First up was Kung Fu Grip at the Annex. I met these guys a few years back when they were called Good Grief. My band Object played a bunch of packed all ages shows with them in Bayridge. At a certain point they morphed into Kung Fu Grip, with drummer Anthony Kapfer switching to guitar and vocals. After a revolving cast of drummers failed to work out, Anthony has now gone back to playing the kit. Accompanied by Ricky's tasty riffage and Matt Rocker's solid bass lines and harmonies, Anthony is one hell of a hard hitting/singing frontman! It was also great to hear them break out the occasional Good Grief tune with Ricky signing. KFG just finished up their second album and it kicks butt!
Up next was Thurston Moore doing an improvised noise set at Rehab with his brother Gene Moore on guitar and Mats Gustafsson on saxophone and weird little electronic oscillator synths. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with this set, which was plagued by bad sound (it was hard to hear Thurston jeez!) and somewhat uninspired playing. Although he pulled out similar tricks, like playing the guitar with a metal file (the high point of the set by the way), this set wasn't half as exciting as the last time I saw Thurston improvise with the amazing harpist Zeena Parkins. That was a lot more energetic and awesome! I hate to be a downer but when Thurston Moore is less engaging than your friends' bands something is not right. Sorry Thurston, I still love ya!
Got down to Fontana's just in time to catch Guitar Bomb covering Manic Depression (you bastards I was gonna cover that!). A cover can go either way, sometimes ruining the song forever for me, but luckily these guys have the chops to take on a Hendrix tune and nail it. That kind of sums it up about this duo; they've got the skills AND the raw power that make them undeniable. Guitar Bomb's punk infused blues/rockabilly is the real deal kiddies! The energy level was high as they ended their set with the entire floor dancing their asses off.
Claws of Paradise really brought it home, as they say. Guitarist Ryan Havers fed his amp some beer before the set then proceeded to go crazy with the cheese whiz. The result was delicious. How else to describe the music of Claws besides a smorgasbord of elegant and arousing delicacies from all over the musical world? They start with a bed of hard rock and blues, throw on some Van Halenesque guitar theatrics, and top it all off with harmonized vocals and horns! And I love how these guys mix high brow riffing with low brow humor! They answered cries for an encore with a floor stomping a cappella singalong called "Everyone's Got a Boner in their Fucking Pants, Everyone's Got a Boner, Take a Fucking Chance." (Thanks dudes that is stuck in my head now). Seriously though folks you won't find a more talented group of guys in New York or really anywhere...
Just when you thought the night (and this blog post) should be over, I was on to the next (and last) thing. I'll keep it short and sweet here, but suffice to say I Love You Airlines at Union Pool was like a sweaty, smoky, sweet mating ritual. I didn't think it was possible but they took the whole night to another level. Whenever I watch ILYA play I am able for a short while to experience a true sense of joy and abandon. It's like happy pills for me. And I'm probably not alone here. I don't know go try it yourself and get back to me.