I took a spin through Tuddd Archives the other day and found that this was to be the fifth time I've seen A Place to Bury Strangers live, which is only fitting now that I think about it. When you're talking Brooklyn bands, off the top of my head only Cheeseburger, Goes Cube and Austerity Program are as enjoyable in the live setting. I dug APtBS' debut album but it's live that these bastards really make their mark. More on that later.
Left the apartment and headed towards Music Hall of Williamsburg at about 8:30; got inside 20 minutes later expecting a 9 PM set time for the openers, and let me tell you, NOBODY was there. Seriously, less than 20 people downstairs, literally nobody upstairs, and the Mezzanine was closed off. I sat down in the empty stage room ready to burn through some cell phone Tetris, only to be asked not to sit where I was by security. Really? There's nobody in the fucking room and I have to get hassled about not sitting on the steps? Man, I hate this venue, and the people who run it!
(Interestingly enough, I spoke with a couple guys tonight who said that security gave them shit about taking pictures of the show with their phones. Ridiculous, no? It's no wonder that every time I bring up Music Hall of Williamsburg in conversation with other Brooklynites people bitch about what a miserable collection of shitbags the security guys are, so it's not just me whining about this nonsense.)
With nobody in the house, openers Arttanker Convoy took the stage at about 9:20. I probably would have liked their set a lot more if I hadn't seen so much superior avant gardeish shit lately. Seriously, along with Lou Reed with John Zorn and Monotonix last week, I've also since been to the uber spacy/dissonant Jazzmaster 50th Anniversary show at Knitting Factory and a Todd P joint featuring Lightning Bolt and Growing over the past couple of weeks. So yeah, for someone who usually uses truly noisy shit as little more than a palette cleanser, said palette was spic and span, bitch. To paraphrase Robert Plant, I was in the mood for a melody.
Up next was Brooklyn's Amazing Baby, and the kids seemed to really like them. Seriously, I counted no less than fifteen separate people hopping to the front of the stage to snap pictures... having never heard of them I was surprised that they had such a significant buzz. (I'd like to think I keep up on such things.) Amazing Baby were okay, and although there's certainly nothing wrong with wearing one's influences on one's sleeve, if you're going to be totally derivative, you'd better have some pretty great songs. For the record, it wasn't until the final jam that they really managed to rock the fuck out. Of all the groundbreaking garage bands to compare them to sonically, I'd have to say there's a definite MC5 influence there with maybe a bit more widdly widdly on lead guitar. Were they posing and preening a bit? Sure, but they did look like they were legitimately having fun. I tells ya, these kids could be huge, I tells ya.
Sian Alice Group were up next. I caught them with Pelican and Priestbird a little while back, and I remembered enjoying them, but not as much as I did this time around: a kind of post rock thing going on, with definite pop flourishes, krauty moments, and flat-out perfect vocals. The instrumentals, while usually subdued, carried their share of the weight, as well. At various times during the set I was reminded of Godspeed's masterpiece Lift Your Skinny Fists..., several Mogwai songs, Under Byen's "Mission," and even some stuff from the new Portishead long-player. I'm'a buy - and listen to - their new album post haste!
A Place to Bury Strangers wound up not starting their set before 12:30 or so, by which point I had wriggled my way to the front of the stage. (On my way up I shook APtBS frontman Oliver Ackerman's hand and wished him a good set.) Fortunately, the place wasn't totally empty anymore, with probably 100+ or so in attendance. While the evening's first three bands had averaged in excess of six members onstage apiece, A Place to Bury Strangers are a power trio. Or a quartet if you count the impressive array of homemade effects pedals as the true fourth member of the group. Seriously, the frickin' bassist alone has like eight pedals!
Self-billed as "NYC's loudest band," these guys throw MBV, Jesus and Mary Chain and Sonic Youth in a blender, topping that off with krautrock-style drumming and rock-solid bass playing. Add in striking visuals (projected on a sheet behind the band), strobe lights, occasional equipment destruction, and enough feedback to rumble your innards. They opened with the unreleased "Gimme Acid," going into "Don't Think Lover" and "To Fix the Gash in Your Head" and "I Know I'll See You" (all from their self-titled first album) along with a couple of other newer jams before Ackerman began precariously swinging his guitar around his upper body, eventually spiking it to the stage and ripping the strings off. During this, bassist Jono managed to lock into a perfect feedback drone which led into arguably the Strangers' best song and perennial set closer, "Ocean." Awesome.
Fuckin' shit, it's getting late and I have to be up at 7. I'll be at Mogwai on Thursday. (I think it's Thursday. I'll be there regardless.)