It must be significant that the first mosh pit of Saturday night’s Life Or Death showcase at 92Y Tribeca broke out during the shiny sleaze-blues of Mac DeMarco but not the thunder-pissing outback metal of Slug Guts. To be fair, the front-row scrum of rangy dance-bros wasn’t so much a proper mosh pit as a communal exaggeration of drunken swaying (and even that was enough to stoke the 92Y bouncer on “scolding flashlight detail” into action), but where was that energy half an hour earlier during the Aussie metal show?
The crowd’s lack of thrashing didn’t halt the five be-mustached bruisers of Slug Guts from throwing their slippery, leather-clad bodies full force into a dark and angry landscape of their new album. Front-screamer Jimi Kritzler, all faux-hawked and jean-vested and aviator-ed and slithery, has kind of a scummier Jesse Hughes vibe, and Slug Guts’ doomy desert head-bangers sound similarly influenced by a life of listening to way too much Josh Holme. The tunes were loud, heavy and riff-driven, but mostly just loud. A dude named Nick was up there playing sax, but you’d have no idea from listening. Even Kritzler’s crackly vocals were engulfed by the tsunami of guitar and drum fuzz.
The room-ringing rock was a gift that kept on giving, well into the crisp surf chords of Mac DeMarco’s following set. 22-year-old DeMarco can barely breach the doors at most of the venues he’s played this CMJ, but that same youthful DGAF vivacity made his indie-blues ditties a festival must-see for many young attendants.
Saturday’s Life Or Death showcase was no exception; the room swelled with well-dressed 20-somethings before his set and was greeted with the greatest fan enthusiasm before DIIV came out three hours later. Coming from sturdier Williamsburg venues like MHOW and Public Assembly, the comparatively posh lounge vibe of 92Y somewhat limited Mac’s stage antics (no surfing or diving here) but never his humor. Mocking Slug Guts with fake deathmetal throat growls, introducing his band as “cock rock” (his Facebook bio opts for the alliterative “jizz jazz” instead) and just generally dropping an off-script “cock” whenever the urge struck, Mac’s banter was just as entertaining as his band’s perverted pop-abilly.
The show ended with Mac and drummer Joe McMurray trading places, giving Joe a chance to play his “first guitar solo ever” and DeMarco one more chance to show off his polymath rock chops, securing his seat among smiling festival winners before the MUSE-y synth pop of Sky Ferreira stole the room back to a darker place.
Photos by Donald Lee