The Astoria Pub, by all rights, shouldn’t be the east-side cultural mecca that it is: walls covered with nothing but beer adverts and a glass-covered dance floor don’t exactly scream “Friday night,” but when it’s filled with good people it’s hard to doubt its charm as a local venue. I arrived around 11 p.m., banking on the bar’s infamous late starts, but missed openers Lié by a hair’s-width.
Aquanaut is either Black Sabbath filtered through an experimental psych-rock meat-grinder, or the Desert Sessions with sludgy down-tempo guitar muck in lieu of Josh Homme. The band played a heavy 30-minute tirade of head-banging and slow, cascading waves of doom. David Rogers (Basketball, Trail Of Broken Treaties) led the quartet with white-noise screaming and serious guitar-tapping prowess, and it was nice to see Keith Wecker trade in his organ for a Flying V to mash out Marshall-backed power chords in distortion bliss.
Inherent Vices haven’t gotten any more refined since the last time they’ve played – frontman Chris Burnside obviously doesn’t give a shit about whining feedback, and the idea of muting his guitar before he tunes still hasn’t occurred to him — but the punk trio had more than enough power behind their songs to make up for it. Burnside — whose inter-song quips like, “That could have been worse,” weren’t exactly endearing — has an impressive vocal range, and it saved their early-Saturday-morning set from being just “good.” Particularly on songs like “You’ll Never Break My Heart,” Inherent Vices actually have a lot of momentum behind their just-fast-enough LA-inspired garage rock. Although it was hard to hear over the hum of tube amps and a loud audience, Inherent Vices packed a lot of interesting meaning and philosophy into songs clocking less than two-minutes.
It was obvious by the crowd that gathered right next to the stage between sets that many had come to see Apollo Ghosts, and the joyous dancing commenced as soon as Adrian Teacher had a hand on his guitar. The band that can do no wrong rocked a solid lineup of songs both new and old, highlighted by their recently-released single “Nightwitch,” and debuted a few fresh jams that featured two bass guitars dueling on-stage. Despite all the low notes, the quartet never sounded muddy or unfocussed, and even if their set wasn’t quite as monumental and celebratory as some of their shows from yesteryear, it still soared with enthusiasm and positivity.
Twin Crystals have been keeping themselves in the dark over the past year, so it was refreshing to see the three noise-makers that comprise the band returning to form. The band, ostensibly labeled “punk,” but with a harsh, depressing synth undercurrent, sounded even better than remembered, with no sugar-coating on vocals either bellowed or shrieked. Songs hinged on depressing or invigorating, but always played with a dark, alley-wandering intensity; the time guitarist Jesse Taylor spent in Shearing Pinx has added a level of refinement to Twin Crystals’ normal chaos. Veterans of Fake Jazz found a lot to be nostalgic for in the closer’s set, but what’s most interesting is this punk band’s future.