photo courtesy amy.bee
Somehow I still had enough energy to walk down the street for this late Sunday show at Union Pool on Sunday night, but it was the Muslims, and I had missed them all CMJ...turned out it was a 1928 records showcase and I was introduced to some other great talent on the label.
Like The Sundelles who were up first and deserve their own mention because they were awesome, especially the bass player who was dancing his ass off all over the place to the Muslims later in the evening. This was a stripped down three piece. The lead singer, Ryan? I think, had his guitar in the middle of his chest and just started right into a jangly garage rock number, singing the hell out of it. Kind of like Frank Black...it really reminded me of the Pixies, the physical lineup...these really different individuals, contributing their own idiosyncracies and coming out with a really clear direction.
It's just a great 3 piece sound. The drummer looked like my friends brother. He had the snare right between his knees, pounding it with both hands. I'm still wondering...that doesn't really effect the sound does it? other than to just be that slave to the beat, that drummer bashing? Anyhow, they reminded me of a harder Dump....they aren't getting into twee or anything, but they could easily be in anyone's garage in Kansas...or outside Deluth. This was a performance of complete sincerity...I don't know how much this was still a part of CMJ, or just an excuse to put on a label showcase, but these three bands were already making sense together, and the browns are a great simple solid talent...the same ease of songwriting and sincerity you can't manufacture.
Next up were the Browns, they definitely played their first myspace track 'Dead Youth' first up. Listening to them now, it sounds like they have a lot more recorded texture and hiss going on in the studio. It sounded less Velvet Underground then the LP tracks, there's not as much distortion, and it's a little less rehearsed, it just wasn't as strong a performance for me...it still fit accidentally coming across this great show on some side street in a tiny college town, these guys just stuck here, filling the days in school, not really into their liberal arts degree. More about the weekend jams in the basements or garages with the heat turned up. But then again the Muslims were up next.
I was still kind of shocked it was possible to see them period...I got there early because I was convinced Union Pool would be packed with anyone who missed them, like me. Matty, the guitarist, came out complete with sprays of dried blood all over his pickguard, the strings were black with blood gunk. He started taping up his fingers with electrical tape, which kept falling off. It lasted for about 5 seconds every song until Matt had to come over to redo the whole job every so often.
I keep looking for the crack somewhere...when are these guys going to break? Would this be a shitty show? How could I blame them? At least 9 straight shows over 4 or 5 days. I think Thursday I saw them listed to play 4 shows? It's insanity, and completely punishing. You would have never known it, they were completely on and playing everything better than I have seen. These songs come off as hyper versions of the originals on the self titled 12". 'Beside Myself' was twice as fast, Matty plays the guitar high, swinging it back and forth while Matt's got the thousand yard stare into the audience where you can't tell if he's looking right at you. Matt's a little possessed, but definitely fun. The mic was echo-ing a bit and the band started making sounds...weird clicking, insect, jungle sounds. The drumkit this time was just the usual borrowed kit from the band before, but that didn't affect Brian's sound....last time I saw them with a hug standup snare, and I was worried they were getting into that specialized instrument trap, but thankfully they're at home on anything. On 'Future Rock' I think David, on bass, was a little surprised to hear the crowd yelling over him during the chorus, he stepped back from the microphone with a grin on his face, and gave up completely by the 3rd time, letting the audience just take over. I'm glad NY was giving them such a great reception, it's good to see a little appreciation for this exceptional band.
I saw the NY times published coverage of them from CMJ, so basically that's the last time I'll see them at Union Pool.