Pianos, that bar and venue on the Lower East Side, had not a single piano in the place. Not like the bands playing last night needed one anyway. First up was La Res, who just got back from Germany but not on tour. Lead singer and bass player K. Lorrel Manning wrote and directed a feature film called Happy New Year about a disabled veteran freshly returned from Iraq. Clearly the subject was still on his brain, as the rock the band brought last night was dedicated to our men and women in uniform. Manning’s vocals were incredible despite his heinous German jet-lag. His voice is one part soul and one part rock ‘n’ roll, poured and served in perfect measure. In keeping with their love for the vets, the band members played a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War.” Try and imagine Edwin Starr covering Dylan, and you get the idea. David Riccardi’s guitar really wailed with a spectrum of effects, setting the tone for a night packed with amazing axe-manship.
By then it was about 11, and the room started to get crowded. Pet Lions went on in front of a full house and then brought it down. Karl Ostby’s guitar was really the centerpiece of the set, followed closely by Joseph Murphy’s explosive performance on drums. Ostby’s finger-picking technique produces a buzz-echo that he manipulates with Swiss-time precision. It’s really worth mentioning since he played complex, riff-driven indie-pop without missing a single note.
Last up was Life Size Maps, a Brooklyn outfit that’s been making the rounds for some time now. The group played tracks from its EP, Magnifier, which dropped early in the summer. It also brought out two new tracks, jamming punk anthems with plenty of punch. The band gets our award for most unique as it’s a trio of guitar, drums and electric cello. Cellist Robert Karpay also doubles on synth, and the band busted out an older song, “All Been Spent,” that rocks with power-pop guitar and electro-synth fuzz. Guitarist Mike McKeever matched Ostby and Riccardi for guitar playing. McKeever plays his Fender Jazzmaster so hard it’s a miracle the thing’s still in one piece.
All photos below by Alex Eriksen