The Homeless Gospel Choir/Teenage Halloween split EP

The Homeless Gospel Choir/Teenage Halloween split EP

 

 

What a pleasant surprise to wake up on New Year’s Day only to discover that The Homeless Gospel Choir and Teenage Halloween had released a new split of two new songs each on Don Giovani Records. I say, “pleasant surprise,” but quite honestly anyone who’d actually been paying attention to their socials shouldn’t have been surprised at all since both bands had either hinted or flat out stated that there would be something new out on the first.

 

The Homeless Gospel Choir’s pair of songs, “Harrisburg Shoes” and “Pittsburgh Shoes,” seem to me to be Derek Zanetti’s obvious nod to their moving to Harrisburg from their lifelong home of Pittsburgh during the pandemic. The songs go much deeper however and appear to be tropes for Zanetti’s dealing with the loneliness and isolation which the pandemic has wrought on all of us.  

 

“Harrisburg Shoes” opens with anthemic guitar chords blaring, followed by booming drum beats before Zanetti sings “and just like that it begins, we’re singing for your suffering.” The song itself could be pure power pop if the band was more jingle jangle and less in your face reverb, but nonetheless it works perfectly. Homeless Gospel Choir is a punk band and this song rocks like any punk song should. There’s even a nice homage to the ultimate punk band, The Clash, in the middle of the song where Zanetti sings, “I’m all lost in the superspreader rhetoric.”

 

Next up is “Pittsburgh Shoes” which starts out with a slow early 1960’s retro vibe bringing to mind the musical soundtrack of American Graffiti (and I mean that in a 1000% good way). The first 40 seconds of the song deals with what so many of us felt during the pandemic with words like “sitting in your room and every day just feels the same.” But then Derek and crew (Maura Weaver, Megan Schroer, Craig Luckman, and Matt Miller) take the song to a more upbeat place (at least musically), and all of a sudden the listener finds themselves immersed in a distortion fueled, thunderously loud guitar punk rock song. And lyrically too, the tone changes as the song’s protagonist realizes that the sun will rise through the gloom and that real friends made along the journey WILL be there for them…and of course they will be “PLAYING THEIR KAZOOS.”

 

Homeless Gospel Choir performing

The Homeless Gospel Choir performing in 2019 (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

 

It appears that the use of shoes in both of these songs is a beautiful metaphor for needing to accept change, to embrace change and ultimately use change as a bridge to the past. It came down to needing new shoes in order to get to a new place (beginning) in Harrisburg, PA and then upon finding themselves there, they needed another pair of shoes that would allow them to ultimately make the journey back to their beloved Pittsburgh.

 

To this one particular listener, these two songs from Homeless Gospel Choir just might be some of the best stuff Zanetti has ever put out. And I for one can’t wait for their new album to drop.

 

The flip side to this split consists of two ragers from Philadelphia’s (by way of Asbury Park) queer punks Teenage Halloween. Their first song, “Floating,” starts out fast and furious and from there never misses a beat. What appears to be a break up song upon early listens with the catchphrase “I don’t want your empty promise, I don’t need your easy fix,” it appears upon further listening to be a retort to present day politicians as well; especially when you realize that the response to the previous refrain is “I wanna burn the city down.” 

 

Musically the band embraces all kinds of styles in less than two minutes, something which might turn off some listeners as a band trying to do too much all at once. But in this instance, I didn’t feel this to be the case at all. Quite the contrary, the varying styles blend together seamlessly, with the tune starting out with a classic pop punk structure before climbing into an almost ska like rhythm for the bridge and then we get a scorching psycho-billy guitar riff before we fall back to the pop punk ending of the song.  

 

Teenage Halloween performing in 2019 (photo by Kate Hoos)

 

The final song on the split is entitled “Burn,” and as the title suggests it is a burner. Again, Teenage Halloween manages to pack a whole lot into a mere 1:50 minutes of music. The opening notes of keyboards lull us into thinking we might be getting a slow ballad, but this lasts all of three seconds before singer Luk Henderiks begins belting out with their raspy vocals. Listening to “Burn,” you can almost feel how much fun this song is going to be in a live setting, yelling the words along with the band.

 

All in all, this split EP shows great promise of things to come in hopefully the not too distant future from both Homeless Gospel Choir as well as Teenage Halloween. Now we can only hope that this damned pandemic burns itself out so that we can get to see both of these bands (amongst many others of course) live once again.

 

The Homeless Gospel Choir/Teenage Halloween split EP is available now from Don Giovanni and on all major streaming platforms.

 

Bully @ Brooklyn Bowl

Bully @ Brooklyn Bowl

Bully at Brooklyn Bowl (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

It’s been quite some time since Bully graced a stage here in New York. The last time was back in the fall of 2018 when they were part of The National’s “There’s No Leaving New York” festival which took place at Forest Hills Stadium. I didn’t make it to that show but I had seen them earlier in 2018 when they played in a tiny room over at the now defunct House Of Vans. So needless to say, even without the pandemic, I was more than ready to get my Bully fix on when Alicia Bognanno and band pulled into Brooklyn to play The Brooklyn Bowl.

 

Quite a lot of water has traversed under the bridge since those shows in 2018. First, Bully as an actual band is no more. Bully is now pretty much a vehicle for Bognanno’s solo work and the touring band she is out on the road with right now doesn’t include anyone from the 2018 version besides Alicia herself. She has also gone through some heavy duty personal stuff throughout the last couple of years as well. She is now sober, so this and her brief summer tour are the first times being on the road with no alcohol. Bognanno has said this in and of itself was a challenge which she is finding to be much easier than initially expected. Also, while she was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder back in 2016, she is just coming to grips with it since the pandemic. (Read more about her journey in this interview Bognanno did with Inlander back in September.) This is quite evident with the material on her third album, SUGAREGG, which was released in 2020 on Sub Pop records.

 

The band hit the stage and as expected at any Bully show, Bognanno came out ripping. They opened with the first song off of SUGAREGG, “Add It On.”  With her bleached blonde hair flying every which way, Alicia roared the lyrics “WAKE UP…DON’T WANT TO WAKE UP!” an autobiographical nod to her mental health issues. From here we got a taste of “Six,” off the band’s first album, 2015’s Feels Like. Next up was one of my favorite Bully songs, “Feel The Same,” off of their sophomore album (and debut for Sub Pop), Losing. The song starts off with a driving bassline which fellow Nashville musician, touring bassist Nick Byrd, took to another level before the crashing guitar chords took over and finally leading into Bognanno scream/singing of the repeated chorus, ”I FEEL THE SAME, SAME, SAME…”

 

Bully performing

Bully at Brooklyn Bowl

 

The band slowed things down next with the slower Nirvana-esque “Trash” from their debut album. Then came the first single which was released from SUGAREGG last year, the ChumbawambaTub Tumping” inspired “Where To Start,” and the whole Tub vibe was even more pronounced (and let’s face it, fun) than even on the album.

 

The rest of the set was heavy on the SUGAREGG material with just the right amount of older material mixed in for good measure. Of particular note was Bully’s latest stand alone single which was released last week, called “Just For Love.” The song came off much more melodic and hooky than what we’ve come to be familiar with and it sounded great!

 

Closing out the set with “Milkman” seemed like a perfect way to end what was a roller coaster of a set. Filled with manic screaming, scorching guitar chords and gut wrenching tender emotion. And then who would have ever thought that Bully would be able to pull off an encore cover of Mazzy Star’s epic “Fade Into You.” And let me tell you, even though I’d never have guessed it, Alicia nailed Hope Sandoval’s dreamy brooding magnum opus.

 

Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

 

BULLY

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Bully performing

Dream Syndicate, Eyelids @ Brooklyn Made

Dream Syndicate, Eyelids @ Brooklyn Made

The Dream Syndicate at Brooklyn Made (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

This past weekend was pretty much a Sophie’s Choice for the gray beard aging rockers of New York City. Of course there was Yo La Tengo’s Eight Days of Chanukah at Bowery Ballroom, there was The Hold Steady’s four nights of Massive Nights, there were two nights of The New Pornographers and to a lesser extent but by no means less awesome sense, shows from The Figgs and from Jon Langford & Mary Timmons (of The Mekons). And last but certainly not least was The Dream Syndicate at Brooklyn Made on Saturday night for their only headline show of 2021. (NOTE: I stress headline being as they crashed Yo La Tengo’s show on Friday and ended up playing an abbreviated impromptu set at Bowery Ballroom).

 

Dream Syndicate, of course, was a driving force back in the mid 80’s LA Paisley Underground scene along with bands like The Bangles, Green On Red, Rain Parade, and The Long Ryders just to name a few. Combining the psychedelic sound of many of the late 60’s and early 70’s bands that came out of LA with the LA punk sound of the early 80’s,The Paisley Underground was a pastiche of sounds with some bands borrowing from The Doors or The Byrds or The Mama’s & The Papas, or in the case of Dream Syndicate, a mixture of The Velvet Underground and Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

 

The band released four full studio LPs during its heyday (‘81-’89) as well as two EPs and a couple of live albums. The original lineup of Steve Wynn, Kendra Smith, Dennis Duck and Mark Walton were together until 1983 when Smith left the band. Smith was replaced by Karl Precoda in ‘84. Precoda only lasted through ‘85 with the band and was eventually replaced by the band’s producer and sometimes guitarist, Paul B. Cutler. But alas this version of the band (and the band itself) called it quits in 1989.  In 2012 Wynn got the band back together for a festival date in Barcelona, bringing in his friend and fellow bandmate from The Miracle Three, Jason Victor. This version of Dream Syndicate has managed to stick together and play and record on and off over the course of the last decade and was the lineup which played on Saturday.

 

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate at Brooklyn Made

 

Like so many of the bands to which I’ve written about here at FTA, Dream Syndicate released an album in 2020 called The Universe Inside, which they of course had planned to tour on but again, you know the story of that. Instead the band wrote and recorded another new album which Wynn says should be available for release sometime in mid 2022. 

 

Which brings us to Saturday night at Brooklyn Made. The openers for the evening were a band out of Portland, OR which I had heard about from a friend of mine in CA around a year or so ago. Describing them as a crunchy guitar driven power pop band composed of former (and current) members of The Decemberists, Guided By Voices and Elliot Smith’s band, the word was that they were not to be missed. I’m not one who needs to hear such things more than once, so when I heard Eyelids were opening for Dream Syndicate, I knew I needed to get to the venue early enough to catch their set. Needless to say, my friend was 100% right, they were fantastic. 

 

The band released a stellar album in 2020 (recognize the pattern I’d just mentioned?) called The Accident Falls which figured prominently throughout the eleven song set. However, this didn’t prevent the band from including songs from each of their three other LPs. Their set was a perfect blend of bouncy melodies infused with just the right guitar hooks. They closed out their set with “Slow It Goes” off of their Maybe More release from 2018 followed by a scorching version of “I Can’t be Told” off of their limited run, Bandcamp only live release Eyelids Dubble Live. All in all the set from Eyelids was just plain old rock and roll nirvana (the state of mind, not the band). My (and most of the crowd’s in attendance) only complaint would be that they couldn’t play longer. But the good news is they will be back in Brooklyn at TV Eye in April of ‘22. And as my friend in California says, they are not to be missed.

 

Next up was what most of those in attendance had come for, Dream Syndicate. Opening the set with the psychedelic infused slow burner, “Until Lately,” from their 1982 debut Days Of Wine And Roses, it didn’t take long for guitarist Jason Victor to work his magic on the fretboard. This was followed by a new one from the forthcoming album which the band has been working on called “Where I’ll Stand,” followed by the relatively seldom played title track off of 1986’s Out of The Grey with its classic Byrd’s influenced guitar riff intro. Wynn and company continued pulling out songs from older material to the delight of the crowd.  Midway through their set, Victor started playing the opening guitar notes to Days of Wine and Roses opener, “Tell me When It’s Over” with Wynn sing/talking in his best Lou Reed voice the words:

 

And I really don’t know

Cause I don’t wanna know

Yeah tell me when it’s over

Tell me when it’s over

Oh let me know when it’s done

 

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate at Brooklyn Made

 

The thing is that at this point Victor and Wynn erupted into a guitar slinging duel where they just went back and forth for minutes on end. I swear they ended up battling with one another eventually diving into what sounded to me like Television’s “Marquee Moon.” I could have closed my eyes and sworn I was hearing Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd at their virtuosic best.  But it wasn’t just Television I was hearing, but Television if they were also jamming with Neil Young in his wildest Crazy Horse guitar driven madness. “Tell Me When It’s Over” eventually came to a conclusion but that certainly wasn’t the end of the night’s guitar shredding. They followed with “Bullet Holes” which pretty much picked right up where “Tell Me When It’s Over” left off, maybe with a little more Neil and a little less Television.  

 

This seems like as good a place as any to admit my fanboy admiration for Victor and his fretboard wizardry. What he does with his guitar is absolutely magical. There were times throughout the night on Saturday when he would be wailing on his guitar, his head cocked backwards, eyes closed but for a slight crack in his eyelids and it would look like his eyes had rolled to the back of his head; almost as if he was in a trance or somewhere else entirely, as if his body had become possessed. He would play his guitar in almost an otherworldly like state. The only way I can describe it is to think of those southern evangelicals when they get all worked up and start speaking in tongues. But in Victor’s case it’s not gibberish coming out but absolutely sheer magic.

 

After “Bullet Holes” we were treated to a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s blues classic “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” which was an ideal vehicle for the band to change directions from the trancelike guitar driven craziness to a more bluesy dancey feel reminiscent of Van Morrison and Them’s “Gloria” sans the G.L.O.R.I.A..  

 

Interestingly the band didn’t play anything from last year’s The Universe Inside until the last song of their set when they squeezed “The Longing” between an extended jammy version of “John Coltrane Stereo Blues,” which started off as a bluesy vamp before drifting off into a floating psychedelic cloud to which “The Longing” worked perfectly.

 

The band came out for one more as they played a version of “Glide” which started out with Dennis Duck pounding out a syncopated beat along with bassist Mark Walton. And with that beat as the backdrop, Wynn’s vocals “I don’t have to come down” repeated over and over all the while Jason Victor is ripping through arpeggios up and down the neck of his guitar.  It was the perfect ending for a perfect set of music. I don’t want to speak for the rest of the crowd that night, but I for one didn’t have to come down for quite a while after Dream Syndicate’s amazing set on Saturday.

 

Scroll down for more pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

EYELIDS

Eyelids performing

Eyelids performing

Eyelids performing

Eyelids performing

Eyelids performing

Eyelids performing

Eyelids performing

Eyelids performing

Eyelids performing

Eyelids performing

 

 

THE DREAM SYNDICATE

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

Dream Syndicate performing

 

Jeff Rosenstock, Oceanator, Slaughter Beach, Dog @ Warsaw

Jeff Rosenstock, Oceanator, Slaughter Beach, Dog @ Warsaw

Jeff Rosenstock at Warsaw (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

Anyone familiar with the Brooklyn DIY punk scene of the past 10-20 years is well aware of the name Jeff Rosenstock. From his early teen years on Long Island with Arrogant Sons Of Bitches to his seminal, yet underappreciated (at the time) Bomb The Music Industry!, to his current rise to fame as a solo artist, he has defined what it means to be DIY. (OK, maybe “rise to fame” is a little over zealous.  Most people you meet in the street have never heard of him, but in this little neck of the world known as DIY Punk, he sure as hell is most famous.)

 

So this past weekend Rosenstock returned home for three nights at Warsaw. A homecoming on multiple levels after moving to California in January 2020; these were his first shows back in Brooklyn since the move. And what better place to do it than in his old Greenpoint neighborhood Polish music hall, Warsaw. As he said from the stage on Friday night, this venue means a lot to him both on a professional level, as he’s graced its stage many times over the years and on a personal level as well since he and his partner Christine were married there a few years ago.

 

Opening night of the three night run was Friday and it promised to be a special evening since it was billed as one of a handful of Ska Dream shows which he was doing on this No Dream tour. For the benefit of those who might not be familiar with Rosenstock and his life over the last two years, he moved to California in January 2020 and then released his 5th solo studio album, No Dream in May 2020. Plans were to tour the world on the back of this album but alas, we all know by now how touring in late 2020, early 2021 went. So with touring off the table and lockdowns in place, what does one do during a global pandemic? They call all their friends and reinvent that very album, doing it as a ska album. Thus in April 2021, the world was graced with Ska Dream. And to these ears, as good as No Dream is (it was a top five album in 2020 for me), Ska Dream is even better.  (FULL DISCLOSURE:  I’ve been a huge ska fan ever since the first time I saw the movie The Harder They Come at the midnight showing at The 8th Street Playhouse. Then The Specials and English Beat and the other 2 Tone bands took over in ‘79 and there was no looking back).

 

Jeff Rosenstock at Warsaw

 

The tour itself had Slaughter Beach, Dog and Oceanator as support bands and Friday’s show had an additional act added to the bill in the name of JER. And to once again bring the uninitiated up to speed, ska is enjoying a revival the last year or so and one of the people (along with Mike Park of Asian Man Records and Mike Sosinski of Bad Time Records) responsible for this resurgence is Jeremy Hunter, trombonist in ska band We Are The Union, who created a YouTube channel called Ska Tune Network where they feature ska cover versions of all kinds of popular songs. Effectively JER, the band, is a present day ska rotating supergroup consisting of members of We Are The Union, Kill Lincoln, and Catbite to name a few. Regrettably, entry into Warsaw on Friday was not a smooth process. I arrived at Warsaw at about 7:45 (my bad for cutting things close) to find the line for entrance out the front, down Driggs Ave., around the corner to Eckford St, and then stretching all the way to Engert Ave., something which I’d never seen before in my countless shows I’ve been to there. As such I missed all but the last song of JER’s set.

 

Second on the bill was a favorite band of mine, Oceanator. I’d gotten to see Elise Okusami of Oceanator back in August do a solo set at Trans-Pecos and was thrilled that her set had grown in leaps and bounds from when I’d last seen her play (opening for Rosenstock at Trans-Pecos in December of 2019).  Anyway, Okusami and her band came out on stage at Warsaw and immediately killed it. Jumping onto the ska bandwagon of the night they opened up their set with a ska version of “Hide Away” from 2020’s Things I Never Said. Also in the ska vein was the band’s latest single which was released last week, a collaboration with JER called “Too Late.” All told, they played a great set to which I commented afterwards how Oceanator, be it a solo set by Elise or a full band gig, just gets better and better every time I see them. 

 

I will admit that Philadelphia’s Slaughter Beach, Dog isn’t a band that I was at all that familiar with. I know that lead singer Jake Ewald formed the band after his old punk/pop band, Modern Baseball called it quits. While their recorded output has never quite resonated with me, I must say that their live set was quite enjoyable. Their live sound had a bit of a mellower alt-country feel to it which reminded me of bands like Shakey Graves or Houndmouth.   

 

Rosenstock took the stage at roughly 10:30 and without batting an eye immediately jumped right into “No Time To Skank,” (in addition to reworking the songs from No Dream, each song is re-titled with a ska themed title), followed by “Airwalks” and “SKrAm” (which he brought out Elise Okusami to sing harmony on). The set pretty much was following the song order of Ska Dream (more or less) until the 9th song of the evening when the band kicked off “ACAB” from 2020 Dump which he recorded remotely with help from Jeremy Hunter. Speaking of Hunter, in addition to regular band members John DeDomenici, Mike Huguenor, Dan Potthast, and Kevin Higuchi, the band also had a horn section consisting of Hunter on trombone, and two of Rosenstock’s former band mates from ASOB, Dave Renz and Chris Valentino on trombone and sax.

 

As anyone who is familiar with a “Death” Rosenstock show is well aware that they are frenetic and bordering on just plain crazy. However, Friday’s show took things to a whole other level. First of all, let me just say that Jeremy Hunter is a bundle of energy that can’t be slowed down. They were jumping and skanking all over the stage, 100% of the time, and oh by the way all the while playing a sweet ‘bone. Rosenstock, for his part, was equally manic. I think his decision to not play too much guitar and to focus on the vocals for the evening had a lot to do with it. Not that the guitar is usually very constraining for him, but without it he was freed to roam and do whatever he wanted and for the most part what he wanted was to go completely ballistic. I mean Rosenstock is normally a non stop whirling dervish but whether he was feeding off of Hunter’s energy or he was just completely possessed by a higher being, he (and the band) were at a place I’d never seen them approach before.

 

The set continued with the rest of Ska Dream and the addition of the slower reggae song, “Collapse!” which is another tune from the 2020 Dump collection as well as  “The Creek Is Everywhere,” from the Craig of The Creek animated TV program of which Rosenstock is the musical composer. The crowd throughout this onslaught of musical mayhem was pretty much a wall to wall mosh pit from start to finish. The fact that the crowd was SOOOO into it makes what happened for the encore even more spectacular. After the last song of the regular set, “Ohio Porkpie,” the crowd was clearly whipped into a skanking frenzy but during the encore break you could just tell that the room was exhausted and somewhat drained. That’s what I thought at least. The band returned and the second they played the first notes of ASOB’s anthem “So Let’s Go Nowhere” from 2006’s Three Cheers for Disappointment, the crowd erupted into one large skanking amoeba with a life of its own, flowing in every which direction.

 

It was a fitting end to what was clearly a very special night. As the sweat soaked crowd spilled out onto Driggs Ave, I pondered two thoughts. The first was, “When is the SKA Dreams show hitting Tipitina’s in New Orleans and how can I get there for it”? The second was “how was the show the following evening possibly going to compete with this one?”

 

Which brings me to Saturday night. Somewhat fearful of the debacle of getting into Warsaw on Friday night, I hoped to get to the venue much earlier than the night before I but got there only slightly earlier than the previous evening. Fortunately, the hiccups of entry which security dealt with on Friday had been cleared up by the second evening and entry went much smoother.

 

Jeff Rosenstock at Warsaw

 

Oceanator was the opener on Saturday being as JER was only on Friday’s ska lineup and they once again played a stellar set, albeit one which was more traditional in style to what they usually play (i.e. sans any ska flavored arrangements). While Saturday might have lacked some of the energetic pace of the previous evening, it certainly didn’t lack in any spot on musicianship as Elise Okusami and the band opened things up a bit with a noticeable extension of solos throughout the set.

 

Slaughter Beach, Dog were next up and their set on Saturday I felt was even stronger than their Friday set was. I think Friday’s ska themed show wasn’t the best fit for them and their set indicated this. But on Saturday they seemed looser and more relaxed, ready to just go with the flow. Going with the flow is much more in line with what they do. Ewald’s vocal style which is almost a talking blues thing sounds like a flowing of words to the backdrop of the bands mellifluous rhythms. I don’t know the name of the song but about midway through their set they invited Okusami to help out with a little bit of tambourine work. Again, as I said earlier, while I couldn’t consider myself a SBD fan coming into the weekend, they definitely won me over with the two sets I got to experience.

 

Which brings us to what everyone was waiting for, another Jeff Rosenstock set. The room, although sold out, was noticeably less crowded than it had been the previous night but that didn’t diminish the excitement in the air. Saturday’s show opened up with the interesting choice of “Illegal Fireworks and Hiding Bottles In The Sand,” a slow dirgelike tune from the 2020 Dump collection. This opener had me scratching my head even further as to what kind of set lay in store for us but my curiosity was soon assuaged when Rosenstock jumped into the opening notes of the opening track off of No Dream, “No Time.” And it was then that it dawned on me that we’d never heard most of No Dream live before and this was going to be a kind of coming out party for the album. In a lot of respects it has become overlooked by the (for lack of a better word) novelty, not to mention complete rad-ness of Ska Dream. After a blistering “Nikes (Alt),” Rosenstock brought out Laura Stevenson to help him out with the vocals on “Scram!”  I am a huge fan of Stevenson’s and make no attempt to hide it (see pics from her show last month in Brooklyn) so it was fantastic to see that she’d been able to make it here to help out. She would be on and off the stage throughout the evening to the utter delight of virtually everyone in the building. Watching her calmly and at times almost awkwardly stand in front of her mike while DeDomenici and Rosenstock are prancing around the stage like crazies was such a fun and pleasant dichotomy; a great contrast to get to watch.

 

The rest of the evening brought a perfect mix of old (“Nausea,” “9/10,” and “Festival Song” to name a few) with the No Dream material. They closed out the regular set once again with a raucous, albeit straight version of “Ohio Turnpike.” Rosenstock and Stevenson kicked the encore off much like the night started, with the ballad off of 2020 Dump, “Caring.” But this was merely the calm before the storm as things closed out with a furious flurry of “U.S.A.” from Post-, followed by Worry’s “We Begged 2 Explode,” before closing out another glorious night of moshing and crowd surfing with “No Time For Skanking,” which turned out to be the only real duplicate song between the two nights.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Jeff’s fantastic wife Christine who single handedly worked the merch table all weekend (amongst many other duties I am sure). The line to that merch table seemed never to get shorter but Christine kept it moving,  always as pleasant and as friendly as humanly possible.  Thanks Christine (and Jeff too). 

 

All in all spending my Friday and Saturday nights with a couple of thousand sweaty adrenaline fueled strangers while dancing and screaming like fools turned out to be the perfect way to spend my Thanksgiving weekend.

 

Scroll down for pics from the shows (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

 

SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG

 

 

OCEANATOR

 

 

JEFF ROSENSTOCK

 

Sub*T @ Elsewhere Zone One

Sub*T @ Elsewhere Zone One

Sub*T at Elsewhere Zone One (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

There is a certain beauty about “firsts.” After all, by their very definition, there can only be one of them. So when I discovered that Sunday night’s set by Sub*T at Elsewhere Zone One would be the band’s first gig ever, I was stoked that I would be there to bear witness. Before I dive into the show, first a few quick words on Sub*T’s “story.”  I will be brief since you can read about it in detail in FTA’s interview with the bands two protagonists, Grace Bennett and Jade Alcantara. The long and short of it being that the two bi-coastal friends (Grace of Brooklyn and Jade of Oakland) decided during pandemic to start a band…I mean, hell it sure beats learning to bake Irish soda bread. So they both learned how to play guitar and started writing collaborative songs remotely. They managed to release three singles in 2021 via Bandcamp which caught the attention of Alicia Bognanno of Bully who offered to produce their debut EP, So Green (read our review), which just came out.

 

Which brings us to Sunday evening at Elsewhere. When one shows up to a venue for a 7:30 PM set on a Sunday night, you pretty much are prepared that the room very likely could be completely empty. Au contraire!  Zone One was basically filled. The room was bustling with a majority of younger women. But interestingly enough, there was a solid representation from older parental (and even some grand parental) types, who didn’t necessarily seem to be there as chaperones but more as true fans. Some of whom would later in the set join the mosh pit front and center of the stage.

 

Being as Sub*T is a duo, I had some curiosity as to whether an actual drummer or a drum machine would be added to the lineup, not to mention a bass player. With a drum kit setup on stage, it was obvious that a human drummer would be part of the lineup. The band came to the stage, along with a drummer (to be later introduced only as Chris) took the stage whereby Alcantara proceeded to ask the crowd if anyone knew how to play bass. Now I’ve seen this kind of thing done for ONE song, but it appeared that they were looking for someone to play their entire set! Needless to say, I immediately questioned the direction to which this night might be headed. Well, we soon found out that this was all an inside joke and Chuck the bass player was planted in the crowd all along. Quite honestly, a nice bit of schtick to ease the butterflies of taking the stage for the first time ever.

 

The band then proceeded to open things up with “Too Soon Too Long,” their single which was released in June. “Bruce Banner,” from So Green followed. Alcantara mentioned that the song was actually about Mark Ruffalo who had been invited to the debut show that evening but the band had not gotten a response. The rest of the set consisted of “Fur On Porcelain,” another So Green song as well as a smattering of “older” singles like “Table For Four,” and the set’s finale “Boxing Day.”  

 

Despite the brevity of their set (they were the first of 3 bands for the evening after all), the crowd absolutely loved the band. As I said earlier, a mosh pit broke out during “Bruce Banner,” and continued on throughout the rest of the set. There was plenty of jumping up and down amongst those up close to the stage as well as a noticeable sing along coming from the crowd during “Boxing Day.” All told, I would have to say that Sub*T was a resounding success in their on stage debut and clearly should be a band to which you should keep on your radar for good things to come.

 

Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

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Sub*T performing