The Venetia Fair, Those Mockingbirds, Modern Suits, Science, and Jason Robert: How I Paid $10 To See Five Bands
I live about as close to Webster Hall as is physically allowed, so I make a point of going to as many shows as I can. They tend to be cheap, and it isn't exactly difficult for me to cross the street. When I saw the Venetia Fair was going to be playing a show after Thanksgiving break, I figured I should go and see the band I described as "maudlin chaos."
I then realized there would be five bands playing, including a favorite of Frank Iero's, Science. What a world. Back in my day you had to pay $60 for a two act show. The times they are a changin. What next, free water?
I made a few more bad jokes about the wildly unpredictable economy. And then I decided to bring my friend David because he's a lot pickier than I am when it comes to music and I need someone to ground my reviews in a sense of general disdain and technical knowledge. Because I definitely maybe apparently live in a world of butterflies and horseshoes and polka-dots.
So let's set the scene. The Studio was relatively empty... the lights were dim as always, my feet hurt because I was breaking in new winter boots, and everyone had a mustache. Everyone. As soon as you walked in the door you sprouted magnificent upper-lip hair. In my hands lay a moleskine reporters pad and a pen I bummed off of David because I couldn't find anything but Sharpies in the darkness of my bag.
In this moleskine, I put down my thoughts during the set, and then, at the end of the set, David would make his commentary. It was a good system because it meant I got to sit down between sets, and I'm 40 years old and need to sit down after being on my feet for twenty minutes.
Round 1: Jason RobertMy Remarks: Mellow, wintery, nice but forgettable. Need work on their stage presence.
David's Remarks: Guitar is very straightforward. The bass is boring. Very generic indie rock.
Round 2: ScienceMy Remarks: The layering of sound is A+. The screaming isn't faddy, the music is very spacial. There's so much guitar. It's so New Jersey. Everything works on top of itself no matter how it's woven. Never leave.
David's Remarks: Yes. Radiohead is there, but much more confrontational. Did you SEE the bassist's fingers? It went places. Good, scary places.
This was probably our favorite act of the night, and it led to a long conversation about New Jersey music versus Colorado music.
Round 3: Modern SuitsMy Remarks: There's so much guitar. When did people start having so many guitarists in their bands? This music sounds like steps down... like steps lighting up and spiraling down into the pitch.
David's Remarks: Is three guitars indie rock standard? It's pretty standard. Bassist was pretty good. Needed more going on rhythmically. Everything was at the same, shoegaze tempo except for the last song.
Round 4: Those MockingbirdsMy Remarks: A little country, a little circus... the country sneaks up on you. The violin is a distortion of itself, and the plucking is great. There's a good 90's pattern of loud-soft.
David's Remarks: Much Cobain. Very Nirvana. But you know, different. Very solid, lots of cool rhythmic stuff going on; guitarist was a MACHINE-- singer had PERSONALITY. Violin yes.
Round 5: The Venetia Fair
My Remarks: Oh jeez, Benny is hot in person too. There goes my journalistic integrity. Can't be unbiased about a great shoulder-waist ratio. But damn what a performance. Like a hyper-manic circus with all the acts going at once and the ringleader giving up control and just tearing himself to pieces while the audience watches. What a world. Very nearly on the level of Mindless Self Indulgence's stage show, but aesthetically so different. The music and the physicality are all at the same level of expression.
David's Remarks: All the mixed emotions. The show was wow, but there was basic pop punk hiding under the piano and the 6/8 signature. And the "fuck yous" got worn out. But it was insane.