Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Miracles of Modern Science, Junior Rocket Scientist and Iconoplasty @ the Red Room (3/29/13)

A press release about this show got me interested in it.  A band who earns praise from the New York Times, Wired and NPR will be worth a look, I figured.  The right people talking in my ear about this show as well as a listen to a handful of the Miracles of Modern Science's songs sealed the deal.

I only counted six or seven people when I got down to the Red Room.  "What, is everybody STILL recovering from Treefort?" I wondered.  "Or are they over at the Knitting Factory watching KMFDM?"  Might have been the latter: the audience had grown to around fifty people by a quarter to midnight.  That gave me hope as to the stamina of people in this community.

Iconoplasty a.k.a. Josh Gross opened the night.  I don't know if it was because he'd had his set fully mapped out or because he'd seen El Ten Eleven and Emily Wells or both, but the guy was definitely on his game.  His riffs, licks and beats all hit right where/when they should have.  He broke a string on his guitar, but that didn't detract from the pleasures of this set.

Local group Junior Rocket Scientist played next.  Speaking of being on your game, these guys might have played the best set I've seen by them yet this night.  Their clanging guitar, tuneful basslines, hyperactive drumming and high, eerie vocals never sounded more confident.  I've compared their drones and smoothly jerky groove to Joy Division in the past, but here, they made me think a bit more of early Public Image Ltd. but tighter, faster and without the snotty self-regard.

The Miracles of Modern Science closed out the night.  It seems like almost every time people try to combine classical music and rock, they mess it up somehow.  When classical guys try to do rock, it feels condescending.  When rock guys try to do classical, it feels unbearably pretentious.  This Brooklyn band proved the great exception.  It helped that, if you swapped out the violin and mandolin for guitar and/or keyboard, you'd still have a damn good indie-rock band: tidy tunes and riffs, rousing harmonies, sharp but not overbearingly virtuosic solos.  However, the acoustic instruments gave the music a warmth and freshness that your Fenders and Moogs wouldn't.  On top of this, they boasted two hallmarks of most of my favorite groups: a healthy sense of humor (they gave their songs titles like "Gear Pressure," "Bossa Supernova" and "Moms Away") and a badass drummer.  A real classical gas.

You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Wes Malvini and the Red Room.

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