LIVE: Cronies, Schenectavoids & Parashi @ Rare Form Brewing, 10/22/2021
So even those of us that used to live and breathe live music are still a bit antsy about going to live shows, especially those in enclosed spaces with packed crowds. For the past 6 months or so, Rare Form has been providing a haven for us. The music is outside, there’s plenty of seats, and there’s even a parking lot where you can go smoke a cigarette.
Last Friday (October 22nd) may very well have been the apex of this phenomenon in a very specific time and place. One that couldn’t have been predicted pre-pandemic. Three terrific groups, 2 local with a curriculum vitae so long and vital it makes me feel like I haven’t put in my dues, and a new noise rock band from NYC born in the pandemic era (their first recording tag is ‘songs for the plague).
The evening started with Schenectavoidz, a hardcore punk band featuring the legendary Capital District (originally from Plattsburgh) Krak brothers on guitar, bass, and vocals, and former (super fucking legendary hardcore band) Devoid of Faith member Kevin O’Sullivan on drums. And if you know anything about Jay or Jared Krak, you know that that ‘legendary’ label doesn’t begin to cover how much they’ve done for and in the local scene. Jay Krak began his music career over 2 decades ago setting up local punk rock shows in Plattsburgh that were THE shows to go to in the area. After moving to Albany, Jay continued to set up, promote, and RULE the hardcore punk scene here. Most recently he was doing everything for punk rock shows (and plenty of other genres) at Pauly’s Hotel prior to their recent ownership change and performing as frontperson for hardcore band Aggressive Front. Jared most recently showed all other metal drummers how it’s done during his stint (ongoing hopefully) with sludge metal lords Maggot Brain following playing in Troy’s post-hardcore band Great Day for UP. And that’s just a few of the things they’ve been doing lately.
Playing 20 – 30 minute long or shorter tunes, Jay and Jared traded screaming hardcore vocals while Jared wailed lightning fast power chords on guitar and Jay thumped that signature hardcore chainsaw bass sound. O’Sullivan played incredibly fast and furious beats in a manner that seemed both effortless and intense, limbs flailing wildly yet hitting every area exactly the right spot at the right moment. And not only did they exhibit the wildly heavy hardcore punk, metalcore, power violence, etc. Schenectady – Troy bands like Devoid of Faith and more recently Male Patterns are famous for, there were also a number of highly syncopated lightning fast chord and rhythm change song sections that moved into metal/mathcore territory. A band that just recently got up and running already showing not only excellence in traditional Troycore style but great promise for future development and scene dominance — I for one hope they stick around for a long time to come!
Second up was NYC band Cronies, a loud feedback heavy riff rocking noise band. As soon as they took the gravel (there’s no stage to speak of on the back patio), it was clear from their expensive myriad equipment that this was a serious group of people that put their all into their music. A longer soundcheck than Schenectadvoidz (how can you compete with a 20 second sound check?) and they were in full noise rock mode. Anyone without earplugs (or extensive hearing damage such as yours truly) quickly moved back; it was as though a great force of rock noise began blasting and didn’t cease until the amps were turned off. The band didn’t even wait for applause between songs but kept up the brutal assault.
Now when it comes to bands from NYC, I’ll admit I take off points so you gotta be pretty damn good to entertain me. Cronies did not disappoint; all 3 guitars traded off riffs and feedback noise, though at times the riffs did go on a bit long and tread into classic riff rock territory. So thank the Lord for the all powerful NOISE and VOLUME that reminded me of the newer class of noise rockers like Whores. and the influence of heavy British noise rockers like Gnod and Hey Colossus. My only concern is that I doubt there’s high demand for ultra heavy noise rock in Brooklyn these days, since the No Wave revival (or at least the worship thereof even if the Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs fell far short of the sounds) happened decades ago now. Then again maybe it’s about that time when the recycled is recycled! Another reason I take off points from NYC bands… In any case, the overwhelming volume and sloppy fuzz laden palm muted riffs overlaid with sloppy single screaming notes/non-notes and undeniably intense youthful energy entertained this cantankerous old local scenester so much that he overlooked the fact that these kids were younger, better looking, better dressed and even far more convincing in their rock personas. My cynicism was overcome. High bar to meet and meet was met! Or something.
The night was rounded out by local noise artist Parashi, of local seminal innovative yet classically indie Sky Furrows and Burnt Hills. Mike Griffin has been recording and performing as Parashi for at least 5 years now, a persona that allows him to fully explore his singular experiments in pure noise versus signal. His use of modular synths, pedals, and in general those multiple boxes like things that have twisty knobs and chords going in and out all over coming out of what appeared to be a guitar head/cab but could just as easily have been the PA (who knows where the noise is coming from or what’s doing what when it comes to a noise setup as complex as this) was masterfully presented in a fairly typical manner for a noise MC. Brooding and noodling over the wizard’s esoteric tools, Griffin twisted and tinkered his way to one set after another of sound groupings. And as you’d expect if you have any of his recordings, he moved from a sort of ambient harmony quickly into dissonant and often painful screeches, punishing tones, and ear splitting intensity and back again. For around twenty minutes Parashi entertained and enthralled us all without the use of any traditional musical instruments, all the while projecting an image of a sorcerer so in tune with his own spellcasting you feel as if you’re walking in on a new potion being created, a new, stronger curse being conjured into existence. A mesmerizing performance of experimental sounds we were lucky enough to witness, much like the work of performing experimental group Burnt Hills but in this case made entirely by one person that still somehow sounded like dozens all together, waving, cresting, and even exploding at unexpected times with lightspeed precision. Did that sound like a cool description? Because what I heard was really fuckin cool and, of course, sometimes when you ‘dance about architecture’ it fails to convey the arches and arabesques adequately. But I’m trying!
Do not miss the next outside Friday show at Rare Form. It starts early for us early bird supper eaters and more often than not contains tried and true local performers and something you’ve probably never heard before but will love from somewhere else entirely. Thank you Rare Form, and thank you Super Dark Collective!