New Brunswick, NJ is a city basically run by college students, and because of this, its basement music scene has become semi-legendary (there's even a Wikipedia article about it). There are dozens of "venues" that are simply the basements of houses rented out by students at Rutgers, and they all have cool names like "The Candy Barrel" and "The Cooler Ranch." The name of the house I went to last night was "Mt. Doom", which I thought was particularly cool, since I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan. Though the basement at Mt. Doom was dimly lit and heavily tagged with graffiti, it was a relatively neat and organized space for a punk show.
The first act of the night was a guitar and bass duo called Omegalith. The only influence listed on its Facebook page is David Bowie, but this is most likely a joke because they sound nothing at all like him. The duo plays along to a drum machine, which invites immediate comparisons to Big Black, except Omegalith is even louder and more brutal than Big Black. All of the songs are instrumental and less than two minutes, but are stuffed with shrieks and heavily treated grindcore riffs.
The second act was Terrible Terrible, and I'm going to refrain from using its name against the band. I didn't care for the group nearly as much as Omegalith, but it also sounded nothing alike. Terrible Terrible's songs were far more mellow, fussier, and most detrimentally, longer. When I thought its first song was about to end, it kept going for another two minutes, which makes it seem like the band is far too impressed with its own melodies to cut them any shorter.
Up next was Party Cops, the band I came there to see, and one of the bands I wrote about in my show review last week. Luckily, the real cops didn't show up and cut its set short this time, since the band probably have more pressing matters to take care of in New Brunswick. As usual, the group was in top form, and played with even more ferocity than usual, probably in an attempt to get its entire set in before the show was cancelled.
I was totally unprepared for Roz and the Rice Cakes, a Providence, RI trio who was the sole touring band on the bill. The titular "Roz" is vocalist and keyboardist Roz Raskin, who attacks her keyboard in a way that more than makes up for the absence of a guitarist. The band's rhythm section, who I'm assuming is the Rice Cakes, is one of the most technically gifted I've ever witnessed, yet the band somehow refrain from becoming alienating and inaccessible. I could describe the music as math rock, but that would make it seem soulless, which it definitely isn't.
The evening closed out pretty anti-climactically with City Limits, a New Brunswick punk band. Because the songs weren't experimental enough to be considered emo and not catchy enough to be pop punk, the band falls into an unfortunate punk no-man's land.