By: Martin Pohl
Before I begin this review, I would like to say that this will be one of the more biased accounts of The Bowery Ballroom show you will read. I am a huge fan of all the bands that played at there this past Saturday. I am happy to say that all three of the bands on the bill – Krill, Mitski, and Speedy Ortiz – lived up to my great anticipation.
Krill opened the show with their particular, often self-effacing tunes. Jonah Furman has one of the more unique voices in indie rock, which I myself, and many others love. It was great to see such a large crowd at the top of the night. Krill was in top form playing old favorites like “Purity of Heart” and “Infinite Power,” as well as cuts of their new album, A Distant Fist Unclenching. Being in a larger venue brought Jonah’s vocals to the forefront, which helped illustrate one of the band’s strengths: Krill is painfully aware of larger social issues and does not solely write navel-gazing songs. Their song writing, however, also acknowledges that mental hardship is not something that simply dissipates. The push-pull of these themes can create much drama that mirrors the knotty, often multifaceted structure of the songs themselves.
After Krill, Mitski took the stage. It seems fair to speculate that the next time Mitski plays the Bowery, she will be headlining. Mitski’s third and most recent album, Bury Me at Makeout Creek, recently re-released on Don Giovanni Records, turned many heads for its raw, progressive, and infinitely quotable tracks. As a performer, Mitski commands a room with ease; the audience was attentive to her every word. Mitski and her band had no difficulty transitioning between rocking numbers like “Townie” and more delicate, but no less effective, songs like, “Last Words of a Shooting Star.” If anyone at the show was unfamiliar with Mitski’s work prior to her set, they were sure not to forget her blood-curdling screams at the end of “Drunk Walk Home.” Before leaving the stage, Mitski gave a speech about loving oneself which felt like a mission statement for what she does best: writing songs that are simultaneously self empowering and critical of the status quo – all while being inherently catchy.
Lastly, Speedy Ortiz began their set with two new tracks off of their excellent new album, Foil Deer: “The Graduates” and “Raising the Skate.” I had not seen Speedy Ortiz since before the debut of their first album, Major Arcana. I was excited to see how they would handle the more melodic and thematically political tracks in a live setting. Needless to say, the band sounded tight as ever and it was quite refreshing to be able to make out Sadie’s sardonic and infinitely intelligent lyrics. That being said, the band retained its healthy interest in squalor; it was fun to watch them let loose on tracks like “Tiger Tank,” off of their first full length, and “Indoor Soccer,” off of their Sports EP. The band was easily able to translate their energy and sound to a larger venue. To close out the set, they respectfully opted to forgo an encore, playing their fifteen-song set without a break. Speedy did things by their rules, which seemed like an apt conclusion to an electric night that likely pleased more than just this biased fan.