Brooklyn locals, Pela couldn’t hide their excitement on Saturday when
they performed as headliners for the first time at Bowery Ballroom. The
band has been a mainstay in the local scene for about 5 years and had
played the popular venue many times before, but always as an opener.
Graduating to the headline spot at the Bowery Ballroom is a surefire
sign of the band’s growing popularity and bright future. The quartet
took full advantage of this opportunity and played a thrilling set of
rolling rock tunes, led by the passionate lead of singer/guitarist
Billy McCarthy. McCarthy brought the energy of Springsteen to a sound
that finds itself somewhere between the Pixies, Replacements and U2.
The mood was celebratory, almost like watching the local little league
team win the championship. A smiling McCarthy asked the crowd if they
wanted to hear a new song, and then all alone on stage, he proceeded to
captivate with a beautiful little song that he had just written. The
audience showed much deserved appreciation, and McCarthy must’ve felt
on top of the world. Joined again by the full band, Pela later brought
out a horn section for a few songs, including the vibrant “Cavalry.”
While it may have been Pela’s night, three other local bands (Elk City,
Jealous Girlfriends,, and Balthrop, Alabama) did their best to leave
their mark. Most notable was Jealous Girlfriends, who look like they’ll
be headlining their own shows at the Bowery Ballroom in no time. They
always seem to be playing somewhere in the city, and with every show,
their following grows. They get better and better, with a sound that at
one minute resembles Sonic Youth, and at another Fiona Apple, all
along sounding like the product of a single band.
Catch these bands now before they blow up and can no longer play the smaller intimate venues.
Photos courtesy of Jonny-Leather