Concert Review: John Ryle House in Haledon, NJ, 7/12/14
The last time I went to a show at the John Ryle House in Haledon, NJ, bayonets were discovered in the garage by a couple of people who had consumed an exorbitant amount of alcohol. Nobody died or was even (seriously) injured, but that's the sort of thing that would normally persuade me to never return. So why did I go back last night? Because Omegalith and Huge Pupils were playing.
I'd previously seen Omegalith at a New Brunswick, NJ basement show (which I also wrote about for Music Times), and I was in awe of not only their brutality and volume, but also their expansive sonic palette and instrumental virtuosity. The band is simply a guitar/bass duo that plays instrumental, grindcore/electronic-influenced music along to a drum machine, and the results are at once intimidating and engaging. They played so intensely that the bassist actually vomited after their set (in the bathroom, not on stage, but it's still pretty intense).
Up next was Huge Pupils, another local duo, only this time the configuration was bass and drums. I've been seeing Huge Pupils and playing shows with them for years (we actually played together at Maxwell's in Hoboken back in 2012), so I already knew what to expect: blistering, riffy garage punk with a surprisingly melodic edge, like Hüsker Dü without a guitarist. They put on a great show that's as exhilarating as it is brilliantly obnoxious: between each song the band plays an ear-shredding buzzing through the speakers, and the band's drummer and lead vocalist Sean spent most of the night talking in a hilariously exaggerated Philly/South Jersey accent.
The last two bands of the night were Big Neck Police and Bluffing, both from Brooklyn and currently on tour together. Big Neck Police went up first, and though I was expecting another punk band, what they actually play is much more challenging. Bryan from Huge Pupils described them as "a more violent DNA," which I felt was spot-on. Their sound is definitely influenced by DNA and other New York No Wave bands such as Swans, the Contortions, and Sonic Youth, with unpredictable song structures and jagged guitar playing. It's not a sound that you hear very often anymore for whatever reason, but Big Neck Police have it down beautifully.
The last band of the night was Bluffing, a noise-pop quartet. They come off like a lighter and more concise Superchunk, or a punkier version of Black Tambourine (in fact, one of their songs has a melody quite similar to "Throw Aggi Off The Bridge"), which is just the sort of thing I love unconditionally. All of their songs are mercifully short, so much so that their Bandcamp page emphasizes the fact that their songs are all under two minutes and "won't waste your time," which is a songwriting philosophy that not nearly enough bands adopt anymore.
The night ended before 11:00, and since all of the bands were excellent and no sharp objects were unearthed from any part of the house, I'd say it was a great success.
Check out all of the bands below! Support DIY music!