The beauty of Brooklyn rock shows is that they could be held virtually anywhere and still get a good crowd. Not that I want to start an intra-events-department feud (or do I), but San Diego correspondent Gordan Downs recently reported on Mary Timony’s performance at San Diego’s venerable Casbah two weeks ago, where roughly 15 audience members managed to turn out. Brooklyn audiences, however, managed to do the borough proud with at least five times that number crowded around the stage for Friday night’s show at Death By Audio.
Okay, okay, I know, San Diego got stuck with a Tuesday date, arguably the slowest concert night of the week, but let’s compare the venues here. The Casbah is a near-legendary spot, (complete with bar and actual venue amenities), which has hosted the likes of Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins at its old location and The Breeders, Elastica, and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at its new. Death By Audio is a couple of institutional white-walls-and-checkered-tile-floors rooms (by looks, it could have been an especially bleak day care center at one time) tucked into a warehouse on the Williamsburg waterfront. Stage lights were a couple lamps with gels and the bar was a card table with Highlife and some liquour. I know they’ve had sporadic shows in the past, but no apparent record exists of who has played. But the best punk rock shows have always thrived on weird off-venues, and that night was no exception.
Timony’s set consisted of mostly new material from her most recent LP, The Shapes We Make. The setlist seems to have resembled that previously discussed by my San Diego counterpart (besides the replacement of any extended jams with a couple more quick, powerful numbers), so I’ll direct your attention back there. What especially struck me about Timony’s playing however, what set her apart, was her precision finger-picking, which lent the songs a technical delicacy to compliment and contrast their frequent noisiness, and which only rarely gave way to more traditional rock chords.
Openers this time were Eric Gaffney, formerly of Sebadoh, who played before my arrival, and ubiquitous Brooklyn opening favorites High Places, whose lush, polyrhythmic psych-pop was as charming as ever.