So, it was the third day of the annual Bushwick three day long music fiesta known as the Gigawatts Festival, and if exhaustion hadn’t put you in bed permanently by this point you are truly a music freak. It was another full day of lots of local favorites and minor-label heroes as well some big names in the alternative rock world.
Sunday started off early for me in the ethereal reverb-heavy thick brick catacombs of The Wick for the slamming Brooklyn trio The Yin Yangs – with their aggressive and sludgy mix of garage psych rock that likens to some very expansive and impressively loud compositions. After that was the powerful all-female rock quartet Desert Sharks at The Well, and they really brought on a classic 70’s punk rock sound that at times feels like a 50’s greaser girl gang decided to pick guitars as their weapons for the rumble, and the battle is now ON! With a Lita Ford-styled dueling guitar crush and a too cool for school Joan Jett harmony, I can’t help but feel as though they are like a slightly harder and tighter version on the Runaways, which I say with all great love. Then back upstairs for another local group I have seen a couple times and also loved called Boytoy, also sounding like a hard-rocking girl group transported to us from a previous age, they stir their reverb-laden guitar riffs into serious trouble with some glorious bad girl harmonies.
Next was a TBA surprise, one that ended up being one of my favorite local outfits that I still try to catch any chance I get by the name of Field Mouse playing on the main stage. This is a band that has expanded greatly since I first started getting into them back when they were a bare-fisted trio just a few years back, now filling out their sound greatly with an additional bassist and a keyboardist, that at times felt as though there could be a dozen or so musicians on stage. Still, despite some awkward stage banter, it is vocalist and guitarist Rachel Browne who shines brightly as an astonishing songstress who produces blindingly hot jams as well as some tenderly sweet and even quite spacy lyrical/harmonic moments in a tight rock union with guitarist Andrew Futral – both of whom still compose the core duo-ship of their musical brilliance. Their last LP Hold Still Life from last year prove how beautifully they’ve evolved, and I say you should really check them out soon if you know what’s best for you. Following that was a Brooklyn band I’ve been waiting to catch for a long time now called Chumped, and their sound is a potent power pop punk in the style of Superchunk and other 90’s killer rock outfits as frontwoman and guitarist Anika Pyle pours out the passionate jams in full contorted facial expression mode with killer solos and some pretty heartbreaking lyrics.
Next, I caught a bit of the Philly trio called Cold Fronts at the Wick who had a bit of a 90’s frat grunge feel and definitely kept the energy flowing. Then there was another Philly offering that I had actually wanted to catch for a long time by the name of Beach Slang, and they did bring on a nicely electrifying performance, full of reckless stage jumping and melting power chords; that was until frontman James Snyder seemed to forget how to tune his guitar and thusly provided the most awkward stage banter of the whole fest while trying to solve his tech problems. Still, their set still had some great straightforward rockers and I enjoy seeing them ironically fuck up while singing all about fucking up, and it actually sounded quite solid while you’re fucked up as well. The Lansing, Michigan trio called Cheap Girls followed, and despite and unfortunate name, these three dudes are extremely consummate musicians, producing wonderfully tight, bass-heavy jams for the last several years, and on stage their sound expands to a whole new zone, also showing how far their sound has come since their more easy-going alt rock early days to much edgier territory.
Then it was upstairs to see Ludlow ejacula, a Brooklyn foursome I had just recently gotten into. Their darkly expansive sound has a way of bewitching you and truly took full advantage of the Wick’s reverb-heavy chamber echo sound quality to a chilling degree. Even though vocalist Emily Brout has a tendency to be absolutely still during her performance, her darkly introspective lyrics and bluesy voice still bowls me over, and with a certain driving yet stark approach, the whole band creates a lush yet minimalist soundscape that can really transport you away. They already have a rather extensive catalogue of singles, and the more I listen to them, the more I love them. Next was the true mega-talent veteran singer-songwriter in the form of the stunningly beautiful Laura Stevenson, whom now seems to be going just by her name, although it looked like her backing band was still most, if not all of The Cans. Her voice is true magic, dancing effortlessly all over the scale as her hands glide across her guitar in dexterous motion, mixing a slight country drawl and a folksy howl but always with touches of her punk past, along the way reminding me of greats like Patti Smith and Joni Mitchell while sprawling out an epic story through the tears of death and sadness. Since it has been a couple years since her last release, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise to hear new stuff, but it was still great hearing a couple brand new ditties next to some of her more well known tracks like the swinging “Healthy One.”
Then there was another first-time awestriking, this time by Swearin’ a rebellious high-volume rocker of a band, with Allison Crutchfield handling most of the lead vocals, as really crushing the whole rock n’ roll frontwoman vibe within a very impressive straight-forward punk pop love fest. Next, upstairs there was a band I’ve experienced several times and just keep getting better each time, the local trio LODRO, that emerge from the thunderous bass and darkly wailing vocals of Lesley Hann, chilling guitar howls of Jeremey Cox, and some heavily edgy and driving drums of Turner Halsey. All together, they produce a darkly magical journey that is both a scary and intimidating and yet strangely alluring and attractive blitzkrieg of gloom. Finally, I got to catch the classic alt-rocking Illinois band Braid whom more or less defined the emo/Warped Tour scene through a majority of the 90’s, which is when I last caught them, so it certainly was a long time in coming, but they went nearly a decade broken up, only coming back together a couple years back. I must say they still have that explosive on-stage persona, with lots of leaping about as though they were teenagers again, and I had almost forgotten how many cool hits they had, and the newer material sounds great too. It was a great way to end and exhausting weekend of amazing music.
Article: Dean Keim