Nothing makes one feel more spoiled by NYC’s music scene than the realization that you can go out and catch five hardcore rock bands in one spot on a random icy weeknight. Gramercy Theatre played host to this badassery on Thursday with a showcase from Blacklight Media, the label of Chopped judge and celebrity restaurateur Chris Santos, who’s evidently put on some ragers in the past – “Last time we played for Chris Santos, I ended up in the hospital,” recalled Ann Courtney with a laugh during Mother Feather’s sizzling set. The hard-edged yet varied lineup was presented by Sirius XM Liquid Metal host Jose Mangin, who kept everyone engaged during the transitions with background info on the bands, as well as free tees and posters signed by many of the musicians. While we’re always impressed by those who thrash nonstop late into the night (much respect), we were psyched to catch the first three fired-up performances by labelmates Eyes Of The Sun, Mother Feather (a longtime P&W fave), and Good Tiger.
Being a former cinema built in 1937, Gramercy has spent much of its history oozing with pitch-black darkness, and this night was no exception. You could barely see your hands in front of you when the opening band of the night, Brooklyn-based doom metal 3-piece, Eyes Of The Sun, tore into their savage first notes. Though the decibel-cracking volume was equally disorienting, you could hear definition in their grinding beats and vicious riffs as they played their just-released singles, “My War” and “Walks of Life,” and other songs from their 8-song debut album, Chapter I, which is due for release this Friday. Their commitment to the darkness and the visible satisfaction they got from playing together – all while sounding utterly sinister, thanks to the volatile singing voice of Jeff Blanchard – grabbed everyone’s attention and got the headbanging going early.
The crowd was visibly pumped when Mother Feather stormed onto the stage, fronted by lead singer Ann Courtney and keyboardist/vocalist Elizabeth Carena, whose superhero-cool outfits and eye makeup sparkled under sudden bursts of bright strobes. Their heart-racing performance was laced with the pair’s signature synchronous dance moves, tough yet sultry vocals, and mic-swallowing, crotch-slapping, water bottle-bathing stage presence. As a grade school-age girl banged her head in admiration at the front of the crowd, Mother Feather won the rest of the room over with songs from their self-titled debut record, as well as some action-packed new ones we haven’t heard before. And for this show, Ann Courtney expanded on her pre-”Mother Feather” incantations with a compelling rant that seemed especially passionate. “You know what the most boring fucking conversation in the world is?” Courtney asked with loads of sass. “What’s your genre? What’s your genre?” she repeated four times as the crowd cheered. “Boring, boring, boring, boring. You wanna know what Mother Feather is? Mother Feather is when you come undone, what comes out of the fiery wreckage. Mother Feather is a golden beam of light. Mother Feather is now, Mother Feather is here, Mother Feather is me, Mother Feather is you. Is you! Is you! Is you!”
Almost as if their performance had blown a fuse, the venue returned to movie-house darkness for the third set of the night, and Good Tiger met a room filled with mosh-hungry fans who had just gotten started. Powered by vocalist Elliot Coleman (Tesseract), guitarists Derya Nagle and Joaquin Ardiles (The Safety Fire), drummer Alex Rüdinger (The Faceless) and bassist Morgan Sinclair (Architects), the progressive metal supergroup pulled screams out of lungs with their potent sound and unhinged energy. “Let’s move up front. I want to smell you. It’s cold up here. I need some warmth,” coaxed Coleman between tastes of their new full-length album, We Will All Be Gone, which came out last month and sounded wild live. “The last time we played NYC, the room was bouncing, man,” he recalled. “I know you’ve got a bit of that in you tonight, right?” As soon as he said that, the New York crowd seemed determined to maintain their reputation, and Good Tiger continuously supplied new reasons to jump. We can’t attest to how much structural damage the whole showcase may have caused, but seeing where things were headed, it was a rough night for the floorboards.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley