Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Weekend Fun with Algebra II & Heart Bones

Algebra II at Asbury Park Brewery


This past Friday night, I headed over to Asbury Park Brewery to catch the release show for Algebra II's debut album, Why Would Anyone Think This Goes Here? The album is the culmination of six years of making music together for Maggie Pakutka (guitar / vocals), Gabby Evergreen (cello), and Lewie D'Avanzo (drums, bass). I've dug Algebra II's combination of sweetness and noise for a while now.

Their vibe, I think, is best summed up by a little story. A couple of years ago, I booked Algebra II for a show at the Asbury Hotel. They went on last. There was this guy in a big, red MAGA cap hanging around the bar and making scrunched up faces at the other bands who played that night. When Algebra II was setting up, he noticed the cello and said something like, "Aah... Here we go. Finally, some good music." But once Maggie dug into her SG, Lewie started banging the drums, and Gabby started dragging her bow across the strings, the guy stuck his fingers in his ears and ran out. It really was good music, and the rest of us had a fantastic time.

On Friday, Algebra II put together a bill that included some of Jersey's finest bands. There were happy birthday balloons and tiny party hats. We got the shoegazy dream pop of New Brunswick's Resounding NO, the jangly power-pop of Bloomfield's Joy Cleaner, and the loud, folky, indie rock of Jersey City's Long Neck. The evening culminated with Algebra II playing their new record front to back. In addition to good music, the whole night was full of some really good feeling; and those are always the best shows.

Resounding NO
Joy Cleaner
Long Neck
Algebra II
Algebra II

On Sunday, Chris Dickman and I headed up to (le) Poisson Rouge in Manhattan to catch Heart Bones. Sunday afternoons on the Parkway headed towards NYC are never the best, so Chris and I decided to roll the dice with New Jersey Transit. Surprisingly, the train was only about 20 minutes late and we made it to the show in pleeeeeenty of time. I'm gonna say we were the first two people in the venue, which isn't unusual for me; but Chris -- justifiably -- thought I was nuts.


(le) Poisson Rouge is in the heart of my old NYU student stomping grounds, and I always love going back to Greenwich Village. When I went to school there, (le) Poisson Rouge was the legendary Village Gate, and I saw a few shows in the upstairs performance space. Shows at LPR take place downstairs, and Sunday's show was set up in-the-round, with the stage in the middle of the room.

Good Fuck (Tim Kinsella and Jenny Pulse) were the scheduled openers, but had to cancel because of an emergency. Simon O'Connor of Simon Doom filled in with a solo set backed by tracks from his iPhone. I saw O'Connor's other project, Spiral Heads, open for Sweet Spirit a few weeks back; and I've been digging his post-punk influenced songs.

Simon Doom

I caught Heart Bones when they came through on their Dirty Dancing tour at the end of last year and I had a blast. On Sunday, Sabrina Ellis and Har Mar Superstar took full advantage of the in-the-round setup by having the audience walk circles around the stage as they played to all corners. That highly-interactive aspect of the show, combined with the eminently danceable songs (check out singles "Little Dancer," "This Time It's Different," and "Disappearer"), made for another joyful evening.

Heart Bones
Heart Bones
Heart Bones

Afterwards, Chris and I stopped for pizza at the place I went to almost every day during my freshman and sophomore years of college and then headed back to Jersey like a couple of snails on NJT.

CoolMom was out of town on Sunday, so I stayed up super late editing pictures. That made Monday pretty much a lost day, and I couldn't really finish this up before heading to CoolDaughter 2's swim meet on Tuesday. But you've got it this morning, so now you can rejoice. All the pics will be at the Flickr account.

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