Death By Unga Bunga at DC9
I still just barely believe that there is really a band called Death By Unga Bunga. Knowing that there is, though, I am totally willing to believe that they're a garage rock band. Also that they're not from around here (they're Norwegian).
Listening to them online before the show they reminded me of The Manikins or Together PANGEA, just without the occasional folksy bits. That's not way off. Like TP they keep the subject matter light as any good party music should. What I hadn't picked up on online are the hints of glam rock influence. Certain songs reminded me of MC5 and Stalkers. So DBUB turned out to be a little edgier than I was expecting but not that much.
Priests at Brooklyn Bazaar
Going into this show I had entertained the idea of doing a photoset just of Gideon, the guitarist. It seems to me that 90% of the photos of this band I've seen are of their lead singer, often just their lead singer. Now that's pretty typical of media coverage of bands, we all know that. Still, given the amount of effort this guy puts into bouncing around the stage you'd think people, or rather photographers, would be paying more attention to him. So I almost decided to pay off what I see as a karmic debt here but I chickened out.
With that said please enjoy these photos of everyone in the band Priests except Daniele, the drummer. Yep, I'm creating a whole new karmic debt. Next I'll probably spell Priests wrong or something. Sorry about that but there were no lights pointed even vaguely in her direction or at least from in front which is kind of the point eh? Same thing with Snail Mail in that last photoset. Their drummer was borderline invisible too. Ah well, somebody else must have brought a flash (I should really start doing that).
Snail Mail at Brooklyn Bazaar
I do not recall exactly which 90s slacker movie soundtrack Snail Mail reminds me of. I just think that their parents should probably check their car thoroughly.
Snail Mail's music has that nostalgic for the present because you're conscious enough to know it's going to pass sort of vibe. That in a jangly guitar, not too loud or overbearing sort of way. Although I don't know for a fact that Snail Mail started out as a solo project of singer/guitarist Lindsey Jordan that just seems right, especially since I've seen her play solo. It just feels like singer/songwriter material at its core. The addition of a band adds depth, plus the ability to rock out once in a while, and if your guitar goes out at least things don't stop dead (which actually did happen at one point).
The Lemon Twigs at DC9
The Lemon Twigs. You might remember them from such shows as Sunflower Bean at the Rock and Roll Hotel recently. They didn't cover "Gasolina" this time.
I don't think I've ever seen a (current) band which quite so throughly embodied the 70s aesthetic. Songs which are melodic but don't stick to simple rhythmic structures. Energy but not insanity in their live performance. And those clothes! I really don't think they're just copying the look either. Their sound and really their whole character predates those simplified musical styles like corporate pop and (as much as I love it) punk rock. Musicianship is the key here. They'll toss in whatever flourishes are needed to give a song the desired impact. And may I add that this is particularly impressive given their relative youth. Notice those Xs on their hands. They may not be punk but for now they are straight edge.
Thick at Knockdown Center
Somehow Thick manage to sound jangly and crusty at the same time. That shouldn't really work and certainly shouldn't work this well. As best I can tell the trick is to keep the tempo up and the guitar solos peppy while singing about being bored, having no money, being kicked out of the house and similarly depressing subject matter.
That and delivering the downers with enough of a smirk that you know it's all fun and games even when they're being painfully honest. Consider the song "Herpes Microphone". As best I can tell it is a song about catching herpes from a dirty microphone. Clearly these three have played some classy venues. Anyway, it's hilarious. In a more serious vein the song "Anymore" is a list of eveything that sucks about becoming an adult but it sure is fun to hear them sing about it. "Wasting My Time" is a mid-tempo song about a relationship which isn't quite going right. It has an explosive ending, perhaps just like the relationship which inspired the song? I do like it when a band manages to be fun while still keepin' it real (except for herpes bit).
This show was part of the Nasty Women Exhibition at the Knockdown Center. No complaints about the choice of bands, that's for sure. The rock-n-roll was in the bar in back rather than one of the stages. No, this was not the same room where Parquet Courts played to a thousand people at Christmas. That would be awkward and we would run out of oxygen. Actually it kind of looked like a house show at grandma's house, all antique chairs and fake plants. In some ways Knockdown is a really weird place.