Butter The Children at 285 Kent
First of all I want to go on record stating that I like the band's name. It is unique and memorable without making any particular claims about the band's sound. At least any I can think of.
So what do they sound like? Well, they have some of that 80s New Wave-y sound which is so in these days in Brooklyn (a la DIIV) but with a bit less airiness and a bit more punk. They don't stray far enough from pop to be actual punks (like, say, EULA) but they have some of that grit and energy. Their guitarist has it in spades.
Parquet Courts at 285 Kent
Is it just me or are Parquet Courts louder than they used to be? Their shows are wilder too, their audiences more crazy. I think they've become one of those bands where people know their shows will get nuts and that's half the reason they go. That's a good reputation for a band to have, 'cause bands like that are fun!
This is not to say that Parquet Courts are all about getting crazy. Granted, they did play one song which was is so chaotic I was reminded of "Drug Me" by the Dead Kennedys, but most of their songs are full of hooks and rhythm and most importantly, craft. There are tempo changes and whole-band pauses. The guitars trade solos and then the song goes off in a different direction entirely. These guys have style, not just loudness.
Pay attention to those lyrics too. Their best songs are serious poetry. You'll recognize those songs by the not quite natural rhythm of the vocals. Most of the rest of their songwriting has more of a stream of consciouness style which personally I find less distinctive. But of course it is hard to hear the lyrics when they are playing live. Perhaps it is actually the cadence of those more poetic songs is what makes them work so well, not the words themselves?
Purling Hiss at 285 Kent
I think I just found Philadelphia's answer to Ume. The lead singer of Purling Hiss is also the band's only guitarist and is easily its most energetic member. During his solos he thrashes away at that guitar like a product tester for Gibson. Perhaps he should grow his hair longer?
On their albums Purling Hiss play gritty but energetic hard rock with a vaguely stoner vibe. Strangely they have much cleaner live sound. Same songs, less fuzz. Normally you would expect the opposite, right? So many bands release overproduced albums but still rock live. Well, apparently these guys are the opposite of that. Honestly I was hoping for a fuzzed out noisefest so I guess I was a bit disappointed. Still, their live sound is pretty heavy has plenty of energy. It was enough to get the mosh pit going so it was good enough.
Total Slacker at 285 Kent
I hadn't seen Total Slacker before. They were awesome. What, you want me to write more?
EDIT: Well I guess there is something more to add. The fellow playing drums in these photos is named Terence Connor. He was killed in a hit-and-run two weeks after these photos were taken.
Calvin Johnson at 285 Kent
Musical and Tai Chi visionary Calvin Johnson may be the personification of the phrase "calling him understated would be an understatement". He nearly as much speaks to you as sings, and his humor is so dry that I think they had to hydrate a couple of people who passed out. Yet his performance displays subtle conviction. He is like a preacher who is not preaching a sermon but rather counseling a parishioner. There is much to be gained by listening to what he has to say.