Crime in Stereo / The Wonder Years - live in New York (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Crime in Stereo / The Wonder Years

live in New York (2010)

live show

I made it just in time to witness Robbers play what must have been one of their bigger shows in memory. Kinda. Most of the people at this--the Studio at Webster Hall, the lower level, high-ceilinged basement of sorts--crowded along the back with only a few more interested spectators speckling the front area. I feel bad for any band that has to follow them--they consistently put on a very compelling, high-energy show, with vocalist/guitarist Andrew Accardi (yes, brother of Brand New guitarist Vin) the perennial centerpiece, convulsing and spazzing in seizure-like fits throughout the set while maintaining his contribution to the band's glittering, pensive atmosphere of simultaneously crisp and shimmering guitar bedding (and which sounded great here). The guy looks like a bespectacled, white Jimi Hendrix but shakes and stutters on stage like Cedric Bixler-Zavala circa the Relationship of Command days. They had a new bassist and you could tell--he held it down well, but unlike the dynamic presences of the band's three guitarists, he stayed upright and stationed next to the drummer to ensure the rhythm was never lost. No matter--the set was excellent, as expected, with the band getting a little bonus time that Crime in Stereo guitarist Alex Dunne seemingly negotiated with the sound guy for. A criminally underrated local act with only two incredibly solid EPs to their name, and who will hopefully gain a little national notice through their upcoming two-week stint with CIS and new material being recorded shortly thereafter.

Set list (7:20-7:53):

  1. Fire
  2. new song
  3. Stay Together
  4. Say This
  5. Eager
  6. Young Man

Agent was next. Last I'd seen them was at a barely attended weeknight bar show, and that set was about as tight as a wizard's sleeve. But they learned their lesson and practiced, and consequently sounded worlds better here. They opened with a new song that involved some excellent double-time to open it; two other new songs reeked of respective Texas Is the Reason and the Promise Ring influences, but if you've been tracking the band's progression over the last four years, that probably isn't too surprising. That full-length they'll finally record soon should be really, really good, and should probably push them to the forefront of whatever loosely associated pack of '90s emo purveyors you could conceivably assemble. The band filled out the rest of their set with 60-second fan favorite "I'm Fucking Sick of People Leaving and Not Saying Goodbye," which was unsurprisingly met with the biggest reaction and a few crowd climbers, as well as half of last year's Awake in Their World 7": "Current" and "Tough Lake, Mr. Muenster."

Set list (8:06-8:26):
  1. new song
  2. Current
  3. I'm Fucking Sick of People Leaving and Not Saying Goodbye
  4. new song
  5. new song
  6. Tough Lake, Mr. Muenster

I hadn't seen Let Me Run play since they opened for Polar Bear Club in a basement CMJ weekend 2007, which speaks to the level of inactivity incurred once they had to replace ex-frontman Travis Omilian. Being an endorser of the band's last full-length, 2008's Meet Me at the Bottom, I was curious to see how the new guy fared. He's definitely got a more straightforward tone, and that combined with the band's more straight-up rock'n'roll flavor compared to Robbers or Agent, I was maybe a little bored. Comparatively, anyway. But that's no real blight against LMR--they played solidly and had undeniable energy. They've got a new EP on the way and I'm sure it'll be pretty sound, too.

Set list (8:38-9:01):
  1. The Count of Monte Fisto
  2. ?
  3. Shane
  4. ?
  5. ?
  6. new song
  7. Bastard Sons of Mayhem

Save CIS's last two songs, which we'll get to later, the Wonder Years had the biggest reception of any of the bands here. They're a band I've definitely been highly critical of for a while now, but I also believe they've made strides with every one of their releases--and that includes their newest full-length, The Upsides, which is, admittedly, a legitimately pretty good album. I'm sure it's been like this for a while now, but they know how to put on a show--it helps they play a style of bouncy, invigorated pop-punk, but every dude had enormous energy and dynamic stage presence. The crowd fed off that and showed it right back through a varied assortment of pile-ons, finger-points, sing-alongs and that barely tongue-in-cheek youth crew pop-punk mosh. By the time the band reached the anthemic bridge of "You're Not Salinger, Get Over It.", there had to have been 15 kids up on stage surrounding Dan "Soupy" Campbell before they awkwardly dispersed off as the song ended.

I think this album honestly pushes them ahead of their like-minded and sizably comparable pop-punk peers, and paves the way for a very respectable future through a strong aesthetic and thoughtful mindset they've adopted and adapted to.

Set list (9:14-9:48):
  1. All My Friends Are in Bar Bands
  2. My Last Semester
  3. Solo and Chewy: Holdin' It Down
  4. ?
  5. Everything I Own Fits in This Backpack
  6. Dynamite Shovel
  7. When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong
  8. Melrose Diner
  9. Washington Square Park
  10. You're Not Salinger, Get Over It.

Crime in Stereo's set was simply frill-free, but also very weird. They wrote and recorded their latest opus, I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone, with the intent of ensuring every song worked better in the live setting than Is Dead did. When the band first started playing Is Dead tracks back when it was released in October 2007, they were hit with criticism for not really being able to recreate the atmosphere and execution of the album. But these Trying songs were anything but, well, trying; besides an oddly murmured, rumbly feel to them, they seemed to play through smoother and a little more reflective of the album's tone than those Is Dead songs did for so long. And frankly, the band just look like they're having fun playing these songs, as moody and corrosive as the compositions can get.

But the crowd was largely lacking any sort of real reception for the majority of the set; some common Is Dead favorites ("...But You Are Vast," "Small Skeletal") had a pretty fair reaction, sure, but it was nothin' much but a whole lot of standing in place for everyone. And the venue was fairly packed by this point, too. It definitely did not have the feel of a record release show, which is what this purportedly was, after all. You'd think the band was still doing their in-store performance from a few weeks ago at Generation Records, where any sort of movement on the floor would probably just have been considered rude and inappropriate.

But just to spectate the band's creative touch-ups and peculiar arrangements and segues was entertaining enough--particularly, the last half-dozen songs of their proper set, uninterrupted. After "Exit Halo," frontman Kristian Hallbert was probably exhausted, and not just because he'd wrapped himself in a clingy gray hoodie the entire set--at 5:45, it's the longest song in the band's discography. As soon as the band went into its musical outro, Hallbert disappeared from the stage for a few minutes to allow the band to get into a cool extended intro they've developed to prelude "Almost Ghostless/Above the Gathering Oceans"--it makes the song's opening bust of rippled chords and Hallbert's voyaging voice that much more compelling. They even closed with the spacey, morose "Orbiter"; as the song ended with that repeated, scowling riff, Hallbert filed off stage; Dunne followed him a minute later; another minute later they'd cleared the stage without a word.

The band would only play two pre-Bridge Nine songs in total, but you couldn't really blame them--they're playing 2006's The Troubled Stateside in full at a show on Long Island next Saturday. It won't be hard to get your fill there, but when the band did play those two cuts from the album tonight, the audience was suddenly alive and in full effect. Everyone lost their respective (or maybe collective?) shit, while Hallbert finally unleashed the mic from its stand where it'd remained the whole set. A couple sloppy stage dives, plenty of pile-ons and mosh-pit psyching burst forth like it'd been hiding the past 45 minutes.

Set list (10:07-10:53):
  1. XXXX (The First Thousand Years of Solitude)
  2. Not Dead
  3. Animal Pharm
  4. ...But You Are Vast
  5. Drugwolf
  6. I Am Everything I Am Not
  7. Small Skeletal
  8. Type One
  9. Exit Halo
  10. instrumental interlude-->Almost Ghostless/Above the Gathering Oceans
  11. I Cannot Answer You Tonight
  12. Orbiter
    Encore (10:54-11:05):
  13. instrumental buildup-->Bicycles for Afghanistan
  14. I, Stateside

Definitely a weirdly mild time seeing Crime in Stereo, but that's probably just a sign of pretty strong artistic self-freedom to explore what they want to do and what makes them enjoy it. They've also got a fantastic circle of friends to surround themselves with and make for pretty great lineups.