Music

Pop. 1280: 23.Jan.2010 - NYC

Words and Pictures by Rachel Balik

Tommy Tavern's is an anomaly in Greenpoint, a neighborhood gentrifying faster than you can say "is the G train running this weekend?" It's more dive bar than you'll find almost anywhere; the kind of place where your vodka tonic is a glass of rubbing alcohol topped with a splash of stale sugar water. Two dollar Schaffer's are the house specialty and the only thing in the place that has been replaced or cleaned in the last decade is a shiny digital juke box, which spews Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, and if you're lucky, Queen. At the back of the bar is a door that could lead to a closet but instead opens into a amorphous room painted in haphazard crimson. Inside is the bar's bathroom, and a "stage". When I entered, the lead guitarist of the night’s headliner, Pop. 1280, was collecting money at the door. The vibe in the room was pretension-free. Everyone was just waiting for the music, noticing little else.

When it started, it became clear that the raw, ambivalent space was a perfect cocoon for the aggressive, acute and omnipresent sounds of the four bands. The White Suns kicked off their set with noise music that was different than any I'd heard before. The three band members operated in a violent dance of rhythmic interplay with nearly melodic undertones, and the performance was controlled chaos; wild but sharp. The tone shifted with the Chickens and Hot Guts, both Philadelphia-based bands that truly capture the essence of post-punk, piercing through current murk of new-wave pop allegedly reminiscent of Joy Division. Hot Guts filled the dank space with undulating, echoing vocals and the Chickens alighted the walls with staccato and danceable machine-generated drumbeats.

The ballooning energy was suspended in the static air when Pop. 1280 began playing. They started simply, sliding into a viscerally wrenching performance marked by the earthy vocals of Chris Bug and the grinding, whining guitar of Ivan Lip. The bass of John Skultrane channeled eerie irksome drudges of every day life and Andrew, on the drums, reminded us what a throbbing headache entails. When the four parts come together, and the band emerges, somehow we're reminded of why, despicable as it is, we're willing to accept that we're alive. The band has a strange ability to go on the attack without acknowledging the presence of its victims. Chris Bug thrashed off-stage and surfed the room, but somehow, although fully in the crowd, was never with the crowd. The band played as though on the verge of breaking the sound barrier, but couldn't give less of a crap whether they ever do. Fortunately, it was enough to drown out the Whitney Houston in the front room.

The show ended abruptly but impassively, as Ivan Lip staggered upstage to knock over the drum. The crash was more peaceful than the underlying music. When the lights came on they seemed to signify the end of just another nasty New York dream.

Setlist

Neon Lights

Bedbugs

Is it ugly?

Step in to the Grid

Midget

Anonymous Blonde

Trash Cop

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

‘The Avengers’ Offer a Lesson for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Music

How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.

Music

Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.