Monday, July 2, 2012

Photos/Review: Codeine @ The Bell House

Codeine @ The Bell House

Codeine @ The Bell House – June 29, 2012
Photos: Jennifer Harmon & Chris / Review: Chris

On Friday night, slow-core progenitors Codeine played their first NYC-area show in nearly two decades to one of the most focused and dedicated crowds of recent memories at the Bell House in Brooklyn. That is to say, during the band’s hypnotizing hour long set you could hear a pin drop during their most quite parts, and you could feel the energy utterly immerse you as they hit their most powerful moments. Many audience members in the front row stood with their heads bowed down and eyes closed, but make no mistake… no one was sleeping. Deeply concentrating on every strum of John Engle’s guitar, every whisper of Stephen Immerwahr’s lyrics, and every crash hit of Chris Brokaw’s drum parts just may be the best way to experience a live Codeine show. The set was absolutely beautiful.

The band’s reunion is somewhat of a celebration of the reissuing of the band’s discography, which includes two LP’s, an EP, and a smattering of demos and Peel Sessions--all of which are included on the deluxe box set which is finally on sale--earning the distinction of Pitchfork’s “Best New Reissues” title. Having seen the box set myself, it’s a beautifully packaged and comprehensive set. The band performed songs from all of their releases, even though current drummer Chris Brokaw (a singer/songwriter in his own rite) only played drums on the band’s debut Frigid Stars (I myself didn’t know if Brokaw or other drummer Doug Scharin would be playing that night until I saw Brokaw behind the merchandise table).

Opener Stephen Brodsky, openly a huge Codeine fan himself, seemed to have his greatest dream come true when he was invited onstage to perform “Cave-in” with the band towards the end of the set. It was a cathartic moment for the guitarist, who thrashed his head around on stage to the song a he played, making it one of the most exciting moments of the night. After the band’s set, which included a two-song encore, Immerwahr and Engle stuck around onstage and chatted with excited fans (myself included). When I asked Engle why they decided to put cats on their most recent tour t-shirt, he just grinned at me and said, “…that’s my cat.”

Codeine will return to New York City on July 15 when they play our other favorite venue, Le Poisson Rouge. Tickets are still on sale. In the meantime, check out the band’s reissues over at the Numero Group, and take a look at a set of photos Jen and I took on Friday below…


  1. If only I had thought to get them to sign their faces...

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