Buried in the mazelike, graffiti-drenched streets of Bushwick, Shea Stadium saw no light from the almost-full moon hanging in the sky. From the inside, the small space glowed under clusters of white christmas lights, wrapped around plywood icicles and other sturdy edges around the room. The DIY venue was stuffed with balloons, and looked almost school play-ready as the speakers cranked up for the party. Loyal fans gathered to exult the newly-released LP from Duchess Says, Sciences Nouvelles, and the already-rowdy crowd sized each other up in the middle of the floor.
Their first opportunity to thrash came with the first opener, Peeling, who brought leather, lace, and tons of attitude to the stage, shredding and harmonizing with ferocity in a set that was tough to follow. The night’s second act, Operator Music Band, brought some synth-heavy noise to the stage, but the art pop seemed lost between the other two openers. Especially because, not long after, Future Punx were taking all the elements of traditional punk and thrusting them into a supercharged, avant-garde state of being. It was 2053, and the audience was hooked.
If fast and freaky was hitting the spot, you could tell Duchess Says were going to destroy the place. Suspense was high for the Montreal punks, and frontwoman Annie-Claude Deschênes was mad with excitement; the only dead giveaway her wide-eyed expression – and the foaming beer she quickly poured over our faces. We sped into the realm of Sciences Nouvelles, a seemingly time-signature-less universe, and she punctuated each rapid beat with erratic karate chops. Sneaking in rich vocals and guttural squeals between the impacts, her mime-like movements added both chaos and order to their measured shredding.
But order made way for chaos, and Duchess Says, with their trip-inducing dance-punk, whipped right over the threshold between show and experience. When Deschênes climbed down to join the crowd, you could feel the mass uncertainty exploding as they all pondered her next move. While the band raged behind her, the singer produced some thin sheets of plastic and began building tents around the moshing bodies, wrapping the room in white until you could barely find your feet.
In a moment that seemed to define the night, she suddenly burst headfirst through the plastic with a reckless smile, embracing the tangle of fans who were tearing through with her. And it was more than just perfect symbolism. We were craving something new, and Duchess Says really broke through.
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Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley