What do you get when you throw a free party in Manhattan, at a posh boot store and get it sponsored by White Castle, and throw in a live performance by the royal shoegaze royalty band School Of Seven Bells? Turns out, it all produces one hell of a crazy night, and Filter magazine (who just released a three part video detailing SIIVB’s history, which is below) turned this small Dr. Marten’s near Union Square into one ridiculous bash, with free beers and drinks (courtesy of Goose Island and AQUAhydrate), endless boxes of White Castle burgers, a yes, a purfectly fun (albeit short) set by one of my favorite bands in music today.
We’d also like to take this opportunity to wish School Of Seven Bells frontman Benjamin Curtis a speedy recovery. He was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. Thankfully, it’s treatable, and we hope he gets back to doing what he does best, thrilling crowds (as you’ll see below) ASAP.
After making the growing line wait out in the cold for almost a half an hour after they were supposed to open, they let the first hundred or so people in, all who were seemingly unable to make even the smallest dent in their party supplies. In the very back of the narrow trendy shop was a makeshift stage setup and Aaron Pfenning of Rewards was DJ’ing for awhile, until Benjamin Curtis of SIIVB stepped in to pump up the party with a retro new wave dance party.
The story of School of Seven Bells is a rich one; formed when the harmonized twin sisters Alejandra Deheza (vocals, guitar) and Claudia Deheza (keyboards, vocals) from a band called On!Air!Library! and Benjamin Curtis (guitar, synthesizers, vocals) from Secret Machines met while supporting NYC doom rockers Interpol on their big breakthrough tour, and subsequently decided to form a band together, named after a mythical South American pickpocket training academy of the same name. Soon after, their debut Alpinisms became the sleeper hit of 2008, with a mix of Indian coherences and synth-heavy astrospheres. With their 2010 Disconnect from Desire, their sound was become more a more straight up whirlwind cocktail of new wave and shoe gaze, but after Claudia left under somewhat mysterious circumstances, they have returned as a duo with a grand concept album of the sad mysteries of love called Ghostory. This was the first time the band has appeared since cancelling on their grand homecoming show at Music Hall Of Williamsburg last month, returning from their World-trespassing tour supporting the album, due to a case of a throat cold by Alejandra. Now, they have a new very trippy EP called Put Your Sad Down, and they really are just beginning to shine in a whole new artistic way.
Seeing SVIIB live is like watching a ballet dancer delicately pirouetting over tantalizing clouds of fine ambient clouds and bright beats of lightning. When they all strolled out, Alejandra commented, “Wow, you guys are all really close!” as the dense wave of the packed crowd that stretched all the way to the doors was looming only a couple feet from all of them. As they broke into a deep experimental opener and the stunningly exotic waif-like Alejandra, who had a glittery bar painted across her eyes and a big fur vest, began to work herself into her frenzied trance, as she does a very unique twitching dance, swinging her hair from side to side, sometimes grabbing her bass to swing around melodically and leaving Ben to really create much of the deep layers of sound, crafting guitar rhythms with an array of synth weapons to craft a sound so tight and wonderfully ethereal, they really wouldn’t need a band at all, as they have played with on stage some in the last couple years, but this time around have had a real touring band, finally replacing Claudia on keyboards and backing vocals with Allie Alvarado and an aggressive drummer Christopher Colley kicking the rhythms up to epic levels.
Their hit-centric mini-set started with their second album’s success “Windstorm,” then one of the only single-lengthed songs from their new EP called “Secret Days,” then the sweeping “White Wind” and the beat pumping “Low Times” from Ghostory, and ending with their most beloved song “Half Asleep” from their debut. After some relentless applause they came out to play one more new track called “Scavenger” before bidding adieu to the crowd.