Sunday, April 04, 2010

Death @ Europa

Death; Rough Francis; Sister Anne
@ Europa
Brooklyn, NY - April 2, 2010

Once upon a time in the 70's ghetto of Detroit, the three brothers Hackney made loud, bellicose, but soulful stabs at the gut of rock n roll and were ready to turn the world of rock on its head. And the record industry knew it. But the brothers called themselves Death and the lord almighty of records (Clive Davis) said thou can'test call thyselves Death for tis unsellable. And maybe he was actually right but we will never know for Death chose not to compromise and with that promptly concluded themselves. They moved to Vermont and became a diverse concept of projects, namely gospel and reggae, the name of Death having been retired. One of the brothers passed away, and the world seemed destined to not know the word and sound of Death until one of the surviving brothers' sons (Bobby Sr. begat Bobby Jr.) discovered the work of his father and uncles and so began the crawl from out of the ashes and history and the rebirth of Death.

For The Whole World To See overwhelmed the Indie rock world last year. Treated as a fresh, new release because it actually sounded fresh and new, the short LP of what would have been, could have been, the most critical rock record between Fun House and Never Mind The Bollocks, ushered in not only a renaissance of Death appreciation (to say nothing of outright discovery) but the return of Death itself. Death alive again. Bobby Sr. and Dannis Hackney playing shows.

So Death came to Europa. And those years of rural Green Mountain gospel and reggae definitely had an effect on the brief explosion of urban melodic noise that was the reason we all came to see Death. Despite coming to the stage in the dark, in Grim Reaper cloaks, with a gospel-era photo of their late brother David overlooking them, all giving us a taste of the rock spectacle that might have been, the reincarnation of Death is mellower, tamer than what was put on wax all those years ago. This is best encapsulated in "Keep on Knockin'". What was an utter hurricane of controlled fury has become a more laid back, jammy affair. So it was a bit of a come down from the anticipation. But - the spirit was there, and the brothers Hackney were graceful and eloquent and warm and loving to the unbelievably packed crowd. It was a giant family experience and for that it was worth it.

And it really was a family experience. Bobby Jr. brought his band Rough Francis to the stage and they really captured the essence of that original burst of Death. Perhaps better called "Son of Death", Rough Francis started off like a sloppy garage band but became tighter and tighter as their set went on, peaking in a rampaging cover of the Damned's "New Rose". Who knew how rowdy things got up in Burlington.

Sister Anne are a local straight-from-the-source punk band. Mixing badass heavy riffage with girly delight, Sister Anne could be compared too easily but not offensively to the Slits. And the presence and ferocity of a soul-tinged lead singer also easily draw comparison (in all the good ways) to the Bellrays. But there is a spark of originality and showmanship in this band, and an appeal all their own.

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At April 4, 2010 at 12:15:00 PM EDT, Blogger Erica said...

Thanks for the review. I had planned to see them at SXSW but as their time slot was in conjunction with the Big Star tribute, uh, I was pretty much already spoken for...

Did come across their asst. mgr I guess in the Convention Center at one point and we got to talking. Seems a new record is in the works for them.


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