Surveying the number of heads while walking into RecordBar, I was starting to wonder if I’m just a token of bad luck. This would mark my fourth show in a row at the venue wherein the audience was either nil from the start, or steadily waned down to an embarrassingly low number over the course of the night. Want to clear a room? Invite this guy. Some people used the excuse of the M83 show out in Lawrence, but the night would prove I was unmistaken in my decision to stay in town to catch two of the finest bands coming up in the reverb celebrating world of indie rock. Would it be too obvious if I used that last sentence as a jumping off point to make a joke that if such a world existed, you probably wouldn’t have heard about it anyway? Nah, too cheap.
Frankie Broyles was perched upon what looked to be a very uncomfortable chair in the middle of the stage, with nothing more than a guitar in hand and a few pedals at his feet. Pre-recorded drum beats flatly banged away in the background as Broyles kept an unwavering pulse of strumming, casually bestowing upon the crowd simple lo-fi hymns blanketed in the warmth of shoegazer reverb. The top layer to each song’s delicate plucking and fervent downstrokes was a boyish affability of at times off-key but no less endearing vocals, ardently strained through an echoing microphone and recoiling back from the walls housing the dismal population of the room. The Atlanta native has made waves in the indie world fronting the band Balkans, but is currently focusing on solo material and filling in as the touring drummer for Lotus Plaza.
Perpetually drenched in harsh red light for the duration of their set, NYC five-piece Caveman bore for the audience a collection of elegantly constructed, rotund chamber-pop arias. As if in a daydream, the swelling music and voices drifted over the heads of the attendees, steadily building upon themselves until the cauldron of energy reached its inevitable peak, erupting in spine-tingling torrents of sonancy. Even while indulging the senses with serene vocals, Matthew Iwanusa added a tier of percussion uniformity on his own elevated floor tom, though it was mostly used for rim taps. The band played a decidedly on-point set with highlights including the haunting “Vampirer,” “Great Life,” and “A Country’s King of Dreams,” and this writer is thrilled to know that the band is only touring on their debut album. People say the sky is the limit– if Caveman keep it up on the next album, their ethereal tunes might just float them off into the cosmos.
To which I alluded in my opening paragraph, the crowd began to taper off before the night was done. Dauntless, the five nondescript lads in Lotus Plaza wasted not a beat in beginning their set. LP is the brainchild of Lockett Pundt, a name some may recognize as part of Deerhunter, a hype band if there ever was one, though reasonably so for a considerable chunk of their output. With a backing band, Pundt is touring in support of the recently released sophomore album Spooky Action at a Distance, a wholly fantastic listen and the bulk of the band’s setlist for the evening. Interspersed with songs from the albums were burgeoning stretches of unfaltering noise, bordered by the veering guitar hooks of “White Galactic One” and the hallucinatory, spaced-out vocals of “Eveningness.” During the inundation of feedback, Plundt had ample time to kneel, wildly slam on his vibrato bar, stand up and trade out for a Fender Squier, nonchalantly tune it and install a vibrato, then jump back in with the rest to wrap it all up and segue into the next song as if nothing happened. The band’s performance was a necessary grounding after Caveman nearly made the room recreate the final scene of Waking Life.
by Greg Stitt
Photos by Matt Cook