Monday, November 10, 2008

Rival Schools @ Mercury Lounge 11/06

Rival Schools I feel pretty much have a built in fan-base from the other famous bands that they are associated with, namely Quicksand and Gorilla Biscuits. The band can be overshadowed by the kind of superstar status that their members have attained being a productive part of not only one, but several influential bands in the hardcore scene. Walter Schriefels is not dissimilar to a Bob Nanna of Friction, Braid, and Hey Mercedes, even in that the last band mentioned is a bit lighter in sound and more melodic by nature as well as Rival Schools is.

So seeing them with a couple of co-workers who share a love for many of the same bands was a real treat; namely, I was hanging out with a couple of dudes who while only eclipsing my age by 4 or 5 years, were heavily involved or listening to music that I was growing up to only peripherally since I could not drive or go to shows and whatnot. It matters to them more to see a band like Rival Schools, and it's something I looked forward to even though ultimately I probably would prefer a band like Metroschifter.

The interesting thing tonight was that they opened for Bad Brains early on at 9pm at Irving, so naturally them being 45 minute over schedule was foreseen. I skipped the opening bands although I wished to have seen The King Left, as we had a couple drinks at Gawker while playing that Rock Band game and failing on Jane's Addiction and Sex Pistols of all bands, and then had to attend a farewell party to another co-worker at Bob Bar (or Bar Bob).

And then of course we got Bereket shawarmas (I apologize because I can't remember the particular name of the sandwich) and it was amazing. I didn't even want to go to the show. I just wanted another one because it was amazing. And delicious. Especially after many beers. Dan Williams thought the same thing, but Loni ra Berman skipped out. It was awesome Loni. There.

Rival Schools came on to the hope of new material (which is true) and a familiarity that the crowd had with the old standards, anticipation of a long hiatus building and the band's age shining through. There's is an undeniable Quicksand imprint, and both have a somewhat unique 90s sheen to them (even though Rival Schools was bigger around 2001) with hoarse vocals but a "grungier" (hate to use it but I guess it's the simplest way to describe it) feel than some of the other bands of the time I think. There's a patience and a slower pace almost; save some election talk there was little banter between songs and they pushed through most of United By Fate, their only officially released LP to date and a couple covers. Songs like "Travel By Telephone" and "Used For Glue" came back suddenly, but the audience really kept their cool; it's as if "hey this is what I came for, that's totally cool, and I'm possibly a bit old to be moshing". The atmosphere was energetic but not overwhelming, as if the fans were a bit nostalgic and were a bit frozen in the wake of songs that they probably hadn't heard live in a while. The new songs pushed a bit more pop and conventional but sounded fresh and pretty tight. It was an economic show, expected and very professional and definitely satisfying.

Rival Schools "Used for glue"

As always, Mercury is a great, low-ceiling affair but the temperature was kept at a moderate level until a pit started to develop during the last three songs or so and I got clocked in the chin and bit my tongue which caused a gnarly little abrasion for a day or two. They are one of those bands because of their pedigree and connections over the years, you may have been able to glance at all the ex-label people and the community that has supported them in their prime and now. It's a cool snapshot of mostly people who have gone on to do other things, or fans, like my co-workers, that may have moved beyond them at some point but got a great glimpse of a new record from an old dawg.

For more pictures and context, go to Brooklyn Vegan's post which graciously took an excerpt from this review: Brooklyn Vegan - Rival Schools & The King Left @ Mercury Lounge - pics

To see them on MySpace, click HERE.

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