Brooklyn’s Amazing Baby faced a difficult task on Friday, April 3rd in New York. Opening is never easy, especially at a massive place like Terminal 5 (see Heartless Bastards’ recent opening slot for Black Keys there – QRO live review). Opening for Cold War Kids (QRO live review), they had to contend with a crowd not as familiar with going to shows, a lot of young girls & frat-boy-like ‘bros’. And the light show at Terminal 5 (QRO venue review), usually so sweet, was dominated by backlighting, leaving them looking something like silhouettes on the stage. What was more, the band had to justify their recent hype & comparisons.
At the most recent South-by-Southwest (QRO festival recap) in Austin in March, the ‘word on the (6th) street’ was that the two things everyone was most looking for were ‘The Next No Age’ and ‘The Next MGMT’. The ‘shitgazing’ acts that were supposed to follow in the footsteps of lo-fi guitar-and-drums duo No Age (QRO live review) all sounded pretty similar, varying in only whether they also just a guitar-and-drums duo (like WAVVES – QRO photos from SXSW) or were a whole band that just sounded like a guitar-and-drums duo (like Abe Vigoda – QRO photos, opening for No Age). But those compared to the psychedelic indie-electro-rock of MGMT (QRO live review) varied far more – mostly, people just seemed to point to any band that sounds slightly psychedelic and dresses like it’s 1969, taking in such diverse acts (in quality, as well as sound) as Hockey (QRO photos), Chairlift (QRO photos), Telepathe (QRO photos), and Amazing Baby – being from Brooklyn, like MGMT, seemed to help too (but when doesn’t it, in indie-rock?…).
Outside of knock-offs and retreads (i.e., most/all of ‘The Next No Age’s), this kind of genre classification is just cheap and lazy, designed to describe bands in a sentence and hook them into the latest trend (admittedly, MGMT is blowing up – witness the huge crowds for their McCarren Park Pool show last summer – QRO photos – or their sold-out Celebrate Brooklyn! benefit show this summer – QRO concert listing – and rumor is, one is dating Kirsten Dunst…). Most bands say they ignore it, though that’s tough – and often not true. Better – and more honest – are those that accept it and rise above it, especially the acts actually connected to those they’re the ‘next of’ (like Dragons of Zynth with comparisons to friends/producers TV On the Radio – QRO live review – on the Dragons’ Coronation Thieves – QRO review). Amazing Baby is one of those bands.
The short opening set was really a primer for Amazing Baby’s upcoming debut LP, Rewild, out this summer. Tracks like single “Pump Yr Breaks” and the new “Bayonets” (available for download on their website, theamazingbaby.com) bring psychedelica, electronics, and, most of all, the rock. If the crowd could only see the outlines of the five young men on stage, the band at least whipped like a fury, whether their long hair or singer Will Roan turning to join in on smashing of the drum set. Opening this Friday as well, for The Wrens (QRO concert listing), Amazing Baby should have an easier time at the far smaller (but not small) Bell House (QRO venue review) in their own Brooklyn (especially without the backlight-only lighting – Cold War Kids nearly drove everyone in the photo pit insane by playing their first three songs with almost no light – QRO photos). These school chums of MGMT aren’t just surpassing all the other lamely-described ‘next MGMT’s, but are making a name all their own.