At Cameo, the still-somewhat-new miniature ballroom and art gallery in the back of The Lovin’ Cup Cafe on North 6th, there is a curious installation of glossy, undulating strands of white rope that hangs above the stage like a mammoth’s head. Last Thursday night, I ventured over to Cameo to check out four bands: Sisters, Joe and the Flying Spoons, Pursesnatchers, and Acrylics.
Sisters, a two-piece made up of guitarist Aaron Pfannebecker and drummer Matt Conboy, started the evening by dipping into the tradition of creative New York noise that still emanates from Sonic Youth’s “Teenage Riot,” with touches of the styled optimism that tinges several tracks on the Strokes’ debut. But Sisters’ particular brand of vigor comes from crumbling, waterfront Williamsburg, and it’s the sound of being young and realizing that you’re surrounded by endless material for making art. Pfannebecker’s frenzied, high-pitched strumming kept the feeling honest, expressing the acute pain of drilling into one’s self to find new melodies. He seemed bothered that Sisters had to start its first song three times before getting it right, but the successive blasts were like interesting glimpses into a work-in-progress. Conboy, who ripped on a five-piece kit that included a lone cymbal, also introduced two songs with Joy Division-esque samples, reinforcing the point that the Mancunian group holds sway on the current scene.
Easy on the ears and fun to watch, Joe and the Flying Spoons followed Sisters’ industrial cry with a light but rollicking country stomp. Led by former Dirty on Purpose guitarist and vocalist Joe Jurewicz, the Spoons filled the stage with 10 members, including Caroline Chapman Beck on banjo, mandolin, and violin, and Rachel Lipson on a hand-held harp. Lipson joined three backing vocalists to highlight one song with call-and-response oohs and ahhs that might have fit into a Patsy Cline number, and the band’s last song borrowed the opening melody of REM’s “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” before veering off onto its own dusty track.
Stealing little treasures from memories of romance and loss, Pursesnatchers injected clear, near-acoustic pop songs into the evening’s mix. Mixing tender couplets like “Broke my spine / Bending over backwards, trying to read your mind” with natural imagery that ranged from cicadas and sycamore trees to dandelion wine and watermelon sugar, lead vocalist and guitarist Doug Marvin (also formerly of Dirty on Purpose) plied a kind of gossamer, sky blues that hung in the air. Annie Hart, Marvin’s bandmate and wife, complemented the acoustic guitar with accordion, melodica, and some particularly effective keyboard peals, and also sang high backing vocals that balanced her husband’s huskier tone. Regular bassist Harold Liu and drummer Chris Egan joined the pair for their last song, infusing Pursesnatchers’ still web with a vibrant electric shake. Acrylics, who brought groups of new fans into the room, closed the show a bit too late for this review.