I saw Not Sure. Not Yet at their Grow EP release show on July 31 at Milk Bar, where they celebrated the record’s music as well as some new tunes. The two opening acts were Tremor Low (SF) and Old Monk (Brooklyn).
First Up: Tremor Low
Taking a journey through ’80s brooding dance-pop, Tremor Low started the evening off right by getting the audience amped from the other side of the curtain at Milk Bar, even their short soundcheck was on-point. The crowd immediately started moving with the contagious beats of Fabian Paredes, Ariel Utz, and Don Bellinger, the new face of the nearly 4-year-old outfit. After a recent hiatus to find Utz, Tremor Low lit up the stage with highly energetic and danceable grooves that got even the wallflowers blooming. The haunted vocals of Don Bellinger give the signature to this band’s sound, and the seasoned frontman provided one of the most entertaining moments of the evening when his keyboard took a stage dive and he finished the song hammering out the keys on his hands and knees. Nice guys to boot, this group is one to watch.
Go see them if you like: Depeche Mode, New Order, The Cure, making sexy eyes across the room dressed fashionably and/or in all black. https://www.facebook.com/TremorLow
Next Up : Old Monk
Old Monk took the evening in a more rock-centric turn, with their tight-knit rhythms and syncopation well-complemented by the trifecta of energy that is of Joshua Carrufa on guitar and vocals, Ian Burns on drums and Tsugumi Takashi on Bass. With a sound that describes itself as “loud, proggy, fast, punk, rock n roll,” Old Monk excels at the technical rock that defines bands like Yes & Rush. “We basically make as proggy pop songs as we can,” says Carrufa. The band had just spent a week in the Midwest and were working their way up the West Coast for the third time before returning to their hometown of Brooklyn. No stranger to the stage, Carrufa performed the most challenging guitar riffs of the evening, as well as the fastest string change this side of the Mississippi. The band grooved on, and Caruffa’s lightning-like intensity was back on track in no time. “Yeah, I break a lot of strings,” says Carrufa. Entertaining and idiosyncratic, Old Monk’s music is theatrical without being overdramatic. It is clear that each member is having a great time and loves every minute of performing.
Go see if you like: Yes, Rush, Weezer, dancing with your head, nerding out on sick melodies, watching someone change a string in less than 60 seconds. https://www.facebook.com/freeoldmonk. http://www.freeoldmonk.com
Headliners: Not Sure. Not Yet
Not Sure. Not Yet closed out the night with a set that opened strong and gained momentum throughout. With the crowd anticipating a good time and energized by the two openers, NS.NY’s enthusiasm caught on and got people moving early. As they settled into their rhythm & began to move between instruments, their sound traveled throughout the last few decades, from noticeable The Cure & Pixies influences to more modern sounds ranging from the rock of Yeah Yeah Yeahs to the deeper grooves of Yo La Tengo. An already versatile band, NS. NY mixed it up with guests on guitar and cello to accent the moves between instruments and genres. The friendly audience enjoyed the set and kept the room warm with their dancing and grooving. The night came to its inevitable climax with a soft nod to “Smells like Teen Spirit” merging into a jump-around feel-good finale that had the Thursday night crowd thirsty for more.
Go see if you like: The Cure, The Pixies, Yo La Tengo, bedazzled shorts, bands with versatile line-ups
I got a chance to catch up with NS.NY in their studio a couple of weeks later and hear first hand how they developed their sound. “We had been a 4 piece on and off for a while, and when our guitar player left, we looked at it like “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” Dr. Suess purposefully limited himself to something like 28 words, let’s just apply that to this situation.” says vocalist & multi-instrumentalist Emily Barry. This playful snippet into conversation relays the energy and enthusiasm of Oakland’s front-running bouge-wave band. “Yeah, we coined the genre, we all have jobs, so, there’s that…” guitarist & vocalist Kenta Tomura jokes. The ambitious trio has allowed their sound to be shaped by what the three of them can do on stage together, including creating the electronic playground of keyboard/synth/drum machine setup. Emily has added bass to her synth & vocals and drummer Brendan Dreaper regularly steps up to the keyboard cockpit to produce electronic beats and effects. “We didn’t really realize the potential of all of these (keyboard & samplers) until we started putting them all together,” says Kenta “We are always looking for new ways to mix it up.” This show, mixing it up meant two guests and trading instruments like they were baseball cards, next time… Not Sure. Not Yet.