Friday, January 10, 2014

Show Review: Speedy Ortiz with Grass is Green and Blanko Basnet

I haven't been to the Local 506 in a while. As a Raleigh resident, the trek to Chapel Hill is doable, but easy to put out of mind if there's another show downtown here. That being said, I picked the coldest night in the midst of an epic polar vortex to return. The concert gods looked kindly upon me and blessed me with a parking spot right in front of the venue. It was soon after that I found out that 506 now has Tecate tallboys. You're welcome.

Blanko Basnet started off the night. The band features seasoned members of the local music scene, Joe Hall, Jeff Stickley, Brad Cook and Matt Peterson. Their personal experience shined through, working well and in sync, performing like they're not as fresh to the scene as they actually are. The beginning of their set drew out some qualities similar to older Modest Mouse tracks, a tad abrasive and raw while still being enjoyable. Their set seemed to drift from that center, and went into different arms of genres. With so much creative influence, it's expected that they haven't found a particular niche yet. Not that anything was unpleasant to hear, but a particular stream of sound for the band as a whole is still in its developing stages.

After checking out the recorded music of Grass is Green and reading some show reviews, I was stoked to see a high-energy punk set live. One guitarist was wearing a Hammer No More The Fingers shirt -- I love seeing bands support each other. They tuned, plugged in. The lead vocals/guitarist stepped up to the mic and in a flat, valley-girl-esque tone sarcastically announced the band. The songs rocked, the crowd head nodded in approval. Between songs there was little to no stage banter, creating bit of an awkward air with an open end for good-natured heckling from friends and drunks in the crowd. Grass is Green played a lot from their newest album, "Vacation Vinny (Exploding in Sound Records, 2014)," including songs aptly named "Another Song Called Supersoaker" (because there was already a song named supersoaker) and "Big Dog Tee Shirt Birthday Weekend" (it was one of the member's birthdays recently), as well as hitting a track off of their split 7" release "Split Dicks" that also features label mates Two Inch Astronaut. They had everyone laughing and having a good time, rocking out on stage and still being chill. They're a band I definitely want to keep on my radar and will keep listening to on bandcamp

And I just love Speedy Ortiz. Their 2013 release of Major Arcana was well-represented at the show, my favorites of which being "Pioneer Spine" and "MKVI." They also shared two new songs, including "American Horror" that is available for stream now via Entertainment Weekly. Besides digging all the songs they played, I really enjoyed the atmosphere they created. For example, lead singer and guitarist Sadie Dupuis would come off of flaming riffs and singing her heart out, then talk to the audience relaxed and friendly as if you were sharing a cigarette on the deck of a house party. Their performance didn't include any theatrics, just simply them sharing music that they obviously enjoy playing.  I was sure they'd do the annoying industry-standard "surprise" encore, as they all dispersed quickly after the last song, but that was it. Good, strong set. I look forward to catching them again. 

This show made me want to dive deeper into the Exploding in Sound catalog, which includes bands along the same sound, like PILE and Porches. That's one of the beauties of live music -- it always points you to more music. 

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