Brooklyn – It’s natural to be skeptical by default of ‘90s revival bands. We tend to dismiss new bands that claim Nirvana (for example) as an influence as pandering or dull (I admit this is probably unfair). Too many bands mimic the past without adding their own personality or particular twist on history. Why should we bother with an inferior imitation of what we’ve heard before? Lazyeyes, a ‘90s revival band from Brooklyn, has a couple of strikes against them from the jump: their name is a reference to a Silversun Pickups song. Being influenced by Smashing Pumpkins imitators from 2006 means Lazyeyes are a copy of a copy. Or so I thought. But after catching their recent show at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, I’m happy to report that Lazyeyes are a good band on their own terms. They released an EP called New Year last month and they featured some tracks from it, like the Walkmen-ish title track and the taut post-punk ripper “Adaptation.”
Brooklyn Night Bazaar is a challenging spot to perform. It’s a large industrial space in Greenpoint that’s been converted into a place for hipsters to recreate their childhood birthday parties while adding the stuff they like now, like tallboys of Narragansett and tattoo booths. There are arcade games and miniature golf and people selling arts and crafts. There are $6 ice cream sandwiches. It’s amidst all this hubbub and distraction that bands perform on a stage in the back corner. Lazyeyes, though, managed to get everyone paying attention and bop along.
Lazyeyes are four nice-looking young men with beards and flannels and Fender or Gibson guitars. Singer-guitarist Jason Abrishami wore a gray sweater over an oxford shirt and had on very cool shiny black Chelsea boots. The lead guitarist had long Kurt Cobain hair.
Apparently, this lead guitarist isn’t an official member of the band, and I don’t know his name. But Lazyeyes should lock him down, because he’s awesome. He has a dozen pedals that he uses to make a huge shoegaze wall of sound. He can play precise, shredding leads while flailing around like he’s trying to shake off a spider web he walked into. He’s a joy to watch.
Abrishami is a very good guitar player as well, finger-tapping like Bradford Cox on Deerhunter’s “Nothing Ever Happened,” where it’s not pyrotechnic metal finger-tapping but an efficient way to pack a lot of notes into a riff. He looks down at his hands rather than showily looking out at the crowd. This is shoegaze, after all.
They seem like polite and gracious people, too. He repeatedly thanked the crowd for coming out and implored everyone to stick around for Crocodiles, the night’s headlining act. The lead guitarist acknowledged the firefighters who had been battling a warehouse fire just a few blocks south from Brooklyn Night Bazaar all day.
Lazyeyes don’t have a particularly creative sound, but they have stage presence and songwriting chops, which puts them in good position to adapt when the ‘90s revival bubble bursts. With an expansion of their influences, a refinement of the small bits in their songs (the fills, the choruses), and some more confidence onstage, they could be a festival band in a year or two.
Lazyeyes are playing at the Acheron in Brooklyn on February 13 and have a few SXSW dates in March. To stay informed, follow them on Facebook.
Photo: Lazyeyes live by Timothy Murray
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