Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pile, Speedy Ortiz Play New Songs at Great Scott

There is very little I enjoy more than seeing a bill that is stacked with promising bands on the rise. A bout of insomnia had kept me up the night before, but I knew I had to drag myself out to the show on April 9th at Great Scott. The unbelievable lineup included Slothrust, Speedy Ortiz, Buildings, Crinkle Face, and Pile. If I were to recommend five bands to keep your eyes on in the coming months, it would be the ones that were on that bill. Needless to say, I was pleased that I had dragged my lazy ass out to see all of them in action. To make the night even more satisfying, I captured performances of new songs from Speedy Ortiz and Pile, both of whom have upcoming releases on Exploding in Sound Records.

I walked in midway through Slothrust's set and I was really glad I didn't miss them entirely. The trio from New York consists of guitarist/vocalist Leah Wellbaum, bassist Kyle Bann, and drummer Will Gorin. They had a really tight, grungy style that set the rocking vibe for the night. Leah proved to be a commanding vocalist as she belted out passionate, cunning lyrics among carefully crafted grooves. Many of the riffs had a blues tinge to them that added to the earnest feel of their sound. At some point during the set, the bassist broke a string, which I couldn't recall if I had ever seen before. Shortly after, Leah broke a string on her guitar as well. It was evidence they were playing with fervor and purpose.

Speedy Ortiz have been steadily generating buzz and with rightful reason. They continue to hone their craft and it translates into their captivating live shows. Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis' vocals are ideal for the music, which has a perfect dichotomy between sweet and sour. They opened with "Indoor Soccer" from their upcoming release, Sports. The song has a sense of urgency that is carried by the biting crunch of the guitar tones. The highlight of the set was when they played "Silver Spring" followed by "Taylor Swift". The two infectious songs worked well together and serve as exemplary reasons for their passionate fan base. They closed with "Suck Buddies" which Sadie explained was a song about buddies who suck. It ended in a jam that had guitarist Matt Robidoux (ex-Graph) taking a cymbal from the drum kit, wedging it between the strings, and battering it furiously. I've had the pleasure of hearing Sports and people are going to be blown away when it drops.

Buildings were the heaviest band on the bill and they made sure everyone in attendance knew it by creating deafening noise that you couldn't escape. The trio were hot off the release of Melt Cry Sleep, one of the year's finest albums. It was next to impossible not to think of The Jesus Lizard when hearing their groove-heavy post-hardcore. The set was also laced with unreal guitar tones that reached the commanding and searing heights of pioneers such as Drive Like Jehu. Singer/guitarist Brian Lake supplemented this with his antagonistic vocal delivery. The frantic yelps suited their aggression especially on "Crystal City" which ended in cascading taunts of "fuck you!" The thick and thunderous rhythm section framed the noise and illustrated the splendor of dissonance. If you have been looking for a band that is unrelenting in it's approach, Melt Cry Sleep is a must hear.

Crinkle Face were hard to ignore with the crash cymbals on the drum kit placed sky high. It was almost like the drummer was in a war with the drummer from Battles to see who could have the most absurd cymbal placement. I'm not going to lie; it was a little distracting seeing as I was watching them most of the time marveling at how they didn't fall over. After awhile though, my eyes had to veer to guitarist/ singer Jordan Hislop (Nassy) who was dishing out dense distortion with a side of snarl. That snarl would mutate into a manic scream during some songs which made them even more impactful. Their sound was akin to Nirvana at their heaviest with a dash of metal thrown in. Many of the songs were dark and brooding numbers that - although at times ran a little long - left a mighty impression.

Pile was in rare form that night with endless energy and a mission to whip the crowd into a frenzy. The band opened with "Pigeon Song" which is becoming a fan favorite. The dynamic changes and trick endings make it quite the experience in a live setting. Towards the beginning of the set, Pile fell victim to a string casualty. While guitarist Matt Becker replaced the fallen string, frontman Rick Maguire treated the crowd to a rare impromptu performance of "The Moon". Any fan of the band knows this is the ultimate treat. Another major highlight came when, they played "Big Web", a song I had been dying to see live and it delivered. The break was every bit as intense as I thought it would be and it had the crowd going crazy and thrashing into one another. They played some new material including "Baby Boy" which is quickly becoming a highlight of their sets. The interplay between guitars and the ebb and flow of the track gets your blood pumping at a borderline dangerous pace. When the song breaks open, you get a rush like you were just injected with a heavy dose of adrenaline. I was fortunate enough to get a decent video of the performance so you can see exactly what I am talking about. The set ended with "Number One Hit Single" which had everyone losing their shit. As an added bonus, another new song closed out the night. It was one of their better shows and a great taste of things to come.

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