Matamoros, Santino Santino, Leisurely at Coco 66
In terms of international celebrities and onsite sexual abandon, well, not exactly, but in terms of night people who love their music and crowd the entrance like glossy, chattering birds, yes. This past Saturday night, local bands Matamoros, Santino Santino, and Leisurely each delivered strong sets, and then themselves dispersed and realigned into band/friend/fan clusters as the night went on.
Brandishing a light cream Telecaster and a throaty wail, Matamoros lead singer Jacob Morris and drummer/vocalist Matt Goldman propelled sweet garage jams into the room, like an industrial fan kicking up wind and dust in a Northside warehouse. Plenty of Morris’s notes came from high on the fret board, and Goldman’s drumming both kept time and built impressive, asymmetrical edifices to house the guitar. When Morris traded his Fender for a hollow-body Epiphone, sweet became shambolic, but the singer muscled through the mess by insistently screaming out the familiar lyric, “I just want to make love to you.” The Fender returned for the last, best song in the set, a poppier blast that saw Morris’s voice drop into a raw, raspberry tone, impressively evoking Paul Westerberg’s work in the Replacements.
Onsite sexual abandon may have been on the agenda of Santino Santino, a trio of hirsute and hilarious purveyors of Roman bombast whose keyboard-driven, guitar-drenched party jam, “Numerius,” is a summer anthem in the making. Guitarist Nick Bonventre set the terms early by asking “Who wants to have sex with me right now?” before chastising the soundman in faux ghettoese. Lead singer and five star dance machine Martin Bonventre then began cavorting around the stage like Horshack hit by lightning, and guitarist Mike Stroud flooded the audience with some of the same oily, fermented chords he spills in Ratatat. Once these guys find the right balance of their sonic ingredients—energy-rush keys, simple beats, high-pitched guitars, and Martin’s voice, which belongs to the Justin Hawkins / Freddie Mercury school of operatic singing—look out world (or at least North Brooklyn). Until then, there’s nothing not to enjoy about this group of ragamuffin stallions whose onstage affection and playfulness reflect a glimmer of what Jack Nitzsche describes as the essence of Crazy Horse: dude magic.
If Santino Santino served musical fondue, then Leisurely, a four-piece led by singer/guitarist Steve Jewett, offered a more traditional rock dish of meat, potatoes, and gravy. Surprisingly, this heavier fare got the most people dancing, and also singing along to tunes like “Classic Rock Song,” which mixed equal parts T. Rex and Oasis to tell the story of a high school outcast trading academic accoutrements for hip threads, smokes, and maybe a future in a band. Sprinkles of the Jam and even Rick Springfield sugared the Creedence and Tom Petty-influenced bar rock undergirding the music, and watching Jess Ludwicki, the first bassist of the evening, emit oaken notes into the mix felt like going back on a vitamin you always used to take. Gimme seconds!
Ancient Sky, whose vaulted psych rock sounds like a mountain-borne counterpart to the desert and mesa-oriented soundscape of Weird Owl, came on a bit too late for this review. Can’t wait to check them out next time.
— Philippe Theise