Five band bills can go a lot of different ways. Sometimes you’re there and one band is killer while the rest barely classify as filler, maybe you’ll luck out and two are good. But other times, you find gold at the end of the rainbow and find yourself at a show with five bands that all knock your proverbial socks off. I found myself in just such a lucky spot recently at Arlene’s Grocery. While I was mainly there to see Winterwolf, I was excited to see Monte was on the bill too, but was totally unfamiliar with the other artists beforehand so wasn’t sure what to expect and was hoping I wasn’t in for having to sit through three dud bands. Fortunately this was quickly laid to rest because from start to finish, this was a genre defying night, and I really honestly loved each and every artist.
I got in a bit late but was able to catch the tail end Monte’s set, in time to see a good amount of intricate fret work from guitarist Caitlin Montclare, who I have seen shred often throughout the years and she just keeps getting better with time. Their sound vacillates between pop punk overtones to metal riffs and then back again in the blink of an eye for a fast paced energetic good time and a nice meshing of genres. They even pulled out a really fun punked out cover of “Como La Flor,” the classic track by the legendary Selena which got me and just about everyone else really excited.
Gardenia came up next and as readers may or may not know, I absolutely LOVE bass and drum bands (meaning in the rock sense not the electronic music sense, though I don’t mind some of that occasionally). They also had a number of genre blending tricks up their sleeves as well, mixing a funk vibe into some of their hard rock songs, though some songs were just straight up heavy riffs and all had a very clear 90s current flowing through them. Keeping in that vein, they covered “In Bloom,” by Nirvana; being one of my favorite Nirvana songs, I was VERY excited. They also did an interesting song that was half original, half interpolated from “Bite The Hand That Feeds,” by NIN…. I was like wait is this a cover….is this not cover….I spoke to singer/bassist Ryan Zakin afterward who confirmed it was a little bit of both. He has a soaring tenor, delivering his vocals like he could be in an alt rock band circa 1993, which zero complaints from me on that front! Both Zakin and drummer Tamir Malik bring a ton of passion to their performance and both were so friendly when I spoke to them afterwards so I’m very excited to keep up with what they are doing in the future.
Niño is a new project from drummer/producer Roger Cabrera (who I had actually met a few years ago when he was performing in the indie rock band Groupie) and this was their first live show (though some singles had previously been released in 2020 and 2021). Cabrera leads the band from behind the kit, incorporating live drums as well as electronic drums and samples, playing keys and providing vocals- both regular and vocoded- with lyrics in English and Spanish. It’s a lot for one person to pull off but he did everything without so much as a hitch at any point, I was very impressed! Indie, Latin, Disco, the songs seamlessly blend all these styles and more together for an incredibly infectious feel. Every song was a groove heavy jam that left not one person in the room standing still (including me, though I am more of a head bobber than full on dancer). A brand new single “Bite Marks,” has just been released and it has an electro and atmospheric twist to it even more so than the live performance did so it’s interesting to get to hear it in both contexts. When listening back to it while prepping this post, I found myself hitting repeat more than once, bopping in my seat at my computer. I am definitely going to be keeping my eyes on what Cabrera and co get up to and you should too. Check the song out now on Soundcloud or Spotify.
I was outside shooting portraits with Winterwolf so I missed most of Dub Corps International’s set unfortunately but was able to catch a few songs. They describe themselves as “a NYC heavy hitting cross pollination of Dub/Hard Core/Reggae/Punk/Dancehall/Metal/Afrobeat,” and they really owned each and every one of those elements of their sound. I was unable to find any of their recordings online, but I’d like to make it out again so I can enjoy a full set.
Winterwolf closed out the show and really, this band would have been a VERY hard act to follow. I’ve known them a few years now, and played a few shows with them under their old lineup. They were good then, and I really liked them, but this is a whole other level. This was the first time getting to see them as a trio and all I can say is GODDAMN, I was absolutely blown away. Their sound is still riffy heavily distorted bass/drums super energetic punk in the vein of Death From Above 1979 or Lightning Bolt, so you already know I’m in love with it. And now with having changed drummers to Nate Harris, a formidable hardcore drummer, and the addition of vocalist Tony $ixx, along with founding member bassist/vocalist Jehiel Winters, the combination of these three has turned them into a force to be reckoned with and one of the best bands I know of currently. Both $ixx and Winters share lead vocal duties and they complement each other perfectly. And more than that, when Winters is on the mic doing lead, $ixx backs him up vocally or more often than not can be found jumping in the air, dancing with amazing foot work, or often in- or on top of- the crowd. He is an incredibly skilled and engaging performer and I challenge anyone to find an artist hitting it at that level in any punk- or otherwise- band right now.
This band is so exciting on so many levels and one of my NYC faves; I really can’t wait for their upcoming EP “Unwell,” which is due out soon, though no official date has yet been announced. Harris also told me they are already at work on their next EP, which also very exciting news. They will be playing again on 8/28 at Shillelagh Tavern in Queens.
I absolutely love a show that blends genres and vibes so seamlessly the way this one did and that I can walk out of a fan of three new artists I previously knew little or nothing about. This is absolutely my kind of night and I highly recommend checking out all of these bands and keeping up with what they are doing.
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
DUB CORPS INTERNATIONAL