Photos & Text by Bobby Cochran
A Place to Bury Strangers are a sonic force to be reckoned with, an overwhelming visual cacophony with the volume to match. Signs posted on the doors of the Great American Music Hall warned of the use of strobe lights for those prone to seizures, but even this was an understatement. The stage was covered in them, along with half a dozen fog machines and custom amplifiers that appeared to be built to power a space shuttle or two. The NYC-based trio fulfilled all expectations of sonic sturm und drang for over an hour of ear-pummelling glory, taking forays into the crowd to jam on a little beat-making machine and to punish their instruments among the throng, APTBS are a full-sensory experience. They produce and control feedback like no other band can, and still maintain strong melody and progressive songwriting chops that keep them from being just another noise act.
Openers Prettiest Eyes are an LA trio who take a page from the early post-punk playbook and twist it into their own weirdly appealing version. Droning keyboards and noisy textures, repetitive rhythms and darkly quirky vocals topped off with fat, fat bass lines, it was awesome to see an opening band impress an unfamiliar crowd enough to have them yell for more at the end of their 30-minute set.
Sextile, another LA combo took the stage after some technical issues delayed things a bit. They also take a page from early post-punk and no-wave, but don’t quite have the originality and energy to take things to new and interesting places. The guitarist knew every pose in the rock-guy playbook and the singer seemed slightly indifferent to the fact that he onstage at all. However, they were solid and tight with their delivery and had moments of commanding attention. Seeing them in a tiny sweaty club might put things in a different light, as it seems they might be better built for that sort of environment.