An acoustic guitar set, a 90s inspired grunge band, a hardcore band, and a pop punk act all played the same show Oct. 6th in New York City’s Gramercy Theatre. It felt like four different shows in one, or a really diverse variety show. Needless to say, I got nothing I was expecting.
Elder Brother–or apparently only the singer, Dan Rose, without the band–opened the Tuesday night show with acoustic guitar songs and some jokes while he tuned his guitar. Odd, because I was there for Defeater and I was expecting nothing but Massachusetts hardcore. As he began playing I braced myself for the worst, but Rose was definitely not bad. Elder Brother is worth checking out if you need some slower, softer music.
Superheaven, which can easily be called a Nirvana copycat, came on next with some catchy, grungy tunes. Nothing you haven’t heard before and I was getting restless for some heavy shit, not to mention the air conditioning was on full blast on a chilly October evening. I wanted to see movement.
Then Defeater came on fast and hard. Most bands don’t sound like their recordings during live performances. Defeater is no exception. Drums generally overpower vocals at live events and sometimes the vocals suffer without the magic of post-production. Defeater is an exception in this case. This was one of the best performances I have seen. Derek Archambault’s impassioned screaming was loud and clear. His voice took over the Gramercy and commanded the crowd’s attention and movement. The drums, which sometimes seem like a distant background on their digital tracks, crashed and battered through the rhythmic guitars louder than expected. Drummer Joe Longobardi was mesmerizing by himself, enjoying the moment and lost in his own little world of a drum kit.
Aside from being harder and stronger live than through my headphones, the visuals greatly added to Defeater’s performance. Archambault was like an angry Energizer bunny two-stepping, hopping around non-stop, and crushing the airwaves with a powerful, bewitching voice in front of a mock stained glass church window. The lights transitioned red, yellow and white adding a churchlike perspective to their set, about half of which was composed of songs from their latest album, Abandoned.
Following the awe-inspiring Defeater came Boston pop punk headliners, Four Year Strong. The crowd had grown during the break between bands and was itching to leave its feet. In my experience, the unlikeliest bands cause the most ruckus. Song after song the crowd surged and jumped and thrashed as intensely if not more so than at a heavier band’s show. They, like Defeater, are much better live. You could feel the connection between band and audience and it was contagious. I couldn’t help but like what I was seeing, even though I don’t like pop punk.
This is a tour you don’t want to miss if you want a show experience unlike what you’re accustomed to. At the very least, come for Defeater and witness one of the best hardcore bands currently out there.
Review by David Marulanda. Photos by Alexander Chan.