Photos and words by Rob Browning
Guilt By Association is the brainchild of Peter Block of Engine Room Recordings where up-and-coming indie bands cover 80s and 90s hits. The first volume featured artists as diverse as Superchunk and Devendra Barnhart and got a lot of notice, hence part 2, curated by Wesley Verhoeve. The Music Hall Of Williamsburg show was the first of two release shows featuring artists from GBA Vol. 2 and chocolate from local purveyors Mast Brothers.
Lowry is based out of Brooklyn and features an international line-up from the States, Canada and New Zealand. They came up in the anti-folk scene and got a bit of a name for themselves, but have expanded their sound since their inception to embrace a new-school American Music Club/Andrew Bird vibe. They like their textures. Kansas-bred front man Alex Lowry has come up with a smooth cocktail that mixes his progressive leanings with the Midwestern rock of his youth. They’ve got a big following on the Brooklyn side of the water than embraced the original material as readily as they did the Toto cover from the comp. They had some equipment issues, but had a vocal crowd cheering them on from the onset and raining whiskey doubles on them for the entire set.
Takka Takka batted second and set to weirding things up nicely with their Peter Gabriel meets Devo art-rock. The five-piece weave a sonic arabesque of contemporary indie rock ala Death Cab, interspun with electronic leanings that recall Talk Talk or "Enjoy The Silence"-era Depeche Mode. Musically, there is a lot going on stageside with these gents, with sometimes as many as three guitars playing off their stellar rhythm section. A lot of bands would turn that into sonic mush, but Takka Takka shows the kind of arrangement sense that gives them the legs that bands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were unable to keep under them. Their new record We Feel Safer At Night coalesces their dynamic live show with their recorded restraint. They closed things with their cover of "In The Air Tonight" from GBAv2, and managed to lend even more malaise and uneasiness to the proceedings, while still managing to un-ironically incorporate the song’s signature drum break. That ability to look forward while still knowing the past only reinforces Takka Takka as one of NYC’s best local bands.
[Jukebox The Ghost]
Jukebox The Ghost was initially formed in Our Nation’s Capital, and evidently went to George Washington University. I know this only due to the team of bros that shouted out GW from the moment Takka Takka stopped until Jukebox finished their set. There was also a huge contingent of DC females at the show celebrating a set of GW twins’ birthdays and going absolutely ape for the duration. More power to them. JTG were definitely the poppiest of the four bands, sounding like a less quirky version of the late
Dismemberment Plan with more of a mainstream Top 40 sensibility. The bass/drums/keys trio went down a storm, and may very well be some semblance of heartthrobs amongst the over-educated GW ‘nice girl’ set. If there was any chance of the band maintaining the fourth wall between audience and performer, the barrier was shattered when the aforementioned birthday twins were called on stage by Jukebox The Ghost’s Nicko McBrain drum dopplelganger to play percussion towards the end of the set. The seemingly benign gesture prompted an unplanned Bro-vasion by the aforementioned shouters that thankfully managed to avoid interrupting the proceedings. Check the pics. Luckily the guests were returned to their rightful place and the band managed to dash off a couple more tunes, including their Ace of Base cover, before bailing to tend to their army of non-profit toiling, twenty-something females.
[Robbers On High Street]
Robbers On High Street were the evening’s headliners, closing the night with their North Williamsburg Anglophilic leanings. The five-piece kept it interesting for the duration. They are pretty Weller-ian, in that when they rock, they sound kinda
Jam-my, but when they flex their muscles as a five-piece it gets kind of Style Council. While they do a New Edition cover for the GB comp, they also broke out a cover of "Shout It To The Top" that wouldn’t have the Modfather rushing the stage to regulate, even if most of the crowd had no sense of who Dee C. Lee or the Style Council were. It also gave the Robbers a chance to let bassist Morgan King flex his trumpet chops for a couple songs, much to the crowd’s collective ass-shaking delight.