Autre Ne Veut/Bowery Ballroom/October 26, 2015
Arthur Ashin has both an anxiety disorder and a masters degree in psychology. His healing is coming not from his studies but through his singing. When the Brooklynite began recording music, he adopted the professional name Autre Ne Veut (French for “I want no other”) from an inscription he read on a 15th century British dress ornament on display at the Cloisters museum. Autre Ne Veut’s third album, Age Of Transparency, was released on October 2, 2015.
At the Bowery Ballroom, Autre Ne Veut looked like a homeboy, in backwards cap, saggy pants and t-shirt. He pulled only his head through his hoodie, so that most of the garment draped over his shoulders like he forgot to finish dressing. His staging and music was pretty close to naked, however. The band was subtle, playing smooth ambient and funk grooves, occasionally punctuating a song with backup harmonies. Contrastingly, Autre Ne Veut’s vocals were far from subtle. His eyes and fist were often tightly clenched, and his mouth seemed locked in an eternal grimace. He spent much of the show in an L position, bent perpendicular at the waist, from where he generated the most gut-wrenched yearning ever heard. His vocals had few bridges or crescendos; instead, a powerful rasp wrung exaggerated emotion into every single word he sang, launching from a peak and carrying on like a baby goes from tantrum to exhaustion. Was Autre Ne Veut’s extreme delivery drawing on Ashin’s unfiltered wounds or his cathartic healing? Whatever it was, it developed into a mesmerizing performance.
She Demons/PlayStation Theater/October 27, 2015
Jerry Only of the Misfits posted an audition notice in April 2015. He sought five women to form a band that, like the Misfits, would mix horror themes with punk, but also would cross the Ramones with the Ronettes. He selected vocalist Priya Panda, guitarists Constance Day and Kiki Wongo, bassist Alicia Vigil and drummer Jessica Goodwin, all of whom had played in bands in Los Angeles, California. Even without an album to promote, the She Demons took to the road, opening for the Misfits.
At the PlayStation Theater, the She Demons skillfully filled the huge stage with sight and sound. Visually, the youthful women were attractive, wore eye-catching rock star wardrobe, and worked the audience well. Sonically, the band brought punk energy and metal power to cutesy 1960s pop covers (the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Crystals’ “He’s A Rebel”) and newer horror-themed compositions (“Fresh Blood,” “Once Bitten,” “She Demon”). Like many all-women rock bands, the She Demons took hard rock and roll and gave it a feminine touch. The musicians displayed impressive talents, but like actors interpreting a script, they were still working on building their own common voice. The newborn band needs time to live in its own skin, but already shows promise.
Misfits/PlayStation Theater/October 27, 2015
As the burgeoning punk rock scene was exploding in New York City in 1977, vocalist/pianist Glenn Danzig was in Lodi, New Jersey, formulating Misfits as a punk rock band similar to the Ramones. Bassist Gerald Caiafa, later known as Jerry Only, replaced the original bassist and survived dozens of personnel changes. In the early 1980s, Misfits evolved into a hardcore punk band (and later a heavy metal band), and became increasingly committed to exploiting the horror movie angle. Misfits disbanded in 1983 and Danzig formed Samhain and later the eponymous Danzig. Through legal battles with Danzig, Only and his bandmate brother, guitarist Paul “Doyle” Caiafa, regained the rights to record and perform as Misfits and formed a new version in 1995. The band dissolved in 2000, but Only reformed yet another Misfits, this time taking on the lead vocals in addition to the bass. Misfits has recorded seven studio albums, the most recent being The Devil’s Rain in 2011. The band presently consists of Only, his son Jerry Caifa, Jr. on guitar and Eric “Chupacabra” Arce on drums.
With no current album to promote, the Static Age Revisited tour was a return to the Misfits’ early punk roots. Select cities, including New York, were promised a revisit to 1982’s Walk Among Us and 1983’s Earth A.D. albums. The Misfits performed an astounding 39 songs in about 90 minutes at the PlayStation Theater. In addition to most of the two promised albums, the set also included six songs from Famous Monsters, four songs from Static Age and a few other songs that revisited the band’s signature hyperspeed blasts and bombastic assault. The music was not nearly as uncultivated as it used to be, however: Only has taken vocal lessons, the younger Caiafa’s guitar leads were impressive, and Arce skillfully played a decent drum kit. Despite the seeming limitations of continually creating fresh horror punk without exhausting the factory, Only so far has found a way to keep the franchise alive.
Combichrist/The Marlin Room At Webster Hall/October 29, 2015
Ole Anders Olsen, known professionally as Andy LaPlegua, was born in Fredrikstad, Norway, and phasing through various bands, he explored hardcore punk, hip-hop, metal, industrial, trance, and psychobilly music. In 2003 he formed his most successful project, Combichrist, as a melting pot of many of these sounds, recording solo but performing live with a band. Combichrist specializes in aggrotech, an evolution of electro-industrial and dark electro that in the mid-1990s began fusing elements of EBM, industrial, noise, trance and/or techno music. Combichrist’s sixth and most recent album, We Love You, was released on March 25, 2014. Combichrist is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.
At The Marlin Room At Webster Hall, LaPlegua’s hardcore past and electronica present merged into a powernoise spectacle. Backing LaPlegua’s frequently acidic vocals, Combichrist scraped an explosive barrage of industrial-led beats and buzz-sawing guitar riffs over prominent stabs of lead synth lines. The result was a marriage of dark, gothic singing intertwined with raw headbanging and floor-stomping rhythms. Throbbing and thrusting, it was a sonic battery with such bare-toothed aggression that it had the potential to loosen eye sockets and dislodge eardrums. With so many nu-metal bands sounding so alike these days, this metallic foray into industrial-techno music was as brutal as it was engaging.
Youth Lagoon/Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom/October 29, 2015
Trevor Powers was born in San Diego, California, and raised in Boise, Idaho. He started composing music while still in high school, and while in college in 2010 began recording his songs in his bedroom, a kitchen, and a four-car garage. Powers took Youth Lagoon as his musical alias in 2010 and in 2011 posted his dream-pop music online to positive response. He released his third album, Savage Hills Ballroom, on September 25, 2015.
At Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom, Powers commanded the spotlight over his three backing musicians. Hunched tightly over his keyboard for much of the performance, periodically stepping away to work the audience from the edge of the stage, he whispered, crooned and belted songs from his three albums. Much of the music veered towards lo-fi experimentation, especially when the other instruments were near inaudible and Powers unraveled his psyche in a high tenor and falsetto over his electric piano and sampled dreamscapes. Even when the band gave the songs a skeleton of muscular beats or lilting rhythms, Powers’ vocals rested in a spacey atmosphere, circling back for the choruses. Perhaps because most of the lyrics drew from his anxiety disorder and other struggles, the delivery of the performance seemed intimate and revealing. If a music fan was looking for happy rock and roll, however, this was not the place to find it.