Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hurricane Bells Short-Circuit the Bowery Electric

Last week, I posted my list of the Top Ten Daytrotter Sessions, and you may remember that Hurricane Bells won the premier spot.  Fortuitously enough, they played at the Bowery Electric last night, and I got to see them for the fifth time.

I arrived at the venue just in time to catch the Majorleans.  Led by the lanky Nicky Francis, who looks like Jeremy Davies in Lost, the Majorleans played an eight-song set of hard-edged alt-country reminiscent of Uncle Tupelo... with a twist.  Nicky's vocals recall Lou Reed's, so this is very much New York City alt-country.  Perhaps that's an oxymoron, but it works.  After the rocking "Coal Mine/Cold Mine," Francis traded his Telecaster for an acoustic, announcing, "This one's about an old tailor," before "Never See the Seams."  "Mr. Magic" moved along on a nice groove supplied by bassist Christian Bongers and drummer Colin Brooks from Hurricane Bells.  They closed with "Never Had Enough," the demo of which I've put below, so you can hear their sound for yourself.

With the rhythm section already warmed up, Hurricane Bells kicked things off with "Let's Go," which culminated in a cataclysmic feedback solo from Steve Schiltz.  He rocked so hard next to his amp that he knocked over a pint glass of beer (From the looks of the soggy orange slice onstage, it appeared to be a "Blue Blue Moon.").  "Hurricane" followed, and it was nice to finally hear this one again since its debut about a year ago at Mercury Lounge.  Ashen Keilyn, Steve's Scout bandmate, helped supply backing vocals, usually in tandem with him into the same microphone.  I don't think I've seen her sing with them before, so the support was welcome.  No worries if she's not around though because Steve has a wondrous falsetto that he uses to add dimension to the tunes.  "Darkness is So Deep" rumbled along on Bongers' bassline, leading to a jam that had Brooks open-mouthed smiling as Steve soloed atop the bass drum.  "Wow," said an impressed Ashen to Steve at the song's end.

A couple acoustic tunes, "Freezing Rain" and "Blue Blue Moon," were a pleasant shift, but Steve's really on fire when he's got his whammy bar.  His solo in "Tonight I'm Going to Be Like a Shooting Star" crescendoed to a climax so ear-piercing that the stunned crowd couldn't help but cheer at its reprieve.  "Monsters," having been on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, had the audience moving, but when Schiltz started to rip into his solo, no noise came out.  As he frantically diagnosed the pedal board, Bongers and Brooks continued to vamp on the song.  Turning his attention to the amp where he'd spilled the beer earlier, Steve located the problem.  "I have, no shit, just blown up my guitar amplifier.  Ashen just asked me if I smelled something and I do," he said with a nervous laugh.  "Too much inspiration," remarked Colin.  Embarrassed, yet appreciative, Schiltz informed the crowd, "That's all she wrote.  Thanks, guys."

But that wasn't all she wrote.  The sound tech was able to hook up another amp, and they performed "The Winters in New York" as an encore.  "The winters in New York are hell with bitterness and cold," sang Schiltz in the chorus.  Turns out the springs are too, as I made my way outside to temperatures in the 30s.

THE MAJORLEANS - 04.03.13 - THE BOWERY ELECTRIC (32 minutes, 30 seconds)

Go Down All the Time / Baby, Where Have All Your Lights Gone? / Coal Mine/Cold Mind / Never See the Seams / Under Ma Wheels / Imaginary Plane / Mr. Magic / Never Had Enough

HURRICANE BELLS - 04.03.13 - THE BOWERY ELECTRIC (43 minutes, 30 seconds)

Let's Go / Hurricane / Freezing Rain / Darkness is So Deep / Hours Like Days / Blue Blue Moon / Tonight I'm Going to Be Like a Shooting Star / Monsters

The Winters in New York

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