Photos by Matt Coburger
Lo-Pie was honored to present a CMJ showcase alongside KXLU, KXSC, Burger Records, and L.A. Record on October 19th, 2012 at The Cake Shop. Though traffic and rain threatened to put a damper on the whole affair, the Slices made it through and lived to pen the tale.
Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow (formerly Reading Rainbow before, you know, lawsuits) were the first act we caught upon arrival at Cake Shop, regrettably having arrived too late to see Kera & the Lesbians and last-minute additions Slam Dunk. On record Bleeding Rainbow sound twee-ish and sweet, but that wasn’t what was on offer here. Instead we were treated to noise, lots of noise. The sheer onslaught of overblown guitar riffage with floaty female vocals (or what we could hear of them; poor vocals were a constant throughout the afternoon) reminded me of Rainer Maria and other late 90s indie rock acts I pretended to like in high school. And, much like Rainer Maria, the whole thing was kinda boring until the power suddenly cut out mid-song. It may have been a bummer for the band but ultimately proved fortuitous as, once power was restored, the music became much more interesting. The band actually seemed to be playing songs instead of just muddling through sludgy rock songs with indiscernible lyrics. Their final number hit upon that sweet spot of melodic noise and guitar crunch reminiscent of the much lauded DIIV, perhaps indicating a bright future for Bleeding Rainbow, in Brooklyn anyway. – Mariana Timony
When is a classic rock band not a classic rock band? When they refuse to fully embrace the essential silliness of the title. Though Tennessee longhairs Turbo Fruits certainly looked the part of an MC5-loving bunch of meatheads, they never quite launched their rockets into the stratosphere. The band front loaded their set with the crowd-pleasing garage tunes before almost achieving liftoff with “Volcano”, a song which has a funny lyric and chunky riff in the style of Blue Oyster Cult. But they didn’t keep it going, collapsing back into generic blues rock so unmemorable I wrote “conventional” down three times in my notebook. It didn’t have to be this way. I mean, Jonas Stein was the American Flag guitar; was it so wrong assuming we’d be treated to some crazy-ass origin metal-inspired hard rock? If you’re going for 70′s cheese, it seems pointless to stop halfway. Ultimately, Turbo Fruits had left us all wishing they’d gone the full Aerosmith. They invited the crowd to see them again twice that very evening, but once was enough for me. – M.T.
Brooklyn-based Total Slacker were the clear draw for the afternoon; the crowd swelled to its largest proportion when they took the stage. Though the band recently lost their drummer in a tragic bicycling accident, Total Slacker played on anyway–though the replacement drummer could definitely use a few more practice sessions as the tempo dragged at times during the set. The shit vocals in Cake Shop didn’t do the band any favors. Lead singer/guitarist Tucker Rountree seemed to truly not give a shit what melody line he was singing and why would he? We couldn’t hear it anyways. It was a shame because vocal lines are often the most interesting parts of a Total Slacker song. They ended with “Life on Easy Street” off their Thrashin’ LP, which was the best song of the set with its pounding beat bringing the audience to life. It only was then that Tucker, an accomplished guitarist, actually kicked off on some Eddie Van Halen style guitar heroics that astounded me so much I elbowed my way through the crowd to check it out up close. It was at once both amazing and disappointing. Much like with Turbo Fruits, I can only say: if you’re going to be Van Halen, why not go the full Van Halen? Maybe some people are fine with pretending to be being shitty musicians, but this writer was left with the distinct impression of having been cheated. – M.T.
Cleveland’s Gap Dream served as the sole pop counterpoint to the afternoon’s parade of noisy rock bands and the upcoming metalhead shit show inaugurated by Unstoppable Death Machines. They actually played songs with recognizable beginnings, middles and ends. It wasn’t a perfect set: the band was clearly tired and somewhat phoning it in, and the lack of any local audience was a little disparaging, however the people who were there seemed enthusiastic and a few recognizable faces showed up to fill in the empty space. Unfortunately, while the muddy sound worked for balls-out bands like Turbo Fruits, it wasn’t ideal for Gap Dream’s thoughtful pop. But the band seemed to recognize this and didn’t play any of the softer tunes on their self-titled LP, instead going for the more hard-rocking, sort of, numbers. They ended with jammer “58th St. Fingers” before cutting their set early due to having to feed the meter–parking tickets ain’t cheap in New York City. What is? – M.T. & Joey Genovese
Unstoppable Death Machines
When I saw Unstoppable Death Machines setting up their merch station, chock full of tie-dye tees, I did not anticipate them to be a hardcore distorted punk band. Though, as the old saying goes, don’t judge a band by its tie-dye, I still had expectations for guitar twangs with slow drum beats, swaying bodies and bobbing heads. Surely not any head banging, and especially not MY head banging. Though I’ll admit I experimented with hardcore once in college, it was just a phase and I moved on. But seeing Unstoppable Death Machines brought about a new hope in me, in the hardcore me. The bro duo took the stage with the bassist wearing the microphone strapped to his face, right up against his mouth; clearly, clarity was not in the vocal plan and it didn’t need to be. The energy was high, and jaws were all over the floor, mostly due to the drum stylings of bro Billy, who pounded away so hard and tight I thought a dislocated shoulder was eminent or at least a broken jaw from a fellow onlooker. The duo proved their blood ties with the almost innate ability to stop and start their crazy ass breakdowns on a dime. However, after waking up the next day, I was sorely disappointed (literally) as my hopes and dreams for hardcore me crumbled when all that head banging left my neck stiff as fuck. - Kelly Contessa
When I asked fellow Slice Joey what to expect from Venice Beach-based (West L.A. HOLLA!!!) The Shrine, he didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to. He just had to throw those time-honored devil horns and I knew exactly what was up. Despite the crowd thinning out by their 5 o’clock set time, The Shrine brought that head-banging, violent, cheap-liquor-straight-up-no-fucking-twist RAWK for what proved to be the set with the highest energy of the afternoon. Maybe some people are put off by endless guitar solos and shouty lyrics influenced just as much by hardcore punk as it is death metal, but I’m not one of those sad souls. Thankfully The Shrine subscribe to the wholly correct theory that rock and roll like this is best played LOUD. My ears are still ringing, no lie. Should I be worried? – M.T.
Don’t Feed the Locals: The music for the day was almost eclipsed in excitement by a rowdy old codger in an SUV who was relentlessly honking his horn outside Cake Shop. When jeered by some of the youth smoking on the sidewalk, he replied, “Grow up, children, grooow uuuup.” His fussy, hair-stuck-up-ass behavior obviously merited instant mimicry, so all smokers within earshot did just that. He then responded even more inappropriately in true NYPD fashion by pulling out a nightstick and threatening to leave his car and “give us some.” This guy may have had time for silly bullshit, but the rest of traffic behind him did not, now beeping at him for taking away seconds from their precious New York minutes. Ironically, the encounter was more action-packed than what we saw at the show all afternoon, but at least it left many of the virgin Big Apple-goers with a good story to take home and a taste of what can happen when you run your mouth off in a city that never sleeps. – J. G.