It was a trio of clashing visual styles at Saint Vitus on Friday night, as Sextile, Surfbort, and Black Beach took turns on the tiny stage. But while each band was about as distinctively different in their looks, their vibes shared one common theme: defiance.
First up was Boston based Black Beach, who, the moment you see them and hear their music, will think that you’re listening to a band that was born in the early nineties Seattle scene. This is band where Steve Instasi’s squelching guitars are in near full control, trying to keep one step ahead of Ryan Nicholson’s thunderous drumbeats. Instasi has a primal scratchy wail that somehow brings forth equal parts desperation, loathing, and ambivalence. And underlying it all are the thumping bass lines being thrown out by Ben Sementa. It may sound like you’ve heard Black Beach before, but that would be a problem if it didn’t sound so good.
Next up was the syncopated chaos that is Surfbort. I’m not sure you could invent this band if you tried. They’ve taken on a somewhat mythical presence in the New York music scene thanks to their jangly punk vibes and fierce stage presence, always accompanied by disparate clashing threads. Lead singer Dani Miller is one of those ‘force of nature’ lead singers, the kind you can never pin in one corner (or one location on the stage) and have to experience live. Eschewing any rock and roll rule for a wild discordant presence. Never afraid to jump into the crowd and hand off the mic to a fan, or let you know she (and the rest of the band) really doesn’t like the president. And she does at all with a snarly infectious grin.
Rounding out the night was the stylish new-wavy punk outfit of L.A. called Sextile. This is a band that screams cool, not in a pre-manufactured studio way, but one that takes the sexiness of the early 80s without the neon leggings and wraps it in a layers and layers of synth. Lead singer Brady Keehn looks part Cobra Kai, parts Human League the way he struts and twirls the mic. You could make that case for much of the band, but that’s really more a visual nod to that type of early 80s new wave as Sextile comes at you with a darker sound that harkens back to the darker acts of the ear, like Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division.
Most of the night you had to peer through the fog of a smoke machine working overtime while solid blue, green, and purple lights flooded the stage. It’s all part of a band that knows how to make the mood match their driving, pulsing beats – ones that stir your darkest impulses as each song ramps up the tempo into a sonic tsunami. Sextile makes the void look, and sound fantastic.
Article: Omar Kasrawi