Muggabears (Photo by Angela Hodgkinson)
It’s venues like Less Artists More Condos that keep the New York City music scene grimy and honest. It’s nice to see bands play bars with eight-dollar cocktails, but that can be found anywhere. Give me something half-way from house party to legal and legitimate. Last Friday the Muggabears took their dark raw and atonal music to this upstairs apartment in the West Village to promote their upcoming LP, Rejoicer, and to show once again why placing them anywhere below top billing is an unfortunate mistake for everyone involved.
Skinny Claire, a group from the Bronx, began the night with odd time signatures and a horn section. While the initial announcement for the beginning of the night brought most of the crowd into the performance space, the awkward sounds of almost-jazz improvisation from Skinny Claire made quick work of it, as most patrons trickled slowly but surely back into the main area for drinks and conversation. Thankfully it wasn’t long before Travis, Gabby and Emily took the stage to remind people of what Brooklyn is beginning to sound like.
The Muggabears have been around for quite some time, though Rejoicer will be the first full album with new drummer Gabby Wurzel. Luckily they decided to play unreleased tracks like “Guitar Feelings,” which can be found on their website, and the consistently crowd-pleasing “Dead Kid Kicks” from the Night Choreography EP. The trio stays close to the album when performing, taking only their last moments to release the type of tension only they can build through bent strings and ambient vocals sung through a microphone deep and heavy with guitar-pedal effects. While their music seems unbridled, it is never out of their control. In this, and mostly all of their shows, mistakes are rare if not completely absent. There is something inspiring about a group of artists who clearly put so much care and professionalism into what they create and how they choose to present it.
Finishing up the show were the Skeleton$, another homegrown oddity much like the Muggabears in their abrasive way. These four transplanted musicians (coming from Illinois, Colorado and Hawaii), put on an eclectic show, though whether through the quality of their sound or the late hour of the show, fans began once again trickling outside. By the time West 3rd street was filled with Brooklyn indie kids and the village was filled with foreigners, it was time to retire. Luckily there will almost always be more to come from the Muggabears and Less Artists more Condos.
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– Ike Stonberg