A trio of bands, and competitions, presented by Cutty Sark.
We all know that good things come in threes: Three months of summer, three act plays, three Women’s World Cup wins for the USA … and the trio of bands brought to us on Tuesday night at Brooklyn Bowl by Cutty Sark.
With so much going on at once, there was bound to be a competition on the floor. There was the world cup soccer game, the bands, the bowling, the booze, and a dozen cameras strategically placed throughout the space (including on top of the exit sign). Cutty Sark prepared us for an epic summer showdown.
Round 1: Eternal Summers vs Soccer
Winner: Eternal Summers
Eternal Summers opened their set at the same time as the US Women’s National Team kicked off the second half of their World Cup game vs Germany. At first, this seemed like a doomed circumstance for an opener. Even singer/guitar Nicole Yun pointed out that her 12-year old self would be upset at not watching the game. But fans of Eternal Summer and soccer alike were aided Brooklyn Bowl’s set-up: some patrons were strategically placed in the bar so they could see the stage and the television at the same time.
Those who were curious enough to trek to the stage got an intimate concert at two inches away. And now, they know the special secrets that surrounded the Eternal Summers. They learned that Nicole rocks all of the solos and unique guitar parts that glitter on Eternal Summers’ newest album“Gold and Stone.” Plus, she rocks those solos in platform boots. They learned that on certain songs, drummer Daniel Cundiff adds the vocal harmony. They learned that everyone should hear this band and they had stumbled on something special.
The Eternal Summers spun through most of the cuts off their new album. The 90’s influence is clear, from the Cranberries like vocals and guitars, most evident on “Roses,” to the Blink-182 beginning of “Together or Alone.” These are the kind of songs that make everyone’s head bop at the same time. And indeed, the crowd, which tripled in size during the course of the Eternal Summers’ set, was nodding in time and celebrating each lick of the guitar. And the celebration didn’t stop there: As Carli Lloyds headed in a goal for the United States, there were cheers all around: Cheers for the team, cheers for the band, and cheers for Cutty Sark.
Round 2: Small Black vs Audience
Winner: Small Black
Small Black started off bold by making strong, even over-confident choices right at the beginning of their set. And being as the theme of the night was “three,” Small Black made three bold moves:
Bold move #1: Small Black opened with a slower paced, ethereal, emotional song instead of a hooky, upbeat song. Instead of turning people away, it sucked people in.
Bold move #2: Singer Josh Kolenik prefaced many songs with positive statements such as “People like this song,” or “This is an oldie but a goodie.” Luckily for Josh, people did like that song. And that other song was good even though it was “old.”
Bold move #3: They dressed like “normal” Brooklyn people. Josh even went so far as to put a baseball cap over his hair.
The thing is, Small Black is anything but normal. With the 80’s synth and percussion, and 90’s drum pad sounds, with a modern melodic twist, they are intriguing and unique.
The crowd for Small Black was also anything but small: they filled Brooklyn Bowl to capacity. And the audience was immersed even among distractions: A disco ball, a large crowd, bowling, cameras everywhere (including on top of the exit doors), and a VIP party.
Small Black turns out to be anything but Small. They have a huge sound, that could be even louder. While they attracted a large audience, one couldn’t help but think this could be popular at an outdoor festival with energy, the producer of the Empire Sun, Morgan Page and/or a Red Bull commercial. But in the end, at Brooklyn Bowl, the bold choices paid off for Small Black.
Round 3: Widowspeak vs Bowling
Vocalist and guitarist Molly Hamilton started off the set by setting up her own gear, and while she untangled wires and adjusted mic stands, the crowd stopped paying attention. “Is this them? Is this it?” asked one patron about the headliner. New rounds of bowling started. New drinks were ordered. And the disconnect stayed during the whole set.
Widowspeak is a genetic cross between Lana del Rey and Mazzy Star with a dash of Jenny Lewis It’s the kind of band you expected to see at The Bronze (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) draped in the same lighting they had at The Brooklyn Bowl. Only at The Bronze, the band wouldn’t be competing with girls celebrating their recent strike, or incoherently yelling “Arriba!” straight into the ears of other patrons.
Widowspeak’s newest album “All Yours” will release in September. The title track was a standout during their set, Hamilton’s fun ladder-up vocals striking a chord with the few intent listeners and the dreamy guitar helping to provide an airy summer soundtrack.
Whereas Small Black could be more successful in a larger arena, Widowspeak could be more successful in a smaller one, where their finely crafted melodies and guitars would be the only focus. They could feed off the energy and attention of the crowd, instead of losing the energy and the focus to drinks and pins. Here their melodies fell on distracted ears, now damaged by the aforementioned yells.
Photo Credit: Michelle DeLateur