New York City, it’s forgotten more about music than you’ll ever hope to know (apologies to Dave Fricke’s old Rolling Stone bio). But if you pick a random venue on a random night, you could be very likely to experience some of the city’s amazing rock memories, and, just maybe witness as it makes some new ones. Well, that would be what you would’ve experienced if you were lucky enough to walk into the Mercury Lounge last week to catch Pale Moon Gang and Kitari stir up New York’s temporal lobe. Pale Moon Gang, they look rockstars, they act like rockstars, and they sound like rockstars, well, because that’s just what they are. The band is steeped in rock and role lore and has a sound that builds on the nostalgia of yesteryear’s punk and new wave. It’s a simple recipe that propels them to rock – some blistering and distorted chords, driving drums, pounding bass lines, and the requisite howl.
After you take a look at them, close your eyes and let a vision of a long gone New York wash over and infect you. Not the Gordon Gecko, greed is good, neon-filled, leg-warmer excess of the 80s, but the seedy underbelly that rejected that for more primal, soul-filled rebellions. The kind that made you shave the sides of your head and wave a clenched fist in the air. Hell you might even know what you’re rebelling against as the play, but it’ll sure sound good.
The band is also comprised of three fascinating figures. Lead singer Richard Dev Greene opened on the Clash’s farewell tour in the 80s, then a member of Pale Face of Youth. Bassist Luke Miller gives free tours of the city to Syrian refugees, and drummer Daniel Vozzo has colored some of the greatest comic books of the last few decades (ranging from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to Shade the Changing man). And for a few songs they brought up their friend Drita Kabashi to share the stage with them. Kabashi has that rockstar vibe that oozes off the rest of the band. It’s hard to take your eye off as she whips her back and forth and ratchets up the heat when she grabs the mic.
While Pale Moon Gang might be the embodiment of a New York long gone, their sound isn’t going out of style anytime soon. And after Pale Moon Gang’s lesson in what made and continues to make New York rock was done, it was time to turn an eye towards the youth and infectious grungy post rock vibe put forth by Kitari.
The band seems to bring a touch of psychedelic meets 90s indie rock to its joyful look. But that joy seems to have a layer of darkness simmering under it. But watching them live you might not pay as much heed to the darkness, because the band looks to be having such a fun time on stage.
Lead singer Jared Rinaldi and bassist Boris (just Boris) are the energetic centerpieces that draw your eyes immediately, but where the band really stood out to me the most, was drummer Jim Saint-Amour. Saint-Amour brings speed, fills, and a gritty raucousness to the band’s varied sounds.
So on this night, if you were looking for a great mix of the past, present, and yet to come, Mercury Lounge was where you needed to be.
Article: Omar Kasrawi