Monday, November 3, 2008

Live: Werewolves, Beluga and Asa Ransom

When: 10/31
Where: Metropolitan Social Club

The hippest Halloween party in New York this year has got to have been the loft party at the Metropolitan Social Club featuring three of New York's best bands tearing it the hell up.

First up: the all-around solid Asa Ransom, featuring brilliant interlocking bass and keyboard riffs that somehow blend naturally into punk-derived drum and guitar arrangements. The band sounds basically like Pere Ubu with more sweeping keyboard lines - singer Jacob Bills yelps and croons like an only slightly saner version of David Thomas. The only real problem with the band's set was that the first actual vocal melody didn't show up until about two-thirds of the way through, and the monotone made many should-be-great songs fall flat. But even with that, these guys were fun to hear - and even more fun to watch, rocking out, climbing on amps, the whole deal. Confronted with that level of enthusiasm, it's pretty hard not to enjoy every second.

Asa Ransom was followed by the mostly-female modern punks Beluga. Raw and powerful, the band shows a definite Nirvana influence, but thankfully, they draws on the Nirvana's updated punk aesthetic and not Cobain's whininess. There is absolutely no room for whining in Beluga's tightly wound, in-your-face rock'n'roll! Simply put, these ladies (and one dude) are badass as fuck.

picture by Anna Laitinen

One plea to the band, though - please MOVE. While Isabel has enough energy to make up for a hundred zombies, her enthusiasm just accentuated the others' tepid performance - while she rushed the crowd, jumped up and down and even rolled on the floor, her bandmates barely moved. Ally, on back-up vox and guitar, eventually started rocking it out, but the bass player didn't lift a foot and guitarist Stefania hardly swayed. C'mon people, this is a show - so show us!

But in the end, I want to say that despite the problems, the band deserves a cheer! They are exactly what punk should be in 2008 - smart yet raw, subversive, edgy and hella fun.

picture by Metropolitan Social Club

The final act of the night was the Werewolves. I've already given them a rave review but their live performance deserves a slightly altered (but still glowing) commentary. On recordings, the Werewolves show some definite shoegaze roots, from Jesus & Mary Chain noise to Kevin Shield's pitch bends, but live, the band sounds much more like the child of 1970's underground rock. Biting guitars, vocals with the attitude of early Stooges Iggy Pop, and just a tinge of goth tossed in to throw us all of the trail. As always, it's impossible to classify this group. All I can tell you is that I like them and I'm beyond curious to hear whatever they do next.


katherine said...

Stefania used to be in Interpol.

Jared said...

i like the contrast within beluga. isabel going crazy, and all of the other ladies casually kicking the shit out of the place.

radioflyer said...

Werewolves just let me know their keyboard player was missing (which I suspected but didn't want to say without confirmation - I thought maybe the line-up change was permanent) so that's why their sound was so different. It's amazing how well they adapted though, they sound great even minus one player.