Rowdiness and British rock continue to be natural bedfellows, beginning with the days of the Beatles and enduring through today, as the Cribs excitedly showed at a packed performance at Bowery Ballroom.
The brothers Jarman, including twins Gary and Ryan, and younger brother Ross, represent the new breed of post-Libertines rock coming from the eastern side of the Atlantic.
Their connections to the scene are deep, including a close friendship with Alex Kapranos, frontman for Franz Ferdinand, who produced the Cribs' latest release, Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, which has reached number 13 on the UK Album charts.
The Thursday night show included all of the expected chaos, including a growing pogo-jumping, exuberant and increasingly violent crowd. The band had to pause their 55-minute set for a minute to stop a fistfight from breaking out in the middle of the pogo-pit. A woman stepped in and stopped the fighting; she pointed out the aggressor, and he was escorted from the venue. [NYHC up in here, eh?]
The band's sometimes subdued recorded sound could not be found at this show. Each song saw the members tearing at their respective instruments, reflecting the raucousness of the crowd. "Hey Scenesters!," the lead single from acclaimed release The New Fellas, packed a heartfelt punch against those who are just there to be a part of a scene, rather than venturing out on his or her own.
Critics chide the band for that song, as a large portion of the band's fanbase happen to be the very "scenesters" they rebuke.
Every song follows the same essential pattern of anthemic chorus with a tersely worded verse or two following it, but the crowd did not care. With each song, the legion of fans screaming the lyrics got louder and louder.
The show was only open to those 18 years of age or older, and that may have been a good thing, as parents would not have been happy with their children singing "Take drugs! Don't sleep! Have contempt for those you meet!" at the top of their lungs.
Openers White Rabbits fuse Walkmen-influenced piano standards with swirling harmonies and calypso standards. Featuring seven members, including two drummers, the band looked cramped on a small stage, but they made the best of it, sounding energized by the crowd. Their best moment came during an impromptu cover of Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm," where all of the music dropped out, the lead vocalist yelled the chorus, and the musicians came back all at once, creating a deafening wall of sound not unlike their 1960s idols produced by Phil Spector.
First openers Foreign Islands' overt identity crisis is at the heart of their sound. By either looking towards dance music á la the Faint or punk in late-era Refused, this band has a lot of potential, provided they continue their youthful exploration.