Slenderbodies headlined Brooklyn’s Rough Trade on May 7th. The indie/electronic guitar duo, made up of Ben and Max, were met with success quite quickly, scoring opening slots for both Passion Pit and PVRIS. For anyone who’s listened to Slenderbodies, it’s not much of a surprise. Not only is their guitar work deeply intricate, boasting a trademark wispiness that sets them apart from their peers, but they also sing, write, mix, and produce all their tracks. They fully own and control their creativity without anyone else interfering. It’s a rare feat in the music business, one that Slenderbodies deftly navigates with a seeming effortlessness.
Setting the mood prior to their set, two large lava lamps were placed to the right and left of the stage while a scarf swirled around a mic stand. The room was packed, and as Slenderbodies began to play in the near-darkness, the audience swayed and danced as the music gently wafted through the air. The only light came from brightly-colored, psychedelic graphics floating across a projector screen behind the band. The atmosphere was relaxing and peaceful; Slenderbodies delivered their fans a perfect ending to a Monday night.
Slenderbodies has a new LP coming out mid-late summer. Check out their latest single, “Anome,” here and for more Slenderbodies music, including a cover of MGMT’s “Electric Feel,” check out their Soundcloud here.
Jeff Rosenstock is a household name in the New York area, particularly in Brooklyn. Touring in support of his new record, POST—, he sold out his Warsaw date so fast that another needed to be added. In his thirties, Jeff has fans both older and younger. Teens crowded the front row, pressing their bodies against the barricade to be as close as possible. Their eyes were on the band as they set up, smiles slowly creeping up their faces and eyes widening.
Before the band made their official entrance, the Foo Fighters’ “The Best of You” boomed over the speakers with only one line on repeat: “the best.” The entire audience chorused those words at the top of their lungs, fists pumping, invisibly puncturing the air.
Tearing into “USA,” POST—‘s first full track, the mayhem immediately began.
A Jeff Rosenstock show is like one collective headbang. The crowd sways and undulates back and forth like a wave with the force of fans crowdsurfing, jumping, pushing, and shoving. Beer dribbles down chins and over the mouths of metal cans in the midst of cheers while heads furiously nod to the beat, hair swinging like violent vines. Sweat beads across foreheads, bleeding down into soaked shirts. Rosenstock himself is a direct participant, a man of nonstop movement who spends more time in the air than he does with his feet planted on the ground.
The majority of the setlist consisted of both POST— and 2016’s WORRY. Every song was sung in unison, both band and crowd uniting in perfect harmony.
Towards the end, during “We Begged 2 Explode,” Rosenstock grabbed the mic and jumped into the pit, making his way down the front row where his youngest, most elated fans were located. He was not only singing to them, but with them. Their eyes sparkled while their grins shone in the light. They were hurriedly taking selfies and videos, excitedly waiting for Rosenstock to come to their particular spot.
At one point, Rosenstock suddenly disappeared. Everyone looked at each other in confusion. From the back of the crowd, there was a lot of noise and a brief clamor, causing the audience to turn around. Rosenstock had somehow gotten to the balcony in the very back of the venue by the front doors, saxophone in hand as he began to play. The crowd roared, and did so a few moments later, when Rosenstock jumped in and joined them, surfing on the weight of their hands.
Making his exit soon after, Rosenstock left the audience wanting more. That wasn’t a problem, however; many of them, as exhibited by a show of hands, were returning to see Rosenstock again the following night.
Glam rockers The Darkness brought their Tour de Prance to Brooklyn Steel on April 20th. Beloved since they first burst onto the scene in 2003 with their mega-hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” The Darkness has amassed a fanbase of epic proportions over their decades-long career, one whose enthusiasm hasn’t waned.
Made up of frontman Justin Hawkins, guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain, and drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, The Darkness is theatrical and over-the-top. They’re a band of superlatives, vibrant and entertaining, animated and hilariously embellished. They’re absolutely, purposely ridiculous, bordering on the absurd. With infectious hooks that sink their claws permanently into your ears and an undaunted, almost impossible falsetto, The Darkness stands alone. They are the absolute best at everything, and they let you know it (in fact, sometimes they’ll outright say it). Their energy is unmatched and incomparable. They’ve carved out a special place for themselves in the music industry, unique enough to have bested even the most remote of rivals; they simply, spectacularly, don’t have any.
Most musicians are afraid to be seen as anything but serious artists. The Darkness proves you can have both talent and fun at the same time without one detracting from the other.
As the band first made their entrance, Justin Hawkins, in his trademark leopard-print, skintight bodysuit, walked the length of the stage, pausing inch by inch and blowing kisses in response to the deafening cheers of the crowd. Each member presented one another to the audience, grandly gesturing as if car salesmen showcasing a brand new vehicle. In response, the fans raised their drinks, toasting to the band as Hawkins dramatically threw his hands in the air, striking a pose. Ripping into “Open Fire,” off 2015’s Last of Our Kind, The Darkness filled the room with joyous, driving, hard-hitting noise as the night kicked off.
Hawkins hammed it up throughout the set, cracking jokes, running, leaping, doing handstands, unzipping the top of his bodysuit to reveal his chiseled, tattooed chest, donning accessories from fans in the audience (such as a pair of glasses, a fedora, and, best of all, a Darth Vader mask for drummer Taylor), and making his way, towards the end, down to a t-shirt and boxer shorts. Hawkins proved himself to be a true performer, both entertaining and powerful.
The setlist consisted of their greatest hits, with songs going all the way back to Permission to Land. There was, of course, one song in particular that the audience held their breath all night for. When the encore arrived, Hawkins became dictatorial, commanding the entire crowd to jump. He wasn’t easily satisfied; it took more than a few tries until he finally relented, playing as everyone sang.
The Darkness could have left it at that; it was an excellent finish to an incredible show. But, being who they are, they took it to one last, even higher level: during “Love on the Rocks with No Ice,” Hawkins sat on the shoulders of a reluctant security guard, triumphantly playing guitar as he was walked through the crowd.
The Darkness will be releasing a live album, Live at Hammersmith, on June 15th.
As openers for Animal Years, they single-handedly managed to grab the attention of the entire audience at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. Not only are they talented musicians, but they’re hilarious, as well. Based on their experiences working on Wall Street, Mobile Steam Unit has crafted lyrics that hit home for anyone who’s worked in business. For those in New York City, this was an extremely relatable topic that resonated with crowd, who immediately broke into cheers when frontman Sam Huntington asked if anyone in attendance had ever worked on Wall Street.
Solemnly filing out in requisite business attire, the band began their set. Interestingly, Mobile Steam Unit has the uncanny ability to deftly span genres; they can do anything from rock to country to soul and beyond. With lyrical topics ranging from everything such as texting, Microsoft Office, and commuting, to name a few, they document the daily minutia of American life while keeping the crowd in hysterics. And during the last song of the set, Mobile Steam Unit surprised the audience by bringing out yoga dancers who tried, as best they could, to keep straight faces while striking poses throughout the song. It was an epic finish to their performance, rivaling that of Animal Years. Mobile Steam Unit is undoubtedly a tough act to follow.
Work takes up a good portion of our lives. By giving focus to this specific, and usually lamented, chore, Mobile Steam Unit has set themselves apart from other bands. By examining the workday through the lens of humor, Mobile Steam Unit is able to give rise to daily frustrations while enjoyably expelling them at the same time.
The audience at White Eagle Hall was already rapt before Julien Baker began her sold-out show. As she carefully stepped out onto the stage, sparsely illuminated with a background of lamps that resembled streetlights, the quiet was immediately enveloping; you could hear a pin drop in the dead silence between the faint clacks of camera shutters. Beginning with “Appointments,” the first full track off 2017’s Turn Out the Lights, featherywisps of white light were strewn across the stage as Baker was suddenly blanketed in a shaft of soft purple lighting, as if a lavender-colored sun was leaking through a hole in the ceiling.
A Julien Baker show is mesmerizing; she holds everyone’s eyes in the palms of her hands.Her presence is almost ethereal;her gentle voice, at times fragile and delicate, can suddenly, grandly rise, soaring up into a vast melodic expanse. Small of stature and soft-spoken, Baker is solitary yet powerful, commanding the stage all by herself; a one-woman orchestra who can spin symphonies with just a guitar and piano.
Moving seamlessly through her set, Baker wasted little time between songs for banter, focused solely on her performance. The bulk of tracksplayed were from Turn Out the Lights, along with a smattering of Sprained Ankle. “Red Door,” an unreleased track, and “Funeral Pyre,” off an untitled EP, rounded out the show.
Towards the second half of the set, Baker invited her friend and violinist, Camille Faulkner,to accompany her, added a further layer of feeling and pathos.
“Something,” one of Baker’s most upbeat tunes, made up the encore with the whole venue singing. The moment she exited the stage, fans rushed to the front in an attempt to grab the setlist. This is the kind of fervor Baker inspires in her audience.
She makes her way back to the New York/New Jersey area in July, providing support for Courtney Barnett in Prospect Park.