The middle of the week promised a great lineup at Union Pool on what was probably the nicest almost-spring night in Brooklyn yet. It was Dead Stars’ 7-inch release show, with Heliotropes and The Veda Rays supporting – all bands that do the Brooklyn music scene justice. (Pictured: Heliotropes)
Jessica Numsuwankijkul of Heliotropes
Heliotropes are a cool all female psych rock band that I’ve heard people draw comparisons with Warpaint, but they remind me more of a ladies version of JEFF the Brotherhood. Vocalist Jessica Numsuwankijkul turns the reverb on her guitar way, way up and then just goes off on these tripped-out riffs that are really what the songs are all about. She has a nice low alto voice, but live it’s more like another instrument, with lyrics that blending in and mostly impossible to decipher, unless you were familiar with their recorded material. Amber Myers backs her up on some harmonies, adding more of a haunting ambiance to the songs. Nya Abudu keeps a smooth bass groove under it all, and Cici Harrison wails on the drums in the back. Bottom line: these ladies can rock a late night dirge. The further proof was that they drew the biggest crowd of the night for their second slot set, hands down.
Of course, plenty of people stayed for headliners Dead Stars. It was their 7” release show, after all. This band is like a direct descendant of all the best 90s grunge bands. Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh comparisons are obvious, as well as fellow '90s revival contemporaries Yuck. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dead Stars and Yuck did a tour together. In fact, I would be more surprised if they didn’t – I really can’t think of a better sonic match. Their song “Kill Me in the Summertime” could easily be straight up mistaken for a new Yuck track. It’s got the catchy chorus you can sing along to, the clever repetitive guitar line you’ll want to learn to play along to, and the saturnine sensibilities we love to revel in. It’s definitely a jam, as are the rest of their songs.
Jeff Moore of Dead Stars
Speaking of jams, The Veda Rays had a couple new ones they pulled out for their opening set. It hasn’t been that long since they released their debut LP Gamma Rays Galaxy Rays Veda Rays, but they’ve already got not one but two EPs to look out for in the coming months, plus plans to release another full length by the end of the year. It’s like they have an infinite song bank to just pull from. Or, they’re just outrageously productive, like a whole group of Bradford Coxs. They even re-interpret their own old(er) songs, such as “All Your Pretty Fates,” which gets a slowed, stripped down treatment for the live setting. This kind of thing is exactly what makes going to see a band live interesting – knowing it’s not going to be the same set done the same way every time. That, and all the strange, amusing interactions and between song banter. Their last song was one of the news ones they let loose, and it was probably the most epic anthem they’ve done yet. It was actually a little too grand for an opening band playing Union Pool on a Wednesday night. One thing that can be said for The Veda Rays is that they have plenty of room to grow, and with their intricate sensibilities and a fresh but already vast library, they’re ready to do so.
Listen to Heliotropes on Bandcamp. They’ll be playing March 16th at Glasslands, with more NYC dates in April as well. Dead Stars’ I Get By 7” is now out, and available on their Bandcamp. They’ll be back at Union Pool the end of the month. The Veda Rays are heading down to SXSW – check their calendar for individual dates along the way.