“If you don’t know me, you’re an idiot. If you think you know me, then you’re even dumber,” Lydia Lunch hissed at the unruly audience, who had been slugging energy drinks since doors and were ready to take out their adrenaline on someone. But even they were a bit caught off guard, glancing around apprehensively to identify the source of her anger. From what everyone could see, though, there was no source – no trace of a pre-show scuffle, no spot-lit adversary holding her glare. With two acts as vitriolic as Lydia Lunch Retrovirus and Pissed Jeans sharing a marquee, there really doesn’t have to be.
Having made her name in the quick peak of the no wave scene, Lydia Lunch has been jolting crowds since ’76 – before, let’s face it, most of this one was even born. But anger is one legacy that tends to stay the same, a thrust-me-down gift passed from one gen to the next. For that reason, her indignation was well received by the young fans, who took in her turmoil with admiration as they sympathetically banged their heads.
She and her Retrovirus, a brutish three-piece locked into the beat like caged dog, are the real deal, and completely went off on Brooklyn that night. Most of the rage was delivered in Lunch’s trademark growl against the in-your-face rumble of their rhythm section, and often wrapped in a sarcastic, bluesy riff. Their attitude was the show, and their sound was the perfect vehicle to throw it in our faces.
It’s tough to say who was angrier out of the two, but Pissed Jeans seemed, to the audience’s delight, as pissed off as they were when they formed in ’04. Even better, you could tell they weren’t too worried about hitting all the right notes – that slapdash, IDGAF approach that makes New York punk shows so damn fun. “Did you fix your broken guitar?” said frontman Matt Korvette one song in, whirling around to face his bandmates with a smirk. “What? It’s not broken,” Bradley Fry replied defiantly. “I just didn’t want to play.”
By the time he changed his mind, he and bassist Randy Huth were knee deep in the noise, racing against Sean McGuinness’ livid drums as Korvette took care of the words. A burst of moshing had erupted somewhere in the crowd, and the Knit was restless and reckless as he screamed his frustrations. Unless you were a hardcore fan, their setlist was indistinguishable – though, I swear, Korvette introduced one song title as “I Can’t Stop Doing Yoga.” Whether or not he was fucking with us, the message was clear. The words aren’t that important when you have so much to say.