If you weren’t driving on 95 northbound between Philadelphia and New York City on Saturday, you probably didn’t notice the giant black cloud that looked like a palisade in the sky around 4 p.m. I sure did. Ever since I got new windshield wipers about a month ago, driving in the rain isn’t a problem, but I won’t pretend I wasn’t a little intimidated by the sight of the weather. Weather is usually something that just happens. When you can see if coming, it becomes so much worse than that.
I grew up in New York state, but I didn’t actually go to its namesake city until I was 20 years old, after a lifetime of telling people that I thought the place was a dump, sight unseen. Part of me probably resented being associated with the Big Apple despite the fact that Rochester has more in common with the hills of Vermont than it does with that place that James Murphy keeps writing songs about, but the reality is that I was just a shitty kid who liked to talk nonsense.
Since then, I’ve gone back and forth on New York (henceforth used to signify the city, not the state, Rochester for life, son). On Saturday, before Science Club’s show at the Lit Lounge, I liked the place. After our show, I hated it.
That makes it sound like we had a bad show. We didn’t. That said, the process of getting to the club, loading out stuff in, and getting out stuff back out was a goddamn nightmare. The Lit Lounge is located a few blocks away from NYU’s campus in lower Manhattan, wedged between a grocery store and what appears to be a nightclub. It’s a greasy little spot without a sign or any marker signifying it. As such, there’s nowhere to park a car and unload an amp.
This isn’t the club’s fault. It isn’t anyone’s fault, I guess. Still, after unloading in a bus lane, driving for 30 minutes to find a spot 30 minutes away, then having to make the trek again in reverse to get home, I’ve decided that New York can share California’s inevitable future and slide into the angry ocean. At least we’ll finally get that Atlantis we were all promised.
The Lit Lounge basement is a very cool place. It’s all brick walls and black surfaces and shadowy little alcoves that look a little bit like what TV and movies keep insisting parts of 19th century London looked like. It’s a place with “history,” as they say. The bartenders were helpful, but dismissive. The sound guy looked like a survivor of 80s hardcore and, at one point, got into it with a drunken patron of the show (after reviewing the tape, I’m on the sound guy’s team). The door woman read a book the entire time, but it’s hard to say if her detachment from the situation is based on personal issues or the fact that it was a show that Science Club was playing and, as such, there’s not a ton for a door person to do.
We played with three other bands. The first, Dan Mariska and the Boys Chior, were a four-piece rock and roll outfit from the Midwest. If there were any justice in the world, they’d be opening up for the Kings of Leon or the Alabama Shakes or whatever. They were as tight a band as I’ve seen, and their (oh, I hate this term but I guess it works) roots-rock sound reminded me how fun the guitar can be. They were talents as hell and, tragically, criminally, viewed by only the members of Science Club and one other girl. Watching them, I was reminded of the song “The Late Greats” by Wilco. Look it up. That’s more of less what happened at the Lit Lounge between 8:30 and 9:15pm. I suggest you purchase their music here.
The second band was equally talented, while having fuck-all in common with the first band. What can I tell you about Sursum Verbo? Well, firstly, I will cop to this: I thought their band name was needlessly odd until someone told me that its Latin and not just some gibberish. The lesson here is, as always, that I am dick.
Sursum Verbo might be my new favorite band. They are a three piece from New York. Their sound is post-punk, I guess, though the lead singer would tell me later on that they don’t much like to pigeonhole themselves that way. They reminded me of Title TK-era Breeders. They reminded me Ticonderoga. They reminded me of the Talking Heads or Television or any other angular band that uses the tools of traditional rock and roll and tries to push something new out.
Their rhythm section was phenomenal. Their guitar playing was creative without being showy. The lead singer had three drinks on stage, because “you’ll never know what kind of thirsty you’ll be.” They were unlike any band I’ve seen in years. Listen to them here. Go see them when you can. We exchanged emails after the show. I fully intend to bring them to the City of Brotherly Shove this year. Come to that show.
The Lit Lounge on Saturday was our second show in as many days. After Friday’s show, all members of Science Club came off the stage feeling pretty confident. I don’t think that sense of confidence was as prevalent after Saturday. Nick, especially, seemed shaken, after breaking a bass string during the second song.
Nick felt bad about it after the show, but considering that A) he was able to play every song anyway by adjusting the octaves in his head on the fly because he is a musician and his mind is sharp B) I break so many strings all the time and this is the first time in recorded history it’s ever happened to him, he had no need to feel ill about his performance. I guess no one did. Joey couldn’t hear us as well, crammed in the crawlspace that the Lit Lounge banishes drummers to. I played fine, but goofed up a bunch of chords and couldn’t get my FX pedal to make the loud grumbling sound I like.
Still and all, we did what we do, which is to say play stupid punk songs and look like we enjoy doing it, which is easy because we do. I blew my voice out with two songs left and ended up sounding like Tom Waits for the rest of the night. We shook hands with new friends (shouts out, again, to Sursum Verbo, the drunk guy who got into the with the sound guy, the sound guy, who sought me out after to tell me he loved our set, Claire, a friend of a friend who likes the song where everyone is going to die, and to Tom, Jared, Omar and Jules, the truest of all Science Club fans) and hugged old ones. We had a few drinks, watched the last band, and posed for the photo that now sits atop this page.
The rock show ended at 12 a.m. At 12:10 a.m., the Lit Lounge basement turned into the nightclub from the Matrix. It was as if someone open a fire hydrant in the basement and, instead of water, thin, attractive people from NYU came gushing out. We got our gear and got the fuck out of there.
If you haven’t listened to Aging Punks in a while, why don’t you? While we’re at it, have you ever heard “S.E.I.” as God intended? What about “Funky C?” Go forth and reacquaint your self with Science Club. We’ve got some big news coming up this week that will explain why.