Friday, May 11, 2018

Hinds Played Warsaw with QTY and Sharkmuffin, 5/10/18


Me Divertí

The first time I ever met Tarra Thiessen and Natalie Kirch of Sharkmuffin was back at Northside Festival in 2014. I took some really terrible pictures of them at Bar Matchless and had a brief conversation with Tarra who handed me a download card for some of their music.

As I walked past the location of Bar Matchless on my way to Warsaw last night, I noticed that the place had been shut down. The old, corner bar was boarded up; and graffiti covered the walls. Kind of sad. But, also, kind of a reminder of how far Sharkmuffin have come since that night in the tomblike performance space at Matchless. I was heading to Warsaw to see them open a sold-out show for Spanish garage quartet, Hinds.

I'd only ever shot at Warsaw in the past as press for Northside or CMJ. I don't know if that conferred any special rights upon me or if the place has just changed their photo policy since then; but the rules for the evening were the typical "3 songs and out" for the openers and then, curiously, "wait 45 minutes BEFORE shooting Hinds." OK. I'm nothing if not a rule follower.

The cavernous space had started to fill in as Sharkmuffin took the stage; and, bang-bang-bang, three songs were over before I even really had a chance to get my bearings. I filed out of the photo pit with the rest of the photographers and took in the rest of Sharkmuffin's set from the crowd. They made the most of their 30 minutes, Tarra's voice ricocheting around the huge space on favorites of mine like "Fun Stuff" and "I Called You from the Moon."

Sharkmuffin's Tarra Thiessen

New York's QTY were up next. Rose Lamela shot their set when they opened for Cults at Monty Hall a few weeks ago, but I'd never heard or seen them before. Rose failed to mention to me what a good band QTY are. Co-fronted by singers / guitarists Dan Lardner and Alex Niemetz, QTY play a style of rock that owes as much to Stephen Malkmus as it does to The Strokes. Definitely in my wheelhouse, and I've been listening to their self-titled debut all morning.


Speaking of bands who have come a long way, I first saw Hinds in 2016 at South By Southwest. I caught them playing something like a 12 noon set at Frank, a bar / restaurant that serves artisanal hot dogs. There were maybe 50 people there; and, when the set was over, the women of Hinds set out to play several more shows that day. Throughout the week, I would run into them on the street rolling amps and dragging gear from venue to venue. Last night, they sold out an 800-person room in Brooklyn and played to a crowd that knew just about every, single one of their lyrics.


Both of Hinds's albums -- 2016's Leave Me Alone and this year's I Don't Run -- are charmingly lo-fi and ramshackle. They sound like they're being piped out of one of those little toy, plastic guitar amps made by Danelectro. In a good way. Singers / guitarists Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote trade accented vocals that can veer between whispers and wild screams in an instant.


The songs sound sunny and fun, but many of the lyrics deal with the downsides of relationships. I Don't Run is both lyrically and sonically more mature than its predecessor; but it still has that lo-fi vibe. Interestingly, while the lo-fi sound is there during the band's live performance; Hinds -- who also include Ade Martín on bass and Amber Grimbergen on drums -- are about as tight and polished in their delivery as any band I'd describe as "ramshackle" has a right to be. Songs like "The Club" and "New For You" from the latest record and relative oldies like "Bamboo" sounded fantastic while retaining everything that makes Hinds Hinds.

The other thing that makes Hinds Hinds is an exuberance on stage that infects the whole crowd. When 45 minutes were up and photographers were allowed into the pit, it became apparent why the band wanted us to wait. QTY took over guitar duties from Cosials and Perrote for the band's cover of "Davey Crockett;" and the pair climbed onto the barricade and tossed themselves into the crowd. They surfed around in a crazy scrum until making their way back to the stage. Security hustled us out again as the band closed things out with "New For You" and "San Diego." They sprayed the crowd with Champagne and lingered, dancing as the house music came up.


For various reasons, I've been struggling with inspiration here at the site. Last night was cool, though. Seeing how far a couple of bands I've followed for a few years have come gave me some perspective on how much water has gone under the bridge here. Being inspired by a new (to me) band made me see that there's still plenty out there to get excited about. And, simply, Hinds never fail to put a smile on my face.

I had fun.

Pics are on the Facebook page and in the Flickr galleries.

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