Moving Mountains / Trophy Scars - live in Brooklyn (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Moving Mountains / Trophy Scars

live in Brooklyn (2009)

live show

Diverse lineups are awesome when they actually have good bands. You put a mosh-metal band on the same bill as a nü-emo band, yeah, it's diverse, but the show will probably still be shitty, and that's why people are complaining. But having a show with poppy, progressive melodic hardcore kids Transit, experimental, bluesy post-hardcore act Trophy Scars and emo post-rockers Moving Mountains? That's more along the lines of an ideal, impressive and diverse lineup.

It was already a quarter after 8 when Transit was ready to open things up, but the place they were playing at had less than half the eventual attendance that would show up. The band still gave it their all, with plenty of energy and aplomb. They even started with a new instrumental intro they've seemed to be concocting lately. Things weren't perfect, granted; you could hear the frontman's voice fine, but the backup vocalists could barely be made out. Transit have a lot of dynamism in the vocal department, after all, so that was a little bit of a bumout. Also, they seemed to struggle a little with the faster tempos on "Stay Home" and "Nameless (Songs to Static)." The interchanging riffs and general shifts sounded great, but when things were supposed to be speedy, the band seemed a little sluggish. Kinda weird, since I'd seen them play "Stay Home" twice before and it was dead-on both times. Still, the rest of the set, which was in slightly slower territory with cuts like "Radio Flyer (Away from Home)" and "Rule of Nines," were played without a hitch (even though, again, hearing those punctual backups would've complemented 'em well). The highlight was when the band closed with the aggressively complex and emotionally wound-up "Stays the Same." Other Brooklyn appearances by the band in recent months have garnered much better reactions -- namely, a rioutous apartment bedroom set and when the band played on the other side of this very room a month ago or so. Still, it was fun and a good opener for more good things to come.

Set list (8:31-8:57):

  1. Intro
  2. Stay Home
  3. Radio Flyer (Away from Home)
  4. For the World
  5. Nameless (Songs to Static)
  6. Rule of Nines
  7. Stays the Same
Desoto Jones was next, a band I'd remembered getting a promo of a year or two ago from Deep Elm and dismissing as being kind of a third-rate Jimmy Eat World. The whole set didn't necessarily sound like that (aside from one very obvious Clarity-ish attempt), but it was still kind of boring, post-hardcore/emo-esque rock with too little creativity or melody to be at all memorable.

I was definitely looking forward to seeing Trophy Scars. The last time they were supposed to play Brooklyn, they were splitting a van with reunited screamo act the Saddest Landscape on the way to The Charleston when the thing broke down and the show's main draw was null and void. Consequently, this was my first time seeing them since a Warped Tour appearance roughly five years ago. I was a little disappointed when frontman Jerry Jones told the crowd they were going to try to play as much of their new album, Bad Luck, as possible in their given time slot (a first for the band). I cautiously like the album, but I definitely wanted to hear a variety of stuff from their ever-increasing discography (which tops out at two EPs and three full-lengths, now). Can't fault a band for wanting to play new stuff, though, I suppose.

The three guitars they used created a pastiche of ever-noodling, competing layers that put a progressive cacophony over the entire set. However, it really drowned out Jones' vocals -- you could barely make out his words and the music was too clustered to be as dynamic and genre-bending as Bad Luck's studio versions were. Therefore, half the songs were pretty difficult to recognize, even though the set had a nice lineal flow about it. I can't be certain, but it also seemed like Jones chose to use his aggressive, gravelly Tom Waits delivery for just about the entire set -- again, though, it was hard to tell since I could barely hear him. I could only guess that "Bad Winter" and "Geneva" was played late in the set, since the band was definitely going through Bad Luck one track at a time from "Bad Dreams" to "Anna Lucia." I was hoping for one or two of my favorite old jams (particularly Hospital tracks) to break things up a bit, but oh well. I *think* that might've been a super old song they closed with -- "A Beauty Like Scissors (Shine On, Bleach Off)" -- since it had some "la la"s in it and that's only the Trophy Scars song I can think of or find that has 'em. Anyway, the set was still pretty good, and a personal friend who'd previously stated "I fucking hate that band" later told me "they were pretty fucking good."

Set list (10:15-10:52):
  1. Bad Dreams
  2. Botanicas
  3. El Cowboy Rojo
  4. Anna Lucia
  5. Bad Winter (?)
  6. Geneva (?)
  7. A Beauty Like Scissors (Shine On, Bleach Off) (?)
Moving Mountains had a predictably elaborate setup, with a few lighting rigs placed around the corners of their layout, a laptop opened up on the floor aside frontman Gregory Dunn's feet and the guitarists and bassist all looking down onto their own effects pedal quadrilaterals. They opened with the beautiful "Armslength," with the lights -- the only ones ever on in the room during the set -- flashing on and off at strategic points throughout the song. As they seamlessly flowed into "Lights and Shapes," you could tell the band couldn't quite match the pristine twinkle of the Foreword EP, but they were coming damn close. They played their four songs rather perfectly, and their bassist even swapped out his instrument briefly for the trombone so that at least one horn part would be properly replicated (but not the one in "Cover the Roots / Lower the Stems"). They had good energy and passionate playing, too, between all the epic guitar flailing and one of the guys' exaggerated Vin Accardi-esque jump during one song.

I was a little surprised to see how few people in attendance visibly recognized the songs, or at least showed an emotional reaction, but the crowd was a decently sizable one at least.

The one nagging quality was how surprisingly short the set was. A post-rock band playing under a half-hour? When they're headlining? It was later explained to me that the lighting changes were programmed into the laptop for just those four songs. Understandable, yet a little silly at the same time -- c'mon guys, at least throw in one more straight through with the lights off or something, maybe in the middle to have a symmetrical set. I doubt anyone would mind either way.

Set list (11:12-11:38):
  1. Armslength
  2. Lights and Shapes
  3. Cover the Roots / Lower the Stems
  4. With One's Heart in One's Mouth
The lineup for this show was near-perfect while the consequential performances all had their own set of unique flaws. Nonetheless, it was a pretty great show. With Moving Mountains already having scheduled another NYC show in mid-June, they were likely trying to leave everyone wanting more, and succeeded quite well in that respect.

With One's Heart in One's Mouth (shot by Justin Neiser)