Parts + Labor and friends at Danger Danger, Philadelphia PA

Post Author: , Nate Dorr

The old Danger Danger house is just a place where some people live these days, while the storied house shows have been moved to a gallery space on Baltimore Ave with the strange distinction of an entranceway that brings one up to the second floor only to bring one down immediately to the first floor again after a short hallway. The sets were in the basement.

Ecstatic Sunshine

We missed out on the local house band, Red Rocket, who graciously played the first set, but Ecstatic Sunshine, relying on Team Robespierre’s PA system (which someone may have referred to as “janky”), were incredibly loud, to the point that Keiran Gillen muttered to Matt Papich that he couldn’t hear himself. Or that’s what it seemed like. Apparently Gillen’s original role in the band was to control and temper the band’s mixdown, and while he now also seems to be in command of a drum pad, we couldn’t really say whether his role has changed. The wash of competing tones- those of David Zimmerman’s manipulated samples and Papich’s processed guitar arpeggios melt together in a sort of undifferentiated mass that is as contemplative as it is completely destructive.

Team Robespierre

Ah, Team Robespierre. Do you ever make it through a set without breaking something? It seems there’s no medium over which to transport your beats that won’t crap up at some point. iPods (frozen), CDs (skipped) and now a PC laptop (the blue screen of death) have all wreaked havoc on your ability to combine sweet dance tracks with your pop punk songs. Last night I think we made it through about half of your 18-minute LP track in the span of a forty minute set, but you know, it was sort of perfect in its jankiness. And just because the set wouldn’t be complete without some good old-fashioned human-caused destruction, drummer Jim Stickler kicked over his snare and broke it and Tomasz Nazarko promised to buy Danger Danger a new light bulb after he broke one with his head.

After we were all piled back into the RV to head to the comforting embrace of a well-lit Wal Mart parking lot, we of the Impose crew divulged one of those intimate secrets- one of our mutual favorite bands was Parts and Labor… and that we’d just saw what we deemed to be one of the best sets by them we’d ever collectively witnessed.

Parts and Labor

Sarah Lipstate, experimental guitarist of Noveller and Sands and a recent Glenn Branca guitar symphony, is now the fourth member of Parts & Labor, filling out the band’s usual melody section with (for her) relatively conventional extra guita parts, both doubling Dan Friel’s noise keys and otherwise. Lipstate found her way into the band via a mutual friend in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth and practiced up in time for the SXSW tour. Danger Danger was her first show as a band member (and the first time animate objects were exposed to her contributions or brand new song “Nowheres Nigh”, P&L practice space owner notwithstanding).

That new track, which might also ambiguously be called “Nowehere’s Nigh” or “Nowheres’ Nigh” (it is undecided) was probably the most straight-forward bit of pop song-writing the band has ever managed, seemingly much more direct though still familiarly sizzling with noise, and BJ Warshaw’s vocal style seemed shifted from the usually somewhat flat call-to-arms intonations he shares with Friel, into something more similar to a traditional rock band frontman. As one of the first songs unveiled from the next album, which the band will be leaving the state to record next month, it seems to substantiate claims I’ve heard that they’re edging into poppier terrain. But whatever direction it marks, the newest developments sounded pretty compelling in their own right, and I can’t really imagine that Friel and Warshaw will be able to give up their signature noisiness, however differently they may choose to format it. And I’m completely behind the new vocal style regardless. The vocals were always the weakest link, if perfectly serviceable, as they were. Warshaw, for his part, seemed unconcerned with any risks involved in cleaning up their arrangements a bit: as far as he’s concerned, he’s been writing pop songs all along; they’re just becoming more successful at it now.