NJ's Massa Nera and CT's Foxtails both put out some of the our favorite screamo releases of last year (a split with Frail Body, Infant Island, and dianacrawls, and the querida hija LP, respectively), so needless to say, we were very excited to catch them sharing a bill in Brooklyn at Gold Sounds on Saturday (2/22). The show was opened by Lytic (the current band of screamo vet Jamie Behar of Saetia and Off Minor) and also included sets from local bands Aspine and Nine of Swords (who headlined).
I unfortunately got there late and missed Lytic, who were added as a last-minute replacement for armywives (and who will play later in the night at Bushwick Public House on April 19), but I was on time for Aspine. They only have a few recordings to their name and they haven't released anything since 2017, but they've been teasing new music so hopefully that comes soon 'cause their set very much left me wanting more. They were crazy tight, had a nice blend of the prettier emo/post-rock side and the more grindy metallic side with three of the four members taking turns on vocal duty, and they took you right back to the vibe of seeing a '90s basement show but made it feel fresh.
Foxtails followed Aspine, and like their awesome 2019 album querida hija, their live set tears down lines between genres and is impossible to pigeonhole. Bassist/vocalist Megan Cadena-Fernandez has a huge presence on stage and hops between dreamy clean-sung vocals and throat-shredding screams, and the band was like the screamo version of the 1980s Sonic Youth art scene. The whole set kinda felt like it could fall apart at any minute (in the best way) but it never did. And screamo sometimes gets a reputation of being too self-serious but Foxtails were legitimately funny on stage. Megan and drummer Michael Larocca had banter that was as entertaining as the music itself (including a running joke about playing the "Big Apple"). Megan also mentioned on stage how excited she was to be playing with Nine of Swords, who she said she'd been listening to since middle school, and when Nine of Swords took the stage later on, singer Rachel Gordon said "I'm feeling old tonight... middle school?!?!?" Foxtails' next two Big Apple shows are 3/11 at Mercury Lounge with Murderpact and Kela and 4/25 at Bushwick Public House with Kissies, Ultra Deluxe, Murderpact, and Histeria.
Up next were Massa Nera, and this was a show that moved very quickly (the whole thing was over before 10:30), but Massa Nera's set especially felt like it whipped by. They played maybe six or seven songs with very little break between songs, and they were often playing as fast as seemingly possible and constantly in motion, with all four members rocking out and trading vocals the whole set. Even on the small Gold Sounds stage with under 100 people in the room, Massa Nera felt larger than life. Their stage presence, their precision, and their songs all made the band seem like they'd been around twice as long and should be five times as popular. The release on our 2019 list was a four-way split that they had just one song on and they haven't released a full-length album since their killer 2017 debut Los Pensamientos De una Cara Palida, but the band say they're writing a new record and they played a song from it on Saturday night. Going by that song, this record can't come soon enough.
Nine of Swords wrapped up the show, played some new music and said they might finally be recording a new album this summer (they haven't released anything since 2016's you will never die). They were tight, and the new stuff sounded pretty promising. Let's hope they really do make that record!
The show was put on by Collective Effort NYC, and at the end of the night, they were handing out flyers for the Hundreds of AU show happening at Gold Sounds on 3/22. In case you missed it, you can read our recent interview with Tom Schlatter of Hundreds of AU about his classic '90s-era band You and I's upcoming reissues and about his current favorite bands (including Massa Nera).