Words by Maria Shurr
At that weird intersection of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy lies Palisades, signless in the DIY fashion with the reasonably priced drinks that sort of thing should entail. I’ve spent the last two Saturday nights at the venue, and I still cannot form a solid opinion on it. It’s intimate and no frills, but the pillar that stands basically in front of the stage is an impairment when enjoying a band visually. Still, Palisades seems to be having no trouble hosting stellar bills, with the lineups on October 4 and October 11 being particularly awesome.
October 4: Palberta, Shilpa Ray, Jeffrey Lewis and the Jrams:
I was previously unfamiliar with Palberta, but if I had known the trio was working to uphold the post-punk stylings of bands like Kleenex mixed with funkier no wave fare like Liquid Liquid, I would have made a point of showing up early and staying put in the front row for the entire set. Sadly, the sound was not too kind to Palberta, and a lot of the intricacies that came to light when I listened to the band online were much harder to discern. What I could pick up -- idiosyncratic vocals and the aforementioned arctic chill of funk no wave -- cried for better acoustics. The band is upstate-based, with Brooklyn gigs here and there, so keep their Oct. 24 show at Trans Pecos in mind when you’re figuring out your CMJ schedule.
The first time I saw Shilpa Ray was at CBGBs in the since-disbanded Beat the Devil, so needless to say I have seen her many a time. After all those years, I will still go out of my way, whenever possible, to see a Shilpa Ray set. Line ups have changed and styles have been altered, but Ray’s assured songwriting and almighty singing are a constant. As many of the songs in Ray’s repertoire have yet to be released, leaving your apartment for another listen to “Johnny Thunders Fantasy Space Camp” is always a worthy cause. At Palisades, we were also treated to what I believe is a new song, one that started out coasting on some easy girl group vibes before plunging into post punk catastrophe. And, although Ray is the star of the show, witnessing Jon Catfish Delorme’s pedal steel skills is always a pleasure.
Jeffrey Lewis is another regular in my show-going life, and someone who I have certainly harassed for merch on multiple occasions (in my defense, one of these instances involved getting an autograph for a mega-fan and friend who had just given birth). Although I don’t listen to Lewis’ albums on the reg, I routinely have found feelings for his songwriting, something I am all the more amazed by when seeing Lewis live. As Noise Love founder Kelly said to me, “it must be so hard to memorize the words to all these songs. Every one is like a short story.” When Lewis employs one of his “documentaries” (his songs that come with illustrations), things become even more marvelous. That night, Lewis treated us to both another chapter in his “History of Communism” series and the ever relevant “Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror,” which hopefully stifled the person behind me who declared that Lewis was a “poor man’s Will Oldham.” I think Lewis’ lack of facial hair renounces that ALONE.
October 11: The Yin Yangs, Veda Rays, Gunfight!, Jangula:
This was the first 1.21 Gigawatts show for the Yin Yangs and Veda Rays, and both bands delivered. I have expressed my love of the Yin Yangs previously, so I will say for now that when Jason of Veda Rays mentioned something about Yin Yangs in passing, I very loudly interrupted him with a “they’re great!” and I am both a very shy person and someone who keeps a lot of her interests to herself. Also, who doesn’t love a singing drummer?
Veda Rays have some of the most honest, visionary songs of any bands in the scene, so it was a delight to hear them debut yet another on Saturday night. I am not sure if the song even has an official title yet, but it portrayed itself as a fully-formed chestnut of wisdom and mystery, all the same. Occasionally, I will measure songs based on how good they are to pogo to. So, even if something of Veda Rays was lost in Palisades’ acoustics, a few members of Bodega Bay were still seen thrashing for all of VRs’ songs. As ringing of an endorsement as anything I could say.
It speaks to the endless scope of New York’s music scene that Gunfight! are a band who play everywhere yet who I only saw for the first time on Saturday. Their sound is burly, boozy, brawly without giving way to an actual fight, and ideal for a Saturday night. The quality bands in New York who marry rootsy nuances with punkier flare are far and few between, so Gunfight! were a welcome presence in an already consistent night.
Jangula play out so infrequently that any live event would be a must, regardless of whether or not they have the tunes to back it up. Mercifully, they do, and are one of the few bands who elevate the Qchord above being a novelty instrument. Jangula also look authentically “New York”, all the while having a sound that intimates “New York” without being a shoddy tribute to it. Romantic without being precious, rock ‘n ‘ roll without being silly, they are a band who should be getting their due any day, if the world has any justice left.
Both of these Saturday nights ended in me being moderately inebriated, the former ending in me discussing Sharon Van Etten’s omnichord with Kelly, the latter telling someone -- maybe a Jangula guy? Maybe my shadow? -- that “Stephanie Says” is my favorite Velvet Underground song. I believe this marks both evenings as 5s on a 5/5 scale.