The NYC-based indie label Matador Records threw a youthful rager at Central Park’s SummerStage. It was a free show packed with a lineup of four of the youngest bands on their label headlined by one of their most buzzworthy acts called Horsegirl that I had just recently saw open for post-hardcore titans Unwound, and I was so impressed I knew I really wanted to see them again soon. It was an awesome night that really felt like a family affair as there are relations within many of the bands and every set had appearances from other members whether it be coming out to play or dance around or trying to shoot a t-shirt gun that no one seemed to be able to work.
The Chicago noise band Lifeguard opened the show with deafening and brooding rock. They reminded me of more seasoned veteran bands like Unwound, which is funny not only because these kids look like they could be their grandkids, but also because I had seen the Horsegirl play open for them, and the drummer Isaac Lowenstein is the brother of the headlining front-woman Penelope Lowenstein, and he and the bassist and vocalist Asher Case both played in a very early version of that band. The trio does dive deep into some epic long jams that still have an explosive energy at times, especially when Case jumps up to do big air kicks. Towards the end of their set, Horsegirl drummer Gigi Reece jumped out onstage to wildly spaz out on maracas which made for a great closer.
The local Brooklyn art rock trio called Water From Your Eyes played next, and it proved to be a hazy set of anti-capitalist stoner jams that was both absurdist and deep. Vocalist Rachel Brown and guitarist Nate Amos have been making music together in the summer of 2016, and have released six records thus far, so they definitely had some songs to play, and they seemed ready to blast it out loudly and proudly. Their sound blends elements of indie rock, experimental pop, post-punk, and electronica into a melange that has as many layers as their deep lyrics have, and it keeps you coming back to dig for more. Their new album Everyone’s Crushed was just recently dropped via Matador, and it is truly a blast to zone out with.
The Danish punk rock band from Copenhagen called Iceage were next, and they were the nights’ elders, as they formed back in 2008. They too were just babies when they formed, all being around 17 when they started rocking together, but now that their in their early 20’s they are old enough to be the paternal powerhouses of the night. Frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt really steals the show with his wildly unhinged performance, but it was the drum work from Dan Kjær Nielsen that had me memorized with his sheer ferocity behind the kit. They were a chaotic delight, but they always seemed to have a tight punk grip that never let go of their powerful core.
The final act of the night Horsegirl came on and wooed the surprisingly packed park with an enchanting set of gorgeous harmonies and deeply bewitching songs that really kept you entranced. The trio are guitarist Nora Cheng, bassist Penelope Lowenstein, and drummer Gigi Reece. They are all very young, as all of them are now in their late teens, but they have been busy touring with some very experienced artists, and they’ve clearly gained something from those shared bills, as you can’t help but being blown away by the sheer depth of sound they produce. Since releasing their debut album last year called Versions of Modern Performance they have been building up a considerable buzz, and after seeing them perform live, it is pretty obvious why they have people spellbound whenever they play. They mix those dreamy guitars and distinctly enchanting dual vocal melodies by Cheng and Lowenstein with a loudly prominent presence that demands to be noticed. They’ve come a long way since being a preteen Sonic Youth cover band only a few years back, and even though they still occasionally looked bewildered by it all, they have a confidence that many bands that are decades older never obtain, and that is perhaps the most impressive part of their presence. They also played some new songs they said they wrote just before the tour which was very exciting, and all of Lifeguard joined them on random percussion instruments for their last song “Billy.”
Article: Dean Keim