Spend the evening with The Buzz Monday, March 17 at The High Watt and discover the sounds of Miniature Tigers and Bear Hands, with special guest Total Slacker.
Ticket price: $12
Tickets can be purchased online here and over the phone by calling 866-468-7630. Tickets can also be purchased in person at Grimey’s New & Preloved Music, The Groove Record Shop, Parlour & Juke Salon and Fond Object
Bear Hands will also perform an intimate acoustic session in the Advance Financial Acoustic Den Monday afternoon before their show at The High Watt. The only way in is to win! Register here for passes.
Discover more about the bands below!
ABOUT THE BANDS
Hmm, where should we start here? The part where Miniature Tigers stay up all night with Neon Indian, fine-tuning the laser-like synths of their new single, “Gold Skull?” Yeah, that sounds about right.
“I won’t forget that experience,” says frontman Charlie Brand. “I remember the sun coming up and everyone in the room singing along. [Drummer] Rick [Schaier] was almost asleep on the floor as he did harmonies.”
While that part was captured during the Manhattan-bound mixing stages of Miniature Tigers’ second album (Fortress, out July 27 on Modern Art Records), the rest of the record was tackled at Dreamland, a converted 19th-century church that’s hosted everyone from Beach House to the B-52s. As you might imagine given its location—deep in the woods of Upstate New York—this led to some other late nights, ones that involved abject terror. But hey, that’s what happens when you decide to watch The Shining in a place that could double as a Friday the 13th set.
“That movie put us in a weird headspace,” explains Brand, “so we decided to go nuts on ‘Mansion of Misery’, starting with the drums. We also wailed on the guitars, making everything as loud as we possibly could.”
The result is one hell of an curtain-raising cut, as heavenly harmonies and tension-building effects segue into a sudden explosion of crushed cymbals and powder keg chords. So while it’d be easy to draw the usual reference points here (the two B’s: Brian Wilson and the Beatles), something’s a little off about Miniature Tigers’ indie pop presentations, whether we’re talking about the delirious chorus lines of “Bullfighter Jacket,” the hooting and hollering of “Lolita,” or the ’shroom-munching waking dream of “Coyote Enchantment.” And reigning in all the chaos, why, it’s none other than Chris Chu of the Morning Benders, applying the same widescreen approach that worked wonders on his own Big Echo LP.
“We like to push what doesn’t work sometimes,” says Brand, “and he helped balance that out for us. Chris is also very organized, focused and serious, which is nice, because we aren’t at all.”
That’s not totally true. After all, the band’s come a long way since Rolling Stone named them one of MySpace’s 25 best artists in late 2006. For one thing, Brand and Schaier finally have a steady lineup now, rounded out by guitarist Algernon Quashie and bassist Alex Gerber. The band played over 200 dates last year supporting their debut albumTell It To the Volcano with the likes of The Morning Benders, Bishop Allen, The Spinto Band and then there was the Ben Folds tour where Brand figured out what not to say onstage in front of their biggest crowds yet.
“I made a weird joke about being on acid at this college basketball arena,” he says. “I don’t even remember what I was talking about. I was dying up there.”
He won’t be any longer.
You may have them pegged as the high-end of lo-fi, but with their sophomore album Distraction, Bear Hands have shrugged off the notion of second album jitters to create an expansive sound that grew over three long years and thousands of miles on the road.
Self-produced and mixed by James Brown (NIN, Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters), Distraction is a violently self-assured record which sees the quartet of Dylan Rau, TJ Orscher, Val Loper and Ted Feldman distilling their anxieties and pleasures alike into perfectly twisted pop nuggets.
After releasing their debut LP Burning Bush Supper Club, Bear Hands criss-crossed America opening for the legendary GZA, Passion Pit, and AWOLNATION only to return home to Brooklyn and be distracted by the minutia of modern life and shallow urbanity. While avoiding each other for months, the band frittered away its time with help from the internet, serial monogamy, and recreational drugs.
Fortunately, this distance allowed the band to approach Distraction with a revolutionary new perspective. Their minds expanding and hearts imploding, Bear Hands set about matching new songs to familiar soundscapes. From the propulsive, infectious rhythms of "Giants" and the angular, warped melodies of "Bone Digger" to the widescreen sweep of "Thought Wrong," Distraction demands your attention - calling out for love from behind a mask of ones and zeroes, cardboard and vinyl.
Total Slacker has a thing for Olive Garden. It’s not just a passing interest or something—next time you talk to Tucker Rountree, their towheaded, lanky frontman, ask him about never-ending pasta bowls and Zuppa Toscana and unlimited breadsticks. He’ll tell you about his ongoing attempt to throw a rock ‘n’ roll show at a Queens Olive Garden, which culminated in a series of phone calls made to corporate centers, demanding answers to questions like: Do you understand the sociological effect that Olive Garden has had on Western culture since the 80s? What are the conceptual underpinnings behind breadsticks?
Beyond casual American dining, Total Slacker has a thing for the 90s. But rest assured, their new record Slip Away, which comes out 02.11.14 on Black Bell Records, isn’t the sort of hack revivalism that’ll make you want to burn your copy of Bleach. For the album, Total Slacker dug deep into the crates, and came up with something that sounds like Hum and Skywave a bunch of other bands that’ll draw blank stares from nu-gaze numbnuts. Most importantly, they retain their original ethos—to blur the lines between the genuine and the satirical, the earnest and the sarcastic… the shrimp and the scampi.
The band was incubated in New York City, after Tucker met bassist Emily Oppenheimer at a local Laundromat. The pair considered being in a band as an end goal in itself, and began their career without much direction or professionalism. The group released their lo-fi debut, Thrashin’, on Marshall Teller Records in 2011, earning a reputation as a vicious live act by playing more than 350 shows—which often feature flaming guitars, smoke machines, and smashed instruments—in under three years. In the wake of the album’s local success, the band was struck with tragedy following the death of their drummer, Terence Connor, who was struck by a hit-and-run in early October of 2012. They went into the studio within two months, laying down tracks that dealt with that confusion, transposing vague childhood angst into tangible, real-world issues.
Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, the quartet (rounded out by guitarist David Anthony Tassy and drummer Zoë Brecher) makes a potentially futile stab at a life lived in harmony with gargantuan multinational corporations. But don’t worry - recorded with care by Daniel Schlett (DIIV, the Men) at Strange Weather Studios in Brooklyn, Slip Away also features songs centered around the Kennedy assassination, ThighMasters, and fighting your babysitter’s boyfriend.