Sometimes, it’s easy to take the best things about alternative music in New York City for granted: kickass performance spaces, reasonable ticket prices, Showpaper. Sunday night’s Showpaper benefit concert, featuring the one-two dance-punk punch of !!! and Friends, transformed the beloved DIY space of 285 Kent into the liveliest, rowdiest hub of alternative altruism. Many issues of the beloved concert listing could be seen flittering in the crowd of locals and twenty-somethings.
Between the extensive amounts of blog coverage and the buzzings of a large bidding war for its debut LP, Brooklyn dance-pop outfit Friends undoubtedly drew in many attendees who wished to see the Next Big Brooklyn Band in its primordial stages. Friends’ concert at Kent was its second of the night—the band had already opened for Oh Land at Music Hall Of Williamsburg. Maybe Friends was exhausted from that set, or maybe the smaller crowd and venue lowered expectations—whatever the reason, a lot of the group’s beloved disco jams felt half-baked, with abrupt endings and fizzled-out instrumentals supplanting what would have otherwise made for some sick, seamless transitions. Yet, occasional pitchiness notwithstanding, frontwoman Samantha Urbani was a delight, spouting confrontational gems (“You’re trying to look at the setlist, aren’t you? You snoopy bitch. I like your style.”) as well as quirky come-ons (“I like your [Baltimore] O’s hat.”) By the end of the 30-minute set, Friends finally fell into its comfort zone on the lipstick-smeared haze of “I’m His Girl.”
Beloved dance-punk outfit !!! took the stage to massive applause and proceeded to deliver as taut and groovy a set as any fan would hope. Nic Offer was all glitter-dust and swagger, with his bandmates smearing plentiful amounts of punk-rock sneer and rubber-band bass on favorites like “AM/FM” and “Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass.” Initial fears of a stiff, awkward crowd were thankfully abated early on—by the time Offer spouted his last honey-doused drawl, the floor was quaking, hands were shaking, and Showpaper had raised what appeared to be a plentiful amount of money for yet another year of killer promo.