CMJ 2007 Day Three | New Young Pony Club | Studio B

Ida_mariaThe last chord of British Sea Power’s set at Bowery Ballroom was probably still ringing as we jumped in a cab to Studio B to catch New Young Pony Club at Studio B. It had been a long day already and at 1am I was seriously fading. But I loved NYPC when they played at Williamsburg’s White Room last December and was really looking forward to seeing them at what I thought would be the perfect party house venue for them.

For nearly everyone in the room, it was a total dance floor stormer. The place was going mental even without the near constant cheerleadering of singer Tahita Butler and the unexpected note-for-note cover of Technotronic’s "Pump Up the Jam" sent the crowd over the edge. For me, the muddy sound (could not hear Spence’s guitar at all, though it could’ve been my ears, damaged by Biffy Clyro’s set at the Fader Sideshow earlier that day) and my waning energy level had something to do with it. There was also the pervasive, putrid smell of vomit — provided, I’m guessing by the passed out girl by the railings — that helped to sour the evening for me. But even a year later, "Ice Cream" was still pretty sweet.

MP3: New Young Pony Club – "Get Lucky" (Buy NYPC’s Fantastic Playroom)

New Young Pony Club | U.S. Tour, Side Project

New Young Pony Club
are finally coming back to the States and it’s about time. Their last trip here was a brief visit to both coasts in December 2006, including a stop at the White Room in Brooklyn where I only barely resisted the urge to use the headline "I Dig a Pony" in my slightly over-the-top rave review. Brooklyn Vegan, who was also at there that night, said he saw them at the Øya festival in August and wasn’t as impressed that second time, but I have high hopes for their Studio B show on October 18 — .

If you haven’t checked out NYPC’s debut, Fantastic Playroom,  you really should. It’s a great party album, or pre-party album. Not a listen-to-the-lyrics album ("you really have to display information / to discover relativity") but it’s not trying to be. Nearly all the songs are single-worthy, though, which is more than you can say for most records.

MP3: New Young Pony Club – Get Lucky

Here are those tour dates. Sorry, Middle America!

10.18    Studio B | Brooklyn
10.19    Pure | Philidelphia
10.21    Mod Club | Toronto
10.22    Just for Laughs | Montreal
10.24    Subterranean | Chicago
10.26    Hawthorn | Portland
10.27    Necture | Seattle
10.29    Mezzanine | San Fran
10.30    The Echo | Los Angeles

But wait, there’s more? New Young Pony Club’s foxy keyboard player Louise Hayter has a solo project, The New Sins, who are set to release their (it’s just her, actually) debut single, "It Doesn’t Work Like That." NME says it sounds like "Sophie Ellis Bextor fronting a low-key LCD Soundsytem." It doesn’t — though I wouldn’t be opposed to hearing such a thing — but it is pretty great in it’s own posh, standoffish, groovy way.

MP3: The New Sins – It Doesn’t Work Like That"

Klaxons | Studio B | 4.13.2007

Klaxons_studiob_rachelus What a difference six months make. After an underwhelming pair of gigs in September, Klaxons returned to show themselves as real contenders. At least at their sweaty show at Studio B on Friday night.

To be fair, their initial 2006 reception wasn't all their fault. With only a couple UK singles out, audiences here were unfamiliar with their material. Plus, with the misleading "new rave" tag (despite it being their own damn fault) foisted upon them, the Klaxons were met with the infamous NYC crossed arms.

But this time, the band were on much more level playing ground. Their excellent debut, Myths of the Near Future, was out. More importantly, they had gained a permanent drummer, Steffan Halperin. As a trio, shows were energetic but sloppy, more like a garage impersonation of the inventiveness heard on their singles. Now they can replicate the studio recordings and, often, improve upon them.

They've also dropped the silly early-'90s throwback outfits, the last remnants of the new-rave stigma. Klaxons defy categorization and cannot be tagged as retro. You can dance to their songs, but it is also punky — but not punk funk. There's too much going on in their sound. Myths of the Ancient Future is seriously a great record, and if you've been avoiding it because of silly genre names, give it a chance.

Highlights for me were "Totem on the Timeline," "Isle of Her," "As Above, So Below," "Two Receivers" and "Gravity's Rainbow." For whatever reason, "Golden Skans" seemed a bit off.

MP3: Klaxons – As Above, So Below (buy it)

I have never seen Studio B so packed. Too packed, I'm sure well beyond Fire Marshall limits. This made for an exciting show, but forget try to maneuver anywhere in the club. Audience and band fed off each others energy, making for a great show, even from the back. But the crowd was full of wankers too. Especially near me. There was some dude in a white tshirt and his candycane-striped hoodied girlfriend who, when they weren't mocking the band, stood yelling at each other with their back to the band. Why go to show if you've already made up your mind you don't like them? Stay home.

Brazilian openers Bonde Do Role didn't impress. Like with Girl Talk, it's fun to play spot-the-sample (AC-DC, the Grease soundtrack, the Darkness) but the Run DMC beats and too-shouty vocals did nothing for me. Maybe if I knew what they were saying.

Image swiped from Rachaelus' Flickr photostream.

Soulwax + Klaxons | Studio B | 9.21.2006

Soulwax tore the house down last night. Show of the Year So Far… but before I get to that, as usual, a digression.

The last time I tried to go to a Polish club in Greenpoint was the summer of 1998 and the bouncers at Club Europa wouldn’t let my friend Andy in because he was wearing shorts. We ended up at some other bar where, it turned out, we also weren’t welcome and all the patrons chanted "get out!" while "Hit the Road Jack" just happened to be playing on the jukebox. "Listen to the song!" yelled one of the many solo drinkers in the place as we skulked out.

That was what went through my mind as I walked over to Studio B, a former Polish disco on the desolate corner of Meserole and Banker, that’s been turned into a hipster disco — though the only change I’m guessing is the music played and the talent booked. For example, tonight was Soulwax (the live band alter-ego of Belgian mashup kings 2 Many DJs)  and upstarts The Klaxons, who I’d seen on Tuesday at Club Midway and was hoping would play with better sound.

I showed up around 11:15 to find a couple different long lines and little organization. Having weasled my way onto a guestlist, I asked the bouncer what the deal was; he told me to go to the end of the big, long line. I did, but then thought better of it and went back up and asked a girl who was also working the line who let me in right away. Then I find out I’m not on the list (from what I was told, I was far from the only one) but I was able to pay and go in and not have to stand in the Big Long Line.

Anyway, Studio B. As mentioned a paragraph or two earlier, it felt like a Polish disco though it was now quite the scene, reminding me of what I thought, before I moved here, NYC clubs would be like. My impression was formed entirely from Bright Lights Big City and Less Than Zero (and yes I know that was set in LA). It was huge and the chemical smell of smoke machines was pervasive in the air.

The Klaxons had just taken the stage as I walked in and I’m happy to report the sound was indeed better than at Club Midway. Way better. But I’m not sure it helped. Playing on a proper stage, with good lighting and a good PA showed just how young and inexperienced a band they were. I now think the Midway show was better — smaller, more in-your-face. Part of the problem for me was the drummer was too far back on the stage and you couldn’t see him. It just zaps the energy. They finished their half-hour set with "Gravity’s Rainbow" which finally got the crowd going. No doubt they’ve got some good songs, but as a live band they’re just not there yet.

In contrast, Soulwax have it down to a science and had the packed room bouncing the entire time. Despite having and liking both 2004’s Any Minute Now (who can forget the fantastic video for "E Talking") and last year’s electro-heavy Night Versions, I had zero expectations going in. But dear god, what a show.

While musically doing a different thing, Soulwax rival LCD Soundsystem in their ability to bring electronic music to life in a live setting. Or to put it another way, they absolutely rocked. (How many ways will I write a variation on that statement? Read on.) Why did it work so well? A perfect blend of skill, material, presentation and volume.

Looking like cricketers in matching white outfits, the band came out silently and immediately got down to business. Mastermind brothers Stephen and David Deweale manned vintage analogue synths, with a rock-solid rhythm section beside them. No problem seeing the drummer here — his kit was at the front of the stage (why don’t all band’s do this?), set up sideways, facing the rest of the band. (Also a LCD Soundsytem parallel; along with using the same kind of old-timey vocal mike.) Soulwax then proceeded to play Night Versions in its entirety. No stage banter. No breaks between songs to tune instruments or fiddle with keyboard settings. Just an hour-long, nonstop dance party. The light show was simple but effective, with yellow and white strobes going off from time to time. Classy.

Did I mention the crowd was going bonkers? As my friend Dorrit put it, paint was peeling off the walls and faces were melting. I was up near the stage and at first I thought it was just the front rows, but then I turned around and the whole club was going mental. It was one of those trancendent, in-the-moment happenings that can make even a rock purist believe. (Not that I am a rock purist.)

Studio B’s smoke machines helped a lot too.

It also made one aging, drunk blonde believe she was at Flashdancers. This woman climbed on the edge of the stage, initially sitting on the stage-right speakers beside the drummer. She would kick out her leg and slide her hand suggestively up it. Eventually she stood up and started gyrating and, for one jaw-dropping minute, dropped her pants and waved her thonged ass at the crowd. I mean, as long as she was enjoying it, right? But… yikes.


Lots of cameras at the show but so far no pictures to be found on Flickr. This crowd shot swiped from Skaterdays photostream.