152 Ludlow St.
Though the crowd had dwindled by 2:30 Sunday morning, when Holy Hail finally took the stage, those who remained still managed to match the band’s enthusiasm and satisfy their dance-punk jones. Exploding into the first song, “Big Guns,” the lead singer crouched down to the floor and let out a screeching wail to shock the audience awake. Then she and the keyboardist rap-sung girl-boy duets over danceable synth-pop, a fresh take on Luscious Jackson circa “In Search of Manny.” Holy Hail’s guitars-on-the-dance-floor style may feel dated, but even unfashionable genres need their torchbearers.
Most impressive feat: performing fourteenth in an all-day music marathon.
289 Kent Ave., Williamsburg
About two dozen people (mostly friends, many of whom looked like school teachers) came out to support Meowskers, a surprisingly winsome garage-rock band. The drums-bass-keyboards trio had enough solid songwriting, falsetto vocals, and infectious conviction to rile the small crowd, and the band performed as if they were playing for an arena of screaming fans.
Degree to which their upcoming appearance on the Oxygen network is ill-advised: Off the charts.
Goodbye Blue Monday
1087 Broadway, Bushwick
Though Spidermums are from Kansas City and definitely sound-check the early-nineties “shoegazer” scene of alt-British rock, they still looked something like a young band from Bushwick, albeit with baggier jeans. The band crammed six musicians and an ungodly number of pedals onstage, filling the room with feedback that was sometimes discordant, often delightful—much like the teeming towers of kitschy trash and treasure that lined the venue.
Up for debate: clueless bumpkins or refreshing outsiders?
THE RUFFIAN ARMS
1041 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint
Punks and metalheads gathered in the back room of this Greenpoint dive to see the Ruffian Arms, a glam quintet led by an Amazonian redhead dressed in red-and-black fetish gear. The rest of the wildly attired band (male and female backup singers dressed as cheerleaders, a drummer in underwear, a bassist wearing some sort of faux-fur bikini bottom, and a guitarist in a full-body fishnet) matched their leader’s sartorial and musical enthusiasm, participating in bandwide cheers and pom-pom fights while their trashy, punky, rockabillyesque sound kept the room bouncing along.
At least deserves: an A for effort.
An extraordinarily angry metal group from Boston whose appearance—clean-cut front man and petite, brunette guitarist—belies their extreme angst as expressed in songs like “Aloha Jihad” and “Slaiden,” which was a simultaneous tribute to Slayer and Iron Maiden (obviously).
Amusing thought experiment: a joint concert with Destruct-a-thon and Old Springs Pike.
Private basement apartment
255 McKibbin St., Williamsburg
Toward the end of a long, very drunken night at the McKibbin dorms, two somewhat PBR-smashed emcees jumped onstage to rap along with their home-mixed set of beats. The guy on the left was too loud, and the guy on the right wasn’t too aware of his surroundings, but by that point neither was most of the audience, so it didn’t make much difference.
Number of reasons to stick around: Zero.
(No Refreshments, Please)
BROWN WING OVERDRIVE
228 W. Broadway
Although Roulette’s patrons varied in age, they all looked somewhat academic, focused, and very serious. Then three men walked onstage and threw a high-functioning temper tantrum. The near-epileptic improvisation included the use of a cowbell, birdcall whistles, chopsticks (played on sunglasses), a battery-operated fan, and squeaking sunglasses. The only vocal sounds were hiccups, sneezing, and lip-buzzing into a microphone.
Likely ratio of advanced degrees to size of the audience: Greater than one-to-one.
Ave. C at 2nd St.
The mood at this haven of experimental music was only occasionally broken by screamed obscenities from the sidewalk while Berkson took on a self-imposed challenge: performing solo versions of complicated pieces for piano and voice—by Schumann, Schoenberg, and others—intended for two musicians. The difficulty of tackling both parts at once showed in her sometimes-uncertain voice, but the shakiness proved transfixing rather than distracting.
Usefulness as a yoga soundtrack: Sure, why not.
LIZ TONNE AND SEAN MEEHAN
Issue Project Room
232 3rd St., Gowanus
Held in a sparely decorated loft space a few feet from the Gowanus Canal, this unassuming pair’s performance may have been the quietest in the history of live music. Tonne emitted vocalizations that sounded like a mix of squeaking machines, alien birdsong, and made-up languages. Sometimes Meehan rubbed a stick against a cymbal placed on top of a snare drum, and sometimes he crushed sand between the cymbal and the drum. He also had some forks sitting by his feet, but he didn’t use them.
Question: Are unused forks the experimental-musician’s security blanket?