Music Review: Pissed Jeans at Brooklyn Bazaar 30/06/19


I know, I know. No one writes music reviews anymore. See depressing musings on that topic here and here. I used to love reading them as much as I loved writing them. I wrote so many live music reviews in my time. I would stand there with my little notepad, trying to be discreet – writing snatches of lyrics to songs I didn’t know the names of that I would google later. I took it so seriously, and now it has all but disappeared as a genre. Oh well. Like so many things, I’m glad I got to enjoy it while it lasted.

In other news, oh my god I love Pissed Jeans. I saw them at Lee’s Palace in Toronto many moons ago and I never got it out of my head. Ever. Their onslaught of tight tight heaviness. The insane slinkiness of their singer (Matt Korvette). There was something so sick and yet so magnetic about that band. They lay dormant in my mind but I never crossed paths with them again – until now!

They played last Sunday at Brooklyn Bazaar and guess what bitches, I LIVE IN BROOKLYN NOW.

So even though I had worked three incredibly intense and awkward 12+ hour shifts in a row at new jobs, I fuckin went to that show. Of course I did! I also had three beers, and combined with how tired I was, looking back on that show three days later feels a bit like recalling details of a fever dream.

But yes, they were so good. So so so so so good.

First things first though. I caught the last couple songs of Conduit, who was the one of the two support bands I was most excited to see based on previous listening. They sounded dirty and evil and a wee bit scary on record but in person not so much. They were OK.

Bambara on the other hand did not grab me on previous listening, but holy god damn did they grab me onstage. Not my person, obviously, but my attention. They are one tight operation and they have a impressive fanbase to prove it. Granted this was a hometown crowd for them, but I could have sworn a bunch of people actually came to the gig for Bambara. Insanity!

They have one of the greatest drummers I have ever seen (Blaze Bateh). I mean that is partly to do with my beer starting to hit me (it had been a long, hot day), but really he is absolutely brilliant. I guess you would place them somewhere on the spectrum of The Church to The Birthday Party. Someone wrote Western Noir somewhere and that gets close. Man, describing what type of music a band plays can be a real bummer – I’m starting to see why musicians hate it so much. Anyhow it’s dark, and driving, heavy but always melodic, and it’s just an indisputable fact that they are an excellent band. It’s not going to be a popular opinion but I must say Reid Bateh’s vocals are my least favourite thing about them, but that probably has more to do with my personal vendetta against most things that are too 80s. His voice is a little 80’s. Listening to it now on bandcamp though, I think I may have been wrong.

These guys are going to be, and should be, and maybe already are actually, huge. Seriously, bravo.

After a brief interlude involving a third beer, gear setup, and Matt Korvette doing a hilarious slapstick routine involving an oversized package on a stage full of people and equipment, Pissed Jeans was happening.

And oh it was glorious. Almost instantly I had one of those smiling-like-a-fool this is IT moments, and it stayed with me the whole time. When a band, or a book, or a film, or any art really just expresses something that you want so badly to express, but lack the ability to do so….that’s the best feeling. I guess it’s kind of like being in love? It’s a feeling I get most often with certain types of music, and it’s during live shows that it’s at it most powerful.

This was one of those nights. It’s easy to forget how solid Pissed Jeans are, how technically excellent. I think with heavier punkier music the untrained ear can just sort of hear a bunch of feedback and a dude yelling; for example, that’s what my mum would hear. But when you really get into it you start to understand what it sounds like when a really talented band does that and it’s pretty special. I also forgot just how much guitarist Brad Fry shreds.

Another thing I kind of forgot was how varied Pissed Jeans songs can be. Their stuff – which ranges 5 albums and 15 years – can range from gruff rock to all-out hardcore. Korvette’s vocal performance is also super varied, sometime you can hear the lyrics, sometimes no way. Hot tip though – if you’re into them you should check out their lyrics. I know I’m openly gushing here but Korvette is a comedic genius and his lyrics are by turns horrifying, hilarious, illuminating and sickening. He has a knack for exposing the grotesque in the pedestrian in a way that brings to mind the films of Todd Solondz. That is some of my favourite kind of art.

See a couple of their videos to start to get a flavour:

They are also a band of 4 white dudes who are very aware they are a band of 4 white dudes. They explore the questions around masculinity in a honest and unflinching way, which is also a favourite subject of mine. So much of the music I listen to is made by white dudes, and mostly listened to by white dudes, and it’s not that many bands that are self-reflective enough to question or explore it in this way. I’m not saying that it even makes sense for everyone to do it, but the bands that do (I can think of Fugazi and Idles off the top of my head) have a really special place in my heart. Trust me, I know that white dudes get plenty of airtime, but I am really genuinely interested in hearing how guys are navigating all of this. I think it’s really important. A topic for another post perhaps?

For now I’ll leave you with this spoken word piece, a collaboration with writer Lydnsey Hunter, from their 2017 record Why Love Now.

The show was brilliant, the crowd was pretty mental, and they don’t tour very often so if you have the chance just go and bloody see them.

Also, I now get the point of twitter! To laugh at Matt Korvette’s ridiculous jokes! Follow @mattkorvette if your sense of humour is as immature as mine. @shit_rock too while you’re at it.

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