Tag: jivan

Toxic Prom 2017 at Basement Transmissions: The Standby, Maddock, Jivan, Mallory Run, Time Cat, and Joose

For the last four years, Basement Transmissions has hosted an event in the local music scene called Toxic Prom, an all-ages live music alternative to your typical high school proms in the area. Every year there is a theme – and even a prom king and queen, who are nominated by the volunteer Toxic Prom committee and selected based on their costume and fit to the theme, crowned with epically crafted headwear by owner Bob Jensen. This year’s theme was Freakshow and Oddities, with a distinctly carnival-like flavor. As soon as you walked in the door, you noticed the venue was on higher energy than usual, the already passionate crowd there decked out enthusiastically with almost Halloween-like flair, with multiple members of the staff dressed as circus ring leaders and looking quite dapper.

The venue itself was decorated from the front entrance to the back room, complete with a sideshow carnival themed photobooth prop over top of the back room’s stage, and a table full of quirky, themed treats (“Strong-Man Dumbbells” made of marshmallows and pretzels, “Lady Beards” made of chocolate and pretzels and nuts, cotton candy and popcorn presented and stylized like your local fair’s best offerings) courtesy of Ashley Sayre de Rivas. The best local photographers came out in droves to do a completely phenomenal job of documenting the event, and even local broadcaster Kristen Neilsen of Jet24 Action News (also of the amazing local female punk band Dysmorphia) stopped by with a camera crew to give Basement Transmissions a shout-out.

Opening the show to an already quite large crowd, local pop-punk/emo/grunge darlings The Standby put on their best set yet, and completely blew me away. They were very clearly excited for the event, and their set showed an incredible amount of effort. They played a combination of work from their EP Passiflora and some incredible covers (notably Arctic Monkeys’ Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High? and a mindblowing cover of Degausser by Brand New).

Maddock was next, and this young and insanely talented three-piece never disappoint, playing a set made for dancing with your friends. They primarily played material from their newly released EP Cliffside, moving away from the harder more rock-like sounds of their prior album It’s Drowning Out and recently favoring a lighter flavor of their distinctive alternative dance/post-punk. You can check out a short video of their set over here.

Prog rock wizards Jivan brought the groove next, bringing completely different vibes to the stage than the previous bands. While their music is definitely quite danceable and tends to be made for rocking out in the crowd, vocalist Kyle Myers also brought out a new side to the “freakshow” theme – before starting their set, he asked various attendees to write negative things people have said about them in the past that had stuck with them on his arms, with the cathartic idea that everyone has been made to feel like a “freak” at some point in their life. Always playing music with a clearly varied set of influences, the emotional content of the performance fluctuated wildly from intense and dark to beautiful and bright (definitely falling short of optimistic at any point, however, with casual introductions to songs such as “this song is called The Death of Passion, and it’s based on a true story”). You can check out a short video of their song Astrophe from the set over here.

Captain's Press (43)

Mallory Run is the one band on this list that has not been reviewed yet on the Basement Transmissions blog, and I was extremely excited for their set. They have an extremely energetic stage presence and sound, performing exceptionally emotive post-punk. Mallory Run has been around since the beginnings of BT, and their growth with the venue tends to be noted by many of those who frequent shows. Perhaps most importantly, the energy was extra high on stage this particular show as the band marked the (mid-set!) return of bassist Anthony Anglikowski from time in the military, with vocalist Danny McClune humorously (but emotionally) remarking “Fucking Navy. Don’t ever do that again.”  They played a combination of old favorites and new material, particularly a new song titled Spin.

After Mallory Run’s set, the Toxic Prom committee voted on who would be crowned the king and queen of this year’s Prom. The designated announcers of this year’s event (the festively dressed Nico Lombardo and Georgia Buchner) brought Nick Vollbrecht and Naomi Mecci to the stage, who were both definitely dressed to perfection.

The show continued with out-of-town favorites Time Cat. The Akron three-piece always plays an intense set and their funky, bluesy, vintage-tinged sound always makes for a wonderful performance to jam out to. The crowd got extra amped up during Boozled, the second to last song in their set, and then singer-guitarist Jeri Sapronetti announced a guest guitarist for their last song, teasing that it was “something special” before the first riffs of David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream started (Jeri’s gold lamé getup for the show suddenly made so much more sense. Between the gold outfits and Bowie covers, I ascended to another plane of existence. Thank you, Time Cat.)

Joose was last. What do I even say about Joose? They’re the all-around all-ages local favorite: funky, hard-hitting, catchy in all the right places, bringing the wildest, most insane crowd to match the wildest, most insane vocalist (a favorite moment from frontman Jack Stauber: “Tell me guys, what’s on everyone’s mind?” Jack crooned to the crowd between songs – “Dolphins!” answered the crowd – “…Yeah that, but I mean collectively”). Notable members of the crowd included – in addition to the pre-existing attendees dressed up in Freakshow-theme – the sudden addition of a man in a pink unicorn onesie and someone who came into the pit in a giant metallic-painted robot costume made of cardboard boxes, which slowly got destroyed over the course of Joose’s set like some sort of crowd-directed performance art. They also played some new material which was extra exciting, but the most amped up the crowd was definitely during the not one, but TWO encores the band played, which were fan favorites Every Day and Drink and Drive.

At the end of the night, venue staff member Elvis Maryshine approached me and asked how I enjoyed it, smiling and describing Toxic Prom as “Basement Transmissions’ own special holiday”. As I was looking at the members of the crowd still lingering around the venue after the show, danced-out but still costumed and smiling and talking and laughing, I believe she hit the nail on the head.

A huge thank you to all of the photographers who came and especially those who contributed to this article: Jessi Szczesny/JLS Photography, Kyle Myers/Striation Arts, Joshua Arlington/Zack Pude/Julie Celidonia/Captain’s Press.

BT’s Going to Funk You Up: Joose, Jivan, Miss This and Revelation at Basement Transmissions on March 4th 2017

The show at Basement Transmissions on March 4th was a fantastic night of funk music, every band playing a completely danceable set to a very warm and welcoming crowd.

Revelation opened the show, combining impressive rock instrumentation with horns and (an absolutely insane) 7-string bass for a punk-funk sound. You can find more of them on ReverbNation.

Albany, New York’s Miss This have a sound strongly reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers and this influence shows not only in their live sound and stage presence, but their recent EP, Hanky Panky. They also have a new music video on YouTube.

Jivan can’t be easily pigeonholed, and I’ve described them in a previous review as “Rush meets Tesseract and makes a sexy, guitar-driven baby”. But during this show, between the beginning of the set and the end of the set, my mind cycled multiple times between wondering whether to consider them funk, metal, or rock. Whatever Jivan plays, they completely nail down and have a wonderful, fun stage presence. Their first single Astrophe can be found on Bandcamp and iTunes, and there’s also a video for it on YouTube.

As usual, Joose’s crowd was insane, and marked by the unique crowd moments only Joose can produce. This particular show, instead of trying to focus my attention on the stage and music – and then becoming largely distracted by the crowd – I fully embraced the crowd moments: I’ve come to the conclusion that this is how Joose needs to be experienced. The highlight of the show was definitely the final song, Frostbitten, as the center of the crowd turned into a group hug of several people (including myself), passionately singing the song together. This definitely became an emotional experience for me that I won’t soon forget, thanks to Joose. Find them on YouTube, Bandcamp and SoundCloud.

A huge thanks to Kyle Myers/Striation Arts and Jessi Szczesny/JLS Photography for photos!

Photos: The Sex Blossoms, Jivan, Instead of Sleeping, and Joose at Basement Transmissions on January 13th 2017

Thanks to Josh Arlington at Captain’s Press for the photos!

Photos/Video: The Sex Blossoms, Jivan, Instead of Sleeping, and Joose at Basement Transmissions on January 13th 2017

VIDEO: The Sex Blossoms performing The Ballad of Noah and Joe
VIDEO: Joose performing Galaxy Queen

Thanks to Jessi Szczesny of JLS Photography for the photos and video!

January 13th, 2017: The Sex Blossoms, Jivan, Instead of Sleeping, and Joose at Basement Transmissions

Basement Transmissions has been a favorite arts spot of mine for a while now in Erie. Every show and event is completely different, and every artist is brimming with palpable creativity, whether they’re a local act or an out of town act. I’ve seen shows here with the venue completely packed to capacity, and I’ve seen shows where only 7 people came: all were amazing, all were played with the same amount of passion and talent from the artists performing. I admittedly haven’t always been able to say the same about other artists I’ve seen in venues around the world (which is quite a large swath of the world, I might add). Every time I’ve been to Basement Transmissions for a show, there’s more than just ‘a crowd’. There tends to be a strong sense of community among those attending, a strong sense of knowing you’re there to appreciate something larger and have fun with it, and that’s what’s always drawn me back.

More than just a music venue, Basement Transmissions has also been increasingly showcasing artists and creatives of a wide variety of talents, including poetry, film, and any number of traditional arts and mediums. Even at this event, not only were there four bands, but there was a small art show being showcased in the back room of the venue where artists were invited through multiple Facebook posts to come hang their work. The man in charge of it all, Bob Jensen, is one of the most passionate and creative individuals I’ve ever encountered when it comes to the arts in any form, so when he approached me and asked if I wanted to start reviewing live shows at the venue, the only answer for me was an exceedingly enthusiastic ‘yes’.

This particular show took place on January 13th at the venue, featuring The Sex Blossoms, Jivan, Instead of Sleeping, and Joose. I really cannot overstate how lucky I am that this particular show is the first I write about, because everyone and everything was amazing. The talent of the artists behind the art in the back room was amazing, the staff were all amazing and friendly, the bands were amazing and friendly, and the crowd was amazing and friendly. Everything was good vibes all around, and there were free tacos. It could not have been better.

The Sex Blossoms
Stand-Out Track: The Ballad of Noah and Joe
The Sex Blossoms are a duo consisting of Andrew Henderson and Madeline Genest, who are both extremely talented (and they are an exceptionally cute couple). I’d previously seen Andrew play with his other band Maddock, one of my favorite local acts, so I was pretty excited to see what else he was working on. Their set was completely acoustic, no microphones or sound equipment: just these two sitting on the stage with a guitar. They opened the set by inviting the crowd to come join them in sitting on the stage. For such a simple set, I was completely blown away by how well their vocals complemented each other, how intricate their harmonies were, and how emotionally charged all of the above elements made the performance. Their sound is dream-like and as intimate as the performance, and their lyrics are interesting and well-thought out (with a bit of an edge).

Find Them On:

Stand-Out Track: Astrophe
I’ll start this by being completely honest: I don’t remember many details of Jivan’s set…because I was dancing and headbanging.  Jivan’s music and playing style are such great mixes of classic prog rock and modern influences. They’re a throwback for more than their style, because their work is definitely the type of music I absolutely lived for growing up. Jivan describe themselves as “prog rock wizards” on their Bandcamp page and it’s a 100% accurate self-assessment. My knee-jerk reaction after their first song was “Rush meets Tesseract and makes a sexy, guitar-driven baby”, and seeing them name both Rush and Tesseract on their Facebook page under “Artists We Also Like” made complete sense. If you’re into deep, vibey jams by styling dudes dressed like they just left the 70’s, Jivan are who you should be rocking out to. Immediately.

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Instead of Sleeping
Stand-Out Track: Speak Into Me
This Pittsburgh-based band makes solid indie rock with a strong pop sensibility. They have an immense stage presence, generally just leaving you with a great impression and warm fuzzy feeling overall. To start, the band brought free tacos for every attendee. You can’t go wrong with that. The show’s page even called the event “Woody’s New Year Taco Throw Down” (the Woody in question is Woody Wright, guitarist and keyboardist) on Facebook, and that’s not really something you can easily top. Secondly, their festival-lighting-esque set up was what dreams are made of. I’m a sucker for atmospheric mood lighting during performances and I think it’s underutilized by musical acts. Bonus points right off the bat. Thirdly, they played some seriously great shake-it-and-get-down music.

I was lucky enough to be joined during their set by a friend who is a huge fan, and seeing her and others in the crowd react with such excitement and happiness before the band even started playing spoke volumes to me about them and their work. Even with all the hype about the band provided by my friend before the show, I wasn’t let down at all. There was a lot of dancing and singing – and entire groups of people holding hands while doing so – and that’s the perfect summary of the band and their vibe. There were also people hula hooping in the very back of the crowd near the end of the set, which is something completely new to me, but I approve wholeheartedly. If there’s a band to hula hoop to after you’ve sang and danced and held hands with your friends in the crowd, it’s definitely Instead of Sleeping.

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Stand-Out Track: Everyday
Joose was definitely the band I was most excited to see live, and it would seem I wasn’t alone, because if the crowd wasn’t already pumped during Instead of Sleeping, it definitely qualified when Joose started. I hadn’t personally seen the four-piece group live yet, but I have seen their frontman, Jack Stauber, play multiple shows with his solo work. I honestly can’t say enough good things about his music, his stage presence, and his level of creativity. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, since not a lot of their work is online, but they have a perfect blend of rock influences, some funk, some almost Queens of the Stone Age-esque guitar riffs, some extremely catchy songs and insanely charismatic vocals. And when they played it got crazy. Real crazy. Good crazy. Let me set the scene here by saying that before they even finished setting up, the bassist came on stage in a purple panda pajama suit, and got his 5-string bass duct taped to him. (New idea for a duct tape advertisement: It Can Fix Anything, Even Your Bassist.)

As soon as that happened, the floor got cramped pretty fast, and everyone was crowding the front. I immediately knew I was in for something great. Everything from there was a blur of awesome: stunning instrumentation from every member (even the duct taped panda bassist), intense and amazing vocals, and all around just a completely electric performance from all parties…and a literal conga line in the crowd. Twice. I found myself watching people in the crowd as often as I was watching the stage: everyone was so invested in the performance but completely wild, the moshing went from group crab dancing to group hugging and back to dancing within seconds. At one point, someone was lifted onto the stage and danced with the band before being quite casually carried back out to the floor. Just completely insane and wonderful and I have never seen a happier crowd.

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