I was running a few minutes late to the Crash Kings and Nico Vega show at the Bowery Ballroom last night, so I entered the concert hall after Nico Vega had already started their set. As I walked through the door, I was greeted with a group of fans jumping around the room, fists in the air, with singer Aja Volkman leading the whole chaotic routine. Nico Vega has a raw energy to their sound that only intensifies in their live show.
At one point, the band brought out an oil drum that they turned into a sort of percussion podium. Volkman would bang on the drum sporadically throughout the show, and even took to standing on it while she belted out her vocals. During their last song, “Beast,” guitarist Rich Koehler jumped on top of the oil drum and blasted out a ripping guitar solo. By the end of Nico Vega’s set, nearly everyone in the room was singing along—at least, that’s what it seemed like. One fan couldn’t take the sonic ecstasy anymore, and jumped onstage to give Volkman a hug before being escorted off. Volkman was touched by the gesture and spread out her own arms to give the entire audience a symbolic hug.
Crash Kings took the stage next to the already hyped-up crowd. Bassist Mike Beliveau kicked the set off with a drawn-out solo leading into “Six Foot Tall,” before being joined by lead vocalist Antonio Beliveau. Beliveau on vocals and keyboards, sporting a fedora and looking like a younger Jeff Tweedy, smashed through the set on his arsenal of equipment. His keyboard, with “Who Makes Up Your Mind” scrawled on its side, was his instrument of choice, but he was also heavily dependent on his clarinet and synthesizer.
It was clear Beliveau was surprised by the audience’s energy. As the band finished up their second song, he said, “Holy shit, two songs in and you’re already the best fucking audience on this tour…pardon my French.” Later, his amazement continued: “Where’d you people come from? You’re animals!” Crash Kings, who recently released their latest album, Dark Of The Daylight, hardly wasted any time between songs and played through their catalogue of hits including “Mountain Man” and “Hesitate.” The band gave fans a good “hump day” remedy, because even when they played “It’s Only Wednesday,” it certainly felt like Friday.