Friday, December 28, 2012

December Live Shows-Lazyeyes, Sparxx, Dead Stars + more

December 2012 has been something of a whirlwind month regarding live shows attended.  That combined with event previews, longer writing assignment and interviews has made for the kind of alternating anxious/euphoric feeling that seems to dominate my activity at this time of year.

Things kicked off on the first Sunday night with a show at Legion, located nearby the ever-growing-in-popularity neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Hippy quickly won the audience over with their appealing brand of alterna-rock that places emphasis on vocal harmonies.

The songs are well-crafted and capture the essence of what made a band like The Pixies so initially appealing.

Up next was the female-fronted heavy-thrash sounds of Sharkmuffin.

Their explosive, high-energy set ended with vocalist/guitarist Tarra smashing her guitar to bits.  The shock value was not lost on the audience.

Worthy of a photo op, the artist proudly displays her handiwork.

Finally getting a chance to catch my friend Lindsey's project for her original songs - BabyAcid.

Kyle and Linds have a chemistry that works well together, and it can be felt in songs they presented on this night.


That following Friday afforded an opportunity to venture out again (after staying in all week to review music and prepare interviews) - checking out Brooklyn Bazaar for A Night Of Curated Music presented by that very publication I spent all week staying in and writing for - The Deli Magazine

Of particular interest was catching the set from a band who impressed over the summer (at the 4 Knots Fest) - Devin

Devin the band (and their charismatic frontman) put on a most entertaining, hard rocking show.

The tunes are killer - the show dynamic - there is a lot to like here.

The venue itself is something of anomaly as far as the Brooklyn rock scene usually goes.

L-shaped with a huge flea market vibe, the area furthest from the stage has a bank of ping pong tables and the above wide open room for this huge game of kickball ongoing.

Joining me for the fun on this night was Young Unknowns singer/songwriter/guitarist Meredith.  Her recorded works and live show is definitely worth checking out.  Give a listen here:

Emily Wells headlined the night.  Her sound a unique one-woman show that put emphasis on synth loops, electronic and acoustic percussion.


The very next night it was out again, with the first stop at Pianos on the lower east side of Manhattan to catch  Lazyeyes.

Having written a preview for this show that ran on The Deli Mag website, I described their song "Wait" as wrapping itself in a lush atmospheric bed, with butterfly high-hat percussion syncopating between dueling open note arpeggios and rising guitar melody lines. While the vocals come across as impressionist colors against pastel blue and pink skies.

"Nostalgia" is paced a bit quicker as more distinctly dominant guitar riffs drive to a delightful instrumental conclusion. Iconic 90's bands like Ride through present day jammers Diiv act as reference points, as they all share similarly appealing qualities.

The revelers at Pianos, checking out the band.


Rushing over to Muchmore's in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I arrived just in time to catch the set from Marlon Rando.

Their sound was properly guitar heavy - as one sporting a flying vee should be.  Additionally, that mini keyboard pictured there produced a rich background wash of lush textures.


Next up was the band I've come to know and love over the last two months - Sparxx

Fronted by the captivating presence that is Heather Sparx, the band delivers tightly crafted dreampop.

Both guitarist Justin Matthews and drummer Cinque Kemp exhibit a highly evolved level of musicianship that is both impressive and entertaining.

Heather is very much out front, however, and embraces this central role with appealing charm.

While the boys keep the sonics a bed of swirling synths, thundering percussion and soaring guitar textures.


In under a weeks time another Sharkmuffin show was experienced, and although no instruments came to destruction this time around, the high energy show was still there.

Tarra takes command of the proceedings with catchy songs and impressive guitar riffing.

There is still a recklessness lurking just below the surface, and the set ended with her charging out into the crowd and body slamming a number of the audience members.


Four days later is was back at Muchmore's to catch a night of music kicked off by the mighty Quiet Loudly

Faulty guitar cables and FX boxes cannot hold this band back for long, as Max and the boys laid down the gospel of rock as it should be.

When you are a badass drummer - you just know it. Serious beard too.

Quiet Loudly play exactly that way. (The quiet bits set up the Loudly one's so much better!)

Check out this amazing song by them:


Next up was the now increasingly familiar sounds of Lazyeyes

The boys delivered tight, efficient set that keeps the focus firmly on their hook-laden songs.

A few audience members attempted to engage in some enthusiastic slam dancing.

The band did their part by crunching out it's signature sound.

While the further audience members jostled for maximum rock stomp n' view position.


After hearing about the next band for the last few months, it was finally time to check out the explosive rock of Dead Stars

These guys are the definitive power trio, crushing out a tightly coiled set of hook-laden pop songs.

Ferocious bass, thundering drums and classic 90's era grunge-pop guitars compliment vocals and lyrics that exhibit intelligence and wit.

The often delivered in tandem voices of cousins Jeff and Jaye Moore give the band a fuller overall vocal sound.  That combined with killer guitar melodies and overall strong songwriting points to a band that is clearly on the rise.


Heliotropes came on and proceeded to whip the the audience with their guitars like a Steve Albini sledgehammer.

These four ladies present a deep heavy sound that (to my ears) take the best of 70's metal pioneers like Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent and put a female voice on the front of it.

There is a refreshingly early 1970's vibe to it all.  The pace is measured and foreboding - until it explodes into  a burst of hair whipping frenzy.

Time signatures change - the pace quickens from doom-laden plod to speedball ferocity.

Fellow show chronicler Dean Keim covered this night as well, and can be read here:


Keeping with the two day rule, Friday December 14th had me back out at Brooklyn Bazaar for another really big show!

Arriving in time to catch some of Habibi's set I was left with a positive impression of both image and sound.

Black Marble followed, and their near-gothlike sounds appeared to find much of their inspiration by way of Andrew Eldritch and his Sisters of Mercy

Headliners The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart ripped through a fast-paced set of tunes that drew equally from their first two albums.

Pretty Peggy Played in Platform Shoes

The Pains continue to put on high level, professional shows, while still managing to hold on to their indie kid roots.


A mere two days later it was back out again for what was being billed as a new indiepop party called "Rough Smooch." With TPOBPAH frontman Kip Berman and WNYU's Maria Sherman on DJ duty, the crossroads of neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick bar Legion was a particularly happening location on this evening.

Maria and Kip played songs that drew from their own unique, personal collection which included tracks by The Indelicates and pre-Loveless era My Bloody Valentine.

The Grand Resort opened the night's live show and quickly took charge with their tightly coiled pop songs.  In addition to their excellent originals, they covered one of the best songs the 1990's produced.  Check it out:

Following them were local rockers Kissing Is A Crime, who kept the party going.

Meanwhile, out in the DJ room, Kip was busy keeping interested fans entertained in between song selections.

Jen snapped a photo of Lisa, myself and Monica - reminiscing about the show we attended together just two days earlier.

Back to the stage area, The Hairs finished off the night's live show entertainment.  Earlier this year I wrote a Deli Mag feature on this band, which can be found here:

Two days following that had me dropping in to a coffee and wifi establishment frequented by IT types to catch up with an old friend.

I first met Ed Van Beinum in 2008 while he was on tour playing drums in the band The Indelicates.

Detailed accounts of their New York shows can be found chronicled in this very blog at these links:


In keeping with an event every two days, it was out again on Thursday the 20th - this time for shows happening at two separate venues.

First up was Glasslands and the opportunity to reconnect with last years new friends and faves The Mast

I had previously done an extensive interview with them for The Deli Magazine last October, which can be found here:

Though vocalist Haale is still the central focal point of their music, the overall sound has evolved significantly since then.

Gone are percussionist Matt Kilmer's live drums, with the duo choosing to go a strictly high tech electronic route for all instrumental backing.

Matt now plays a variety of keyboards and electronic-trigger hand drums to create the full and magical sound they make.

Listen in to how they sounded on this evening:


Immediately following their set I rushed on over to The Lab in Bushwick for an event I had written a Deli Mag preview for earlier on in the week.

My fave new discovery of the last two months - Sparxx - was headlining a night where they would be shooting footage for their debut music video.
Arriving just in time to catch the set from emerging rockers Slonk Donkerson

these boys have the right attitude and musical chops to build on.

Their songs are good and the approach dynamic enough to keep everyone interested.


Once again, the melodious tones of Brooklyn rockers Hippy graced the stage.

Nick and Jenny have really catchy songs that are so much fun everyone immediately starts dancing with a smile on their face.  The true essence of the live show experience.

In addition to being a cool bass player, Jenny works at SiriusXM Satellite radio, which I've been a subscriber to since the mid 2000's.  There are so many great channels on there that I'm never bored in the car (and especially for the late night journeys back from these very gigs).

There's a lot to like about Hippy


The main event on this evening was the live performance and video shoot for Sparxx debut music video.

Heather looked even more resplendent than ever, with cat patterned coverup frock and the jeweled headpiece that graces her bandcamp page image.

There is a punky edge to the glamour, however - for all the dance trappings - Sparxx never strays too far from the rock band they really want to be.

Or perhaps it's all just the perfect hybrid of both worlds.

Listen to how they sounded on this evening:


The boys and girls who love Sparxx

Heather approves


Staying consistent with the every other night out pattern, it was off to the final night of Brooklyn Bazaar's wonderful series of free shows on Saturday, December 22nd.

Battling the traffic into and the subsequent nightmare scenario that is finding a parking spot in Williamsburg on a Saturday evening, I made it just in time to catch the set by new friends Dead Stars

Jeff Moore and his band sounded better than ever on the bigger stage.

Having a kick-ass drummer that also sings background vocals will certainly enhance any band - and Jaye fills that role masterfully.

The boys sounded awesome on this day.  One of my fave new bands!
Check out the killer music here:

Following Dead Stars was the electronic textures of Dan Friel

The man cranked out a sonic stream that paid homage to early Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk

Tiny Victories were next to take the stage.

Once again, electronic textures were the dominant sounds, but more defined songs with vocals.

Full trap drums kept the rock element alive throughout many of the selections.

But hammered on electronic percussion was also employed in equal measure.


Finally it was time for previously unannounced super secret headliner - none other than Toronto hardcore act Fucked Up

Having first caught their show the previous summer at The House Of Vans, I knew what to expect and was fully ready for it.

Frontman Damian "Pinkeye" immediately launched himself into the crowd, getting lost and winding up on the far wall - charming the audience there.  Though "Event Security" were initially prepared for potential wrestling matches - the audience actually behaved perfectly according to "slam dance rules" and there was no unnecessary trouble in that regard.

The band behind Damien is a full on throttling machine.  Quite proficient at that speedy punk sludge so necessary for this kind of act.

I particularly enjoyed the playing of bassist Sandy Miranda (a/k/a "Mustard Gas") who can be learned all about via this link here:

Smart looking girls with glasses like to hardcore slam jam too.


A fitting end to a month of far too many shows to actually blog about (and yet - here it is).  Body slamming in a pit in front of a thrash band with a crazed lead singer and followers who enjoy the physical contact of random smashing into each other.

I guess I haven't outgrown this yet either.