This guest post was written by Steven W. Allen
Basement shows are the best shows, especially when they feature three local bands with completely different sounds coming together on a common ground. Last Saturday, 1/13/18, I had the pleasure of witnessing Shin Guard, The Lopez, and Night Night Boy play in the basement of a DIY venue, known only as Café Verona (“msg a friend for the addy” type of venue), and I had an incredible time. Admittedly, I mainly went to see my friends in Night Night Boy, but what I experienced was so much more than that.
First up was Shin Guard. This energetic four-piece beautifully blended loud, fast punk and hardcore undertones with mathy, dynamic grooves that seemed to take you out into space, only to be brought right back to Earth with a hard-hitting self-assurance. They had really fun interactions between all the instruments with harmonic 2-part guitar solos intertwined with impressive drum and bass chemistry. Their set had a dynamic flow to it, coming in with an unexpected burst, and ending in an entropic dissonance as the lead singer walked straight into the crowd, guitar in hand, laying it down on the ground, letting that last note ring out.
Now, switch gears for The Lopez, a two-piece composed solely of an electric guitar and keyboard/electronic output setup. It might not sound like much, but they were able to accomplish a lot with so little. They brought their own energy to the room, filling that basement with noisy, yet catchy jams, where at multiple times during their set I would find myself dancing along without even noticing I was doing so! These two people had a great musical harmony, and it showed in their performance, which was really fun to experience.
Last up: Night Night Boy from Braddock. As seems to be rather common in the Pittsburgh-area music scene, two of the members of this band (singer/guitarist Brandon Carnes and bassist Cassie Staub) are also in another local band Looming, and for Night Night Boy, they are joined by Dan Holway on the drums. This band mixes all the good parts of rock ‘n’ roll and pop punk, while not quite fitting one specific mold, but instead blending their sound into an amalgam of their own. With intricate yet effortless guitar and bass interplay, Brandon and Cassie complement each other perfectly over lines like, “It feels so lame. There’s nothing else to do but drink ginger ale and watch TV in my bedroom.” Meanwhile, Dan is sitting in the back holding it all together. Being a drummer myself, as I watched Dan play, I was thoroughly impressed with how tight he was, playing exactly what needed to be played right where it needed to be played. Never too showy, but never wavering from that ever-sought-after pocket. All in all, Night Night Boy is a powerful trio that you should keep an ear out for.
Unfortunately, the touring band, Sass from Minnesota, had to cancel due to weather and road condition, but honestly it’s okay, because this DIY basement show definitely held its own. There was a great crowd attending, and these three bands gave them a show worth remembering.
You can find Shin Guard’s music on Band Camp and Spotify. Their next show is January 31st at Black Forge Coffee House with Looming, Pale Lungs, Captain the Sky, and Foxwell. The Lopez has music available on Band Camp and Spotify. Their next show is February 28th at the Mr. Roboto Project with Shellshag, Bat Zuppel, and The Zells. Night Night Boy has a demo up on Band Camp.