Chicago’s rockin’ twosome, North By North, organized a show of local bands to welcome a revival of the grunge era as they blew through town. It was my first show of the year and my first at the improved rooftop venue crowning the Bushwick bar called Our Wicked Lady. This neon-bathed Brooklyn hot spot has had the rooftop concert spot for Summer shows and other events for a while now, but they improved and expanded it all with a larger stage including a complete sheltering enclosure and a cozy temperate control, a chic tiki bar setup, and some picnic table seating. It was sure to be a great lineup and a rockin’ night that helped revive some of those quintessential 90’s vibes.
First up was Scranton native Lily Maopolski who goes by the band name Lily Mao. Her performances are full of warmth, humor, and some real slamming jams. She and her kick-ass band just released their debut album Run to Madness last month and it busts out of the singer/songwriter mold with great power and wit, sounding like a generous helping of that 90’s Breeeders and Belly vibe.
Next up was the Chicago duo North by North, who are one of the hardest working and touring bands I know and have blessed NYC with many swinging rock revivals in the past. The pairing of drummer Kendra Blank and singer/guitarist Nate Girard produce a bluesy blaze and sweaty shimmy, shimmy, shake. The stripped down nature of the guitar & drum setup have some resemblances to the White Stripes, but they more often remind me of the bluesier sound of Black Keys. Their new album Get Weird drops on Valentine’s Day the 14th, you can get in on the presale here, and the new songs sound sweeter than just about any other ear candy out there.
The Brooklyn quartet Desert Sharks are overflowing with molten rock power, and they love to dish it out with blistering dominance. Their howling and scowling sonics make them hard to ignore, and at times they hold you hostage with their killer licks, but they never forget to melt your face before they’re done with you. Singer and bassist Stephanie Gunther really knows how to throw herself into a performance, while guitarists Stefania Rovera and Sunny Veniero provide the blaring axe grind while being driven along by the fire starter drummer Rebecca Fruchter. They remind me of classic L7 a lot, with heaps of toxic Ramones brashness and a lot of Babes In Toyland tawdry ‘tude. They recently released a full-length debut Baby’s Gold Death Stadium, and I suggest it next time you need a good party anthem to watch the world burn to.
The Bushwick duet Shadow Monster played next is also a stripped down guitar/drum duo, in this case their roles are reversed and producing a very different zeal. Guitarist and vocalist Gillian Visco crafts some tasty riffs and has oodles of great lyrics about depression and angst that pairs nicely with some driving drum work by John Swanson that produces another kind of 90’s sound, one much more firmly rooted in growling grunge rock styling of Hole and Bratmobile with a bit of the Sonic Youth artsy swank. Their second album Punching Bag just got recently released and feels like it would be great breakup music to smash some shit to.
Article: Dean Keim