The Music Hall of Williamsburg found itself at capacity last Thursday when Mansions, Pianos Become the Teeth, and La Dispute took the stage. Over the course of the evening, this triage of indie/alternative/screamo heavy hitters would unleash their unique blends of introspection channeled through endless fuzz, pounding drums, and some of the most heartfelt vocals. That being said, you’d do well to forget all about Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and all the amazing special effects. Anyone in attendance of this stacked show last week witnessed, or felt rather, true gravity.
The dulled stage lights and building plaudits cued the first act, Louisville, Kentucky’s Mansions. As the indie rock/fuzz pop three-piece arrived at their instruments, it was clear that most observers were not ready for what would ensue. However, this would change almost immediately. A loud pop went off, a snare drum. Overdriven guitar, fuzzy bass, and unrelenting drums followed immediately after. With a steady pace and groove established, it was time for Christopher Brower to take the wheel. The guitarist/front man did exactly that as he began to fire through “Climbers,” the first track off their newest LP, Doom Loop.
From here, Mansions worked through a healthy number of tracks off their newest LP, as well as some from their back catalogue. However, regardless of the track itself, each track found its footing in the band’s ability to connect with their audience. This wasn’t done through stage antics or jokes, but through their authenticity. The band delivered each note and lyric as purely and honestly as they could, which makes it easy for listeners to lend themselves. Also, it was easy to see how much Mansions loves what they do.
As Mansions’ set winded down with “The Economist,” the night was just getting started. Baltimore, Maryland’s premiere scream quintet, Pianos Become the Teeth, were set to take the stage. Opposite of Mansions, who maintained a calm and laid back demeanor, Pianos Become the Teeth stormed the stage and never once stopped moving. Though a lot of their catalogue lends itself to physicality, slower songs like “Liquid Courage” and “Hiding” built out tension exceptionally well, making their inevitable crescendo all the more powerful.
PBTT played through their catalogue, but stuck with their most recent LP, The Lack Long After” the most. Absolutely no one seemed to mind. Energy was through the roof from beginning to end. Reverb laden guitars were drenched in feedback and distortion as much as they were clean. Drums were constantly pounding, firing between slow builds and breakneck speeds. The ethereal howls of front man Kyle Durfey were incredibly visceral, and worked to ground every word of his lyrical content.
With two incredibly diverse and brilliant acts now complete, La Dispute had their work all but cut out for them. Luckily, the Michigan indie/scream quintet was able to rise to the occasion. Lights and projectors mirrored the themes of the band’s latest release, Rooms of the House. As crowd cheers turned into demands, the band took the stage. What ensued can only be described as ecstasy.
From the moment the first chords of “HUDSONVILLE MI 1956” played, every body in the room was in a state of motion. Whether it was stagediving, light mosh pitting, or simply head bobbing, there wasn’t a single person present opposed to La Dispute. From this moment forward the band would play through their catalogue; however, it’d be hard to tell newer material from the old, as the audience seemed almost omnipotent. Still, older songs like “New Storms for Older Lovers,” “Said the King to the River,” “Kings Park,” and “Andria” received the warmest reception.
While La Dispute was impressive with their control over their sound and the crowd, what really set them apart was their presence. No, they weren’t funny, overly cliché, or anything like that. Instead, they seemed sincere and genuinely thankful. Vocalist Jordan Dreyer peppered in his own experiences and thoughts, making his work all the more accessible. The rest of the band invested their bodies in their work.
All and all, this triage delivered one of the best shows in recent memories. They played well and engaged listeners, but never at the expense of a song. Instead, each band fired through their songs with a levity that made it seem as each song was new. It never felt forced, or stale. As I stated above, this was a heavy show. Not so much in genre, as in content. Mansions, PBTT, and La Dispute never pull any punched in their work. They present very real and tangible themes through very accessible vehicles. As such, watching live performances are the all more enjoyable.
Article by Michael Ventimiglia