Glasslands Gallery must be moving up in the world. The Brooklyn off-venue space (two stories tucked into a warehouse across the street from the aging mass of Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar refinery) now has actual stage monitors, new disco lights, and a few weeks ago, a Yeah Yeah Yeahs video shoot. All of this along with the usual cheap beer, invitation to all guests to paint the walls during the show, and plenty of intriguing line-ups. Last Friday, this took the form of an excellent ensemble of post-punk bands.
Having released their debut album Blue Jay earlier this month, opened the night with their usual cacophonous-yet-sing-along-ready post-punk. The band returned from a six-month performance hiatus earlier this year sounding refreshed and tightened, and seem to have been continuing gracefully since then. Well, as gracefully as can be expected from a band that currently contains Zach Lehrhoff from the Ex-Models on bass and co-vocals, here showing a surprising level of restraint and pop sense.
Team Robespierre, also hailing from Brooklyn, are quickly becoming one of my preferred opening bands. They can’t really sing, despite the three-or-four-way dividing of vocal duties, and their variety of keyboard-backed punk rock is admittedly pretty basic (albeit serviceable), but they pour enough energy into their performances to blast straight past any such obstacles. Other aspiring bands should take note: chant/scream your words with enough fervor and no one will care if they’re in key (a friend, struggling to describe the obvious appeal at a prior show came up with “punk cheerleaders”). Of course, crowd surfing while singing probably can’t steer you wrong either (note: probably one for the more interaction-ready Brooklyn audiences than those Manhattan stoics). And why not have two keyboardists up there, while you’re at it. It can’t hurt. Finally, definitely sell handmade shirts for just $5. These guys clearly have a sound plan.
By the time the real attractions, Fort Worth’s Best Fwends and Brisbane-turned-Baltimore’s the Death Set took the stage in turn, it was already getting pretty deep into those early morning hours and both bands bolted through quick, breathless sets. Both also made heavy use of backing tracks, but whereas the Death Set played jagged guitar riffs over theirs like Japanther (also sharing that band’s propensity for amusing sampled interludes), Best Fwends simply hit play and sang along. Well, hit play, sang along, and completely rocked out, effectively provoking an outbreak of dancing and moshing from the audience. A part of their gimmick for the night (besides the matching t-shirts) also seemed to have been announcing each song to be the last (starting at song two or so) and then prolonging the set a little longer each time.
Still, I admit that I was hoping for a little more after all that I’d heard about the duo, more like, say, the thrashing set delivered by the Death Set immediately afterwards. Mechanical drums and key loops provided a solid foundation but they only built up from there, both lashing out with both words and guitars though they seemed most effective splitting the duties.