Strange things happen when bands move up a stage size. Instant fans via Forkcast flock to shows with cameras and girlfriends. There’s massive buildup until the backlash. Suddenly, the bassist and the drummer are playing stints in Atlantic City with a rotating cast of cocktail waitresses. Friday night’s free A Place to Bury Strangers gig at the South Street Seaport felt like a set-length condensation of the buzz trajectory.
On a stage sandwiched between antique schooners and an Uno, the trio kicked out cuts off their debut LP, played some film-school-y super 8 business about ski slopes and pained women behind them, and destroyed a guitar. Other things demolished: My expectations of seeing a group that at one point, I was told, played a set in the dark with a single strobe hitched to the kick pedal. My irrational urge to check out the appetizer sampler at any one of the family-friendly joints down the diner canyon. The until-now uncontested notion that noise-freakouts, no matter the context, are wicked fun. Things oddly untouched: My hearing, which, if this showcase had gone where I was anticipating, should have been the evening’s first casualty.
The mix was fairly shite as well. It’s a major thumbs-down for a group whose entire claim to semi-fame lies in their effects pedal collection. The overall sound quality of the event was inexcusably poor, varying wildly in volume, levels and clarity depending on one’s orientation around the boardwalk. Obviously the environment, packed as it was with visiting families eating oysters on the half-shell and onion blossoms, played a factor. Apparently, Death by Audio, APTBS’ gear workshop, manufactures something called the Total Sonic Annihilator. This was more along the lines of a total yawn. Even when head-dude Oliver Ackermann pushed his vocal mic into his amp for the final feedback breakdown, the result was more irritating than abrasive. Everyone started cheering, like subjects in a white-noise conditioning experiment. Perhaps Uno’s should have employed such a strategy. A Place to Bury Strangers? How about A Place to Buy Burgers!
Photo by Ben Lasman