Polar Bear Club / The New Dress

Polar Bear Club / The New Dress: live in New Yorklive in New York (2007)
Red Leader Records

Reviewer Rating: 4

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

More or less a Red Leader Records showcase, this Knitting Factory basement show was an excellent platter of the lesser known New York-area "punk" (more or less) acts. Jena Berlin was up first, and from seeing them previously I knew to expect a hugely energetic performance, and it's exactly what t.

More or less a Red Leader Records showcase, this Knitting Factory basement show was an excellent platter of the lesser known New York-area "punk" (more or less) acts.

Jena Berlin was up first, and from seeing them previously I knew to expect a hugely energetic performance, and it's exactly what they delivered, yet every member ensured competent work on their respective instrument. Singer Jon Loudon got up in the faces of members of the audience while gravelly screaming his lines, while arching his back and stretching every bone in his body for the weird, momentary poses he struck. Set list-wise, they stuck mostly to their new album, Quo Vadimus, which is finally set to be released this coming Tuesday. Good stuff as expected, even when the bass amp momentarily fizzled out during one song.

Set list (8:00-8:25):

  1. Looking Over the Wall
  2. Communique
  3. -----
  4. Instruments
  5. Motion Sickness
  6. -----
  7. Chelsea
  8. Sand
  9. -----
  10. Crossed Arms
Next was Nakatomi Plaza, who live seem to concentrate heavily on conveying impressive guitar work. Crazy textures and solos constantly seeped from the speakers courtesy of seeming guitar virtuoso Oscar Rodriguez. They put on a solid show overall, with the vocal trade-offs pulled off nicely and pre-recorded samples helping to ensure the songs would flow smoothly, which they did.

Set list (8:42-9:11):
  1. The Strikes
  2. -----
  3. Not Hopeless
  4. The Ghost Intriuge
  5. -----
  6. Finish Line
  7. -----
  8. Calling All Cars
  9. -----
  10. ?
  11. -----
  12. A Manifest Destiny Grows in Brooklyn
Attica! Attica! was original and enjoyable, as was to be expected. The newest project of former Marathon frontman Aaron Scott, many of the outfit's songs were written while Scott was still in Marathon, so naturally a few of the songs definitely sounded like such -- only, convert the electric guitar to an acoustic. When Attica! played with a full band, that's precisely what it sounded like. Otherwise, there were more minimal numbers that featured just Scott and his accompanying guitarist, playing excellent personal and protest songs. It doesn't hurt that Scott has one of the most unique voices in modern punk rock this side of John K. Samson. They played for a good 35 minutes, including Scott's ballsy a cappella song, a full band all-out alt-country romp about the horrors of imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay, and a two-man version of Billy Joel's "Movin' Out." Scott had some dedicated followers up front singing along for much of the set, but "Movin' Out"'s chorus caused the rear portion of the audience to perk up a bit.

The New Dress definitely sounded not unlike that of Defiance, Ohio at many points, being a mildly folk-tinged duo comprised solely of a female vocalist and a male electric guitarist/vocalist. Not that they were bad or disgustingly derivative -- far be it. Considering the setup it was surprising they maintained my interest for all 28 minutes, playing straight up, sincere tunes about various political and personal matters, including the first song of their set, "Where Our Failures Are." The "band" had a few of their own fans there for them, singing along happily in unison.

And finally, Polar Bear Club, who have apparently amassed a ridiculous following in the New York City area. At least two to three dozen were packed out in the cramped area and going apeshit to nearly every note, with people occasionally spilling over onto the front of the stage and quickly being assisted to back up on their feet. The band performed wonderfully, nailing every chord right on the head and hitting every beautiful dynamic of their powerful sound. Frontman Jimmy Stadt engaged the crowd every moment, standing on the edge of the stage to a rabid audience shouting along with every lyric as dudes up front dived onto the crowd with the ceiling six inches above their backs. The rest of the band were no slouches, either, energetically thumping on their weapon of choice. The 'other' new song they played was excellent, as one could imagine, while the band talked about how "Our Ballads" references a criticism that "girls wouldn't like [Polar Bear Club]." The disgust of the band's response to such a proposed scenario seems to be justified -- at this very show, the sporadic female could be seen right up front with the beards and beer guts.

Set list (10:59-11:27):
  1. Parked in the Parking Lot of Your Heart
  2. Election Day
  3. -----
  4. new song
  5. To the Engravers
  6. -----
  7. Our Ballads
  8. Resent and Resistance
  9. -----
  10. Most Miserable Life
My only complaint would probably be towards not playing "His Devotee" and thus narrowly failing to play the entirety of their breakout five-song EP, The Redder, The Better, but that would be my only grievance. Finally getting to see upstate New York's next big thing (relatively speaking) after a good 14 months or so of patient waiting paid off in quite the dividends.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Pirata (August 17, 2007)

hahaha yeah! i do believe i was that sporadic girl up there singing/shouting along! it was pretty rough up there, im surprised you even saw me under the mass of manly elbows and occasional knees surfing up. what a show. PBC turned up the energy; it was great. I got a wee bit of footage while i was battlin' my way up there. if you are curious, you can view it here:


and i got 3 decent fotos that i chucked on the PBC myspace.

good review, awesome show, see ya in the pit.

Anonymous (August 14, 2007)

Great show. PBC ripped, TND were awesome as usual, as was A!A! and NP. Jena Berlin were a welcome surprise, never heard them before.

maverick (August 13, 2007)

I was the dude taking pictures. Dude drinking the 40 was P Fresh. It was an 'Org-y!


icapped2pac (August 13, 2007)

Yes, indeed, as Scott said, their set in Parma was off the fuckin hook. I've never seen a band get 20 people so energized and nuts (including me who, by some standards, is too old for that shit) before. I wish I would've know you were there, though, Scott (should've figured, actually), I would've introduced myself. I know you're a bigger dude, but were you either the guy drinking the 40 of Miller High Life, or the dude taking pictures? Just curious.

Score's for the PBC set in Parma/Cleveland.

wyldcannon (August 13, 2007)

"who have apparently amassed a ridiculous following in the New York City area. At least two to three dozen"

24-36 people are a following?

maverick (August 13, 2007)

Saw Polar Bear Club in Cleveland (well, Parma) on Saturday night -- holy shit were they incredible. I had somehow avoided hearing the band until their set, but wow, I was blown away. Can't wait till their LP.


redleader (August 11, 2007)

Hey Brian, thanks for coming out and writing the review. I hope everyone had a good time. Just wanted to add that even though a bunch of the bands were on red leader Jena Berlin have an awesome record coming out on JumpStart Records. As much as those guys rule (which is a lot), I don't want people us to take credit for them. So support them and JumpStart and pick up the cd. -matthew.red leader

Anonymous (August 11, 2007)

This show was great, and it was awesome to see bands as diverse as The New Dress' folk songs share the bill with Polar Bear Club's punk songs or Nakatomi Plaza's indie stuff. Punk rock definitely has been in dire need of people being able to enjoy just more then one type of band at a show (or at all). I thought The New Dress was the stand out band of the night though.

onegirlarmy (August 11, 2007)

I found out later that a number of kids came down from Syracuse (and some from Rochester even) and parts of upstate NY for this show, which explains why I didn't recognize half the people there. I also think it was the reasoning for the apeshit response they got.

I know a good number of Long Island folk are into them but there was that other show happening in Port Jeff last night, so of course, that explains the lack of Long Island there.

nate_derby (August 10, 2007)

Wish I could've seen this! The Syracuse show was just as good, and featured the return of Fire When Ready. Seeing Nak Plaza again, and Jena Berlin for the first time would've been great, though.

onegirlarmy (August 10, 2007)

Excellent show, easily one of my top ones of the summer. Hot as shit though, but still wonderful.

Anonymous (August 10, 2007)

I believe the "new song" was "Another Night On The Rock" though I could be mistaken. PBC was definitely worth seeing. About 40-50 people displayed the energy of about 100 uproarious fans during Polar's set and I can't blame them. it was damn good. It would've been nice if they played "His Devotee" or played a song or two more from their demo EP (the set was short unfortunately). Still, PBC definitely sounded just like their recordings and that's a good thing.

Jena Berlin was amazing too, holding second place of "most energized band" of the night. Nakatomi Plaza was always a treat to see and Attica! Attica! is definitely has that orgcore goodness people here are going to love.

Overall, a great show.


Torgo (August 10, 2007)

Yeah, my Warped review wasn't posted! Too much brutal punk rock for punknews to handle?

Neill_Cawley (August 10, 2007)

This is not my review. Whose weiner do you have to suck to get your review posted around here?

-Neill Cawley

-Apparently not Aubin's...

Anonymous (August 10, 2007)

Well, I was already excited as all hell to see PBC tomorrow, but this review makes me want it even more. Hopefully they play "Devotee" though, that's probably my favorite off the EP. And for the record the criticism may unfortunately be right somehow because my girlfriend loves HWM and SBB but doesn't like these guys because she says the vocals "sound forced". ???? Fuckin women, I tell ya.


Anonymous (August 10, 2007)

Really PBC isn't really lke the typical bands people jump all over here and I can't see them changing their sound in a negative direction. I don't see why people would abandon them.

- JD

Anonymous (August 10, 2007)

So we're clear on this, I give it 6 months after the full length comes out until the commenters turn their backs on Polar Bear Club.

primeevil7 not logged in

Anonymous (August 10, 2007)

man Polar bear Club are awesome

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