New York – Public Access T.V. may be better known as “the band whose apartment exploded,” but the New York band is quickly garnering acclaim for its energetic live shows, around the country. This popularity was in full force on a Fall Friday night, as Public Access T.V. performed in front a packed crowd at the Mercury Lounge in celebration of the release of the band’s debut album Never Enough (out now on Cinematic / Sony Records). The foursome delighted both friends and fans alike across the late night set.
Opening band T.V. Baby was able to excite the crowd, prior to PATV, with a lively and entertaining warm-up set. As a duo utilizing only a Roland Drum Machine alongside a guitarist and vocalist, T.V. Baby’s set was certainly not lacking energy. The NYC band’s blend of electronic and punk elements was enough to get the crowd moving and buying drinks prior to Public Access T.V.’s headlining set. Think of the duo as a graceful combination of LCD Soundsystem and the War on Drugs. However, with no releases on Bandcamp since 2012, T.V. Baby seems to be content with a marginalized NYC scene status at the moment.
The ample amounts of New Wave tunes blasted through the house speakers in between sets was enough to keep the 80s vibes going until Public Access T.V. took the stage. Whether they like it or not, the four members of the East Village based group will inevitably be linked and compared to The Strokes because of their punk aesthetics and New York roots. But where The Strokes seemed too cool for school, the guys of Public Access T.V. have more of a warmth about them.
Having once been hailed by NME as “New York’s Hottest New Bands,” it isn’t surprising that Public Access T.V. was able to sell out and captivate a crowd at an established venue, such as Mercury Lounge. The foursome quickly jumped from track to track, playing tunes both from the new album, as well as older singles and songs from EP releases since frontman John Eatherly formed the band in 2014. Eatherly, sporting a cherry red guitar that very well could be a Squire, strummed power chords and engaged the audience with his eyes as he sang verses and choruses.
With recent performances at Bonnaroo and Governors Ball under their belts, members Xan Aird (guitar), Max Peebles (bass), Pete Star (drums), and John Eatherly (guitar, lead vocals) certainly have developed a flair for putting on a show. On the other hand, Public Access T.V. maintains a sense of the garage rock attitude that drew many to the band, to begin with, starting with house shows around New York and eventually in the U.K. – while recording Never Enough overseas, in 2015. Aird quickly lost his “Che Guevara” style hat, made famous in the video “All We Want,” after rocking out too hard on guitar, during the first song of the set. Aside from wailing on his drums, Star provided sloppy backing vocals from track to track, while Peebles was cool and calculated in his tie and jacket, strumming his bass. These are the diverse elements that make a punk band a punk band, right?
While the Strokes comparisons are inevitable, I find Public Access T.V. more akin to a U.S. version of The Horrors, minus the electronics. Add in some of the chorus and reverb that is prevalent on the nostalgic guitars of neo-psychedelic artists today, and you get Public Access T.V.’s nearly distinct sound. I only say “nearly” simply because it is such an obvious (although perhaps not intentional) mashup of two popularized styles. Nevertheless, this accomplished combination should certainly see Public Access T.V. continue to rise in the New York scene, as well as around the country and abroad.