“This could be the last rock show until it all ends,” said Black Rebel Motorcycle Club singer and guitarist Robert Levon Been a few songs into their set on Tuesday night; otherwise known as the day our presidential election shocked us all and brought us one step closer to disaster. There was tension in the air brewing from earlier in the day, a feeling that the election was going to be far closer than it conceivably should be. That was the main reason I knew I couldn’t just sit in front of the TV on top of a mountain of anxiety and drink until my liver gave out. So, instead I decided to go out into the night and find myself a loud rock show that I could really lose myself in. So, with Death From Above 1979 and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to fill up my senses, I did my best to ignore my iPhone and let the sonic onslaught and two of the World’s premiere psychedelic noise groups take me away to a far, far better place.
Opening the show at the Upper West side venue of Terminal 5 was L.A.’s hard-rocking axe/drum duo, Deap Vally. With the release of their second album FEMEJISM, it’s clear that Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards still relish mounting a bit of that feminist/riot grrrl edge, but have moved beyond it with a properly blaring “Fuck you!” attitude. Both dressed in aptly loud stars and stripes leotards, they emblazoned a set that was simultaneously heart seducing and ass-kicking.
The guitar/drum duo of the Toronto royals of noise-rock, Death From Above 1979, came out to properly rock the crowd. They were all the rage in the early 2000’s, but split up for several years, only to come back a few years back and released a new single last year. It’s surprising how they can still retain that same raw, driving terror they had almost 20 years ago with even with more luster than ever. Only the slightest bit of light was shed on the stage this time, as every other time I’ve seen them they’ve been shuttered in almost complete darkness. Their music is still extremely dark and manages to retain that burning frenzy while also blissing out on an expansive stoner metal jam. They played old tracks like “Black History Month,” as well as newer ones like “Virgins” and “Trainwreck 1979” from their second LP from a couple years back.
As San Francisco’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club came out after a long changeover, there was definitely a new tension in the room. They opened with one of my favorite tracks, “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo,” with Been dressed in a hoodie and a Hilary mask on, but clearly something had gone terribly wrong with the election results, and there was no jubilation in the representation as it was probably intended. While Rob stayed cloaked in his hoodie, his partner in crime since the late 90’s, former Brian Jonestown Massacre guitarist and singer Peter Hayes was chain smoking and choosing to loose himself in the fog of the heavy mood lighting. It was good to see Leah Shapiro back behind the drum kit after recent brain surgery that sidelined her a bit, but this former Raveonettes drummer, who has been in the band since 2008, is clearly a fighter. Still, after the first few songs, the covers and shrouds cleared away, as the bold, bright colors of a big lightshow commenced and helped lighten the mood a bit. They encouraged people to keep fighting before breaking into “U.S. Government” from their heavily political 2003 album Take Them On, On Your Own, which seemed profoundly appropriate at this point of the night. They closed strong with “Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘n’ Roll (Punk Song)” from their first album, which had a certain passage that I found s moving: “You know you never decide / Why you can’t trust their lies / It’s so much pain you can’t describe / There’s got to be another reason for living.”
Article: Dean Keim