LAPÊCHE at The Sultan Room (photo by Kate Hoos)
It should come as no surprise by now that I REALLY love going to shows and here is another (not so) secret thing about me: I absolutely build my monthly work/life schedule around the shows I’m most excited about (since I also happen to mostly work nights but have the good fortune of being able to make my own schedule). So when I saw the flyer for this one, I was very excited indeed and made sure I was 100% clear for the night so I could be there. LAPÊCHE and Desert Sharks are two of my favorite bands, then add in Russian Baths, who had been on my list to see for a while, and you have the makings of a perfect show. LAPÊCHE has been touring throughout the fall on various dates and had been on a short run with Russian Baths; this was their homecoming show.
Desert Sharks kicked off the night and honestly, if you had closed your eyes for a moment, you might have been mistaken for being at a stadium rock show. A four piece once again with the addition of rhythm guitarist Cait Smith, the big riff energy and the wall of sound were in FULL effect. Additionally, Smith has now begun singing harmony/backup vocals which really added such a pleasant dynamic to the sound and played perfectly off of lead vocalist Stephanie Gunther’s potent alto. I’ve known them and have been going to their shows for several years now so I hesitate to say something was “missing” before, because I always enjoyed their sound and thought Gunther did a phenomenal job on her own vocally, but I suppose it’s just one of those things that now that it’s here you’re like “OHHHHHHH!” for a eureka moment. In any case, it sounds incredible and is a really wonderful addition. They also have begun writing new material and debuted a new song at the show much to my delight; I’m very excited to hear even more new material from them.
Russian Baths is a band that had been in my awareness for a while and I had been meaning to see but kept missing. I also admit I didn’t really listen to them ahead of time because I do like seeing bands live first if I can (though obviously this isn’t always possible) so I was coming into their set pretty green despite knowing of them for a while. They also happen to share two members with Activity (who I saw/shot last month, see pics here), drummer Steve Levine and guitarist Jess Rees. This project is for sure in a similar vein as far as being dark in tone, experimental and nuanced, but Russian Baths has a decidedly heavier sound and leans more towards noise. Certainly not a bad thing for me at all and despite being a punk at heart, I always love things that have a lot of texture to them. Since the show I have been digging in with their recorded output finally, starting with their 2019 debut album, Deep Fake, and will explore some of their older singles soon. I absolutely plan to make it out to more of their shows too.
LAPÊCHE is a band that I came to a bit later in the local scene, but once I heard them for the first time in 2019 when they opened for J. Robbins (which I covered for BrooklynVegan) I was absolutely hooked. They take the best of punk rock aesthetics and blend it with post punk and indie vibes, along with a good dash of shoegaze and alt rock in the mix to create the perfect sonic blend. Their album Blood in the Water was one of my favorites of 2021 (and not just because I had the honor of doing the insert photos, but because it is an incredible body of work) and touches on many themes. According to their Bandcamp:
“Blood in the Water, the second album by New York’s LAPÊCHE, walks the line between nature and nurture, objective reality and subjective perspective, joy and pain, suffering and hope, and addiction and sobriety.
Since 2016, singer and guitarist Krista Diem, her husband and bassist David Diem (of 12 Hour Turn), guitarist Drew DeMaio (Asshole Parade, Floor, Strikeforce Diablo), and drummer Jeff Gensterblum (Small Brown Bike, Able Baker Fox) have fused folk-inspired melodies with sonic backdrops inspired by punk aesthetics, DIY scenes, and basement shows. As they’ve blossomed from a singer with a backing band to a full-blown collaboration, their songs have found the power to dive deep while shining brightly, pushing toward personal growth as we collectively stare down the void.
I don’t really need to follow that up because the last line in particular sums up how I feel about the record and the band perfectly.
LAPÊCHE at Sultan Room
Since the record came out there have been some lineup changes and Gensterblum has departed the band. The last time I saw them play during the spring, they were joined by a fill-in drummer, but the band has now been completed with the addition of Richard Salino behind the kit; this show was my first time seeing the new lineup. While I did miss Gensterblum, who is a fantastic drummer, there is no doubt that Salino is also fantastic and very capably filled the role. He nailed all the parts in much the same way and being a drummer myself, I know this is not always easy, as we all have our own idiosyncrasies to how we play and it can be difficult to mirror someone else.
All in all this was a really awesome way to spend a Saturday night off, with great music and lots of friends. The house was pretty packed which is always wonderful to see, but in particular since there have been so many setbacks and uncertainties with live music, so I still don’t take it for granted whenever I get to go to shows. I never will again and nights like this re-enforce for me that none of us should.
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
TVOD at Our Wicked Lady (photo by Kate Hoos)
If you’ve read this blog before, then you know I REALLY love Spite Fuxxx and TVOD and that both of them are powerhouse units on stage. So combine them together on one show and you can guarantee that I am taking a night off from work, SCHEDULE CLEARED, I AM THERE. This was a special show not just in that that lineup is INSANE, but it was also TVOD’s release show for their delightful new EP, Victory Garden, and also Spite Fuxxx first show back after they took a brief fall hiatus. Additionally, it was the first show TVOD members Nikki Sisti (guitar) and Kate Black (synth) had played with the band since August as both are also members of Thick who had been out on the road supporting Flogging Molly and Violent Femmes on a lengthy tour (see our post from their Pier 17 show). They just as quickly dipped back out of town on another tour with by the end of the week so it was a blink and you miss it event.
The show honestly would have been great just as those two bands, but was definitely a treat to see the support acts who kicked off the night – slick post punks, Grand Army Reapers, and energetic garage punks, My Son The Doctor. It was my first time seeing both bands and I had a great time during their sets; I will definitely be on the lookout for more of what they get up to in the future. They both got the crowd good and warmed up in time for the brilliant and beautiful cacophony that was to follow.
As mentioned, Spite Fuxxx, had taken a brief hiatus for the band to work on a cover set for Halloween and so their drummer, Alex Glueck, could prepare and host a showcase featuring his art (which is pretty phenomenal and I recommend checking it out either online or in person if you can). If you thought they’d come back rusty, you’d be totally wrong because they came back guns blazing. Not that they ever go don’t go hard, but there was an extra push on this night, and they played every last song like it was being blasted out of a fucking canon and screamed right in my face; I loved it so much. And even more, I have loved seeing this band a lot this past year and really connecting so much with their music. This is the kind of punk rock I live my life for – rowdy, topical/political but also crass and doesn’t take itself so seriously as to be pretentious or preachy, unrefined and never too slick, experimental and raw – bands like this are why I’m still here after decades and never plan to “age out” of this being my life. Really the only missing piece of the Spite Fuxxx puzzle for me now is a full length, which I really hope they are able to get recorded over the winter.
Spite Fuxxx at Our Wicked Lady
When you really break it down and take a step back, you can see that TVOD is less a band and more a vibrant rotating collective of friends who all contribute to a bright burst of colorful energy emanating from stage. The last time I saw them (at an epic double show day at the beach) was at the end of August so I was very ready for another round. Nothing seems to slow them down – not band members being on tour with other projects, not a broken elbow (which happened to second guitarist Jason Warnoff but had since healed in time for this show; no prior shows were missed or canceled even still) and certainly not the vocal mics cutting out in the middle of a song which happened at this show when they were playing the title track of the EP, “Victory Garden.” The band kept playing, lead singer Tyler Wright jumping in and out of the crowd and yelling over the music with the crowd pitching in to help. Once the mics were fixed before the next song, they kept right on barreling through the set, not returning to play the song again which I totally get because really, why play it again when the community embracing and uplifting you is louder than any mic?
TVOD at Our Wicked Lady
As the set continued, things got more and more raucous – instruments were swapped, the band grew in size to eight people as they were also joined by the two fill in players who play for Black and Sisti when they are out with Thick (Mem Pahl of Cat Tatt and Lyzi Wakefield of Gesserit) and by the end members of the audience and other bands were all crammed on the small stage – the fever pitch in the room made it seem like the roof might shoot off the building at any point. Like I said, this is a collective of friends not just on stage, but in the audience as well, everyone participating and contributing to this glorious punk rock symphony. As the final notes rang out, the band opted not to play an encore and Wright yelled “Go home and sleep it’s a school night!” And that as they say, was that.
After going through some pretty tough shit in my “regular” life recently, this show was beyond the head clearing I needed. Afterall, nothing quite soothes the soul like a good punk rock show can, right?
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
GRAND ARMY REAPERS
MY SON THE DOCTOR
Bad Religion at Hammerstein Ballroom (photo by Kate Hoos)
Bad Religion’s 40th anniversary tour finally hit NYC just before Halloween, after being twice delayed due to the pandemic. Joining them were Alkaline Trio, who were co-headlining the tour, along with openers War On Women. As you can imagine, all added together, this lineup made for one hell of a punk rock show. I do admit I went to this show as a WOW fan first and foremost so they were the band I was most amped to see, but to get to see Alkaline Trio and Bad Religion on top of it??? Don’t have to twist my arm!
War On Women are one of my favorite bands (read my recent interview with frontwoman Shawna Potter) and one of the bands I missed seeing live the most when shows were at a standstill in the midst of the pandemic. During this time they also put out their excellent third album, Wonderful Hell, though obviously had to hold off a while to be able to tour behind it. The wait was worth it though because getting to see some of these songs performed finally was like a sonic blast to my consciousness; it was obvious the rest of the crowd was feeling it too. Their set was of course too short for my liking- only eight songs- which they split four songs each from Wonderful Hell and 2018’s Capture The Flag, but they absolutely obliterated every single note, standing shoulder to shoulder with legendary bands Alkaline Trio and Bad Religion as equals.
Watching the early birds at the show, it was clear some of them were already fans like me, but a lot also seemed like they were definitely there for Alkaline Trio or Bad Religion and had no idea who WOW was at the start of the set. But you could see them reacting and getting really into things before the first song was even done, becoming fans right away. I’ve seen WOW play small rooms, mid sized rooms, and now this was the biggest stage I’ve seen them on, but it was no matter, they can command any room they play big or small. The firebrand performance is led by Potter, yes, because this is usually the case with a lead singer (and she is without a doubt one of the best front people in the game today, bar none) but the rest of the band matches her in intensity at every level. From the dual guitar onslaught of Brooks Harlan and Jennifer Vito, to the rock solid rhythm section of bassist Sue Werner and drummer Dave Cavalier holding up the foundation, this is a band on top of their game through and through and everyone who comes early to these shows on this tour should count themselves lucky. (And make sure they are buying tickets when the band comes back through on a headline tour!)
WOW Setlist: YDTMHTL, Divisive Shit, White Lies, Lone Wolves, Big Words, Aqua Tofana, Predator In Chief, Silence Is the Gift, The Ash Is Not The End
War On Women at Hammerstein Ballroom
As I mentioned, this was mainly a night about War On Women for me, and I have to confess that Alkaline Trio are one of those bands that I’ve long been “adjacent” to (and how could I not be being in the punk world for years?) but had not listened to in quite a while and had always been a band I was definitely more casual with listening to overall. That being said, of course I was excited to get to see them live and gave myself a little refresher listen before the show. Once there, I was definitely treated to a powerhouse performance and a set that encompassed songs across the gamut of their nine album strong career. “Radio,” and “Clavicle” were definite highlights of the night because I know they are favorites of FTA webmaster extraordinaire, Jenifun, who doesn’t live in the US so unfortunately missed out entirely on this tour, but I was very delighted on her behalf to hear those songs live.
Alkaline Trio Setlist: Private Eye, We’ve Had Enough, Blackbird, Is This Thing Cursed?, I Wanna Be A Warhol, Nose Over Tail, Every Thug Needs A Lady, Cringe, Clavicle, Armageddon, Mercy Me, Emma, In Vein, Continental, Warbrain, Fine, This Could Be Love, Radio
Alkaline Trio at Hammerstein Ballroom
Bad Religion are one of those bands I’ve been listening to for so long it seems like they’ve always been in my life. But while this the case, it’s also true that somehow I never managed to see them live before and I’m not really sure why that is. Suffice it to say that it was definitely a long time coming and I’m glad the dry spell has ended. A 40 year career is beyond impressive and naturally with a career heading into its fifth decade, the audience reflected fans of all ages. The band did not disappoint any one of those fans, playing a set that was a true treat for long time and younger devotees alike, hitting songs from the very beginning up to their most recent release, 2019’s Age Of Unreason.
I’ve long been a fan of their earliest work, along with the albums that came out in the 90s, and I admittedly do need to do a little catching up on the last few records that were released. But as I said, this was a set that appealed to fans from any era and hit plenty of early staples like “20th Century (Digital Boy),” “Generator,” “No Control,” and “American Jesus,” all of which had me singing along. The biggest highlights for me though were the songs from their very first album 1982’s How Could Hell Be Any Worse? “Damned To Be Free,” and one of my all time favorite punk songs, “We’re Only Gonna Die” which they played as their encore. This is not only one of my favorites of the genre, it was one of my earliest introductions to the world of punk when I was just cutting my teeth in the mid 90s, so it was pretty awesome to see such an important song to me played live after all these years. I do wish there would have been a little “Fuck Armageddon…This Is Hell” action but I definitely left satisfied even without it.
This night brought my punk life full circle in a way. Bad Religion is a band that started out and began releasing records when I was a baby and that I discovered in my early teens and opened a door to a much wider world for me. Before I discovered bands like them (and a handful of others), I had little to no concept of music or culture outside of what MTV and big music magazines were presenting to me, and that a whole rich world of independent artists/labels/zines/etc existed. That this entire universe was there made up of people who were thriving and making not only viable careers of it, but vital ones. Now at 40 years old, I savor this musical and DIY punk education and am happy to still be a part of it all these years later and that the punks who taught me those lessons are still out there making music, teaching new generations, and bringing powerful openers along with them as well to share the love and the stage and in turn inspire and teach even more. It’s well more than I could have ever imagined back in the early 90s when I picked up the “80-85” comp by Bad Religion for the first time, but ultimately a major dream come true.
Bad Religion at Hammerstein Ballroom
Bad Religion Setlist: New Dark Ages, Modern Man, Recipe For Hate, Los Angeles Is Burning, Fuck You, Chaos From Within, Epiphany, I Want To Conquer the World, 21st Century (Digital Boy), Damned to Be Free, Man With A Mission, Murder, Better Off Dead, Candidate, Do What You Want, No Control, Generator, You, Infected, Sorrow, American Jesus. ENCORE: We’re Only Gonna Die
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
WAR ON WOMEN
Lady Bits at The Bowery Electric (photo by Kate Hoos)
Lady Bits and The Loneliers hit The Bowery Electric recently for a pre-Halloween bash which was a special night for me, as both bands are among my favorites and both are long time friends. A touring band, Daisy Chain, was also on the bill but unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay for their set but perhaps next time they come through town I can catch them.
The Loneliers kicked the night off and it was the first show back for these twee punks. You could have fooled me though, because it was like no time at all had passed since the last time I saw them in early 2020. They may not have been playing shows because of the pandemic, but they have been practicing and working on a new EP (which I am very much anticipating) so it’s obvious they have stayed on top of their game and didn’t get rusty at all. Aside from their music, one of the things I love most about this band is that they are always family affair, being that bassist/singer Debbie Rodriguez and guitarist/singer Jessie Rodriguez are sisters, and on this night, the band was joined by fill-in drummer Eamon McMullen who is regular drummer Caitlin McMullen’s younger brother. I always love going to their shows (or playing with them too!) because they are always so much fun, and they always put on a really energetic set with both Rodriguez sisters trading back and forth on lead vocals.
Lady Bits were up next, playing just their second show back in the “after times,” and are also a band I’ve known for several years. I met them all the way back when they were more of a riot grrrl punk band and have been following them to the present day when they are now firmly a post punk band. I really love the growth and their new sound which even delves into darkwave territory at times. It’s always a really exciting thing to see a band shift and change over the years and grow as songwriters along the way. Their set was largely made up of songs from their most recent release Lose The Thread, along with a fantastic cover of “L.E.S. Artistes,” from Santigold’s landmark self titled 2008 debut album (the song and the album are both personal favorites of mine) which was a big highlight of the night for me.
A night of great friends is always a salve to hard times and long days, especially during the weird existence we find ourselves in currently, and I’m always beyond thrilled to see my friends thriving and playing incredible music. This night was that and more in spades.
Scroll down to see pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
Lucy Dacus at Brooklyn Steel (photo by Kate Hoos)
Lucy Dacus kicked off a three night run at Brooklyn Steel on Monday 10/25 as part of her current tour supporting her brilliant new record, Home Video. I was lucky enough to catch her at her last minute Brooklyn show back in August at Music Hall of Williamsburg (see our pics and write up) and was very much looking forward to this run, especially because she also had Bartees Strange on the road with her. I missed his recent Mercury Lounge show (see Edwina Hay’s pics for FTA from that show) and was more than thrilled to be in attendance for this dream come true double bill.
Bartees Strange has been blowing up recently on the strength of his fantastic 2020 album, Live Forever, and it is so well deserved. I remember just a few short years ago seeing him on local DIY shows in Brooklyn and I always love to see folks from our local community achieve the success they deserve (I also have seen his drummer, Jordyn Blakely, perform in a few other BK based projects over the years too, namely Sharkmuffin and Smile Machine). He opened the show on Monday with gusto and put on an electrifying performance featuring mostly songs from Live Forever as well as a new song, “17,” and a cover of “Lemonworld” by The National. Watching his set, it was so obvious to me that it is not going to be much longer before he’s not the opener at a venue like Brooklyn Steel, but the headliner and I am absolutely so excited to be there for that in the future.
Lucy Dacus didn’t keep fans waiting long and was positively radiant when she came to the stage. Her set featured the entirety of Home Video (sans “Please Stay”) and also incorporated a few songs from 2018’s Historian and 2016’s No Burden as well as “La Vie En Rose” by Édith Piaf. For “Going Going Gone” she invited Bartees Strange and his band up on stage for a really fun sing along with them and the rest of the crowd. As was the case last time I saw her, “Thumbs,” was a very intense highlight of the night for me. Having heard it on the album and previously seeing her perform it didn’t lessen the gut punch of it and the impact was still just as strong as I thought about my own difficult relationship with the man who gave me his eyes, taking a moment to close them and reflect as I leaned my head on the support beam I was standing next to. The audience remained in rapt attention throughout as Dacus slayed all of us with her emotional delivery of the song and towards the back of the room, you could have heard a pin drop at times.
Lucy Dacus at Brooklyn Steel
Being a punk at heart, and loving all things LOUD, my favorite moment of the night was the end pairing of “I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore,” and “Night Shift.” My personal favorite song from Dacus’ catalog is “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore,” and when that buzzy riff started up, I broke out into a huge smile. “Night Shift” may start off muted and trick a first time listener into thinking its a mellow offering, but when its giant wall of fuzzy feedback kicks in, you feel it’s full force and I for sure felt it hit me all the way in the back by the sound board with the welcome warm arm punch of a friend smirking at you knowingly.
Another nice thing to see at the show was the lovely stage production. The last show at MHOW had been a last minute addition after her opening gig for Bright Eyes had been canceled, so there was no time for any of her own custom stage design but the large backdrop of the tube TV showing actual home videos of Dacus as a child (before the show, with art from Historian and some of her other titles projected during it) was a really great touch and added a layer of nuance to the overall performance. Dacus was very appreciative of the crowd, thanking everyone more than once saying “Ya’ll have been a treat. I’m trying not to be too corny but I do feel very lucky to be here” before thanking everyone for getting vaccinated and wearing masks. She also asked if everyone liked her gown and quipped that she was currently “in her gown era” which was met with hardy cheers and applause. I was unfortunately NOT attending in formal wear, but am indeed a big fan of gown era Lucy (and all eras, lets be real). Perhaps next time I see her, I’ll break out my tie and waistcoat for the occasion, definitely something to consider.
The magic of the night was not quite done yet after that knockout punch of an ending to the set, and Dacus returned for a solo encore to play a new song. She also informed everyone “I left for just enough time to spill tea all over me,” before explaining that she was about to play a brand new song, and much like she did when “Thumbs” was new and unrecorded, asked fans not to record it and joked to “be really mean if you see anyone around you trying.” The song is about New York and she played this song back in August so it was nice to feel a little familiarity with it. As of yet it doesn’t seem to have a title but it is sure to be a knockout on the next album once it gets recorded and released. This was yet another pin dropping moment as every single person in that room remained laser focused on Dacus on stage.
This was a wonderful start to my week and while she may have said all of us were a treat, seeing her perform and feeling her gratitude for her fans is the actual treat. Thank you for the lovely evening Ms. Lucy Dacus.
Bartees Strange Setlist: Far, Mustang, Free Kelly Rowland, Weights, 17, Flagey God, Lemonworld (The National cover), Stone Meadows, Boomer
Lucy Dacus Setlist: Triple Dog Dare, First Time, Addictions, Hot & Heavy, Christine, La Vie En Rose (Édith Piaf cover), Nonbeliever, Yours & Mine, Parter in Crime, Brando, Thumbs, Going Going Gone (with Bartees Strange), I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore, Night Shift. ENCORE- New Song (solo)
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)