Saturday night of the Northside Festival I attended Panache Booking's showcase held at what may be the best sounding room in the area, Knitting Factory. Highlights included...
THE BLACK BELLES
The last time I saw The Black Belles was at Panache's SXSW showcase, so it was only fitting to be catching them again come festival time. The band have since decreased into a trio following the departure of their keyboardist, and their raw bare bones garage rock sound has become increasing sparse. Singer/guitarist Olivia Jean seems to be filling in the void of sound with heightened guitar work, and it's real clear to see why the band were the first signed to Jack White's Third Man Records. The Belles are getting tighter with their constant tour schedule, and they looked genuinely happy to be playing the show. Highlights included their infectious singles "Wishing Well" and "Honky Tonk Horror," as well as set closer "The Wrong Door".
It's not a music festival if don't see Turbo Fruits... at least it's starting to feel that way. The band who were wrapping up the last night of a 65 day tour were lose and energetic, and perhaps a bit ready to get off the road. Opening with "Trouble!" the song was a fitting oeuvre to their set as things between singer/guitarist Jonas Stein and drummer Matt Hearn were rattled in the sort of way only spending 65 days in close quarters can provide. Drum sticks being thrown, cymbals getting knocked over, I can't imagine it being anything more than the grand finale before a much deserved vacation! Thankfully their spat had no effect on the music, as the guys jangled out a diverse selection of songs from the recently released new single "Sweet Thang," and "Where The Stars Don't Shine" to the stoner favorite "Volcano," "Mama's Mad Cos I Fried My Brain," and a finale with "Broadzilla," which found Stein hoping into the exuberant mosh pit to celebrate among the audience.
The headliners of the night Grass Widow offered a stunning performance of indie pop flavored post-punk with gnarled discordant guitars and absolutely beautiful vocal harmonies. Their time signatures shifted in tight clarity, with winding chords constantly moving together in unexpected directions. All three of the members are outstanding musicians, offering a far more technical approach than the jangly garage rock so far that evening. Grass Widow played songs from their incredible new album Internal Logic, marked by the terrifically bizarre "Goldilocks Zone" and the surf grooves of "Milo Minute". Their entire set was seriously impressive, and if you've been waiting to check them out... now is the time. The band closed with a cover of Wire's "Mannequin," a testament to the post-punk capabilities and influences. Go see them live.