I’m a huge fan of Rob Crow and pretty much his entire catalog, so when I heard he was in a new band along with John Reis and Atom Willard called PLOSIVS, I was instantly and incredibly excited to check them out and more importantly, see them live. Fortunately for me and the rest of the fans excited for this one, their debut tour kicked off at Saint Vitus right as the debut album was coming out.
I was first introduced to Crow’s music in college when someone gave me a mix CD circa early 2000s with “Loro” by Pinback on it. That pretty much set the stage right there and it’s still among my all time favorite songs to this day. I have voraciously explored his numerous other projects over the years, my favorites being some of the more off kilter stuff like Heavy Vegetable and its offshoot, Thingy, as well as Optiganally Yours. I even have the more elusive Fantasy Mission Force 7inch, a fact which I informed Crow of the night of the show while I took a rare moment to fangirl a bit after the set. I’m also a pretty big fan of Reis‘ recorded output and very much can still be found rocking Drive Like Jehu, Rocket From The Crypt, and Hot Snakes regularly. Add in getting to see Willard drum up close in a small venue like St. Vitus??? You can bet I’m going to clear my entire schedule (including the free ticket I had for Kim Gordon the same night) and make sure I’m there.
The show was kicked off by Chicago indie punks, Meat Wave, who I had been marginally familiar with and heard a few songs by, but I admit I was not very much up on the back catalog before the show. The influence of Reis’ past work is evident in their sound, but they have a lot of their own flair in there too, making something their own in the process. I read an interview with them after the show that said they are a “punk band trying to not always be a punk band” and that’s really an assessment I felt too, there’s a lot of indie and shoegaze peeking out in their sound and I for one, absolutely loved it. (The same interview also likened them to having elements of Polvo and Slint as well as Unwound and yes, YES! Now we’re talking!)
And if this was a show of great drumming, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Meat Wave’s drummer, Ryan Wizniak, who I spent a good deal of the set gobsmacked by and sending videos to fellow FTA contributor/drummer, Nick AD, saying “look at what this guy is doing!!!!” particularly when they were playing “Yell at the Moon.” With killer hands and a right foot like Bonham for the “double kick with one pedal” feel (which is a really specific sound that I love and also envy since I’ve never had the ability to do that in my own playing), there was a lot going on in his drumming. But it never got too busy, it never took away from the rest of the music or stomped on the songs (something I really can’t stand); he knew exactly where to fit his parts in for the maximum effect and pull back when needed. Suffice it to say that I came into the night casually and left a fully formed fan; I’ve been listening to them every day since the show in fact and very much plan to see them next time they hit NYC.
Ryan Wizniak of Meat Wave
PLOSIVS came up to the stage with little fanfare and began their set not long after Meat Wave wrapped up. Being a true sum of their parts, there is a lot of familiarity to their music for long time fans of Crow and Reis, the music being fully driven by Reis’ guitar sensibilities and Willard’s skill behind the kit, recalling their strongest work in RFTC. Crow’s soaring tenor took center stage which was a treat for any long time fans of his extended catalog or even people who just know him more from Pinback. This being only the band’s third show ever, you’d be hard pressed to tell since they were locked in and rock solid on stage.
Their self titled debut album came out one day prior to the show and I decided I wanted to wait to hear the full thing live so I didn’t listen to anything besides the two previously released singles, “Hit The Breaks,” and “Broken Eyes,” beforehand. Both of the singles got the most reaction from the crowd as a good number of people maybe did the same thing as I did, or just hadn’t had enough time with the full record yet. I come from DIY punk so this is what I’m used to anyway, hearing songs live before I ever get to hear a recording, so I like to do it when I can with non local and bigger acts.
Highlights for me were the two aforementioned singles as well the nuanced and textured “Never Likely,” and the punchy “See You Suffer,” Willard’s zippy drumming pushing this one while Crow’s voice soared. I feel like waiting to see it live, I got the full experience because I got to be introduced to the songs up close and personal in a small venue and then go home and dig in deeper (which is the same with a lot of Meat Wave’s set). They played the entire album in order, bookended by a new song at the start and end of the set. And after listening in full to the album afterwards, I definitely think I made a good call because I felt more connected to the songs already.
In the life and times of Kate Hoos, few other musicians have meant as much to me or have been in my ears/heart/mind as much as Rob Crow has. It had been over a decade since the last time I got to see him play—Pinback in 2007 was the last time if I’m not mistaken—so this was a special night for me. Well worth blowing off Kim Gordon (sorry Kim, next time!) and well worth the 15 year wait. Let’s just hope it’s not another 15 years before the next time.
PLOSIVS setlist: Death Kicks In, Hit The Breaks, Rose Waterfall, Thrown Clear, Never Likely, Broken Eyes, Pines, See You Suffer, Iron Will, Pray For Summer, Bright, Wintage Dated.
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)