On February fifth, I ventured out to TV Eye in Brooklyn for the chance to catch a few bands playing a show described as “post-punk, new wave, noise-rock and everything in between”. This show was loud, intense, and filled to the brim with extraordinary artists.
A dark stage, drenched in red from the lights above perfectly captured the edgy intensity of Lip Critic, the first band performing. The configuration of Lip Critic is an uncommon one, as the four-piece band is made up of two drummers, Danny Eberle and Ilan Natter, who provided such a strong physical phenomenon throughout the venue with intensified bass created by employing double percussion. As for the other band members, Connor Kleitz utilized a sequencer, and Bret Kaser performed vocals and sequencer. Lip Critic’s sound is best described as intense punk and emo rock with an electronic flair. The uniqueness of Lip Critic doesn’t stop at their sound, as Kaser was draped in extension cords with strobe lights dangling from his body as he shouted into the mic. Their hardcore sound and eccentric vibe were met with enthusiasm by an energetic crowd, as a sea of head-banging, jumping, and dancing filled the venue. Additional strobes created a set that was visually stunning and appropriate for the band’s setlist. If you’re looking for a bizarrely wonderful, off-the-wall performance akin to heavy metal, go see Lip Critic.
Next on the roster was S.C.A.B., a name incredibly fitting for a group within the punk genre. Coincidentally enough, the name came from using the first letter of each member’s first name: Sean Carmago performed vocals and guitar, Cory Best was on guitar, Alec Alabado was on bass, and Brandon Hafetz was on drums. Subscribing to the post-punk genre of music, S.C.A.B. accurately captured the volatile nature of punk-rock balanced with influences of the steadier modern rock. I actually had the chance to see Hafetz play at Kobrick Coffee Co. a few weeks ago for a Breaking Sound show as his solo act, Hayfitz. Hafetz, whose bio describes the artist as “the most gentle folk in Brooklyn” presented a completely different persona as the drummer of this post-punk group. Experiencing the dimensional talent of artists is one of my favorite aspects of the live music industry, so it was extremely gratifying to see Hafetz’s musical abilities demonstrated in a completely different genre and environment than before. The timeless rock sound of S.C.A.B. paired well with the lead singer’s appearance, dressed in an 80’s style reflective MTV windbreaker completed with slim framed cat eye glasses, Carmago sang the band’s newest single “Stolen Jag Off Morgan Ave” amongst other songs from their discography. Keep an eye out for another new single from S.C.A.B. dropping on February 25 called “Hard to See in NYC”!
Maxband was the penultimate act, which began with Max Savage on vocals and guitar, Tim Nelson on guitar, Patrick Smith on bass, and Eric Read on drums. Savage and Smith eventually exchanged instruments for a couple songs and each member (other than Read) provided vocals throughout the alternative rock band’s performance. One track, introduced by Nelson as a song about selling your labor with a chorus exclaiming “That’s Not my Job!” felt relatable to an audience caught up in the hustle culture so prevalent in New York City. The band’s grungy lyricism and witty cynical demeanor fostered a fantastic performance true to the punk theme of the evening. The band also performed “Cut it Loose”, a single off of their 2020 EP Top of the Stairs. The instrumental capabilities of each member of Maxband made their set even more impressive and made me realize that band members should trade instruments and share vocal responsibility more often, as it created such a dynamic performance.
The final band on the line-up was Activity, made up of Travis Johnson on vocals and guitar, Jess Rees on vocals and guitar, Brianna Digioia on backup vocals and bass, and Steve Lavine on drums. The alternative rock group made a perfect closer as they took the stage with an air of professionalism, proving their in-depth understanding of quality musical production by using a synthesizer and microphone effects to immerse the audience in a set of songs accented by Rees’ dreamy vocals. Bordering on indie and experimental rock, Activity saturated the room with an explosive sound. The instrumental talent of each member was clear and well matched by the complex lyrical themes presented in their music, such as liberation, purgation, and disenchantment within the realm of our own human conduct. In addition to playing some songs off of their 2020 album, Unmask Whoever, Activity debuted a few new tracks, which I will be eagerly awaiting the release of.
Despite their minute genre differences, all of these acts fit together to create a cohesive evening of music characterized by rebellion and taking artistic liberties in the name of self-expression. Personally, I’ve always loved the alternative-pop-punk-rock type sound and this show certainly hit that mark for me. Braving the frigid NYC air for this show was completely worthwhile and I would do it time and time again to see any of these bands take the stage once more.