The new Knitting Factory Brooklyn does what it does well. There is a separate area for those over 21 with long, polished communal wooden tables and a big glass divider so you can watch the bands from the comfort of a warm bar. The performance space is medium-sized (bigger than Mercury Lounge, smaller than Southpaw) with just enough lights and equipment so that it’s still the kind of established production that the original Knitting Factory was. And it has a same-sex bathroom option (along with separate men’s and women’s rooms)! Also, there are no extra decorations or anything too “industrial,” so the place doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard. It’s just like the old Knitting Factory, but much much smaller. And in Williamsburg. Except maybe the fact that it’s in Williamsburg means that it’s shooting itself in the foot on the “trying too hard front.”
It’s not exactly like Williamsburg is some secret factory of edginess. The cat’s pretty much out of the bag on that one, and I doubt the rents are much lower than the previous Tribeca location (it’s just quite a bit smaller). Knitting Factory Brooklyn means yet another company-run, big money venue that’s capitalizing on Williamsburg’s slightly out of the way (at least for all those teenagers from New Jersey) charm. The So So Glos summed it up quite nicely by saying, “Welcome to the $14 party!” The band was still playing at the venue, though. That’s the kind of disconnect that I’m afraid may ultimately hurt the venue, despite my mostly positive feelings about the new place. At least they didn’t open something up in Bushwick.
It was an odd choice for the last stop on Titus Andronicus’ and So So Glos’ nationwide tour together. These two bands make a perfect pairing. Both play high-energy rock and roll that borrow a lot from New York 70s punk bands like the Voidoids and the Heartbreakers, without letting it sound like a rehash of decades past. To me, both of these bands really represent local scenes. So So Glos essentially grew up in Market Hotel, living and rehearsing there as they were coming up in the Brooklyn world. Titus Andronicus formed in their New Jersey basements and seem to have a hold on the NJ garage rock renaissance. For two very DIY bands, what an odd choice for them to come home to a brand new corporate venue. It didn’t matter, though. They put on a great a show. With the amount of energy these guys were giving off, you’d never know it was the last stop on a six week tour.
In a room packed with family and friends, So So Glos absolutely killed it. I love this band. Every time they get up on stage they put their all into what they are doing, and they clearly love rock and roll. You know someone really loves what they’re doing when, after six weeks of the same thing every night, the guys in this band are still moshing and mouthing all the words to Titus after their own set. What a genuine bunch of dudes. When they take the stage, they make it seem like the guitars are their weapons, and they’re using rock and roll to energetically fight for everything good in the world. I did once see them almost start a fight at Death By Audio, but tonight was just good vibes all around, with an energetic under-aged crowd moshing along up front and us older folk enjoying ourselves, merely absorbing the So So Glos from the back.
Titus Andronicus was about the same as well. Patrick Stickles is an amazing front man. He’s totally bizarre, with an enormous black beard and eccentric stage banter. You can tell he’s obviously the force behind both the literary and smart punk songs the band churns out. I’d seen Titus in the past with a bigger lineup and more instruments, including a keyboard. This time around they were just guitar, guitar, bass and drums. While I do think that they lost some of their grandeur with the departure of the keyboards, Titus didn’t just power through their angst-ridden teenage tunes. Stickles mastered his guitar feedback to dramatic effect, with exciting builds and pauses. When this band releases their next album in 2010 (around March, Stickles promised), their career will certainly be unstoppable.
Speaking of good guitar feedback, Brooklyn’s Grooms started the night with a good set of noisy rock. It was probably more interesting than it was fun to watch, but this is a young band with some really cool songwriting innovations. It was a great night all around, and I was happy to see that some really genuine New York (Jersey) bands were doing their best to break in the new Knitting Factory.
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– Madalyn Baldanzi