Monday, February 9, 2015

Don Giovanni Records Showcase at The Knitting Factory Brooklyn, 2/7/15 (PHOTO LINKS)

Downtown Boys played. Craziness ensued.

Night 2

The dynamic duo of Allyson and me were back at Knitting Factory Brooklyn for the second installment of Don Giovanni's 2015 label showcase. After a bit of wrangling to ensure that I had a photo pass for the show, I was inside again and took up my spot front and center. Good thing I got that pass, too; because I went absolutely crazy taking photos on the second night.

Anyway, Chris Gethard was hosting again for Night 2. He'd noted the evening before that Don Giovanni are a label that think outside the box: Take the first two nights of the showcase and put them right next to each other. Then, hold Night 3 some number of weeks later. Even better, make that third night have two separate shows to confuse everyone even more.

Joe Steinhardt: "improv'er" / break dancer
Gethard again treated us to the comedy stylings of Don Giovanni executive Joe Steinhardt. This time Gethard and Steinhardt engaged in some long-form improv involving Ikea and break dancing. Both gamely attempted to execute spins on the stage. Gold.

Recent -- like really recent -- Don Giovanni signees Alice started things off with a short set. They seemed a little nervous which was pretty charming, and they definitely have a sound that touches on a lot of stuff I really like. Looking forward to the record.

brick mower produced one of my favorite records of 2014; and, while I missed them on Night 3 of last year's showcase, I've seen them several times locally since then. They had Chris Pierce on drums like they did when they opened for The Muffs at Asbury Lanes and sounded as tight as I've ever heard them.

Post-NSC stage.
Last year, Nuclear Santa Claust played the smaller Night 1 at Death By Audio. That was the most aggressive of the three nights with The Groucho Marxists, Vacation, Tenement, and Night Birds also on the bill. Just like last year, beers -- Beers. Not empty beer cans. -- hurtled toward the stage throughout the set. The band, which includes Don Giovanni "co-honcho" Zach Gajewski on bass, were soaked. Cans littered the stage when the set was done.

Pete Stampfel, Chris Gethard
Just before Worriers took the stage, New York underground legend Peter Stampfel joined Gethard onstage. He discussed some deeply personal experiences with vacuum cleaners and, when asked what advice he had for independent bands trying to make it, said simply, "Persevere." Chris Gethard called Stampfel a "perfect man."

I'd just seen Worriers at Asbury Lanes during one of the Home for the Holidays after-parties, and I'm really growing to love their sound and the content of Lauren Measure's songs. Saturday just solidified that for me.

The next two sets continued the surprise theme of the previous night. Philly's Pinkwash set up a stack of amps for guitarist Joey Doubeck. After some technical issues, Doubeck and drummer Ashley Arnwine delivered a short (Very short. Like 4 songs.) set of room-shaking guitar / drum rock.

As surprised as I was by the intensity of Pinkwash, nothing could have prepared me for Providence, RI's Downtown Boys. The band's politically charged, bi-lingual punk rock worked the crowd to the first real moshing, stage-diving frenzy of the weekend.

Downtown Boys and friends
Downtown Boys had guitar, bass, drums, saxophones, a guy jumping around hitting drumsticks together, and lead singer Victoria Ruiz. They had rage. As Ruiz made between song speeches about gender, race, and the police, her mother stood beaming at the front of the stage. Ruiz eventually climbed into the audience and ended up being hoisted aloft in what she claimed was her first-ever crowd surf. Drummer Norlan Olivo eventually followed Ruiz into the crowd and climbed atop his floor tom as the crowd held it over their heads. By the end of the set, people from the audience had joined the band onstage for a group sing and thrash. Totally crazy. Totally cathartic.

California X did a great job following the hardest act to follow of the night, closing things out with a wall of guitar noise. The band had a lot more room to move around than when I saw them a few weeks ago at Paradise Lost, and I could actually see them and take photos this time. I held my spot at the front of the stage and reveled in one of my favorite bands right now.

At the end of the night, I told Joe Steinhardt about my amazement with Downtown Boys, and he said, "We try to bring you the future here."

Don Giovanni bring more than that. It's obvious that Joe and Zach are signing and helping out bands that they really personally enjoy. The results of that approach are obvious when you feel the good vibes at one of these shows.

Two days. Two late, late nights. One traffic ticket. Thirteen bands. So worth it.

Links to all of the pics from Night 2 are below.

Chris Gethard, Joe Steinhardt, Peter Stampfel
Brick Mower
Nuclear Santa Claust
Downtown Boys
California X

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