Last Thursday night, the Lower East Side watering hole Pianos delivered an extensive show that proved to be a killer prescription for rock n’ roll recovery. As one of the few surviving LES small-stage holdouts, it’s clear they’re one of the last surviving heroic knights in the bloody battle of gentrification for this area of NYC. After the last few years where we’ve been grieving the loss of so many of their neighboring siblings, such as Cake Shop, Living Room, and Lit, and going back further, Sin-é and Rothko, it’s encouraging to still have an alternative hospice in a neighborhood that used to be chock full of venues looking to premiere the next undiscovered musical talent. Pianos is still trying to hold up that sorely missed CBGB’s torch for a city that could easily just pave over everything with a fancy boutique shops for the rich yuppies to buy overpriced artisanal lives. On most nights they open their big downstairs stage to several bands for super-long gigs that often last ‘til the sleepy dawn, and this show lived up to that marathon rock-on spirit.
I’m really glad we got to the show in time to catch the opening trio from St. Louis, Bruiser Queen, and now I can see why everyone has been raving so much. They have that great sedating sway of a 60’s girl group gone awry via The Ronettes or The Shangri-Las deep down in their bones, but more palpable elements of 90’s femme-rock bark and fervor by way of L7 and Hole, and a lot of ringing reverbed murmurs of garage rock present, of the likes of Bleached, Dum Dum Girls, Upset, and Best Coast, to name a few. Still, Morgan Nusbaum produces a unique diagnosis with vocals that have a smoothly alluring siren-like quality, and her fierce guitar strum and sick power licks always seem perfectly controlled like a surgeon’s scalpel slicing straight to the heart. Meanwhile, drummer Jason Potter and bassist Cory Perkins probe a shimmy-shake rhythm that is tailor-made to make the inmates go insane. Even though they produced a real gem of an LP last year, Swears, they already have a humdinger new single called “Telepathic Mind” that I picked up this night, which to my surprise also included a b-side of Dio’s “Rainbow In The Dark,” which was ironically one of the first albums I ever bought with my own money as a hard-rockin’ youngin’. You should catch this infectious act as soon as you can, as I can see them easily blossoming into the bigger indie-label stage very soon.
Next up was a local band called Soccer Cousins, who take the power trio to a cool bro place. Lead singer and guitarist Josh Erickson definitely has a voice and a tenor of 90’s alt-rockers Built To Spill, although it doesn’t typically land as exactingly as Doug Martsch’s perfectionist hand always does, as this is a far more straightforward and raw operation. With the rhythm section of Jon Niles and Brendan Laezza, they seem to carry along with more of the unhinged lines of similar artists of the mid 90’s like Cursive, Braid, and Dinosaur Jr. (who I think they even reference on one song). I actually like the roughness, plus they have strong songs, some obvious musical talent, and clearly have fun doing what they do onstage, so I see them having some great potential in the future. Then came LANTRNS, a very strong new offering from the gothy synth pop otherworld that proves to be a knockout doozy of an intravenous infusion. The heart and soul of this trio is frontwoman Kaitlyn Mills, who labors away creating deep dreamy soundscapes for her angelic voice to glide upon, as guitarist Sridhar Ravichandran carves through the air like a sail finding the right currant, and Katie Pierce sewing it all together with more synths and bass. There are definitely 80’s and 90’s influences afoot, like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Cocteau Twins, Goldfrapp, and even some xx and Purity Ring, all of which congeals together to feel like a massive amount of petroleum jelly has been slathered over a high-def lens to achieve a soft and dreamy aesthetic. Their new song “Gold Thread” is a gorgeously dark pop song that swells under your skin as though it is sewing together all those deep emotional wounds found within all of our pasts.
Next up was Teen Vice, a Brooklyn band with an ensemble cast that touts an impressive lineup of veteran musical talent. Guitarist and vocalist Tammy Hart has toured along with bands like Le Tigre, Sleater-Kinney, and Indigo Girls in the past as well as releasing a couple of highly impressive solo albums and being a member of bands like MEN and Making Friendz, while bassist and vocalist Joshua Ackley and drummer Derek Pippin were members of the seminal punk band The Dead Betties, all of which is defibrillated back to life by the rock n’ roll treasure of a lead guitarist, May Dantas (formerly of The Fingerprints). Their sound lands in the zone of power pop-punk mixed with touches of surf rock that throb with elements of the Breeders, Throwing Muses, Belly, and Stars as well as many of the previously mentioned bands. Their new single “More Hipster Segregation” shows off their extensive musical seasonings, and it’s clear that they know all too well how to produce some excellent rock music, so I look forward to hearing a lot more from them real soon.
Closing out the night was another massive Brooklyn collaborative by the name of Moist Ahoy. This quintet performs with backdrop projections of GoPro sailing videos, and they seem to musically have a sailing the seas colliding with the pirate horde concept, which works well with a definite modern surf rock hang ten of a sound. So, come navigate the high seas with these crazy kids, as it’s surely an experience you could drown in, but it can also revive you in the process.
Article: Dean Keim