Keeping up with the current crop of zeitgeisty New York City bands sometimes feels like taking astronomy, a class you signed up for because it sounded fun before you learned it involves a lot of math. Brooklyn-based trio Right on Dynamite are the Human Sexual Behavior of New York rock, perfectly adolescent yet surprisingly deep.
The band just returned from a stint opening for Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit and earlier this year put out a self-titled EP produced by Tom Beaujour (Nada Surf, the Virgins). The five tracks come across as sunny, pleasantly unhinged pop, but the lyrics reveal deep urban angst; Right on Dynamite sound like the Strokes would have if everyone was doing mushrooms and not cocaine back in 2001. On a recent arctic Friday night the band played a homecoming gig at Pianos on the Lower East Side. Until they actually stepped out of the crowd and took their positions—Daniel Murphy, 26, on guitar and vocals, Nicholas Cirillo, also 26, on bass and vocals, and Jonathan Molina, 25, on drums—it was impossible to know which of the many ski-cap-wearing, whiskey-flushed dudes in the bar were actually in the band. That sense of seamless intimacy between crowd and group was present throughout their set, a happy party consisting of every song the band can play and some they can’t but attempted anyway. After pausing to roll up the sleeves of his buffalo-plaid button-down, Murphy turned “Time” into a rollicking sing-along. “Pull the Wool” became a call-and-response jamboree, with the goofy but handsome Cirillo barely getting the mike in time for his harmonies. But the standout moment in the short set was “Mantra for the Madness,” a propulsive surf-rock track roughed up for the city with shambolic harmonizing and giddy drumming from the perpetually grinning Molina. As the band careened through the song, the crowd was no longer a little too drunk and sweaty with no cash for a cab home and crap jobs to return to on Monday—they were glamorous eternally young party kids with indestructible livers and brilliant careers ahead.