Saidah Blount is a music and pop culture junkie born and bred in Kansas City, Mo. From an early age, it became quickly apparent to her family that music would be intrinsic to her life; ...
It seemed slightly odd to be heading to the Mercury Lounge on a cold and blustery Sunday night in order to see local buzz bands Free Blood and Preacher and the Knife. To be honest, I’ve most memorably experienced both of these bands in very intimate, sweaty, and BYOB-friendly conditions — i.e. the uniquely tried and true NYC house party.
Here in New York, it’s almost a rite of passage for any local band to test out their new material (and buzz-building chops) at a random jam (preferably at a dingy artist loft building on the very outskirts of Brooklyn). Bands like MGMT, Animal Collective and the Rapture earned their stripes by playing as the “house band” for a number of shindigs, performing next to partygoers that are lucky enough to dance all up on the drum kit.
Now, there’s a new generation of bands trying to bring the Brooklyn loft party to the masses by literally leaping into the audience while dance-rocking the set away.
Sunday night’s opening band Preacher and the Knife have seemingly inherited the “next big thing” label here in NYC, and it’s easy to see why. Lead singer Daniel Barcelowsky attacks the stage, letting his blues-y, seemingly possessed vocals wash over the crowd while dancing up to audience members like a disco Nick Cave. Barcelowsky sings about sadness, retribution, and the inherent darkness in religion. Combine that with a tight, electro-psychobilly rhythm section, and Preacher and the Knife will definitely be playing bigger stages in NYC in months to come.
Headlining act Free Blood are known for their distinctive male-female vocals, indie-dance band pedigree (the white-hot labels Rong Music and DFA Records) and infamous dancefloor hijinks (think confrontational dancing). But surprisingly, as the band showcased newer, more refined versions of tracks off of their excellent Singles CD, I was surprised that lead singers John Pugh and Madeline Davy were seemingly glued to the stage. Granted, both were playing instruments (I especially liked Pugh’s addition of jangly funk-rock to the electronic beats stew), but damn it, I kinda missed the Free Blood boogie session!
But never fear: I was especially heartened that Pugh jumped off the stage for their last song, mic in hand, and kind of bumped into me while dancing. Good (and slightly sweaty) stuff.
What's the best band you've seen at a house party?