Parking was too good to be true, I thought, squeezing between a mound of brown street garbage and a miniature Prius model I once considered buying. Swinging a cheaply constructed backpack around my shoulders, I appointed my friend the key holder, handing him two folded pieces of paper disguised as tickets, as we bundled up and embraced the cool, early springtime dusk, sprinkled with the scent of pollinated air and polluted Brooklyn sidewalks.
Weaving in and out of pubescent drudgery and peeling floor panels, I found my way to the nearest bar inside the Music Hall of Williamsburg, where a fresh faced, and dreadlocked bartender transformed my seven dollars into a tall glass of ice and Coca-Cola, with a pin-prick of Jameson. My company also noticed our surroundings, which he greeted with a whisper into my spine of the irrefutable “we’re old, Tara”. I brushed it off as quickly as my shitty drink and entered the center of the building through a tattered set of stairs still stained with footprints from the days of Northsix and a barricade of a heavy, modern day door, revealing the glowing wistfulness of indie-rockers Mansions.
Mansions, formerly of Louisville, Kentucky and currently of Seattle, are the combined efforts of Christopher Browder and Robin Dove. Taking a strand of DNA from the damp genetics of the Pacific Northwest indie mire, Mansions took the stage as a picturesque Polaroid Izone photo of a nineties duo, complete with floral prints and conch shell necklaces.
Dove, slouching over a bass guitar double the weight of her petite frame, remained a constant, reckoning force, even when one of Browder’s guitar strings snapped like the aftermath of an atomic wedgie. In songs like “City Don’t Care”, Browder pleaded with the tenacity of Ben Gibbard, creating a sense of haunting isolation formally reserved for the likes of Pedro the Lion or Kind of Like Spitting. Closing out their 8-song set, “The Economist” is easily Mansions’ anthem, a sing-song track that broke through the facial canopy of the drummer’s thick beard with each bang of the kick drum as Browder’s lyrics circled around the languid sway of Dove’s hips.
The group’s chilling apathetic delivery, teetering on the totter somewhere between depression and epiphany, carried the show effortlessly to the next act, like a high school twirler tossing a baton towards her virginal murder.
Next, a post-hardcore Jesus takes center stage, channeling the convulsions of Jim Morrison under the influence of the legendary Thursday, outstretching his thin arms to an audience of stretched earlobes. This figurehead is Kyle Durfey, the vocalist for Pianos Become the Teeth, who are Topshelf Records veterans hailing from Baltimore, Maryland.
Along with Chad McDonald (guitar), Mike York (guitar), Zac Sewell (bass), and David Haik (drums), the quintet broke bread with the belligerent “Liquid Courage/I’ll Be Damned”, immediately melting my annoyance with the frosty air of the bouncer stationed next to me. Durfey, in an extremely sexual stance of bones, flannel, and hair, flirted with the mic through exasperated screeching, pacing from left to right like a bull in a wordy Hemmingway novel as Sewell twirled red cloth between his callused bassist fingertips.
“Filial” and “Hiding” brought a sense of temperance to Haik, whose death metal drummer stance was all but quashed with the intricate, but forcefully delicate, timing of each hi-hat snap. It’s as if Pianos Become the Teeth is trapped clumps of hair fornicating at the bottom of a bath, as each strand swirls in a basin of beautifully repulsive sounds and human debris; a flawless embellishment of everything we watch go down the drain.
And before my eyes, ignorant of the splendor that was soon to be unleashed upon their corneas, I watched as the crowd pivoted into a violent ballet towards the center of the stage. Soon emerged the small figure of Jordan Dreyer, whose recent arrival from a dark corner illuminated by a faint blue light caused an uproar in the a quarry of fresh forearm tattoos, each speck of vibrant ink glimmered in an effort to catch a glance of the dissonantly poetic front man of La Dispute.
Opening with “HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956”, off of their most recent, and hauntingly devastating record, Rooms of the House, the rest of the Grand Rapids, Michigan band assumed their positions; Kevin Whittmore and Chad Sterenberg on guitars, Adam Vass on bass, and Brad Vander Lugt chugging a bottle of wine and keeping time on drums. Dreyer, through gasps of spoken word and skillful dodging of wayward crowd- surfing limbs, reeled around the stage like Geoff Rickly prodigy, each chilling phrase released from his guttural mouth, in songs like “Andria” and “a Poem”, a static scream of a monitor attached to a failed heart.
In syncopation with the lyricism, Whittmore churned out jarring note after jarring note, singeing my tear ducts like a poorly diced yellow onion; uncontrollable tears streaming down my pockmarked cheeks and pooling between lightly rouged lips. I soon felt my friend’s stubby grasp upon my stiffened shoulder during the conclusion of “King Park”, ultimately disrupting the poignant loop that my whole being was immersed in. I felt like four again, sitting Indian-style on the brown carpet of my living room, devouring a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch between commercial breaks of a Saturday morning marathon of Tiny Toon Adventures.
It was seriously that amazing.
So when my friend and I returned to my car to the pleasant surprise of a $115 parking ticket I didn’t even bat an eyelash.
Apparently the pile of Brooklyn trash I stationed myself next to was actually a fire hydrant.