Wednesday, August 16th was (unofficially) “New York Night” at Sunnyvale, as the lineup boasted four bands that are starting to peek outside of the NYC indie scene, with each providing a slightly different strain. I settled in, grabbed a beer from the bar, and sat down for a night of live classic rock sounds, my first in at least eleven or twelve years.
The ’94 Knicks, a band I need to keep seeing in the future, opened up the night with their more garage and pop punk repertoire, gearing the crowd up for the bands to follow.
Looms was on next, and they’re a band who seem to have a clear goal, and put everything towards honing that sound. All the instruments work together to create an atmosphere of dream pop flashes, reminiscent of the Autumns, with the intensity and stage presence of the 90s “college rock” bands. The band was quick footed as it moved through a couple of new songs off their new record, yet never failed to show the immense control they have in the tempo of their songs.
The Lounge Act was the group of openers that surprised me most (admittedly, I wouldn’t have been if I’d paid more attention when doing research). The only band claiming to have risen from the city of New York, rather than solely Brooklyn, also had a much more Manhattan edge. The band as a whole is cohesive, bluesy, southern fuzz guitar sounds like Kings of Leon or Black Keys. Their punk elements are brought out much more in the performances, especially because of the stage presence of Roger Walsh (easily one of my new favorite bass players), with his purple hair and both a ferocious and melodic playing style, always in sync with the concise, jazzy drums.
God Tiny are still somewhat fresh off a new release, and was obviously the band everyone came to see that night. Out of all the bands, they certainly demanded the most attention. The set was loud and fast, with three guitars and that classic rock sound. Big riffs would break into solos that would fill the whole room with it’s pleasant whining. Funky rhythms got people dancing. When our feet were still, we’d be bobbing our heads throughout the song, throwing them back at the end to let out a few whoops. The band has a polished live sound, loud and strong willed, with a frontman in Jeremy Kolker who has both the stage presence, hair, and falsettos to create an energy that was supposedly left somewhere in the 80s.
Everything about God Tiny screams sex, drugs, and rock n roll, from the sleaveless Led Zeppelin t-shirts, to the emphasis on guitars and varied instrumentation. The band was relatively soft-spoken on the stage though, not saying much, letting people focus on the music. That is, until they halfheartedly pointed out they had t-shirts at the merch booth. “We’ve never taken our shirts off on stage” Kolker noted. “That’s just not one of our attributes as a band.”
The crowd laughed, knowing full well we would have no problem if any of the members decided to rip off their shirt and jump into the crowd. We had no problem with it, but I don’t know if anyone wants to go back to the days of hypermasculinized and overdrugged guitar rock. God Tiny, as well as the other bands who played, all seem to realize that the “sex and drugs” style of rock n roll imploded on itself. You can have the sex. You can have the drugs. But for this forthcoming scene, the focus is on the music, having fun with your friends, and seeing how far that can take you. They’re bands who can provide the same intensity and musicality as bands from the past, but without all the excess.