The madcap grunge trio Slothrust returned home to Brooklyn to play a show an exciting bill at the outdoor spread in Industry City in Sunset Park. This was my first show of the year at this spiffy revamped venue and it was great to marvel at how they turned this massive former manufacturing complex area into a huge art lovers’ paradise. “I fucking love New York! Many of you know we used to live here, and we played more shows than I can remember here, and even though we don’t live here anymore, this place still holds a special place right here in my heart,” said frontwoman Leah Wellbaum of the experience of coming back to her former home, like when she reminisced about when she used to bartend and the Brooklyn dive Trash Bar, and it was clearly a heartwarming return for former North Eastern souls that now live on the West Coast.
Opening the show was a band that is really just the bee’s knees in the form the Portland, Maine trio Weakened Friends. They are based around the yin/yang partnership of the duo of guitarist and frontwoman Sonia Sturino and bassist Annie Hoffman, and the way that they play to the best of the opposite rock n’ roll ends always comes together in the most magnificent of ways. Sturino is shy and reclusive, hiding behind her hair while scowling forlornly as she sings of toxic relationships and addictions with a distinctly 90’s melancholy and inwardly angry flavor, while Hoffman bounces around the stage with a smile and radiance like an animated mix of a Cheshire Cat and a Tigger the tiger. It’s a best of both worlds combo that can be darkly brooding and roughly grungy while also fun and lively as well as springy and skanking. The album from last year Common Blah is just the cat’s meow and should be on your playlist right now.
Up second was an introductory experience for me to the Western Mass. Band called And The Kids, and I can now see why they have a following. This art pop duo is made up of singer, guitarist, and flautist Hannah Mohan and drummer and sound coiner Rebecca Lasaponaro, and they produce a bleakly personal yet defiantly positive sound that has lots of great hooks to reel you in. Their recent album When This Life Is does supplies lots surprisingly relatable and emotionally shivering moments and is definitely worth diving in to. They did have some technical problems early on, which I think did throw Mohan off a bit, but as their music seems driven by the idea of pulling yourself up and out of the muck the sick, sad World throws at you, they thusly did fight their way back to a triumphant ending.
It has been a busy period for Slothrust, they having been touring for ages in support of their fourth album called The Pact they released last year, Leah Wellbaum started up an improvish duo called ANMLPLNET not that long ago, and they just released a duel single “U.S. Gay” composed by their friends Sons of an Illustrious Father who just recorded one of their songs in return. Now, as their tour is finally rounding down and finishing up in Leah’s hometown of Boston, their trek through their formative years here in NYC must reek with nostalgia for this trio. They started off while at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, but obviously moved a lot around the city a lot, where they cut their teeth into the music scene, but bassist Kyle Bann and drummer Will Gorin moved to Philly a few years back, and finally Leah also decided they need the room to grow and packed up the project out to LA. It is sad to lose such a talented band to the other coast, but I think it is all part of their wild musical journey.
I have seen this band go through an impressive evolution through the last decade, and the vagabond lifestyle definitely adds to the artistic taste of their music. Their sound is so uniquely unpredictable, twisting and winding through musical styles and moods, and always keeping you guessing as to where they’ll go to next. Leah’s guitar play is hands down some of the finest and nimblest shredding in modern music, but her vocal stanzas always seem to set the speed as she whips from deep and dark subject matter to whimsical and often improvisational-sounding ramblings that send you even deeper into the rabbit hole. I hope there are many more twists and turns for these three, and I already want more.
Article: Dean Keim