After previewing their shows and choosing them as concert picks more than once, I finally, finally got to see Weekend. A live show review of these guys was really well overdue on BestNewBands.com, so with this post I am rectifying that. Added bonus: catching them at my forgotten favorite venue Mercury Lounge to even better fill in the gap, plus openers Fan-Tan and Talk Normal, two other emerging bands to take note of.
Ryan Lee Dunlap of Fan-Tan
Fan-Tan was up first, a post-punk Brooklyn-based band that I have heard before mentioned around in passing conversations, so when I realized they were on the bill I had a slow ‘oh yeaahhh’ revelation of a small context. What I didn’t realize was that they’re actually pretty good. To me they came across as a condensed post-rock/shoegaze band. All of their songs could easily be nine minutes, but they took the sonic layering, shimmering guitar crescendos, and all the atmosphere of a drawn out reverb-soaked post-rock song, and mixed in a greater amount of structure and brevity to produce a more easily accessible version. This quality also seemed to lend itself to walking a thin line between cerebral shoegaze, with the crowd acting quiet and tough, and dancing out like you would at a club on new wave night.
I had also come across Talk Normal before in random mentions, and since they’ve played shows curated by Thurston Moore, put out a split with him, and had their some album artwork done by Kim Gordon, I had a good idea of what to expect. Talk Normal is guitarist/bassist Sarah Register and vocalist/drummer Andrya Ambro, whose voice is like a piercing spear of sound through Rigister’s sludgy guitar riffs and Ambro’s own tribal drum beats. Seriously, it cuts.
They began their set with a sample of what sounded like a menacing cicada swarm, then Ambro began her drum bashing, soon followed by Register coming in on what was possibly the sludgiest guitar riff I’ve ever heard live. That might have been due to the screwdriver shoved between her guitar strings. Frequently Register came in on vocals too, talk-singing in more of a droning spoken word response to Ambro’s more high-pitched vocals á la Sleater-Kinney, which sometimes climaxed into a screaming dual. In the middle of her set Ambro kicked back her drum seat and played her beats while doing this tribal stomping dance. All in all, she was a pretty sloppy drummer, but I don’t think technical proficiency are what these girls are really going for. They’re trying to carve out a new hole of sound, and the dirtier, the better. On their last song, they brought up a guest saxophone player, to add an additional element of cacophony. Saxophone cacophone.
Weekend started their set with “Monday Morning,” which goes so well right into “Monongah, WV.” Bassist/vocalist Shaun Durkan didn’t waste too much time with talking in between songs, except to casually bring up Weekend’s new EP, and introduce a new song off that they were going to play called “Hazel,” which you can hear below.Weekend - Hazel by Slumberland Records
He also said a few things that sounded unintelligible, much like the majority of his vocals. Durkan played his super blown-out bass more like a guitar, and his voice was more like another instrument layered between that, Kevin Johnson’s screaming guitar, and Abe Pedroza’s pounding drums. Johnson would hit his volume pedal to turn his feedback into a high-pitched screech, and then snap it back down for intermittent jangly guitar. They created dense walls of moody atmosphere that took until almost the very end for people to really feel it and start dancing. The ended on what I think is their best song, “Coma Summer,” after which Durkan dragged the mic, still on the stand, to the giant speaker at the back of the stage for behemoth feedback that had a few people holding their ears. He dropped the stand on the stage and returned to his pedal board to twist knobs before a quick wave and “thanks,” following his bandmates off the stage. When they hit the pedals to abruptly stop the noise, it was like being spit back out from a black hole monster of post-punk fuzz. You know a live show is good when you need a moment to collect yourself afterward.
Kevin JohnsonFan-Tan look like they haven’t updated their website for a year, and so have no future listed show dates. Talk Normal is supporting Weekend four more dates, ending in Los Angeles before touring around the UK and Europe through the beginning of December. Check out all dates on their website. Weekend is touring through the end of the month, ending in Portland after splitting off from Talk Normal. Look out for their new Red EP out later this fall.