review by Rocky of Indie Band Guru

 Last Thursday I braved the L train to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to check out the “Turn-Style Feature show” at Public Assembly showcasing 5 different bands that I assume are local.

 The show sounded legit enough and I figured it would be interesting to see what happened to the bar that used to be Galapagos. I got there at around 10 o’clock and only one of the bands had played. This was a bad sign considering the doors opened at 8:30 and the first band was set to go at 8:45. Apparently Public Assembly has also decided to drain that magical 5 inch wading pool that draws drunk people in from the street mesmerized by their reflection on the floor and have replaced it with a not-so-welcoming array of uncomfortable looking chairs and some random beer cans.

The second band took the stage and sounded a lot like what one of the Hanson boys all grown up might sound like if Scott Stapp let him sing for Creed. The headache I would get tomorrow from the $6 shot of rail whiskey and unknown can of beer special got more and more enticing. At around 10:45 the next band, Quixote, took the stage and showed a lot more promise then the previous band. The band was pretty large and consisted of a nerdy looking methodic drumming girl, a metal head with a flying V guitar, and was punctuated at times by an awkward kid with a trumpet, and a really agitated Henry Rollins type reading free verse poetry. Pretty much the recipe for success. They had a really interesting sound going on and I really would recommend catching them live in a smaller venue. They brought an interesting clash of Minutemen-esque singing with a progressive, heavier and drawn out guitar work similar to Pelican or Isis. They served as a glimpse of actual musicianship in what felt like a high school talent show. 

 After being greeted by the band multiple times and urged not to leave, the band I was there to see, Neutral Ground took the stage about an hour and 15 minutes later then scheduled. (The lead singer even chased me out of the venue when I went to smoke thinking I had given up.) I saw a red flag when the band introduced themselves and I realized that they were all about 5 years younger then me but I decided to stay at the show in hopes that I might be able to get excited about the prospects of younger music again. They played 4 or 5 songs before the MC made them leave the stage but the crowd they brought with them seemed to enjoy their set. After the fans that amassed by the show put on by Quixote dispersed it was only goth kids and this bands family members and fellow students. Half of the songs they played were covers and I only figured this out when they announced it because I’m not familiar with the song selections they chose to play. I can’t honestly review this band without feeling like I’m bad mouthing a talent show but if you’re a fan of kids playing covers of top 100 indie songs to their parents, Neutral Ground is the band for you.

I was reminded a lot of this promoter friend I used to have that claimed every band I was about to see sounded just like Radiohead meets Battles meets Fugazi when in fact they all just sounded like Nickelback meets shit. There’s a lot of bands in this city and most of them spend more time working on their hype then developing their music.  Maybe they need to get back to basics and realize that when you make good music the fans will come regardless of the hype.

To hear more Neutral Ground go to:

www.reverbnation.com/neutralgrounds, www.myspace.com/neutralgrounds