At some point within the next year, every building on Kent Avenue between South 1st and 2nd Street in Williamsburg will be a music venue. (The gymnastics studio and movie theater need to watch their backs.) While not an established DIY hotspot like nearby 285 Kent and Glasslands Gallery, the Ran Tea House held its own last night as it played host to Oberhofer, Total Slacker, Darlings, Kissing Is A Crime and Lazyeyes.
Kissing Is A Crime sees the Friends multi-instrumentalist Matthew Molnar picking up a guitar and lead vocal duties, making a significantly more pared-down variety of indie rock under a significantly more unwieldy name. Their sound is wistful and laid-back, feel-good melodies with an undercurrent of anxiety, and there’s potential despite Molnar’s distinctly unpolished voice.
Local favorites Darlings lived up to their name, delivering straightforward garage-pop with the kind of personality that’s unassuming but has enough je ne sais quoi to keep your attention. At the beginning of the night, Lazyeyes channeled a similar vibe, though they stick to shoegaze influences while Darlings will surprise you with their shredding.
Total Slacker, apparently reborn under the name Astral Locket, brought the heavy psych-rock so intensely that one guy in the front row was inspired to rip off his shirt and glasses and headbang. It was sort of beautiful to see someone “feeling the music” in such a visceral way until the girl next to him started imitating him (minus the disrobing), and the magic died.
Frontman/name-giver Brad Oberhofer began his band’s set while being carried to the stage on another dude’s shoulders. Good look! This was the Brooklyn band’s last show before setting off on tour with Matt And Kim, and it was clear that they were enjoying their time in familiar territory. The youthful energy that defines their sound is best experienced live, and Oberhofer himself was more than obliging as they tore through tracks like “Haus” and “Landline.” They lost some momentum at the very end of the show, tacking on “Heart” at the last-minute after it was requested and having to take a break to set up for it. But it’s hard to take issue with a band for paying attention to its fans, and the combination of “Away Frm U” and “Gold” that was originally supposed to close out the night can’t be beat.