By Pier Harrison
It was a night of smoke, synths and eerily deep voices at Naked On The Vague’s release show for Twelve Dark Noons, the band’s new EP on Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones. The show capped off a busy week for the Sydney, Australia, goth-psych group before its tour with Zola Jesus: On Thursday it premiered a short film, directed by Jacqueline Castel, for the EP at 92Y Tribeca and one week earlier played the New Museum’s “Get Weird” party that encouraged revelers to dress up as their favorite George Condo painting. Friday’s performance was less arty, but you knew from the beginning of the night, when the smoke machine filled the room with the aroma of burning maple syrup, that, with Silk Flowers and SB label-mates Trust on the bill, it was going to be a freak show.
Lucy Cliche’s voice is deep and commanding—she would make a great cult leader if she weren’t already the high priestess of the punk tribal ceremony that constitutes NOTV’s live performance, with pretty minimalist drum beats and haunting, if sometimes monotonous, melodies. Her synths shined on single “Clock Of 12’s,” shifting gracefully and pushing the song forward. But most of the songs are led by Matthew Hopkins’ angular guitar hooks that obliterate themselves in explosive, noisy solos. In a black preacher’s hat, Hopkins looked more like he walked out of a Southern Gothic novel than a goth band. Nevertheless the shredding got intense, with the former duo now backed with hammering bass and drums.
New York trio Silk Flowers performed equipped with synthesizers, drum machines and mixers, at the intersection of electronic dance music and something much weirder, lending the concert venue more of a party vibe. Silk Flowers’ show is treated like a DJ set too, with zero dead air between songs making for seamless transitions that rob the audience members of any excuse to stop dancing—and get down they did. Though it was a rather full house, there was still enough space for people to showcase their awkward, robotic dance moves for all to see.
Singer/beat-maker Ethan Swan’s inhumanely deep voice is pitched somewhere between Ian Curtis and Poseidon, god of the sea. Though dark and smooth on single “Band Of Color,” it strains at times, but it’s all part of the band’s freak flag. Some all-instrumental tracks like “Frozen Moments” made for devilishly cacophonous jams sprinkled with laser noises, sonic incarnations of the actual lasers whirling all around the stage, which looked like someone let a fleet of middle school hecklers in with laser pointers.
Openers Trust put on a good show, too, set up like a hybrid of NOTV and Silk Flowers, with a keyboard, drums and electronic sound boards. Drummer Maya Postepski pounded out weird beats while Robert Alfons scaled his voice up and down with various vocal effects, obscuring his real range. The songs ride on chaotic rhythmic patterns and melodies that break into sudden clearings of heavenly synth notes. A slow jam at the end of the trio’s set dug the bobbing crowd into a deep groove, with pitched-down vocals and sludgy bass that served as a good lead into Silk Flowers and was more in tune with the no-frills, fearsome, eyeliner-less brand of goth that reigned over the night.