Sunday, January 25, 2015

California X, ROMP, Casual, American Lions Played Paradise Lost, 1/24/15

MA's California X finished their tour at Paradise Lost last night.

I Did the Basement Thing

I had the best time last night.

My complaining over the last week or so has been well-documented here. I've been kind of under the weather -- just enough to be annoying, but not enough to keep me laid up at home. I'd been looking forward to this show at Paradise Lost in New Brunswick since I got the invite a few weeks ago; but, when the day came, I wavered.

"It's all gross and snowy out. I'm gonna see ROMP next week, and I'm gonna see California X two weeks from now in Brooklyn."

I sucked it up, though. Went and grabbed Chris from Speak Into My Good Eye, and we drove up to Hub City together.

Paradise Lost is a dark, low-ceilinged basement somewhere in New Brunswick. Bands perform at one end, and the "green room" area is at the other, behind the furnace. Did I mention that the ceiling is super low?

New Brunswick's American Lions started things off with a wild set of pop punk. The tight quarters caused a few cables to get kicked out at points -- something that would happen throughout the night. It didn't slow anyone down. Things were pretty packed out from the beginning.

Casual, the Flemington band I'd seen open for Screaming Females, were next; and they seemed a lot more comfortable playing to the tightly-packed basement crowd than they did standing up on stage, playing to the early arrivals at The Lanes. I liked what I heard both times and put their self-titled cassette on again when I got home.

Chris and I decided to make our way forward for California X, a band whose latest LP came out on Don Giovanni on my birthday and who Chris and I have been enjoying since their self-titled debut two years ago. We slotted ourselves in at stage left, just next to the stairs. It was way too dark and crowded for any significant picture taking, but I think I managed a few shots of California X that capture the feel of the night.

For the band's part, they played a great set with all of the fuzz and riffage anyone could want; and it was kind of amazing to see them in that environment. I'll have the experience in the back of my mind during their set at The Knitting Factory on February 7th so that I can compare.

ROMP were just back from tour. Singer / keyboardist Madison Klarer had "won" a poll conducted by the band, receiving the most votes as the band member who would wear a bike helmet for the entire set. The helmet butted up against the ceiling joists a few times, but she was a trooper.

The audience turned out in force to welcome ROMP home and screamed along with every song, causing Klarer to stop a few times and declare her amazement. Picture-taking was out as our little area filled up with friends and fans of the band making any kind of movement extremely difficult. Guitarist Lucas Dalakian pogo'd throughout the set, stopping once to take a selfie with the section of the crowd on his side of the performance area.

Again, it will be interesting to see what the vibe is like when ROMP play the Court Tavern next week with Monterey, Semiotics, Deal Casino, and Dollys. The Court Tavern is in their hometown and "basement-y," but there's definitely more room to move around. I feel like the wild expressions of love and adoration may be a little bit less up-close and personal. We'll see.

There were definitely moments last night, as I wheezed and coughed in the tight space, when I wondered about my choice to head out to the show. But, by the time it was all over, I was feeling pretty good. As we left, I heard someone say, "Wow. That was the biggest, wildest show we've had here in a while."

I'm glad I didn't miss it.

Here are some pics of the set by California X. The rest are at Flickr.

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