Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tiny Giants Showcase Invades The Meatlocker

A blueprint for a good Saturday night: get a friend and head for the comfortable dinge of the Meat Locker, especially when there's a Tiny Giant showcase on tap. We were way early, so we found a bar and sat in outdoor Montclair for a beer. Construction zones, crowded sidewalks, diesel engines - an odd recipe for a moment's peace, but that it was.
By the time we got back, opener Science was just about done setting up.

Science; Image James Damion
Science made the most of their short set, quickly justifying their band name by showing a tendency to experiment. Each of their four songs toyed around with a different style, from
four-to-the-floor indie rock to chugging post-hardcore, all done convincingly. Tying it together were their blippy keyboards, pining vocals, and a steady backdrop of churning guitar. It was brief, but this was a promising performance from a band that only seems to be scratching at its musical identity. I'll be staying tuned to see what they do next.

Reese Van Riper; Image James Damion
The next act was described by my friend as "southern sludge pouring off a hot redneck's body," and I'm guessing Reese Van Riper & company wouldn't take issue. The Ringwood-based trio played some new songs from their upcoming record, which step a bit further towards the anthemic while preserving all their grime and swagger.
The familiar tunes, meanwhile, were absolutely towering. "Pitchfork" and
"Whiskey Queen" sound arena-ready. Reese himself was on as usual, imposing and charismatic, never missing a step. If you can, catch these guys at a bar. I felt displaced without a glass of bourbon in my hand, but, at least they were offering up beer-chicken at the merch table.

Meet Pause w/ Adam Bird: Image James Damion
Meet Pause were next. Their recordings bring an earnest, expressive sort of alt-rock, upbeat but with gravity ... the performance Saturday night had a different aftertaste. Leading man Scott Thompson came through the Meat Locker PA with a newfound snarl, and the band was loose, raw, happy-go-lucky. It was my first time seeing them, so I shouldn't say whether this is their usual live sound, but it's always worth noting when a band delivers something at shows that you don't get elsewhere. The new bassist looked quite at home on stage, as the band mowed through almost-sinister sounding versions of Cluster Cascade mainstays like "Coworkers" and "(Don't) Get the Fuck Out of Jersey." Adam Bird joined onstage for the closer, a surprise Cheap Trick cover ... why not?

Cinema Cinema; Image James Damion
Cinema Cinema is another band I had yet to see. This is a two-piece that fills the room with sound and drags you utterly into their set until it's done. First of all, Ev Gold's guitar-playing palette never seems to tire. The moment he's through with the bottomless bag of riffs, he turns out a left-field melodic passage here, a pitch-shifted squeal and groan there... it's unpredictable and beautiful. This was a good room to see them in, too. Gold's vox were tucked neatly behind the band, fighting vigorously for the top of the mix. Occasionally, when the music settled back, he'd slip into an Ian MacKaye-esque croon before charging back up, making their peak volume hit with satisfying chest thwack. If you like a loud band that gets both your blood and your brain going, Cinema Cinema are must-see.

Feudalism; Image James Damion
The penultimate group was Feudalism, one I've been wanting to catch since hearing their EP Consonance/Dissonance. By now I have got to be late to the folk-punk train, but, whatever - count me in.
Their reckless energy and downtrodden lyrics are a marriage worth witnessing first-hand. "Venture Capitalist" stood out best to me, highlighting the accordion/trombone combo as well as the mad-genius structural turns. All goes down with a self-aware grin. There's no gimmickry here... just a spirited live set that does their excellent music justice.

Those Mockingbirds; Image James Damion
And so, the closer. Every time I think Those Mockingbirds have reached a new level as a band, they grow again.
They took the stage at 1 a.m. and treated us all to better-than-record versions of their finest earworms, such as "Don't Stray," "Honest? Honest," and recent single "The Difference Between Love + Addiction." The highlight of the whole night might have been hearing unfamiliar TMB. "Salt" sounds like fresh ground for the band, a slick groove drowned in atmosphere, while in another still-untitled tune, frontman Adam Bird insists that "maybe we're both going to hell" - as far as I'm concerned, that might be their most memorable chorus yet. I'm still jonesing to hear these again.

Six bands played this one, and no two brought the same thing to the table. If nothing else, TG made the Meat Locker a playground for music geeks, with a lineup as diverse as it was loud. A majority of these groups have new albums in the works. You're gonna want to watch out for those. Darrel Norrell

Review Darryl Norrell
Images James Damion

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