In a music scene like New York’s bursting (in a good way) with new-ish bands, it is heartbreaking to choose between the infinite number of good shows happening on any given day. Despite the superhuman ability of some to consistently make it to multiple shows in a night, usually a decision has to be made.
Maybe the bands on one bill lack uniqueness from other genre-sharing bands… Maybe their demos are a 9.7 but their live show is a rocky 3.4 at best… Or maybe they’re unfriendly (and hey, this is a scene that prides itself on camaraderie)…
Well, rendering impossible my personal attempts to occasionally salvage some sleep, is one of my favorite bands I practically share a backyard with: Acid Dad.
When entering into Acid Dad dialogue, it’s almost irresponsible not to begin by acknowledging that their demos straddle two of contemporary rock’s most favorable genres of the moment. Upon hearing the now infamous “Brain Body” for the first time, I thought I might have discovered the holy grail of local music and/or 9th wonder of the genre world. Psych? Punk?? #Psych-punk?! New punk bands aplenty and psych band saturated Acid Dad stands out in the new music community for their impartiality to either group.
Their music steers clear of musical limitations by not pledging allegiance to a singular genre; better yet, it intelligently utilizes the sexiest parts of two. The band toys with slow, infectious wonky psych-rock guitar riffs that oscillate pleasantly in and around your eardrums. Simultaneously and seamlessly, they interrupt their own pleasantry with the aggressive energy of punk rock that is fueled by energetic drumming and heavy vocals.
In Acid Dad’s compositions, neither genre is forced to concede its defining qualities to the other, but rather they combine to invent a new genre with arguably twice the appeal as either has alone.
Profoundly attracted to the band’s demos, I crossed my fingers for a live show as intriguing. Since, as we know, studio looks aren’t everything. Especially in the psych – punk spectrum, a band’s live performance can prove anticlimactic. Apparent sloppiness or lack of energy often kills the potential for a good vibe.
In the worst cases, the audience members feel as if they’re watching the band from the other side of a glass, like a museum spectacle. Paradoxically, Acid Dad blends band with audience on the musical plane that exists as the whole damned reason we go to live shows anyway.
Danny, Vaughn, Kevin and Dane artistically employ sonics and exude a naturally playful stage presence that melts the walls of your conscious, giving validity to the band’s name.
Further proving their prowess in melting minds, when I asked Kevin Walker (drums/manager) what he wants from fans at shows, he perfectly voiced my experience at Acid Dad shows in his answer: “Forget about time, forget about [your] cellphone, forget about [your job], forget about [your] insecurities and get lost in the music, albeit for a fleeting moment.”
Generously, in exchange for your most liberal show attitude, “[Acid Dad gives] you 30- 40 minutes of [their] sweet, blood and tears […] A show though doesn’t consist of 30-40 minutes of work. The band rehearses the night before for 3 hours, shows up at the venue unreasonably early for after loading all their gear into a car, loads into the venue, and hopes for a soundcheck. Then the band sits around and uses their 2 drink tickets within the first 30 minutes. Now it’s 7 PM and doors open in an hour. […] It’s a lot of work” (KW).
Acid Dad undoubtedly delivers a quality show every time. Never sloppy, the four-piece always comes off as polished; something which, as an ensemble, can only be achieved through hours of hard work. The ritualistic three hour pre-show rehearsal is evident in the bands’ tightness on stage. Yet however tight as Acid Dad may be, much of their allure stems from their duality in being well-rehearsed, but also spontaneously vibey. The band possesses a genuine chemistry that cannot be faked, practiced, rehearsed or achieved and it surfaces naturally.
Part of the band’s exponentially growing chemistry stems from its almost synonymous affiliation with Flat Box Recordings. A small label formed in 2012 by Kevin Walker, Flat Box has since morphed into a promotion brand that he uses to throw shows, as well as a recording studio that Acid Dad’s Vaughn Hunt (guitar/vox) runs.
Through Flat Box, Kevin and Vaughn discovered that they are a well-matched musical team outside of the band as well. Flat Box has undoubtedly been a catalyst for the growth and unlimited experimentation for all things Acid Dad; from being booked on desirable bills to in- house recording.
“[Flat Box] allows us to record on our own schedule without any external pressure. [It] has been extremely enabling in giving us a small established platform from which to grow this new project,” Kevin tells me. His role (I note) in music- making as half of the rhythm section is paralleled by his role in keeping-shit-together as manager of the band.
Finally, band attitude has the potential to enhance or diminish a band’s overall appeal. Kevin’s philosophy agrees with my own, that “being a dick doesn’t get you too far. You need to work with people and make friends. You can’t do it alone.”
Solid music making and insanely awesome live shows are essential – but what often makes a ‘must-see’ band out of a ‘good-to-see’ one (especially in the local sphere) is hangability* If you like the band personally, you’re more likely to happily drag yourself out the door after a long day to spend your last $5 supporting them into the wee hours of the morning. Chances are, you’ve also spoken highly enough of them to bring a friend or two along.
As this is also a music community where “everyone knows everyone” some of the best opportunities for bands arise during post-show hangs or run-ins at other shows. Comparable to their demos and live shows, Acid Dad’s hangability is a 10. Always happy to chat with the audience, book a show together, or lend a guitar string – they are four rad Dads.
Stop thanking me for coming to your shows. If I didn’t want to come, I most definitely wouldn’t.
*Hangability is a word I made up to describe a person (or band’s) literal ability-to-hang