To celebrate the release of their newest record Terror Bird, Black Birds of Paradise headlined a most excellent show last night at Haymarket Whiskey Bar. While I was certainly excited to see BBOP play the songs from their latest effort (which I fucking love, by the way), I was especially jazzed to watch BRENDA, a band that I also really like but before last night hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing before. I was also curious to see what Insect Policy was going to bring to the table, as I’m pretty unfamiliar with them. Anyway, before I delve into how I felt about each performance, let’s check in to see if last night’s show met a few crucial Never Nervous guidelines:
I. Did the show start on time?
I was told the show would start at 9:30PM, and low and behold, BRENDA dived into their set right at 9:30PM! Fuck yes, we did it!
II. Where there too many bands on the bill?
For my money, three bands is the perfect amount of bands per show, and by golly this show featured three bands! Any more than that, there’s a pretty good chance I won’t be there because I’m tired and don’t have the time. Hot damn, we’re on a roll here.
III. Did the bands sound good?
Maybe it was the beer that I continued to funnel into my cake hole, but the music sounded great! No one was relying on a full stack mega-setup, something I feel like too many bands utilize in smaller spaces like Haymarket. I get it, folks in town have some cool gear, but when you turn your shit up so loud to the point where everything becomes a wall of noise, I can’t interpret anything you’re playing.
It’s also worth mentioning that each band set up and broke down very quickly, making for smooth transitions between each performance. The show was actually over before midnight, which in my mind is a god damn miracle these days.
Anyway, sorry for the rambling. On to the bands. Up first was BRENDA, a band with a bit of an unconventional rock and roll set up that includes two standing drummers, one of them being Brenda Mahler who, while singing, pounds on a monstrous sort of floor tom thing (what’s the technical term for that thing, anyway?). Singer/guitar player Matt Horne led the way as the band played a few tracks from their self titled debut as well as their newest single “Top Shelf.” They fucking slayed as they blasted through their setlist with an infectious energy that seemingly every soul watching was into.
Watch a video of BRENDA performing their song “Pterodactyl” below:
Next up was Insect Policy, a band I’m not overly familiar with but definitely curious about. Unfortunately I didn’t get to catch much of their set as I ran into an old friend at the bar that I hadn’t seen in a while. What I did see could be described as noisey indie rock that at times seemed to be improvised, most of which I didn’t quite understand. To get a better handle on what they’re about, I’ve been listening to their Wolf Brick River Dirt Train Moon album on bandcamp this morning. To say the noise they make is interesting would be an understatement.
The third and final performance came from headliners Black Birds of Paradise, a band I’d seen several times in the past, and as usual the band were absolutely fantastic. I made sure to stand near Regan Layman and her vibraphone to get the full effect of her majestic instrument. The band played their new Terror Bird record in its entirety from front to back, with cool projections screening behind them and a weird light up bird of some sort hanging from the ceiling. The whole setup was pretty cool and fun to get lost in.
Watch a video of Black Birds of Paradise performing their song “Hold On” below:
In closing, I’d like to give major kudos to not only the three bands who were all terrific, but whoever was in charge of running the show. Everything seemed to be so smooth, with little to no lag in between sets. The bartenders were all energetic and friendly despite being over whelmed with thirsty patrons, and the venue itself proved to be pretty awesome itself. There really isn’t anything to complain about, which is rare for me because I’m an irritable wind bag that hates staying up late. That just goes to show you how awesome last night truly was.