Oneida @ Maxwell’s

HOBOKEN, NJ—Parking sucks in Hoboken. Let’s just get that out of the way. After driving around for close to an hour, weaving around numerous double-parked vehicles, my friends and I finally gave up and shelled out the $22 for a parking garage. Fortunately, the show started late and I still had the pleasure of standing in line with a really amped-up 30-something in a tight This Moment In Black History t-shirt while my friends did shots at the bar. It wasn’t long after Tight Shirt was through professing how “indie” he was that we realized we were from rival colleges. I can’t say I’m the most spirited student at Lafayette College, but the school has still managed to instill within me a hatred for Lehigh University. Apparently, the feeling is mutual and the conversation quickly fizzled out. Shame.

So, the music. Cleveland’s This Moment In Black History justified the zeal of their tight-shirted followers (okay, it was just the one dude, but he brought enough energy for a room full of people, even if he neglected to bring enough fabric for himself) with a barrage of riff-heavy punk rock spiked with some gnarly one-finger synth lines. I’m not entirely certain what the vocalist was hollering about but I’m pretty sure he meant it. The set was a perfect 20 minutes: Long enough for the band to rip through a handful of blistering punk tunes and then call it quits just before everything starts to sound the same.

After a short lull, Dump took the stage. Yes, Dump. Go ahead and giggle. Anyway, it’s an outlet for the solo recordings of James McNew, bassist for legendary indie rockers and Hoboken natives Yo La Tengo. Accompanied by a friend on keys, McNew spent the majority of his set conjuring up a pleasant haze of lightly-strummed pop tunes smothered in reverb and underpinned by a drum machine. It wasn’t anything particularly memorable—no drops of blood were squeezed from a sugarcube—but it was a nice backdrop for sharing a beer with friends or, y’know, gazing at your shoes.

And then Oneida. Depending on my mood, the time of day, the alignment of the planets, or what have you, Oneida’s recorded output can strike me as a hypnotic rush or as an exercise in tedium. Their latest triple album, Rated O, is no exception. Their live show, however, takes the mesmerizing groove that Oneida have staked their reputation on and turns it into some great and terrible machine. It is loud and it commands your attention. Fragments of psychedelic noodling occasionally break to the surface of songs otherwise entirely dominated by the inhuman rhythmic interplay of organist Bobby Matador and drummer Kid Millions. The band would occasionally halt to give the crowd instructions (“dance in the key of E”), and I would spend this time trying to figure out why guitarist Shahin Motia looked familiar (a feature on Motia’s other band, Ex Models, from some magazine I had when I was 15). But then the robot overlords would once more demand that the audience shake its collective groove thang, and shake it we did.