Concert Review: The Meatlocker in Montclair, New Jersey
Shows at the Meatlocker in Montclair, NJ sit somewhere in between basement shows and legitimate venue shows. Technically it's the basement to an apartment building, but I'm pretty sure nobody who lives in the apartment actually goes down into that cold, filthy space. Anyone can rent out the space for the night and put on a show, and while big acts such as Ted Leo, Wavves, and Screaming Females have played there, most nights it's just a bunch of small, scrappy punk bands playing for a couple of people, as was the case at the show I went to last night.
The bill had five bands on it, three local and two touring, but one of the local bands didn't show up for whatever reason. It was supposed to be eight dollars at the door, which is pretty steep for a punk show, but since I walked in at the same time as one of the bands, nobody thought to ask me for any money. Other than myself and about three or four other people, the audience was made up entirely of people who were playing in bands that night.
The first act was Slow Children, a four-piece who came all the way from Southern California. The band's sound was basically a slightly more melodic take on hardcore, but not classic '80s hardcore like Bad Brains of Black Flag, rather the 21st-century mutation of it. According to its Facebook page, Slow Children formed back in 2004, and despite being tight and energetic, it sort of sounds like the band never progressed beyond the kind of heavy music being made around the time of its formation.
The night's second band was Spowder from Morristown, NJ, whose band interests on Facebook are simply "bonfires". The trio played punchy, catchy garage rock songs that weren't afraid to be simple and concise, which is something more bands unfortunately don't realize. Toward the end of the set, the band played a cover of "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," best known as a Monkees song, but likely based on the classic Minor Threat version, which sent the audience into a very brief mosh pit. Definitely the strongest act of the night.
Up next was the second touring band of the night, Dead Words from Fort Worth, Texas. After a brief looks at its Bandcamp page, Dead Words seems to have been somewhat heavier in the past, but its most recent EP has a poppier, more Green Day inspired touch, which the band handles much better. The set was very short and a little sloppy, but the songs themselves made a strong impression, though the vocalist spent a little too much time talking it up between songs (mostly about Texas).
Since the last band mysteriously dropped, the show's unintentional headliner was Skateboard Kyle of Hopatcong, NJ. Though it's the noise-pop solo project of Kyle Wilkerson, he uses a frequently rotating group of musicians in various formations for each of his shows, and tonight he played with a five-piece (two guitars, bass, drums, and him on vocals). While the vocals could have been more audible and the band could have been tighter, the draw of the set was pure punk noise and Wilkerson's showmanship, which channeled both Morrissey and Guided By Voices' Bob Pollard.