Where: Knitting Factory
Last year, I got my hands on a copy of the album by Pissed Jeans that came out and I gave it a good old girl scout try. But I just couldn't get into it. It's a lot of shouting and heavy guitar - which I like - but lacking in melodies or unusual rhythms or most of the sort of things keep my attention.
But live, Pissed Jeans is another beast. Still no melody, no cool beats, none of that. But for two big differences - seeing the band and seeing the audience. The band themselves are not too tough looking. In fact, they look like totally normal (if extremely pale) guys - until the music starts.
Vocalist Matt Korvette is the quintessential anti-hero. He may thrash and headbang all hardcore-like, but he also busts out some extremely awkward and ill-fitting dance moves, grotesquely shaking his booty and gyrating, shirt off. Henry Rollins pops off his shirt because he's got scary muscles, but when guys like this do it, it seems almost a self-loathing gesture, inviting ridicule - which isn't to say Korvette is bad-looking, he's just not quite swimsuit model material. More to the point, it's like when you see some animal outside its usual shell or its usual subterranean environment. There's something almost fragile about it.
Although Korvette's unpredictable presence is enough to capture the audience's attention, the rest of the band is also laying it out like they mean it. And they keep it going even when Korvette molests them, even when audience members rush the stage, even when all hell breaks lose in the room. Focused and heavy, they make a (figurative) brick wall at which the vocalist and the audience can (figuratively) hurl themselves.
In the non-figurative world, though, there's plenty of collision going on. This audience came to brutalize their bodies as well as their ears. The mosh pit was good-natured but still scary as they joined in the band's violence and debasement. The bouncer did haul out a fighter or two and a few people seemed eager to really injure others, but there are always a few, huh? Mostly it was just nice kids come to let out some anger and some energy and I can think of few bands with as cathartic a live show as this.
I'm still not sold on the recordings. I respect the band, but I just can't find a thing to grasp. But as a physical experience to share with a roomful of people, this one not to miss. So don't: they play Death By Audio on June 19 and tickets are on sale now.