Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Live: BNS Sessions Party feat. Fun Machine, Gunfight!, Werewolves, Soft Black

When: 11/14
Where: Vanishing Point

I have to say, BNS Sessions, for a crazy little inbred label/collective, has an absolutely outstanding roster, including some of my long-time favorites like the Werewolves and Phonograph, and at least one new (as of this show) love, Fun Machine.

Soft Black - I'd been looking forward to these guys because they run not only with the excellent BNS crowd but also the new NYC indie pop kids. So I was a bit disappointed when their set started out as competent but entirely generic indie-rock. About halfway through, however, things improved, starting with a hushed tranced-out jam number that was surprisingly enjoyable (this from a reviewer who has no patience whatsoever for tranced-out jam numbers). After that, the band managed to kick it up a notch with songs reminiscent of the best of American guitar-driven post punk (Dinosaur Jr. but with a Mekons-esque touch), and while it didn't get me psyched for more, I certainly enjoyed listening.

Werewolves - I've said a lot about this band already, but this set merits mention. The first half did nothing but reinforce my love for them, but the second half, which involved the band sitting on the stage playing with their pedals, was really a waste of time. If this was the first band to make rhythm-less, melody-less noise for 20 minutes, it might have been cool, but at this point, it's cliched even when luminaries like Sonic Youth do it. These guys simply haven't earned the right, and they weren't even moving, so it was nothing but boring for eyes and ears alike. Also, it's rude to intentionally play a room-clearing set when you're not the final band of the night. I still love the Werewolves, but they need to learn some manners and some self-restraint.


Gunfight! - Said by everyone to be the nicest guys in the entire East Coast music scene, Gunfight! drew the biggest crowd of the evening by far. Their music is basically hipster-party garage rock revival with a country-western bent. Think about it this way - what the White Stripes do with blues, these guys do with bluegrass. It's not really my style, but the band certainly succeeds in what they set out to do. Their songs are fun, well-written and well-performed, with the band clearly having even more fun than their audience is (a lot), forming their own mini mosh-pit on stage, jumping around, attacking each other and just generally making a party of it. Keep an eye on these guys, they could make a splash!

Fun Machine
Fun Machine

Fun Machine - I am not sure how this band has flown under my radar for so long. I guess I just had them mixed up with other bands that have "fun" or "machine" in their names. But that's a shame because this band is awesome! They took two easy shortcuts to my heart - dividing lead vocal duties and changing time signatures often - but I think I would have fallen in love even without that. Their songs are incredibly carefully crafted, true multi-part compositions, but they almost never lost their pop appeal or failed to hold my interest (and my attention span is not really generous by any reckoning). The band performed amazingly tightly given the rhythmic and compositional complexity of the music. And like all the bands of the night, they were fun to watch too! This band is immediately jumping to my short list of NYC favorites.

I picked up a load of CDs at the show so stay tuned for some BNS album reviews coming up.

No comments: