Birdmonster Show Review
(pause for dramatic effect)
Birdmonster destroyed my face.
Well, it was actually easier to say than I had anticipated, but the sentiment holds true, nonetheless. On Tuesday, June 20, Birdmonster and opening band The Talk played at Off Broadway. I showed up a few songs into the Talk's set, and I was immediately impressed. They played with energy that, at times, reminded me of The Clash, The Replacements, and even the Walkmen (especially singer Justin William's voice, which, at times, had a yelp to it that was very similar to The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser). My preview of the show a few posts back clearly did not tout The Talk enough. They put on a good show and deserved to be seen by more people. The crowd of about 15 people was scattered about the club, sitting in chairs, politely nodding their heads as the show progressed. At the halfway point of their set, in between songs and during a quiet moment while they were tuning their guitars, bassist C.R. Rollyson noted that, in fact, “This is awkward.” So, singer Williams introduced the band to the crowd and decided it made sense to have everyone in the crowd to introduce themselves, person by person, and had everyone say their names. This, of course, took only about 30 seconds and when it was done he said, “well now that everyone knows each other, it’s not quite as awkward” and they continued to finish up their solid set.
Birdmonster was up next. By the time they started their set, there were no more than 25 people in the crowd, including staff and the opening band. Apparently, being a blog darling doesn’t get you very far in St. Louis, or much of a crowd on a stifling Tuesday evening, anyway. The band took the stage, tuned up and met in the middle of the stage, at the drumset. Gathered in a circle, they put their hands together in the middle (I was half-expecting a “Goooooooo Team!”), shook hands and backed away from each other as singer and guitarist Peter Arcuni quietly began playing. The volume and tempo started to increase as bassist Justin Tenuto stomped a foot on the stage in rhythm. The crescendo slowly built until the band was confidently into the Rock Zone. As Arcuni asked the crowd to come closer to the stage to make it feel more intimate, everyone in the crowd realized this show was going to be a collaborative effort. One by one, the crowd obliged and the band returned the favor in kind.
The band tore through its set with abandon and intensity. You could not help but get caught up in the show. They were playing as though there were 2500 people in the crowd instead of the actual 25. Their style of music is hard to describe. It is defintiely rooted in "indie" rock, but has the feel of an alt-country/americana band, with more of a punk rock bent. I was only familiar with two songs, but was playing air guitar and singing each song’s second and third chorus throughout the set. The band had a great stage presence and was able to engage the smallest of crowds, at one point commenting that crowd did a lot of heckling for being so small. After the band played what it had announced to be its last song, the house music went up, and the band began unplugging. When they were finished, the crowd was more than enthusiastic and several asked the band to come back on... Now, this wasn’t the usual situation where we cheered until they heard us and came back out – it was more of a matter of making a personal request to the band to appease the 15 people in the room by playing a few more songs. It was almost like a house show -- intimate, hot and sweaty. The band could sense the crowd truly appreciated everything the band had laid out on the stage that night. So, they came back out and played two more songs, making every last person there extremely happy.
You must see this band live when they come to your town.
St. Louis is a funny town when it comes to music. There really is a “show me” attitude about bands and their music here. But when a band puts on an engaging, energetic live show and shows a commitment to play often, this town rewards them. Birdmonster is a band that St. Louis will embrace, like Centro-matic, Slobberbone, Two Cow Garage and Marah, for their intense live show and commitment to rocking the fuck out.
Here's the video Birdmonster's "Cause You Can":