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Lydia / Brian Bonz & the Major Crimes: live in New Yorklive in New York (2010)
Reviewer Rating: 3.5
Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
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The underrated Brian Bonz and his renamed band, the Major Crimes (formerly the Dot Hongs), played main support to Lydia's farewell show in New York City this past Saturday night. I never really realized it, but the angel-voiced Bonz sings oddly similarly to that of Lydia frontman Leighton Antelman--.
The underrated Brian Bonz and his renamed band, the Major Crimes (formerly the Dot Hongs), played main support to Lydia's farewell show in New York City this past Saturday night. I never really realized it, but the angel-voiced Bonz sings oddly similarly to that of Lydia frontman Leighton Antelman--their bands might do two distinctly different takes on barely classifiable indie pop, but they both have this mysteriously upper-register pitch and raspiness to how they deliver their lyrics. Bonz's band backs him with more of a bustling, cautiously upbeat shuffle full of varied instrumentation, though--the Major Crimes had horn players, a recently wed bongo man and some pre-programmed keyboard loops to add a spacious atmosphere to the busy-looking stage. Bonz split the set between new material from his sophomore full-length due out in October and standouts from last year's criminally overlooked From Sumi to Japan. However, the most impressive moment came when guitarist Mike Strandberg's strap came undone during one song and he managed to tear off riffs the rest of the song while cradling the axe a bit awkwardly.
Lydia initially grabbed my attention with their occasionally captivating 2008 full-length, ...Illuminate. There were times it could just have some absolutely fragile and heartrending moments on the Copeland tip; this was an essentially gutted-lineup version of that band doing this farewell tour, though. I'd never seen them, and even though they were void of departed pianist/vocalist Mindy White and peaced-out guitarist Steve McGraw, I'd like to have seen them at least once altogether. Apparently, this refashioned lineup only meant that Antelman was able to command both the band and the crowd's attention at every turn, and the outpouring of emotion from Philip Seymour Hoffman-esque bassist Matt Funderburk added to the furious grace of the whole thing. Antelman's aching rasp was articulated with soft gesticulations, as he'd let his guitar hang from his neck and wave his hands in a firm, conversational tone during certain words at select moments. Yeah, that coed dynamic probably would have boosted the atmosphere, but Antelman did a decent enough job on "his own."
Admittedly, the set had two quick peaks: beginning and end. I love Lydia most when they're at their most dynamic, with Antelman emotionally howling above a swirling, light cacophony of instrumentation, as they did with opener "We Clean Up So Well" (off their final release, the new Assailants EP). Standouts from ...Illuminate, "Hospital" and "Stay Awake," were played next, so I was pretty satisfied; album opener "This Is Twice Now" got tapped as encore closer. But throughout the set it was mixed up nicely for long-time fans--Antelman made sure their first LP, 2005's This December, got plenty of love, playing a few songs solo himself. The loudest of the set, however, was easily "A Place Near the City," off Assailants; it was swelling. Shortly after, Funderburk had even walked out onto the floor to drink a beer and watch his frontman do "A Story for Supper" solo before heading back up for one final "hit" and a bow.
You couldn't help but notice that the Bowery wasn't even really half-full even when Lydia's set was in full swing, but they were really into it. One guy's "YEAHHH!!!"s sounded like he was filling in for double rainbow guy. But it was just a--albeit silly--microcosm of how elated and perhaps bummed the audience was to see their mid-level, charming and emotional indie pop band go by way of the very sea that's so inherent as a metaphor in their own music.
Set list (11:11-12:23):
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