Music Hall of Williamsburg
A Place to Bury Strangers

A Place to Bury Strangers

Cymbals Eat Guitars, Hunters

Fri, July 27, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

This event is 18 and over

A Place to Bury Strangers
A Place to Bury Strangers
A Place to Bury Strangers
Transfixiation (Dead Oceans, February 17th)

"There are moments where I'm really scared on stage," admits A Place to Bury Strangers bassist Dion Lunadon, "where it's really foggy and I know someone's swinging a guitar around. I don't give a fuck though; if a guitar is about to hit me in the head, oh well. It's going to make for a better show."
He should know. After joining the Brooklyn-based trio in 2010, it only took a few shows before Lunadon smashed his bass against his face. The freshly drawn blood trickled like rain off of a tin roof. But since the band often plays in the dark, he couldn't actually see what happened. He had to keep going, and hope for the best.
"That's the most intense fear and feeling—when you go to a show and you're actually scared," says frontman Oliver Ackermann, a co-founder of the soon-to-be-shuttered Death By Audio DIY space that's hosted its fair share of frantic, life-affirming shows.
"Or you can palpably feel the danger in the music," adds Lunadon, "like it's going to fall apart at any moment and the players doing it are so in the moment they don't give a shit about anything else. They're just going for it. It's a gutter kinda vibe; everything about it is icky and evil and dangerous."
The same could be said for A Place to Bury Strangers' fourth album, Transfixiation. Rather than fixate on precious recording techniques and minute details, the members of the group -- Ackermann, Lunadon, and hard-hitting drummer Robi Gonzalez -- trusted their instincts and tried to keep things as pure as possible. If that meant a mess of cross-contaminated microphones and mud-caked mistakes, so be it. Music is much more exhilarating when it's unpredictable, and from the tortured straight-to-tape transmission of "I Will Die" and molten funk melodies of "Straight" to the violent guitar spasms, cannon-like drums and not-so-idle threats of "Deeper," this is very much an unpredictable record. Gonzalez makes his recording debut with the band here and he’s helped push the band’s recorded sound closer to the intense level of its infamous live shows.
Considering how controlled the chaos feels at every turn—the mark of a band at the peak of their powers—it's hard to imagine that Transfixiation almost didn't happen. Having spent nearly two straight years on the road, the musicians figured they'd parlay that momentum into a new record as soon as they got settled back home. And while the self-produced sessions at Death By Audio led to some fantastic material, Ackermann hit a wall near the end of that initial month. He needed a long break.
"The way it was broken off was so intense," he says. "It got to be too much, where we—or at least I—almost had a meltdown or something. I felt like we had to stop, and I wasn't even sure if the album was going to get finished or if we were going to be friends again."
Two months passed by with little communication between the three members. Lunadon worked on other recordings, and Gonzalez retreated to a mountainous region in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Ackermann pieced together the set: fresh compositions, songs that had already been recorded in Brooklyn, and the fruit of an earlier recording session with Serena Maneesh frontman Emil Nikolaisen in Norway. Thankfully, everything clicked. A Place to Bury Strangers became whole again, with a bond—onstage and off—that's arguably stronger than it's ever been.
"Things go wrong all the time," explains Lunadon, "so with anything that's thrown at us, we have to make the best of it and turn something into gold instead of falling apart."
"The one thing we have in common is this fire when we're playing," adds Gonzalez. "I don't know; it's real intense."
The well-oiled Lunadon-Gonzalez rhythm section has adapted to Ackermann's unique style of playing -- the pair has embraced the chain-linked effects (Ackermann has produced custom pedals for such major artists as Lou Reed, My Bloody Valentine, The Flaming Lips, and Nine Inch Nails) and minimized the drum fills.
"It's not rocket science," says Lunadon, "but rock 'n' roll shouldn't be. When you start to do bluesy scales or try to be too fancy, it doesn't work for us. You gotta keep it simple and seize the moment.”
Cymbals Eat Guitars
Cymbals Eat Guitars
“Wanna wake up wanting to listen to records / But those old feelings elude me / I raise a toast to the rock n' roll ghost,” sings Cymbals Eat Guitars frontman Joseph D’Agostino on the hyper-adrenalized “XR,” which sounds like a Tonight’s the Nightouttake recorded at triple speed, with its braying harmonica and spitfire vocal delivery. It’s the track that perhaps best captures the spirit of the band’s third LP, LOSE, one of coping with abject loss and grief by rediscovering what you’ve always loved, as difficult as it may be—the redemptive power of music. For D’Agostino, this entailed coming to terms with his best friend and musical collaborator Benjamin High, who passed away suddenly seven years ago, just as Cymbals Eat Guitars began recording in earnest.

LOSE is a very apropos title because it refers not only to losing Ben, but also it's about a sort of nostalgia, a longing for a time when music meant everything to you and your friends, and it seemed like one great rock record could change everyone's life the way it changed yours,” says D’Agostino. “It's about being in mourning for your long-held belief that music could literally change the world. That's the contradiction at the heart ofLOSE... You're disillusioned, but somehow you can do nothing else but rail against that feeling mightily and try, once again, to make a record that makes you and everyone else ‘wake up wanting to listen to records’.”

And indeed, the band, rounded out by bassist Matthew Whipple, keyboardist Brian Hamilton, and drummer Andrew Dole, alongside producer John Agnello, do little wallowing. This is a raucous affair, an Irish Wake, ultimately rooted in nothing less than a celebration of just being alive.

“Jackson” kicks off the album in prototypical Cymbals fashion—all allusions to suburban ennui, drugs, and geography, as D’Agostino reminisces, “We're riding through Jackson Pines / Towards Six Flags to wait in lines,” with an agoraphobic romantic companion whom he directly addresses, “You're taking two Klonopin / So you can quit flipping / And face our friends.” Yet, this is a leaner, more sinister Cymbals. The vocals are crisper, the drums more dynamic, the bass more melodic, all buttressed by a sensational see-saw guitar figure that blossoms into a lacerating yet anthemic rocker.

“I think this one is obviously more accessible than Why There Are Mountains or Lenses Alien,” says D’Agostino, referring to the band’s first two LPs, their debut having been awarded Pitchfork’s coveted Best New Music. “The first two had a lot more stop and start,” he continues. “This one has a ton of momentum. It's got fluidity and grace. I think I gave the lyrics more room to breathe, so you can kind of follow what's going on.”

The record also features some radical stylistic departures for the band. “We just got tired of playing mathy, ponderous songs every night,” laughs D’Agostino. This sea change is exemplified by the tranquil, gorgeous Velvets-esque ballad “Child Bride,” and the soulful slow-burn of “Laramie,” that finds D’Agostino crooning in a near Prince-esque falsetto, “I'll do the Kev and you can do the Charles,” slyly referencing band favorite The Wrens, before admitting with contrition, “We were both in need of rescue / So who saved whom?”

And that’s what’s perhaps most impressive about LOSE—the manner in which D’Agostino comes clean with his emotions, tackling seemingly ineffable mourning without equivocation. “There are no $5 words that you'll have to pull up dictionary.comfor... some of the lyrics are directly confessional. Very open, no obfuscation,” he explains. “I lost my dear friend a while ago and I've sort of been addressing it in song for most of my career, though you probably couldn't really tell until now. It’s just a direct expression of grief. I figured if I confronted it head-on on record it'd make for some interesting music.”

But this is more than interesting—LOSE is a headlong rush of regret sublimated into a grand catharsis.

“These songs are a joy to play, and hopefully they will be a joy to listen to,” says D’Agostino. “I know I still get chills from every song on this record, so that has to mean something. You have to trust that feeling.”
Hunters
Hunters
Equal parts Motorhead, Sonic Youth and maybe the early Misfits, Hunters boast an aggressive, raw style of punk. Since February, they've been rising through the ranks, thanks to a 2-song offering mixed by Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs).
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/