We all know that Valentine’s Day was created to make us miserable. But that’s okay. While happy couples are stuffing their faces with fancy pasta and chocolate after a long day of shopping, you can always choose to descend into a musty basement, a 40 oz. in hand and bob the night away. That was the scene last Friday in New Brunswick, as scenesters braved the ice and slush to celebrate the holiday with some local legends and out-of-state troubadours.
Sink Tapes, one of the rising indie rock stars of the New Brunswick scene, started the party with a set that went off like clockwork. Each song was a super-tight package, complete with dreamy guitar lines, a prominent rhythm section, intricate vocal duets and appropriately gazed shoes. With almost no pauses between songs, the band performed with a well-rehearsed determination that infused the greatest moments of Guided By Voices with a basement-bred youthful resolve.
Fortunately the snowstorm that tortured the Northeast didn’t keep the Portland, Maine, acts R.S.O. and Great Western Plain from making the trek. Standing as a single carbon-based life form, Ryan Owens, aka R.S.O., brought some no-wave punk blues with commendable conviction and transparency. Each song maintained the intensity of the last and perfectly set the stage for touring buddies Great Western Plain. They proceeded to tear through a set of Cloud Nothings-esque jangly-guitar punk burners. Moshing ensued, sweat began to pour and then it was time for the headliner.
Noun’s guitar hero Marissa Paternoster (also of Screaming Females and Bad Canoes) and drummer Miranda Taylor delivered minimalist garage-rock swagger. Holy Hell specifically showcased Paternoster’s trademark chops and yowling, while Taylor bashed and pogo’d along with perfect time. The goth-tinged duo also delivered some impressively hushed harmonies, then reminded the crowd that this was a day of, “Hate, grief and misery.” Considering the intent of basement show scenes to unite any and all who might be in a similar boat and are willing to listen, this was a perfect sentiment given the holiday.