(: Cameo Gallery Brooklyn, NY)
Cameo Gallery is a small but busy venue accessed through a darkly lit tavern in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A young quartet hailing from New York University called A Beacon School opened the evening. Frontman Patrick Smith creates solid pop guitar hooks, which the band delivers at full throttle while embracing the trend to bury vocals. Brooklyn based quintet Vensaire took to the stage next, a collaborative of musicians including Robert Earle Thomas of Widowspeak. Their down home jams incorporate some light hearted electronic flourishes, yet it’s all heavily structured and presented in a serious manner. (However, if you ask what the band name means you’ll receive a mischievous reply, “It’s a secret.”) Richard Spitzer’s NYC-based musical project Love Skills followed, with a drummer and rapper layering his trippy synth beats. However, any connection made with the audience during between-song banter was lost while watching the closed-eyed performances.
Modern Rivals kicked off their set with “Clocks Vs. Darts” from last year’s EP, Sea Legs. With harmonies of seasoned friendships within the bandmates, lead vocalist and guitarist Erick Lee commanded center stage. Lee and Alex Schiff (keyboards) create the musical structure for each song, before guitarist Mickey Novak adds the lyrics. Andrew Sheron provides the bass foundation and Alex Raderman lays down the percussive foundation on drums. Their indie pop sensibility can veer towards the overly complicated, but with a steady hand they ventured into new material and returned to older songs with confidence. This being their last show before time off to record another album, the group seemed more animated since PopMatters covered a show last summer, with a refreshing buoyancy of self-reliance.
Things seemed less in control, but in a good way – the live performance was not trying to recreate anything already recorded, which is always refreshing. In “Defenestrate You”, the chorus became a shout out over extended reverb, and the instrumental break included a dramatic drop out. New tune “Dead Leaves” arrived clean cut and radio ready, a satisfying song from start to finish. The night ended with “To My Friends”, a sweet song featuring Lee’s pure singing voice, providing their send-off to fans crowding together in the tight space.
Photo Credit: Eric Groom