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Noise Pop: Holy Fuck, A Place to Bury Strangers, White Denim, Veil Veil Vanish @ BOTH, 2/29/08

March 2, 2008

It’s been a long time since I had been this excited about seeing a small show of up and coming acts. I’ve been listening to A Place to Bury Strangers incessantly since last October, and was so upset to miss their set in SF at the end of last year. So this set of 4 bands of varying distortion capabilities has been on countdown for me for a couple of months. One chink in the armor for this show was a horrible sexist message I had received from some local DJ who was going to be there, in the guise of some backwards pick up line.

Veil Veil Vanish, from SF, evokes comparisons to The Cure. The dreamy guitar and melodic bass combine with the vocals and drums to create that precious dark pop music that seems harder and harder to find these days. Indie rock is boring. They have a female bassist, which is always a plus for me. The lead singer and the guitarist each played different guitars than I would expect. I wish I was more well versed in guitars, but I would bet that this adds to their surprising sound. I will definitely go see them again….I think they have a lot of promise, whatever that means these days.

White Denim, from my hometown of Austin, TX, was very, very interesting. I had listened to them on MySpace before the show, and wasn’t really digging the music much. They are a bit funky sounding, with bluesy vocals. I was having trouble understanding how they fit with the rest of the lineup. Their performance is somewhere between a jam band and The Flaming Lips. The vocalist exudes that Joe Cocker passion, where his whole body is singing the words rather than just his mouth. The bassist literally looks like he was yanked out of high school. And when I say highschool, I mean Freshman year. Like the first semester. They brought a fun-peppy-possessed energy that was very Austin.

A Place to Bury Strangers, whose name most be accompanies by the phrase ‘the loudest band in New York’ (that’s good PR), literally blew me away. I had high expectations, and they were exceeded. They are purely about the performance. A fully cranked smoke machine and practically nonexistent lighting surely made those in the back of the room question if a band was even on stage. They never said a word, acknowledged the crowd, said who they were…there might have been a thank you wave at the end. For a larger band, this kind of behavior would have pissed me off. But for a fresh young band, it was pure genius. It wasn’t about the antics or frills that more seasoned bands have the license to use, but younger bands try to get away with. It was ‘this is what you are here for, and this is what you are getting’. And it was intense. It was also too short. We got to hear ‘To Fix the Gash in Your Head’, ‘I Know I’ll See You’, and ‘My Weakness’, among 3 or 4 others. It was a bit hard to hear the vocals at times, but that was because of the overwhelming yet welcome screeching and pounding of the instruments. That’s how you know it’s live. Amidst my gushing and being caught up in the set, I managed to catch a bit of video below.

Holy Fuck, from Toronto, finished off the evening. I only made it through about 4 songs, due to a combination of drinking for too many hours and the fact that it could only be downhill after APTBS. They had the cleanest sound of all 4 bands, meaning that they tinkered with the distortion theme of the evening in a different way. It was like a science experiment on stage. There are some similarities to Battles in that it’s very electronic, but the bass and drums still ground it in rock…somehow. I’ll have to catch a full set next time they are in town.

And, I never ran into that awful sexist guy. Phew.

Holy Fuck performance: 7/10
A Place to Bury Strangers performance: 9.25/10
White Denim performance: 7/10
Veil Veil Vanish performance: 8/10
venue (Bottom of the Hill): 8.5/10
crowd/scene: 6.5/10 (they were so docile that I’m not sure many of them knew what they were there for)
value ($10/ticket): 10/10
memorable: 8/10

HRC video w/ Veil Veil Vanish and A Place to Bury Strangers clips:

White Denim video for ‘Let’s Talk About It’

live footage from a fader mag cmj set:

A Place to Bury Strangers video for ‘To Fix the Gash in Your Head’

Holy Fuck live footage of ‘Lovely Allen’


  1. Bummer you didn’t stay for all of Holy Fuck. You missed Tone Bank Jungle (remixed with a different “tone bank”) than their album. These guys just got better the more they played. Lovely Allen was totally a distortion-happy standout.

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