Rain drizzled down over the warehouses of East Williamsburg last Thursday. All was quiet until you got a few blocks from the Grand Street L stop and started to hear the din of sounds coming from the speakers at Shea Stadium. The DIY venue hosted five bands: St. Claire, the Fagettes, Heaven’s Gate, Life Size Maps and Night Manager.
Inside the old industrial loft the air was warm and thick with cigarette smoke. The five members of Heaven’s Gate were tuning up, their guitarist puffing away on a Camel, and the crowd of 30 or so huddled around them on the stage. I showed up just as the first chords blasted everyone’s hair back. The Heaven’s Gate brand of shoegazy surf-tone rock comes in brief flashes. Songs last maybe 2 minutes, 30 seconds, tops. It was a short set but energetic with their singer exciting the most interest. She’s a dark-eyed, dark-haired girl, who sways and sings with ease. Her voice has got a Janis Joplin quality to it. Not as rough as Joplin’s but capable of hitting highs and lows with cries and growls. The band backing her gave their guitars a good chopping, thrashing out chords at a mile a minute.
Next was Life Size Maps. The band has been back in the studio at Williamsburg’s Civil Defense and on this night was ready to share what it’s been working on. It was a step away from ’90s revivalism, skipping punkier tracks like “The Closer” in favor of more recent efforts. “Wind In The Furnace” begins with a clunking synth sound, like a pan dropped in the matrix, then launches into quiet-to-loud mechanics laced with electric effects. “Copper Mirror” has drummer Jordan Blakely doing eighth-notes on a big metal cog the band found at the dump. Said cog recently fell onto and crushed frontman Mike McKeever’s MacBook Pro when the bag it was in slipped from a peg on the wall. Bummer, but at least it sounds cool. The last new song, “Weird Luck,” loops a synth riff around McKeever’s guitar droning. It sounds like Night Manager or Dive is rubbing off on the formerly plaid-wrapped McKeever. McKeever said the new tracks will be finished soon and ready for mass consumption.
In the time it took to step out onto the balcony and come back in from the rain, Night Manager was ready to go. If you have yet to be acquainted with these four Brooklynites, they’re lo-fiers with a penchant for tremolo-affected Fender Jazzmasters. Singer Caitlin Seager gave the signal and slipped into the band’s signature track, “Pizza Pasta.” Singing for Seager is as natural as talking. But on record it’s a fraction of the quality it is live. This is only because both the band’s EPs were recorded with GarageBand and the computer’s built-in microphone. Live, Seager’s voice is nothing short of angelic; it ascends and descends effortlessly. The quiver in the French-born singer’s “aah aah aah ooh oe e oh” will tingle spines.
The night ended with volunteers sweeping up the empty beer cans and those still left twisting and shaking to the B-52s’ “Rock Lobster.”
Photos by Alex Eriksen.