Punk Lives at Palisades

09/26/2014 2:30 PM |


The apocalypse feeling that comes with each fresh closing of a previously thriving Brooklyn DIY spot is tough to deny. While mourning 285 Kent, or wincing at the impending departure of Death by Audio, it can feel like the sad end of something right and just and true. But it should be clear by now that, while the desire to frequent these spaces is too small to thwart the wider economic forces that continually reshape Brooklyn, it’s impossible to fully extinguish. If it’s dark, unseasonably warm, and running 40 minutes late, it’s DIY. So it goes that Bushwick’s Palisades now nudges into contention for the current heart of Brooklyn music’s unruly fringe. Last night the frills-less black box was shoulder to metal-studded shoulder for an AdHoc presented four-band bill lacking any overexposed music media stars. The sets varied in impact and emphasis but, as a whole, the night suggested continuing life to be found in places the L train won’t take you. 

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L.O.T.I.O.N. (or Legacy of Terror in Occupied Nations, if you’re nasty) is something of a industrial supergroup sewed up from the Frankenstein limbs of the city’s grubbiest bands. Recorded, the project scans as machine music—thudding, broken, slick with surface oil. Live, they’re a roaring quartet, improbably groovy within their barking mania. Repetitive sequenced beats were doubled on drum in real time by the oft-naked frontman of local maniacs, Dawn of Humans, creating an in-pocket, low-end boom. Lead shouter Alexander Heir (also of punk band Survival) writhed and frothed through military mesh tucked into a red Guardian Angel beret. He glowed in the light of disgusting projections depicting wounds, corpses, and unspecified flesh distress that took a real effort not to fully recognize. It was all unpleasant but, weirdly, not unappealing. Their songs lacked structural comfort, avoided earworms aside from a a sticky mantra of two (“goodbye humans…goodbye friends…”). But there was something churning, a cyborg pairing of stomach nausea and electrical fritz, that was pretty intriguing. 

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Following them were Anasazi, a veteran New York band who were much less effective. Hardcore is a resurgent influence in danger of once again growing very stale. Unless cut with some surprising element, an off-tempo or weird invading strain, the style tends to sacrifice nuance at the alter of pure physicality and tossed beer baths. The band were at their best in the moments when they slowed down and spaced out, allowing the rusty edges of their guitars to more deliberately shiv you in the ear. Those bits were far too fleeting. You wished they were much stranger, had heard a few more records by The Fall, or something? Anger is not interesting inherently.

For those still unaware of the brief musical genre blip “sea-punk,” it once referred to new age-y almost-R & B music written under the influence of Robitussin and Windows ’95 screen savers. But just from the name, you’d assume it was loud rock music about fish and stuff, right? Here, we find headliner Hank Wood and the Hammerheads. While their music is certainly aggressive, and overtly masculine, the set never descended into off-putting machismo. It was sorta sensitive in a weird way—just shirtless bros communing with one another in blue, nautical light. They zoned into rhythms with multiple drummers and built them into a thick froth, as the crowd climbed to the room’s highest points to recklessly dive off. There was a natural sway to it that played further than the radius of the pit.

After, and between sets, there was a weirdly respectful exodus to the sidewalk, in improbable group-adherence to the flimsy, photocopied “No Smoking” sign inside. People lingered there in clumps for a while, discussing subsequent moves, just glad for a meeting place that’s not under active threat of soon becoming a J Crew with its own signature cocktail.