DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 with PANTHERS and VIETNAM at Lee's Palace, December 9. Tickets: $8.50. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Separating style from substance at a show like last Thursday's Vice Records jam at Lee's is tough. Critics everywhere are piling steaming heaps of praise on all three bands. The Vice logo alone is enough to ensure that the party is rammed with faded denim and furry boots. And the headliners are a coupla local boys whose You're A Woman, I'm A Machine joint is one of the year's most hyped.
In a lot of ways, though, Death from Above 1979 's Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler are the musical equivalent of a Hollywood action movie. They're both big hunky guys - all broad shoulders, pulsating biceps and couldn't-really-give-a-damn posturing. Their music is filled with big, stylish explosions. The whole display is also really fun to watch.
Tear away that veneer, though, and you're left with all the depth of a wading pool.
Draped in a retro Detroit Pistons jersey, drummer/howler Grainger furiously bashed away on his drums while his mustachioed pal manhandled - or is it machine-handled - his four-string, repeatedly bludgeoning the packed house with their neo-metal thrash.
Judging by the floor action, a lot of kids came to get righteously blotto in the pit.
But if your objective wasn't to get completely crunk up front, 20 minutes in the songs started to bleed together.
Even when Keeler fondled his expensive rack of keyboards, the digital bark was virtually identical to the sound of his bass: fuzzy, loud and melodically incomprehensible. Judging by the finger action, he looked like he was on some interesting shit, but with all the noise, he could've been playing Chopsticks.
Dispelling any rumours of inter-band tension, the show's highlight came when Panthers drummer Jeff Salane pounced on the kit. Grainger ditched the Don Henley singing drummer routine, got up off his stool and grabbed both his crotch and the mic.
Maybe they should think about roping Salane in full-time.
For a bunch of Brooklyn loft-party accoutrements, Panthers put on a surprisingly tight and heavy show. Enveloped in psychedelic projections, their bottom-heavy, hard-boiled rock was even more potent live than on record.
They also proved that substance and style aren't mutually exclusive.