I loved the way Jesse Blum (keyboards, trumpet) explained his band's music. "I think it's just a great, rockin', good old-fashioned American rock band. We sound like America rock." What's most interesting about Staten Island based band Happy Anarchy is that each band member describes their sound completely differently and they leave it up to the listener to decide for themselves. Their website refers to their first album, Reset, as being "an emotional album, but far from 'emo.' It's Indie without being Scene, and Rock without the hair." I'll post my full interview with the band and pictures later this week, but if you're curious to what they sound like check them out on MySpace. Or, if you're in Texas for the South by Southwest festival in March, be sure to check them out there for yourselves. In the mean time, read my review of their concert below and let me know what you think!
Happy Anarchy played a 45 minute set Saturday night at The Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. When first walking inside The Bowery Poetry Club, it seemed like a typical cafe-esque place where tables and chairs are set up amongst colorful walls, but once walking past that area towards the back room where the stage and bar are set up, it's an entirely different environment. The room, dimly lit with rows of tables and chairs set up in front of the stage, was packed for Happy Anarchy's set, which began shortly after 9 p.m.
The audience seemed to be big fans of Happy Anarchy, dancing in the aisles and singing along with lead singer/guitarist Joe Pecora for most of their performance. "Personal Judas" was the first song played in their 10-song set and one of the many songs featured throughout the night from their first album Reset, released in November. Happy Anarchy is made up of a strong guitar sound, with three guitars as well as bass, keyboards, drums, and trombone and trumpet features. At times, however, the guitar sound seemed to overpower the vocals a bit. While every band has their own technical issues, if the microphone was a little louder accentuating the vocals, some of the songs would have been a bit stronger.
Being a writer, I love to listen to music while deciphering the lyrics behind each song and see how it all relates together. Happy Anarchy's lyrics are often deep, disguised under the heavy guitar sound that encompasses the band. If you listen closely to the lyrics and each track on their album, Reset, each song tells its own story, whether it's about struggling through life or hope for the future. One song in particular, "Bomp" is comprised with lyrics like "Just wait a second, now, cause there's always hope/Said the man with the necktie of a rope/Watching the clock as he waits for the trap door to swing." Drummer Pete Smith explained the song as being "a guy under a tremendous amount of pressure trying not to lose it."
"Bomp" had a nice trombone feature as well as a strong guitar sound accompanying frontman Joe on vocals. In the middle of the song a solid instrumental feature livened up the stage and the audience in the room while their song, "Mud," showcased much faster and louder vocals from Joe. The song was definitely upbeat and energetic.
"Hamlet with a Reset" slowed down the night a bit with Joe singing the intro while a soft guitar sound provided accompaniment in the background of the song. What's so great about Happy Anarchy's set and music in general is that every song is completely different from the previous. Some songs have trombone and trumpet features or a heavy guitar and drum sound while others are slower, showcasing the band's strong vocals.
Crowd favorite of the night may have been a tie with their last two songs, "Doin It Over" and "At the Bottom of the Sea." "Doin It Over" was a heavy, guitar-driven song with a fast beat to it, having many in attendance dancing along while practically the entire room was singing with Joe during the chorus of "At the Bottom of the Sea." The band's overall performance was definitely made up of strong guitar riffs as well as keyboard, trumpet, and trombone features. Be sure to check out their website, happyanarchy.com for more information on the band and future tour dates.