Sometimes, it’s refreshing to escape from all the headliners, the hitmakers, the wannabes, the Pitchfork darlings, the GaGa, the blah blah blah…and to have your eardrums all but ripped out by some unknown hardcore metal bands in a sweaty DIY venue in Bushwick.
Party Xpo (or Party Expo), located at 929 Broadway in Brooklyn, is so DIY that the drinks are SYOB. (Smuggle Your Own Beer. And then drink it from a plastic cup if you don’t want the doorman telling you to do so over and over again. I guess beer bottles are more incriminating for a liquor-license-less venue than are cups full of beer?)
The warehouse space boasts decor that includes checkerboard painted walls, perhaps the world’s tallest amateur basketball trophy, and cigarette posters that look – judging by the handlebar mustaches on the male models – at least 25 years old. A dwarf-sized nativity figure sits atop one of the amp stacks. I didn’t count the number of channels on the soundboard, but it’s probably around 10. Lighting effects are generated by a small machine that scatters colored polka-dots at random onto the walls. There’s no stage. Smoking is permitted. If there’s air-conditioning, it’s not noticeable. In short, Party Xpo owns.
The lineup on Saturday night was:
(Sidebar apology: there was actually a fourth band, who opened for The Muzzler, but I didn’t catch their name. This I blame on my preoccupation with finding a plastic cup for my beer.)
Both The Muzzler and Lungs are from the Midwest. The former are from Chicago, the latter from Minneapolis. They’re touring together. The Muzzler play mostly punk/grindcore, and Lungs lean more toward slower sludge/doom metal. At this gig, each band had a member who was wearing a Baroness t-shirt, if that tells you anything. The Baroness reference seemed particularly appropriate for Lungs, whose prog-like song changes recall some of those by the Georgia it-band of the metal underworld.
Meek is Murder is a Brooklyn-based three-piece fronted by guitarist/vocalist Keller (alias Mike Keller, “but never just Mike,” he says). Their songs thrash at breakneck speed. The tempos are relentless, and all three of the guys – including drummer Frank Godla and bassist Sam Brodsky – are scarily virtuosic. As in, sometimes you can barely see their hands because they’re moving so fast.
Keller and Brodsky throw their entire bodies into the act of playing. From time to time, Brodsky moshes his way into the crowd and gets pushed around by the audience – all while missing nary a note. Keller headbangs like his neck is made of rubber and screams on tippy-toe into the mike. “Intense” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
About halfway into the set, Keller’s amp started picking up a local radio station. An ad for Radio Disney and a clip of Alanis Morissette provided interludes between songs. The band just played over it. Even 90s hits coming through the amp are easily obliterated by Meek is Murder.
There’s something cleansing about the experience of standing five feet away from musicians who are totally slaying on their respective instruments simply because they want to. About the pair of homemade t-shirts available at the merch table. About the guys shooting pool near the door who don’t give a shit about the bands. About the fact that, in the restroom, you have to take the lid off the toilet, reach in, and jiggle the chain to make it flush. About a crowd of fewer than 30 people.
That kind of purity is what music is really about.
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ORIGINAL HIPSTER by Linda Leseman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at originalhipster.net.