Concert Review: Frontrunner, Empty Phrases, Exposure @ Ant Cellar (12/16/11)

Artists: The Exposure, Empty Phrases, and Frontrunner. These are all the bands I saw anyway.
Date: Friday, December 16, 2011
Location: Ant Cellar (Lowell, MA)
Act I: The Exposure– Welly welly welly well, let it be known up front, if you cannot or do not see the publication date on this masterpiece that I am horribly overdue in my review of this fine Lowell show. Also, let me apologize for missing the first  (possibly second or third?) band(s), but I had to journey to the local liquor store and throw away what was left in my wallet by making a Christmas donation, and whaddya know in exchange they handed me a twelve pack of keystone. Nice Fellas. Anyway, why am I discussing all of this under The Exposure’s header? Who knows?  The Exposure played one helluva set, that I do know. Seriously, one of the best New England based bands I have seen all year; they hail from the great state of Connecticut. Paris Mygatt rocks out on the guitar and creates some memorable vocals as well. Brian Grochowski is an impressive drummer and complements Paris’s playing  quite well. I was surprised to hear that the pair had only been together since August! I felt like I had seen a band at least a few years into their career. I definitely walked away with No Age vibes; I know I say that often when it comes to two piece bands, but they really did sound like them. I also heard some Page France in the mix. Either way you can tell they are a fairly adventerous, unique group, with a lot of potential. The sound was great too, but what really stood out to me was their ability to communicate with the audience. In an intimate setting like the Ant Cellar (literally a  cellar) everyone is kooked up together and surrounded by the wonderful odor of sweat and steel reserve beer, but during the Exposure’s set, I was briefly taken to another level beyond the basement and it really felt like a show. Their crowd interaction varied from jokes about fucked up films to the relieving announcement that the War in Iraq finally ceased to exist (hopefully). There definitely was a great sense of positivity to them that I would also liken to No Age. You know, as I am writing this now, I’ve realized that this band best resembles No Age in their ability to produce both an atmospheric aura and simultaneously a great rock vibe. Perhaps my favorite moment of the performance, oddly enough, was when the two unleashed some fine theatrics in the form of glow sticks for everyone in the room. The band wore them over their eyes for a song or two and it was pretty funny, but the best was when Paris flung one of the glow sticks into the crowd and it hit me right in the face. Haha, he sincerely apologized, which I thought was hilarious because it was no big deal whatsoever; it was an entertaining moment nonetheless. Following their set, I briefly chatted with the pair, and found them to be upstanding gentlemen, class act all the way. So yeah, if you’re looking for some new music, check out  The Exposure. 

Act II: Empty Phrases– The Empties were pretty great. Empties? I know, I created that nickname, and I like it, like the Stones or the Lips; at some point or another a band has to adopt a nickname. I’ve been meaning to see these guys for quite some time now, so it was a real pleasure to finally witness the band in action. I always thought they had Incubus vibes based on their recordings and from what I hear this is a popular interpretation. I don’t know if that was an intention on the part of the band or not, but either way it’s a decent sound and they defintely expand on it. Live however, I felt less of the Incubus feel and more of an experimental-psychedlic side to the band. I noticed a lot of comparisons to bands I love today like Deerhunter and Best Coast, especially in the group’s use of reverb. Perhaps a little bit too much reverb for my tastes, but it was still pretty cool. It was a fun, rocking performance and the highlight for me was definitely “Groundhog Day.” Another excellent moment was when the band brought LeAnne Piepiora up for some guest vocals on the “Void.” I’m seeing them again tonight, so I’m excited. A lot of potential for these fellas.

Act III: Frontrunner– Frontrunner closed the show with an impromptu performance that was like one big ode to hardcore punk, which is always fun. I had just been watching American Hardcore (2006) right before I left my dorm to see this show, so I was right in the mood for some good old fashion hardcore. Considering that their performance was off the cuff they did a damn fine job and sounded really tight, a clear indication that the band consists of some talented musicians. It says on their Band Camp page “Flashback to 1984, this ain’t no tough guy bull shit, its yr dad’s hardcore.” Haha, I like it. Check it out.

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