Hundreds braved the cold and the still-snowy streets of Brooklyn last Friday night to see the best Don Giovanni Records has to offer. The second evening of a three-night showcase featured several of the label’s up-and-comers, including Brooklyn’s own Worriers, Nude Beach and more.
Worriers nullified any possible crowd reaction puns with a fabulous opening set of hook-spitting buzz-pop. Then Nude Beach followed with an explosive, high-energy set themselves. Their combination of pleasantly clunky chords and power-packed drum beats captivated the room, flawlessly showing off their brand of polished garage-pop. Next up was Upset, an all-female group featuring ex-members of Hole and Best Coast. Seemingly straight out of the Daria soundtrack, the band brought a ’90s alt-rock flair with a punky touch.
By the time Brooklyn weirdo-rock duo Shellshag took the stage, the place was packed wall-to-wall. Fans loved every second of the band’s set, which was filled with lots of repeating lyrics, lights and general strangeness. Their set was the only point in the night in which people were spotted crowd surfing, moshing (even to slower songs) and even making out when the lyrics called for it. Soon to be hitting the stage, Laura Stevenson even got onstage and sang a tune with them. Shellshag was met with chants for an encore, and upon their departure, the room somewhat cleared out, which was a shame considering what turned out to be the best set of the night was soon to follow.
Laura Stevenson and her bandmates, lovingly deemed “The Cans,” closed out the night, and boy did they go out with a bang! Opening with Sit Resist’s The Wait, Stevenson’s voice rang out softly and sweetly in a room quiet enough to hear a pin drop. Fans stared on attentively as the notes poured out effortlessly, then eventually erupted in a sea of head nods and swaying as the band picked up. She continued on playing a solid mix of songs from each of her three records. Triangle and Renée—both from her latest LP, Wheel—were performed perfectly and with just the right amount of delicacy; while Runner followed and presented Stevenson’s quirky, energetic personality. Stevenson’s quirky side doesn’t just show through her music; it’s quite prevalent in terms of her stage presence. Throughout her set she made awkward, silly jokes that made her seem more and more adorable with each passing comment. She made it a point to tell everyone that she drank lots and lots of tea, and that she “drank it like beer.” She excitedly exclaimed that the entire band moved into a house together, and that the house, formerly owned by the Felice Brothers, used to be a brothel. The strange “hubba hubba” that followed the remarks was laughable, and showed exactly why she’s so lovable. Not only is she beautiful and talented, but the gal’s got a sense of humor.
Her set continued on with several of what Stevenson referred to as “sad songs.” Yet each one, though indeed a little sad, held an element of power and virtue that could make even the most miserable person in the crowd crack a smile. She hit every note with grace, making songs like A Shine To It and I See Dark twice as moving. However, the most emotionally stirring moments of her set came when she stood solo with a guitar playing a few of her softer pieces. At the request of a fan in the audience, she poured her soul into A Record’s Nervous Rex, along with The Move and The Hole. With each note you could feel a tug at your heartstrings.
Stevenson’s set came to a close with Mouthbreather and L-Dopa, but just wasn’t enough for anyone in the crowd. The demand for an encore brought the band back out for a buoyant and bubbly rendition of Sink, Swim which Stevenson noted is about the end of the world. With the amount of dancing and positive energy the song brought, it would almost be okay if the world were to end right then and there.