It takes approximately 12.7 days for us to decide on our next venue adventure, but tonight’s was easy: Webster Hall. We haven’t seen anything together at this iconic venue and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to check out a show. So, to Webster Hall we go! We researched and picked a night, actively decided to move away from our most recent Pop music kick and settled on the date that featured FIVE bands. After a few text messages and hilarious banter between us (we’re funny people), we each sent our “I’m buying my ticket now,” message to let the other know that our long awaited Webster Hall Night was officially confirmed!
…except the Seaway, Stickup Kid, Candy Hearts, Driver Friendly and The View From Up Here concert wasn’t really at Webster Hall and Alicia’s illiterate. WebsterHallPresents.com, along with BuzzNet , was sponsoring this 5-band concert at SLAKE—a nightclub and concert venue tucked and hidden in midtown. Game time decision: do we find another show at Webster Hall or do we check out this funky new place? With its low-lighting, intimate setting and go-go dancer cages, we couldn’t NOT experience this new place! Tonight had the ingredients of a perfect Crushing Vinyl evening: new bands, new venue, new music. What’s unfortunate is that it didn’t turn out as positive as planned, but what a night it was!
The View From Up Here:This Connecticut based group are in the early stages of their career and kicked off the night with their set at 6:30pm. The venue and crowd was small enough that Andrew Cunningham (guitarist, lead vocals) felt perfectly fine asking that “Everyone in the room come to the front because this is acoustic.” The crowd? A handful of his friends, who were too busy chatting, underage drinking and wiping off the minor marks from their hands to genuinely enjoy the music. Huge distraction! At one point Andrew and Mike Quick (guitarist, background vocals) had to shhh the crowd. Not sure if he actually was, but Andrew looked embarrassed and gave a “come on guys” look to his friends disturbing his show. They played a quick set featuring a couple of their original tracks, “Beaten & Bruised” and “Quarter Tank and No Traffic,” and covered “Quicksand” by The Story So Far. Maybe we’re old (not the case) and used to more mature writing styles (doubt it), but the writing and music did not pull us in. The lyrics often times felt whiny and the content juvenile and undeveloped. What did grab our attention was our interest in these two guys as a band. Was this their first time playing in NYC? How well will they fit into the pop punk music scene? Did this gig do them justice? Watching them play and interact with the audience made us more invested in them as people and their rise to local music stardom in their hometown. The two band members (after researching, we think they might have a third member) looked like they might not even sit together in their school’s cafeteria, but both were very passionate about what they’ve created. Definite respect and good luck with your career, boys!
Driver Friendly: They’re from Texas and even if they weren’t bigger, they were definitely better (and there was a trumpet involved). Let’s go back a bit. When they climbed on stage, these hipster fellas with a Harry Styles-lite wannabe on drums, instantly caught our attention. Their music was a welcomed big band sound that filled the venue and commanded the audience’s ears. Unfortunately, for most of the set it sounded and felt like the lead singer, Tyler Welsh’s, mic was off (or turned down wayyyyy too low). But that didn’t stop us, or their fans, from jamming! Since it was hard to connect lyrically, we honed in on each instrument. Their sound was incredible during “Ghosts We Cannot See” and “26 Years Asleep,” and even though neither of us is a fan of this music genre (something we knew going into and leaving the venue) there was an undeniable talent force field surrounding their music. DF was arguably the most well-known band of the night and they definitely captured everything we wanted from this truly explorative experience (minus the shitty mic). “Stand So Tall,” our favorite song from the night, was fun, catchy and sounded great as the crowd yelled, “stand so tall!” back to the band. After their set, they were hanging out by the merch table so we strolled by to say hello; chill guys, great set. Looking forward to catching up with them again soon.
Candy Hearts: We really wish we’d listened to their music before we saw them live. This set felt like a disappointment and nearly made us leave the venue (this is dramatic but our spirits were NOT. IN. IT.) The lead singer, a young girl with purple hair who we recognized as someone who was rocking out next to us earlier in the night (does Slake not have a green room?) was more times than not offbeat, off key and out of tune. Once we moved past our uneasiness about what was happening on stage, we sort of got into the groove of their sound. What felt jarring at first, turned into what Rachel described as “90’s movie transition music.” We can wholeheartedly say that a good chunk of their songs would have been played during a cutaway scene during Clueless. Post-show, Rachel still couldn’t wrap her head around what we’d seen, so she rushed to YouTube and the Candy Hearts website to see what we were missing (if anything). The recorded version of one of their more popular tracks, “Bad Idea,” feels McFly-esque during their Just My Luck days and she didn’t hate it!! But the issue is their live performances. When you mix a questionable front person with a pretty standard sounding band, you’re left with a bad taste in your mouth. Another one we enjoyed post-show was “Miles and Interstates,” from their EP “The Best Ways to Disappear.” Lyrically, this band was on top, with emotional grabbers like, “You are a song in my head/my voice is sore form singing it/as we cross off miles and interstates/the same white lines that brought you here/will take you away.” That is so upsetting and perfect, but this isn’t a lyric blog. Tonight it wasn’t the wrong venue or genre; tonight it was the wrong band.
Seaway: Although they were one of the headliners, these guys are perhaps lesser known than the two bands that preceded them. Canadian pop punk-rockers, Seaway, filled the stage with their two guitars, bass, drums and lead singer, Ryan. Unfortunately for all the bands tonight, Slake really needs to invest in a new sound system – or a better technician – because it was impossible to hear what Ryan was singing – and he was screaming. They blend metal/punk and pop together with very heavy guitar riffs and what you get in the end is kind of a death metal version of Good Charlotte. I think it’s fair to say that neither of us are racing to buy Seaway’s latest single, but what they lacked in appeal for us, they more than made up for in showmanship. Their confidence is apparent as each guitarist took the Jack Black guitar rock god stance on stage (I stand by my opinion that School of Rock is a great movie-Alicia). What we didn’t understand is why they were wearing work-out gear on stage – the gym shorts and t-shirts didn’t quite go with the sound they were producing.
Stickup Kid: Stickup Kid has a great sound. I wouldn’t call it unique, but their song writing is interesting and their music is balanced. Their set mixed slow melodies of songs like “Lost,” with amped up songs like “The Depths of Me.” We kept waiting for the breakout “ah-ha” moment for us, and although that never really came, we believe it’s just around the corner for this Canadian band. This group was gave us a heavy dose of “indie” during their set, and it was much appreciated and probably the best way to end our night. Holding his retro microphone, Tony Geravesh, flung his long curly hair while he rocked out with the other members of the band. When we found ourselves disconnecting from the performance, we would instantly find something on stage to obsess over. During Stickup Kid, we realized that all of the tonight’s bands used the same drum kit. How cute! They were also all dancing to each other’s music, enjoying sets and singing along to each other’s lyrics like fans. In a room of maybe 50/60 people, 20 of them were from the 5 bands and they have formed this little tour family. It was kind of adorable to see them get into each band’s set and support one another on the stage. What was equally dynamic and cute about Stickup Kid was that their actual families were there to support in the crowd as well. One dad/uncle/manager(?) was climbing into the aforementioned go-go cages with his GoPro and selfie-stick to capture the entire show. Rock on, man!
Alicia’s Takeaway: Apart from Driver Friendly, why didn’t any of these bands care what they look like on stage? I truly believe that you don’t judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a band by its cover art, but people – please care a little more about how you’re presenting yourself on stage. Under Armor shorts, ill-fitting khaki’s and weird floral shirts isn’t cool because you think it looks like you don’t care – it’s not cool because you don’t care. Also, the venue burned Patchouli incense – a major no-no in my book.
RCS’ Takeaway: Sadly this was not a favorite night for me. However, save the weird audio issues, Slake is one of the coolest, most hidden, funkiest standard venues. Definitely need to make my way back here, if only to dance the night away! Seriously, where did this place come from and why hadn’t I known about it before? The bathroom was unisex so that was both a #bless (I went to a hippie school, okay) and a #pause (there wasn’t a sign so it caught me off guard)…but it was drenched in red lights, so thumbs up from me! The drinks were also watered down but now I’m just complaining.