I went down to Home Sweet Home in the Lower East Side on Wednesday night for a Nite Jewel show. Before I talk about the music, I’ll talk a bit about the venue. The night was being billed as the “Weird Party,” and though it was called that because it was run by Weird Records, it was an apt name.
First of all, the venue was tiny, but the DJ still ran the smoke machine pretty heavily all night. This resulted in a fog so dense that it was difficult to see the stage from a few feet away. It was particularly disorienting once the room got a little crowded. Secondly, there was only one band playing, with no opening acts. That’s not that weird, I guess. Except for the fact that the venue still couldn’t manage to get the show to start on time. However, I didn’t mind too much. The DJ’s were playing a lot of good records (mostly coldwave/goth/dance hits), and the crowd seemed to be in a good mood.
By the time Nite Jewel took the stage, the space was packed. I guess it was a small venue for them to play because they kept remarking how “cool” it was to “be able to play a space like this.” Still, the shoulder-to-shoulder state of things didn’t stop people from finding way to bump, grind, and flail to the smooth grooves the band was putting down.
I had never heard Nite Jewel going into the show. I knew they were frequently lumped in with the whole chillwave thing, which I am personally pretty mixed on, so I was skeptical. But I have to say, I actually enjoyed their set. They were definitely “chill,” but they didn’t sound too much like Haunted Graffiti, so I don’t know if they could be called “chillwave.” They seemed to be more interested in recreating mid-70s soul/disco/soft rock grooves via the early 90s g-funk tracks which they sampled, all while adding touches of psych/post-punk weirdness. The group followed this formula pretty strictly, and I probably would have gotten bored if the set had been longer.
They played as a three-piece, with two people singing and operating various synths and samplers, and one person on bass guitar. Once they got a good mix, it sounded less like a band and more like a really skilled DJ/vocalist. It was kind of a cool effect. Their stage presence was a bit leaden though, at least as far as I could tell with all the fog, but that’s all right. I actually think the fog helped them, because people were less inclined to notice their lack of stage presence (or the fact that there was a band present on stage at all), and could just let go and dance a little bit. The show was over after a breezy 40 minutes, and everyone seemed to leave in a good mood, though desperately seeking a little fresh air.
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– Patrick Kolodgy