Monday, June 18, 2012

Photos/Review: Grass Widow @ Knitting Factory (Northside Festival)

Grass Widow (w/ Gary War, The Black Belles & Turbo Fruits) @ Knitting Factory
Panache Booking Northside Showcase - June 16, 2012
Photos/Review: Chris

After leaving a little early from the free Kurt Vile / Dawes show at Central Park SummerStage, we headed down to the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg to catch the official Panache Northside Festival showcase. I wash't completely aware of how long it would be until Grass Widow (who we were there to see) would take the stage, but luckily the lineup was engaging enough that the three hours flew by pretty quickly. The $4 PBR's helped too.

As soon as one-man band Gary War started sound checking, mainly by checking the levels on his backing tracks, I leaned over to Mariel and said, "I have a feeling this is going to be weird and awesome." My intuition was 100% correct. Though I couldn't understand a single word Gary War sang throughout his set, and his guitar was often a flanger-tinged warble, the performance was no less entertaining. Swinging his hair around and keeping up with the synthy drums and keyboard sounds he had playing in the background, Gary War is certainly doing something pretty unique. Listen to his song "On Its Head" below to get an idea of the particular weirdo sort of new wave he's going for.

Up next were The Black Belles (signed to Jack White's Third Man Records), the band most people appeared to be at Knitting Factory to see. Apparently they appeared in a Colbert Report sketch last year, which may have explained how packed the venue got just for them, but whatever, they were actually really good. Dressed in matching gothic clothing and makeup, the all female trio played a set of grungey psychedelic garage rock, easily making every attendee's head bob in sync. Check out their track "What Can I Do" to hear what they bring to the table...

Following Black Belles, Nashville, TN garage-punk act Turbo Fruits--one of the many bands to rise from the ashes of Be Your Own Pet--took the stage. The last time I caught them it was early in the day at SXSW in 2011, playing to maybe ten people outdoors at our friend's Fontanas SXSW showcase. They instantly attracted my attention, and of course I remembered them enough to know I had to catch them at this show, but without a full crowd pogoing and moshing to the band their full effect was lost on me then.

Luckily, conditions were just perfect for Turbo Fruits late on Saturday night, and for the entirety of their set a good portion of the crowd went pretty insane for the band. Also, as their frontman stated, it was their final show on a 65-date tour, which caused them to play with great intensity, even to the point that they were humorously fucking with their drummer's equipment mid-song. I've had a hard time getting their song "Mama's Mad Cos I Fried My Brain" out of my head since they played it, and now you have the chance to get it stuck in your head below...

Since it was nearly 1am by the time Grass Widow came on, I almost forgot how excited I was to finally catch the San Francisco trio. Their latest album Internal Logic is easily one of the best records released so far this year, and I've had a hard time resisting the urge to give it another spin day after day. And even though the new album is a little quieter than their previous output, they did just what I love what bands do live: they played the quiet shit heavy. Their beautiful three part harmonies were perfectly maintained, but their was a rawness to the songs from Logic that reminded you that despite turning down the distortion a bit on the album, they're still a punk band when all is said and done.

Ending their set with an energetic cover of Wire's "Mannequin" is a sure fire way to win my heart, not that the preceding forty minutes of their set didn't already do that, but it was the perfect way to end the night. Take a listen to Grass Widow's "Disappearing Industries" below...

It was one of those shows that was wall-to-wall great music, and hopefully you were there (we unfortunately missed the first two bands on the bill, how were they?). Check out a full set of photos of all the bands mentioned above...