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Trail of Dead played two NYC shows with La Femme & Midnight Masses (pics/review from Bowery Ballroom)

photos by Amanda Hatfield

Trail of Dead @ Bowery Ballroom 3/29/2014
Trail of Dead

On Saturday (3/29), I dragged my dead-bones out of the cozy confines of my apartment and sleazed my way over to the Bowery Ballroom to catch … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, where they were set to perform their seminal third album Source Tags & Codes. It was their second show doing so in NYC. (They played MHOW on Friday [3/28].) Support for the evening was provided by Midnight Masses and La Femme.

As one might expect, because of the insanely inclement weather and the fact that the show wasn’t sold out, the room was quite empty when Midnight Masses took to the stage a little after 9pm. If you go to the Bowery Ballroom page for this show, readers are treated with some profoundly nauseatingly expressed praise for this band by ‘critics’ who laud their ‘lush’ sets and claim it’s “As if the religiosity of down south collided with a full throttle rock band creating a haunting spiritually engrossing psychedelic rock experience” and other such platitudinal nonsense. Such accolades are dangerous as they create an expectation in one’s mind that the reality of the band can rarely live up to. However, I did enjoy this band (two of whom are also in Trail of Dead). But come on people, let’s not get too crazy with the praise. In no way did their sound wash over me like Spiritualized or the like. Nor was there anything profound about it. If anything, they seemed pretty danged blasé up there. Their music had moments of greatness, but they could never hold onto it and it was fairly inconsistent. Not the worst way to start the show, but they were in such stark contrast to Trail of Dead.

La Femme @ Bowery Ballroom 3/29/2014
La Femme

Next up was the French surf-rock-electronic-cassarole La Femme.  I fully understand why people (such as most of the BV staff) like this band; they are fun, uptempo, extremely quirky and entertaining, and French. An easy formula for easy popularity. But the whole experience came off as total schtick [“I Disagree” – Bill Pearis] and I cannot think of a less appropriate opener for Trail of Dead [“You have a point there’ – Bill]. You have some members dressed up like 50’s greasers, one guy dressed like a Vietnam-era pilot complete with green jumpsuit and beret, another guy with a hideous mustache and some weird American cowboy vibe, and a lady who reminded me of Dawn Weiner from Welcome to the Dollhouse. And they are playing proto-surf-dance-pop, in French. Ninety percent of tunes were the exact same tempo. Exact. No, not close; EXACT. Plainly, I am too old for this shit. [PS I am older than Klaus, but I like them a lot. Also, BV presented their Glasslands show, which was crazy and awesome. Chacun à son goût. – Bill] I can see how they’d be fun at parties and the folks at Bowery sure were shaking their booties, but let’s not kid ourselves people; they are using an extremely old formula. People have been doing this crap for 40 years. And they won’t be the last. I think I broke the world record for most eye-rolls in a 40-minute time span.

Two bands, three hours, and many many many beers later, it was finally time for Trail of Dead to hit the stage and destroy my earholes with Source Tags & Codes plus an encore of other heavy hits. By this point, the non-sold out room was packed, and as TOD tore through their set there was plenty of pushing and shoving happening all over the place. I’ve only seen TOD a few times, but on Saturday I was reminded that part-time front man, part-time drummer Jason Reece is the fucking man. When he was on drumming duty, he was absolutely destroying his kit. But when he’d pick up the guitar and take up the mantle of part-time time front man, boy, he sure brought the stank. An aggressive guitarist/vocalist, there were several times where he’d fall into the crowd, still strapped to his guitar. When Source Tags came out in 2002, I was the drummer for a ska-core-reggaeton band and touring with bands like Murphys Law, The Pietasters, and The Toasters, so this album didn’t really hit my radar at the time, nor did it really impact me in any way. But all these years later I cannot get enough of it and thought they really did it justice and brought the album to life. It was a fun, sweaty, drunken, crushingly great time and one of the better shows I have seen in years. I am still vexed at the choice of openers, but whatever. My name is Klaus and I hate most everything.

More pics from Trail of Dead, La Femme, and Midnight Masses’ show at Bowery Ballroom, below…

Midnight Masses

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La Femme

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…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

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