Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: John-Severin & the Quiet 1s at Fontana’s, NYC 9/5/09

John-Severin’s guitar and voice are already a prevalent part of the Brooklyn What’s “… For Borough President” album [Lucid Culture’s pick for best album of 2009 so far], providing melodic yet wild lead guitar on songs like “She Gives Me Spasms” and “Summer Song” as well as his own “50 Days”, a dark, brooding rocker with a great, moody Cure-like vocal. In his own project John-Severin and the Quiet 1s he puts his vocal, guitar and songwriting skills all on the line, which makes for a very moving performance. Backed by the powerful Brooklyn What rhythm section of bassist Doug Carey and drummer Jesse Katz as well as second guitar and harmony vocal by Sairuh Lacoff, the Quiet 1s are an ensemble to be reckoned with.

Saturday night in the basement of Fontana’s, after two painful Jack Johnson/Jason Mraz wannabe singer/songwriter groups, the Quiet 1s hit the stage like a bolt of lightning, bringing much needed energy to the room. They opened with the seriously catchy rocker “Prince St.” the first track off their recent “Get Quiet” ep. The next song “Sucked In” was another piece of propulsive power-pop, recalling Green Day, Weezer and the glory days of 90’s alt-rock. Lacoff provides a great vocal foil for John-Severin, who already has a quite pretty voice for a man – their harmonies together are spot on, and they get the maximum effect out of a doubled vocal line.

“Never Love Nobody Else” is a newer, vicious tune which sort of sounds like the White Stripes covering “She’s Not There,”  in which the band let loose its more aggressive side, John-Severin wailing with his new Big Muff pedal and sounding a bit like J. Mascis. Another more kick-ass number, “Hold Your Tongue” is a more Chuck Berry/punk rock influenced track, featuring a great call-and response-vocal between John and the band. The duets, the original “I’ll Be Around” and their cover of “My Girl” had Sairuh stepping out and showing her vocal prowess, the usually raucous rhythm section laying back like Motown pros. Another soul-influenced song, “Just Want A Girl Who Wants To Dance With Me” was a killer, sounding like a “My Aim Is True” outtake with an infectious vamped chorus and a drum solo by the wily Jesse Katz. A unexpected and fun cover of the Misfits’ “When Eagles Dare” closed the show, evoking the Bratmobile version more than the butch original, in which John Severin proclaimed that he ain’t no goddamn son-of-a-bitch. The “Get Quiet” EP and John’s first solo EP “Look, the Lows” are available now on Pozar Records, be sure to check it out for a rare example of contemporary indie rock/power-pop that can kick your ass and tug at your heartstrings at the same time.

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September 9, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: The Brooklyn What at the Brooklyn Lyceum 8/22/08

Very possibly the best show of the year so far. The Brooklyn What look and sound like something you would have seen at CBGB around 1977, not a carefully coiffed, safetypinned-and-mohawked self-parody decked out in matching mallstore Ramones shirts, but just an average-looking bunch of guys playing blazingly energetic, loud, often hilarious rock with purist punk energy, intelligence and a spot-on, often vicious sense of humor. Frontman Jamie Frey is a big guy who looks like he doesn’t deprive himself of pizza or beer (although at this show he was fueled strictly by adrenaline, drinking only water). By the time the band had started their second song, his shirt had come off, “NEXT TOP MODEL” stenciled down his hefty torso. The band – who seem to be something of a revolving cast of characters – started out with three guitarists and ended up with two. Running their instruments straight through their amps as the PA was being used for just the vocals, they played smartly, tersely and tunefully although with enough looseness to provide plenty of menace.

 

They hit the ground running with a blazingly catchy, upbeat number, then a couple of songs later did what has become their signature song, I Don’t Wanna Go to Williamsburg. If there is anyone alive 20 years from now, this song will be a classic, the little clique it ridicules a metaphor for a much bigger problem. The funniest thing about this song is that it’s already dated, namechecking both Northsix and Galapagos, the first of which is defunct and the second of which moved to Dumbo earlier this year. The band played it faster than the version on their myspace, giving it a vintage Black Flag feel: “I don’t wanna go to Galapagos! I don’t wanna hear the fucking Hold Steady!” On the chorus, it’s unclear whether Frey is being sarcastic or if he’s speaking for himself: “I just wanna play with the cool kids,” he hollered. If this is to be taken at face value, he’s definitely achieved his dream. This is the anthem we’ve been waiting for. As the Boomtown Rats said, watch out for the normal people: there’s more of us than there’s of you. If only everybody knew that.

 

They did two covers. Carol by Chuck Berry was transformed from happy Dick Clark rock to something casually but absolutely evil, like what the Dead Boys might have done with it. The version of the Kinks’ I’m Not Like Everybody Else was every bit as good as it could have been, in fact with the guitars roaring at full blast the classic nonconformist anthem might have been even better than the original. Among the other songs: a vaguely oi-punk number evoking the UK Subs, the band hollering their refrain after Frey reached the end of a verse; a slow, pounding riff-rocker; and a hilarious, backbeat-driven anti-trendoid diatribe possibly called Moving to Philly. Frey thrashed around, throwing himself to the floor, then on one number got up and took a sprint around the back of the stage – in his socks – before reemerging a couple of seconds later, picking up where he left off. The band closed with We Are the Only Ones, a defiant call to unity for all the cool kids who’d come out to see them, an almost predictably diverse mix of old and young (Frey’s grandmother among them), male and female, gay and straight, dancing around deliriously albeit without any violence. Like the Sex Pistols or the Clash, the Brooklyn What could spearhead a brand-new scene that has nothing to do with fashion, celebrity or inherited wealth. They couldn’t have timed it better. Watch this space for info about their next show and their upcoming cd The Brooklyn What for Borough President.

August 26, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments