Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Hipster Demolition Night Still Rules

Thursday night was Hipster Demolition Night at Public Assembly. Last time we caught one of these, it was at Glasslands in the dead of summer, 120 degrees inside the club on a night where four excellent bands met the challenge head on but we didn’t. We left in the middle of a literally scorching set by Muck and the Mires, which pretty much speaks for itself. Since then, Hipster Demolition Night has moved to Public Assembly, whose larger back room is an improvement on every conceivable level. The Demands opened this show. They’re what the White Stripes ought to wish they were. The three-piece band’s frontwoman plays simple, catchy bass riffs that lock tight with the garage-rock drumbeat. Much of the time their guitarist would punch out chords on the beat but there were also a lot of places where he’d go out on a limb and explore, adding an unexpectedly psychedelic element. The operative question was whether he was going to go out too far and fall off – nope. Even with those diversions, they kept it tight, and with the vocals’ sarcastic, playfully confrontational edge, it was a fun set.

Jay Banerjee & the Heartthrobs were next. Between songs, Banerjee chugged from a Cloraseptic bottle and complained about his health. But whatever was in there – hey, cold medicine works fine for L’il Wayne – gave him a noticeable boost. Meanwhile, Vinnie, the drummer was bleeding all over his kit. If that isn’t rock and roll, then Williamsburg is cool. And just when we had them pegged as a band who write songs for guys, they get a woman to play 12-string lead guitar. She’s brilliant. She ended one of the songs with a casually stinging charge down the scale that evoked nothing less than 12-string titan Marty Willson-Piper of the Church. They opened with a blistering version of the deliciously catchy Long Way Home, an amusingly brutal account of a gentrifier girl being brought down to reality: OMG, she might actually have to get a job to pay the rent on her newly renovated $5000-a-month Bushwick loft! With a snort or two, Banerjee and the band did her justice. Maybe desperate to get the show over with, they ripped through the rest of the set: a Byrdsy janglerock song with cynical la-la’s, a guy assuring his girlfriend that he’ll stick around “because I’m too lazy to look for someone else,” a couple with an ecstatic early Beatles feel, another fueled by a catchy, melodic bassline that sounded like the Jam without the distortion and finally an equally ecstatic cover of I Can’t Stand up for Falling Down, reinventing it as a powerpop smash in the same way that Elvis Costello reinvented What’s So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding. If Banerjee was really feeling as miserable as he insisted he was, no one would have known if he hadn’t mentioned it.

Garage rockers Whooping Crane were scheduled to headline afterward, but there were places to go (the train) and things to do (kill self-absorbed, nerdy boys in skinny jeans standing in the middle of the sidewalk and texting – just kidding). Hipster Demolition Night returns to Public Assembly next month, watch this space.

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December 12, 2010 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: The New Collisions at Public Assembly, Brooklyn NY 3/20/09

The 80s get no respect. Sure, there were the Cheesy 80s: Reagan, and Bon Jovi, and Beverly Hills 90210. But there were also Cool 80s: the Dead Kennedys,  the Dream Syndicate, and new wave. Unlike how VH1 and the rest of the corporate media would like you to think – if they want you to think at all, that is – new wave didn’t start out as top 40. It was people doing new and unique and fun things with catchy pop songs, and that became top 40 because it was so much fun. In the spirit of those first new wave bands of the late 70s and the early 80s come the New Collisions. It’s a very encouraging story: in less than a year, they’ve gained critical mass in their native Boston and now they’re working on New York. Their show at Public Assembly on Friday added more than a few believers to the posse: there is without a doubt a film or five in development that could use their ridiculously hummable, biting, casually intense songs.

 

Indelible moment: platinum-haired frontwoman Sarah Guild spins away from the mic, look of disdain on her face, strolls back to the drums and then, back to the audience, raises her left hand in a tightly clenched fist. Nothing stagy or contrived about it, that’s just how she felt in that one moment. One look at this band’s song titles reveals a considerable edge: No Free Ride. Parachutes on the Dance Floor. In a Shadow. Caged Us Kids, one of the best songs of the night. In guitarist Scott Guild’s fiery, upper-register chords, the band’s fast 4/4 dance beat, soaring melodic bass and devious vintage synthesizer lines, there’s a sense of exasperation, of just dying to get out, to have some real fun for once in their lives. Which speaks for pretty much all of us these days.

 

It was a methodical yet inspired set, the band roaring from one memorable number to the next without much fanfare. Sarah Guild has a chirpy insouciance that reminds of Poly Styrene from X-Ray Spex, but also a big formidable wail with echoes of the Motels’ Martha Davis, and she uses both expertly. Scott Guild goes for a staccato, slashing style that pairs well against the fast, climbing bass and the meandering synth lines. Ones to Wander featured some marvelously tight, accusatory harmonies. The snide, darkly captivating Underground had an eerie organ solo that sounded straight out of the Radio Birdman songbook. Losing Ground built off a melodic, crescendoing bassline, reaching a peak as the chorus kicked in with its “uh-oh” vocalese. Their last song of the night, Escape began slowly with eerie electric piano and broken guitar chords, building to a searing anthem, evoking images of after-dark mall parking lots scattered with kids on car hoods drinking beer out of paper bags, leaning up against utility poles, somebody’s ipod rigged up to the car stereo speakers, who’re only there because it’s all they have. The New Collisions are the Kids in America. They’re back here at Arlene’s on April 23 and then at one of their usual haunts, TT Bear’s in Boston on April 28.

March 23, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments