Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cookies at the Knitting Factory

When I moved back from California in 2010 and found out that the Knitting Factory had moved to Brooklyn, I was appalled.  Fortunately, the venue has redeemed itself over the years by housing Hannibal Buress' free comedy show every Sunday and continuing to open its doors to lesser known and unsigned bands like the original Knit.  Good acoustics don't hurt either.

Last night's show consisted of Dead Leaf Echo and Work Drugs, with Cookies in the middle, like a reverse ice cream sandwich.  Can you guess the genre of opening band Dead Leaf Echo just from their name?  If you guessed shoegaze, you're correct.  I don't usually listen to the ambient rock music unless I'm depressed or doing my taxes (like I said, depressed), so I really wasn't in the mood last night.  Dressed mostly in white, they projected inky black and white images onto themselves, as they played songs that felt too confined by their genre.  Had I not seen the funk revival band, the Stepkids, do the projection bit to its fullest (We're talking all white clothes and all white instruments!) earlier this year, it probably would've been a little cooler.  The blasts of color on the Stepkids were admittedly more thrilling to watch than the static on Dead Leaf Echo, where only a few reds and yellows found their way onto the palette.

Work Drugs hail from either the Florida Keys (like they claimed) or Philadelphia (like their website claims).  They categorize themselves as "sedative-wave/smooth-fi," which I suppose means "pleasant enough, but all the songs sound the same and don't go anywhere."  They have released something like 5 albums in the past two years (When I say released, it means burning a CD, putting it in a slim jewel case, and calling it a limited edition.), but they should really slow down and try to experiment a little more on their next one.  You're not really being prolific if you make the same song fifty times.  Good name, though.

I went to the show to see Cookies hopefully tear it up and buy their two 10" singles.  I got both.  If Cookies are just a dessert to you, here's some backstory.  When Mobius Band disbanded in 2010, they split into three groups.  Noam Schatz went the full-blown electronic route with LOLFM.  Peter Sax enlisted his wife to make baroque pop as Ladies & Gentlemen.  Ben Sterling put weird guitar sounds, synthesized drums, hard-hitting keys, and female vocals into the oven and baked up Cookies.  (Click any of the links to listen and download for free!  I'll even put the video for "Boycrazy" below.)

As the opening sirens of "Boycrazy" transitioned into Sterling's happy strumming, I knew I was in for a treat.  Even though he was slightly annoyed he didn't get the chance to soundcheck, Sterling pulled out the stops with his guitar, at times banging on its strings with a drumstick.  But how would the live vocals of Melissa Metrick, formerly of Reina del Camino, compare to her sexy legs?  They complemented each other nicely, especially on new songs "Piano Jam" and "Go-Getter," where she proved her range, belting out the lyrics like a soul singer, in sharp contrast to her usual breathy parts.  The playful interplay between Sterling and Metrick was fun to watch, especially when trading barbs on "Wilderness Tips" like "Little girl, you're mean; it took you 6 months just to fit in those jeans."  I long for the day when I can go to a Cookies show and the crowd yells the "yeah"s of the chorus.  When the propulsive bass of "Crybaby" punched itself into the song's end, I smiled, knowing that if they continue to get out there and play, the band's following will swell to at least that of Ben's previous band.  Then we'll get to have our Cookies at the end, like mom always said.


Boycrazy / Face Down / Wilderness Tips > Crybaby (A) / Piano Jam / Go-Getter / 1,000 Breakfasts with You / Summer Jam

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