The first time I saw the extraordinary noise punk band Weeping Icon was at the Bushwick venue Alphaville in 2017, and I was instantly mesmerized. Their music, then and now, comes at you with the force of an electrical storm, laced through with trenchant social and political commentary in the lyrics. This past Friday, they were back at Alphaville for the first time since the pandemic began. (The venue had stopped having live music during the struggles of the past three years, but recently reopened its stage again.) Adding to the festive mood on Friday, Weeping Icon had just released their newest EP, Ocelli (read our review), the first new offering from them since their self-titled debut LP in 2019. Both the musicians and the packed crowd were in the mood to celebrate, myself included.
The Brooklyn trio JWC kicked off the night with their unique ethereal sound, focused around lilting guitar solos and dreamy vocals from Jeremy Cox (formerly of LODRO), also featuring Mike Sheffield (of Heaven’s Gate) and Dan Mehaffey.
Next to take the stage was the experimental quartet YHWH Nailgun, who also just released a new EP, No Midwife and I Wingflap. Originally formed in Philadelphia as a collaboration between drummer Sam Pickard and vocalist Zach Borzone, the band is now Brooklyn-based with Jack Tobias on synths and Sanguiv Rosenstock on guitar. Their music has been described as: “the feeling of a punch, taking heavier, industrial sounds, and condensing them into more urgent, digestible forms, and infusing that with the luster of electronic and dance music.” The punch was palpable as YHWH Nailgun took the stage, with Borzone stretching out on the floor before their set. He needed to stretch since he was literally vibrating with the intensity of the music, yelling out a quick staccato “thank you” at the conclusion of each song.
Before Weeping Icon took the stage, the crowd was treated to a quick performance from trans queen, Harlequin Panic, who encouraged everyone to stand up for trans rights, an issue that Weeping Icon clearly cares about, among many others. Bassist Sarah Reinold started out the sonic hypnosis with waves of rumbling noise that then built into the band’s most recent single from Ocelli, “Two Ways.” Guitarist Sara Fantry’s lyrics channeled the voice of a two-faced sexist man, who is verbally abusive to some women while insisting that he will change whenever he’s called out on his bullshit (and of course he never changes). The song also has a fantastic video directed by Rafael Joson and Mike Andretti which sees the band played by actors on a Jerry Springer-esque talk show that devolves into the predictable mayhem of the original show.
From that strong beginning, the set also included two brand new yet-to-be-titled unrecorded songs that had relentless grooves driven by Lani Combier-Kapel on drums, and awash in the pulsing noise tapestries created by Weeping Icon’s newest member, Heather Elle (also of Flossing), on electronica; the band was also joined by special guest saxophonist, Kate Mohanty. They closed out the night with Ocelli’s first single, “Pigs, Shit, and Trash,” with Combier-Kapel shouting out intense vocals that call to task government officials and the wealthy for their lack of action in an unjust world. This song also has a surreal–or too real?–video directed by Alice Millar.
It was beyond wonderful to see Weeping Icon back on the Alphaville stage, and I’m excited to listen to Ocelli on repeat over the coming months. I stepped out into Friday’s freezing temperatures still sweating from the warmth of the crowd and the fire burning within all of the night’s music. Huge congratulations to Weeping Icon on another powerful record!
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kevin McGann)