Live Report: Whores, Primitive Weapons, Plaque Marks, Husbandry
Noise rock is a New York musical institution. From White Light/White Heat to the no wave days on through active legends like Unsane and Helmet, the unforgiving city is a perfect backdrop for the genre’s abrasive and darkly humorous nature. An unusually balmy February night in Brooklyn (a Monday, no less!) brought out the fans to St. Vitus. The near-capacity crowd huddled in to check out four exceptional acts, all unique in approach but united in visceral riffage.
Brooklyn’s Husbandry opened the show with an exciting take on the post-rock/hardcore formula. Singer Carina Zachary actually sings, and exceptionally at that. We’re talking pop-star quality vocals layered over an aggressive rock foundation, reminiscent of The End and Real Thing-era Faith No More. The band was in total lockstep, and they obviously like to practice. Their secret weapon: bassist/backing vocalist Arnau Bosc, whose playing chops match his equally impressive pedal board.
Crawling out of some Philly hellhole, Plaque Marks came to have a good time. Reveling in an unhinged punk-drenched squall, the band -– anchored by the towering visage of bassist/vocalist Dave Sabolik (ex-Ecstatic Vision) in a 1970s lounge singer suit -- didn’t play so much as they lurched into each song yet managed to sync up for some of the heaviest grooves of the night. At one point, Sabolik pulled out his wallet, threw a gift card into the crowd, and then tore up his passport declaring that America is so great now that he never wants to leave. Iron Lung’s Jensen Ward once said there are two kinds of bands: those that tell jokes, and those that are funny. Plaque Marks are hilarious.
Next up was Primitive Weapons, fronted by St. Vitus co-owner/White Widows Pact singer David Castillo. As someone deeply connected to the New York rock and metal underground scene, his passion for the music is already bona fide. That passion manifests itself during the band’s performance, as Castillo launches himself across the stage, screaming each word as if it might be his last. At one point he shares a personal anecdote about his father’s recent cancer diagnosis, which gives their set an extra layer of intense immediacy. Filling in for drummer Christopher Enriquez, Tucker Rule (Thursday) was more than up to the task, slamming like Bonham and upping the ante on an already fiery performance.
Coming in for a special one-off show from their recently completed tour with Darkest Hour, Whores took the stage to the strains of AC/DC’s “Rock & Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution." Since the release of their debut full-length Gold in October 2016, the band has seen their profile raised significantly. It’s surreal to see a band whose biggest reference points are Unsane and the AmRep back-catalog in a Rolling Stone Top 10, but here we are. Despite having the fewest band members on stage that night, Whores managed to have the biggest sound, by far. Guitarist/vocalist Christian Lembach wrung fat, nasty tones out of his rig from start to finish, trading in the archetypal noise rock feedback for pure rock fury. The rhythm section, comprised of bassist Casey Maxwell and drummer Donnie Adkinson, were a revelation, turning time signatures on a dime and never missing a beat. When all three locked in on a groove -– fan favorite “I Am Not A Goal Oriented Person” comes to mind -– the crowd lost their collective shit, banging heads and slamming bodies.
Battle vests rubbed up against polo shirts and Rangers tees, longhairs rocked alongside Wall Street and Main Street types; let it be known, Whores bring the people together.
photos by Christopher Harrington