to end a night of Nada worship, in total ethereal rapture.
The Misfits came back to NYC to make up for their annual Halloween spectacle that had to be rescheduled because of hurricane Sandy determined to rock our damned souls. The band, which is now comprised of founding bassist Jerry Only, who know takes the lead vocal spot, and former Black Flag guitarist Dez Cadena and drummer Eric “Chupacabra,” whom have been playing with the Misfits for over 10 years.
Founding lead singer Glenn Danzig now hates his early works and Jerry, although he too has played some dates with early axeman Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein recently. Still, this power trio Misfits cranked out an earnest hard-rocking set at the Highline Ballroom with an impressive line-up of openers Heart of the Matter and the ridiculously awesome duo Japanther, to commemorate all of the many stages of the horror punk genre they were the bloody forebears to in a ridiculously extensive setlist, although their early days were in large and in charge, with classics like “Static Age,” “Some Kinda Hate,” “Hybrid Moments,” “We Are 138,” and “Teenagers From Mars.”
There was no iconic “Last Caress“ played, but that was quickly forgotten in the swell of heavy metals and punk fusions that created a massive mosh pit which engrossed the entirety of the floor at times. “Die, Die My Darling” and “Descending Angel “proved to be a pinnacle show high points, and they even broke out a Black Flag classic called “Rise Above” and ended the exhausting set with a bit of camp in a hilarious rendition of “Science Fiction/Double Feature” that is still best known as the finale for the camp classic Rocky Picture Horror Show.