I’ll always be amazed how many people can fit into the Artbank. By 9:30 p.m. the place was packed like rats in an attic, this time to support Hermetic’s new LP, Civilized City. Movieland started things slowly, easing into a candy-coated pop rock set that only got better as the night progressed. Once the cobwebs were shook off and confidence restored to the quartet, the band made good use of shared vocal duties and fun, carefree two-minute tracks. While most of their songs were sweet on the tongue, bitter closer “He Cares More If You Forget About Me” left the best taste in my mouth.
It’s not often that I’m blown away at a show: usually, I go into things well-informed and get pretty close to what I was expecting, but Chung Antique’s out-of-left-field performance blew me out of the water. The meek three-piece, who hail from Seattle, didn’t say much before launching into a furiously catchy instrumental performance held together by metronome-tight drum fills and amazingly groovy math-rock riffs. Guitarist Charlie Zaillian was profoundly humble, taking the time between tracks to profusely thank the crowd for gathering. By the time their last jam finished, there wasn’t a head in the cramped room that wasn’t moving/headbanging in time to the rhythm. Pay particular attention to Chung Antique if you’re a fan of local math bands like Man Your Horse or Polarhorse. I couldn’t get the grin from this performance off my face for the rest of the weekend.
Eric Axen creates the kind of rich lyrical fodder that punk and emo bands for the last 20 years have been trying to master, from Jawbreaker to Rites Of Spring. Behind the reins of Hermetic, Axen and drummer Bart Newman have a catchy, sing-along-friendly monster in their hands. At the Artbank the duo were surprisingly loud, and the extra helping of grit on Axen’s baritone guitar helped fill out each song, a difficult challenge without a bassist. Fitting, because it was their party to begin with, but Hermetic outdid all of their past performances with terrific sound and an attitude that made it obvious they were having fun. Newman is a seriously entertaining drummer to watch, and he played his drum kit with the same carefree abandon that a kid might have playing with his new bike. Although Hermetic ended at the stroke of 11 p.m., cheers for more kept on well after the mics were cut.