Monday night’s show started out with local group Double Grave. This trio started the night off right with their melodic, pop anthems. Their demeanor was calm as the room quickly filled up but you could see the singer glance up a couple of times and then watch his eyes get big as he realized just how many people had packed into the small venue on a Monday night. Double Grave’s set was short, sweet, and refreshing. For being only a trio, their music had so many layers and was more interesting than I thought a trio could ever be. After their set, people throughout the venue could be heard praising them and that made me happy. It was clear that this audience understood and appreciated good music. That may sound like something that should happen at every single show but you’d be surprised.
What happened next was not far from mind blowing.
Palm is easily one of the oddest, most intriguing bands I have ever seen live. To say that their brand of math punk music is mind altering and confusing wouldn’t be a stretch but, at the same time their set was more than enjoyable. Within the first song, I was intrigued enough to leave my post in the corner and get closer. I kept on hearing what sounded like a steel drum and I just had to see it for myself. To my shock, when I got a bit closer to the stage I realized that there was no steel drum, that was just how the guitars sounded. It was an odd sound to me. It was almost a mind-fuck to be able to put that sound with the guitar but, as I singled out each member, one by one, I was sort of able to make sense of it all.
Beyond the strange tones coming through the speakers, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the beats they were putting out. They weren’t playing your typical rhythms that you could tap your foot or nod your head to. These guys either have no clue what a time signature is or they just like to mess with people who do. Either way, it was truly an amazing experience to stand there and try to figure out where the beat was. I don’t think I ever really figured it out so my constant sneezing may or may not have been in rhythm (I had promised myself that I would only sneeze and cough in time with the music to make it less distracting.) but regardless, Palm had me hooked.
Not only was the music of Palm amazing, the unspoken communication between band members was goose bump inducing. As a musician, I understood the complexity of the rhythms these guys had in their music. I realize the amount of dedication to the craft that it takes to nail every single note and how next to impossible it is to do with simultaneously with another band member on another instrument but these guys pulled it off. You could see the band members had an unspoken language full of cues in order to keep the complicated music together but it seemed so natural. There was no struggle and no stress coming off the stage. There were moments when I thought the music was falling apart and someone had gotten behind a beat but, within seconds, everything would sound normal again. Being able to witness such musicianship is definitely an amazing experience.
After I had had my mind blown by Palm, it was time for the headlining act, LVL UP. Hailing from Purchase, NY, LVL UP ended the night with their calming brand of lo-fi, indie-pop music. The four piece commanded the full house throughout their hour long set and never let the energy drop. Even with the lo-fi/ indie-pop sound, these guys screamed garage rock. They had this attitude about them that was welcoming but still rock n roll. The members seemed a bit hesitant to take control of the microphones in between songs but they didn’t have to. Their music said everything that needed to be said.
The thing that struck me most about this band was the amount of switching between vocalists they do flawlessly. It seemed like each member had a different song that he was featured vocally on and, although you could hear the differences between voices, it all ended up sounding cohesive and like one group. Each voice had a different feeling to it. One was a bit more grungy than the rest, one a bit more pop sounding, and one that seemed to blend everything together. The palate of voices kept the set interesting and kept me guessing what could come next. When you mixed the diverse vocals with the instrumentation behind them, you got something more than just a generic lo-fi or indie-pop band. You got LVL UP and an amazing set for a Monday night.
LVL UP’s set wasn’t aggressive and wasn’t over done. It was a perfect balance of calm and energy. The crowd bobbed along to the music as the night went on and you could feel the true appreciation radiate from crowd to stage and vice-versa. They played through many songs including a handful off their newest release Return to Love which came out last September on Sub Pop. After the confusion and complexity that was Palm, LVL UP’s music was truly the most perfect closing act for the night.