I remember thinking halfway through the M for Montreal festival, "None of these bands will ever play Market Hotel." So many of the bands exuded a professionalism/flash/showmanship that you just couldn't imagine them playing a semi-legal venue in Brooklyn without a real stage* where your only beverage option is PBR. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I like a little showmanship and the bands' technical abilities, but after seeing so many DIY bands at DIY venues, it was a bit of a shock to see bands trying so hard.
Then there was Red Mass who both tried hard but are the kind of band who, I'm going to guess, would clearly choose Death by Audio or Market Hotel (or Cake Shop) over Mercury Lounge or Bowery Ballroom as their NYC debut. Featuring members of infamous garage rock collective CPC Gangbangs, this was Red Mass' first-ever live show and clearly they wanted to make a statement. As their name would suggest, Red Mass were about 10 strong and all-clad in red… apart from the one dude who wore only a Speedo and gold paint.
The first thing I wrote down in my little notebook was "BJM." Band-leader Choyce looks a little like Anton Newcombe and his attitude toward rock n' roll (it is a lifestyle, not a genre) is the same. (And the gold dude is their Joel Gion.) However, unlike the druggy miasma of the BJM, Red Mass are straight from the garage: we're talking The Sonics, The Damned, MC5. (Albiet with obvious psych influences; I imagine they both love Roky Erikson.) Guitarists were on speakers, members spilled out onto the floor, and there was even a clarinet player. I will admit to spending a disproportionate amount of time watching guitarist Giselle Webber (veteran of many Montreal bands) but there was so much going on you could focus on any one member and be entertained. And oh yeah: great songs too. Look for them in a semi-legal venue (or house party) near you soon.
Red Mass have a singles out on Red Lounge and Psychic Handshake but I'm not exactly sure how you go about buying them. Red Mass are new. It will come.
*Yes I realize Market Hotel has an actual stage.