The other weekend, I found myself on the Lower East Side of NYC to see a promising line-up of indie bands. After paying way too much for a beer, I sat against the wall examining the optimistic sea of plaid-clad 20-somethings. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the show, but I certainly didn’t think it would be a nostalgic romp through rock and roll history. If you lost the keys to your DeLorean, but are still jonesing for some new old music, check these bands out.
The first group, Basement Batman, reminded me of high school days spent chilling in a garage, sipping on Cherry Coke. The down-to-earth quartet hails from Maryland. Warm and familiar with the audience, the band says that movement is central to both the creation and performance of their music, and one of the most enjoyable parts of the set is definitely watching them groove together. While bass players usually drop it low and thumb along, apparently lost in their own world of ennui, Basement Batman’s bassist is refreshingly active. Their hip hop-influenced beats are easy to rock out to, and it’s clear that they’ve got a lot going on. Check out the fresh video below.
The next set was by New York’s Everest Cale. This band is honest-to-goodness 90s rock and roll. Frontman Brett Treacy’s vocals are straight out of the grunge scene, right down to Cobain’s soul-wrenching yells. Treacy told me about discovering Nirvana, “I remember thinking to myself...'this guy looks strange...kinda feminine,' I was confused. I didn't know what to think of him.” Ultimately, Treacy told me it was Cobain’s yell that inspired him to grow his hair long and turn his ambitions toward music. The band’s guitar work is also super 90s. The guitar ranges from heavy, Southern rock to the kind of peddle-heavy style characteristic of arena rock. Their strongest songs were definitely the slowest ones, namely because the slower tempo allows you to focus on the lyrics. If you find yourself chanting “grunge is not dead” in your sleep, you should check their music out.
Stone Cold Fox was the next band in the lineup. They formed at SUNY Purchase, and play with a bit of 60s pop swing. Their music is bouncy and danceable like Peter Bjorn's, and it’s fun to see them play because they’re clearly in love with one another and having the time of their lives. The lead singer, Kevin, has a nasally croon that’s made for the style, and it really feels like they know where music is moving. If you’re in to dancing along, you can see the band in the video below.
Next, a group took the stage with “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are the Dirty Names, and we play rock and roll.” I looked up and, my hand to God, I was transported back to the 1970s. Everyone in this band wears groovy threads, and humps their guitar/microphone/whatever instrument is closest. It was great, and I couldn’t stop laughing. They clearly already have a following, one of whom said, “You’ve got Angus Young and fuckin Mick Jagger in the same band.” I may add James Brown and Hendrix to that list, but that pretty much sums it up. If you’re game for battling through crowds of drunken models, you should try to see them live when they’re in town.
The last band in the lineup was Moon Furies. They bathed the stage in black lights and proceeded to play a hybrid of punk and 80s pop. It was definitely more hardcore than I had anticipated, and I kind of wished we had been in some sort of nasty punk bar where everyone was jumping off the walls. Basically, the scene was too composed for the music. If you dig animalistic drumming and raw sound, then you should look in to their stuff. Here’s a little music video for your viewing pleasure.
Videos from youtube.com and image from frankhegyi.com