When Space Bros, one of Tom Whalen’s numerous projects, took the stage at They Live Video on April 11, no one seemed to know what to make of it. Noise art or DJ set from hell? The room hummed with distracted chatter, punctuated with hoots of encouragement—whether sincere or sarcastic, I couldn’t tell.
But with a little encouragement from Whalen, the crowd soon tuned in to the bit-crushed minimal synth coming out of the murk, getting down to lyrics about losing control in Zero-G and cutting loose with space brothers. But just as the dance party was getting started, the sound system started cutting out, forcing Whalen to make some impromptu cable adjustments. It was enough to get him through the set, but the problems re-emerged when Wetface, a.k.a. Slam Dunk‘s Jordan Minkoff, took the stage afterward.
Still, when the sound system did work, the audience was treated to Minkoff’s ragged, exuberant vocals, accompanied by keyboard and rhythm machine chorus. Between the hand-clapping and the sing-alongs, “Growing up in NYC is as hard as can be!,” it felt a little like an Andrew W.K. gig. But the next set, that of rapper Young Braised, went smoothly, the sound going with nary a hiccup. Decking himself head-to-toe in North Face, Young Braised free-associated about Slurpees, admitted to being blazed his “whole life,” and improvised lines about having to change his Tumblr password because of Heartbleed—all while serving up cuts off his latest release, Japanese Tendencies. The party atmosphere continued through the night and right into Gal Gracen’s set.
Gal Gracen‘s soundcheck segued into the actual set, the bassist laying down riffs to beats from a sampler. It’s a new direction for the band—once the solo project of Role Mach‘s Patrick Geraghty—formerly jangly and dreamy, now bassy yet sprightly, at times reminiscent of New Order. The band covered material from Gal Gracen’s Blue Hearts in Exile, and signed off with a lively instrumental version of that album’s fourth track, “Love Fantasy, My Beautiful Girl.” The audience couldn’t get enough of it, even as the night was drawing to a close.