Thursday, May 6, 2010

Drink Up Buttercup at Brooklyn Bowl

The Philly favorite Drink Up Buttercup returned last night to play a free show at Brooklyn Bowl, hosted by Paste magazine. There was a fair turnout for the monstrous space, especially since half the city was out celebrating  Cinco De Mayo, but the fan base somewhat lacked given the band’s recent surge of attention with their debut album, Born and Thrown on a Hook.

The set started with "Gods and Gentleman," a pop-infused song with loud crashing cymbals. Ben Money commanded the stage, freely strumming away on the bass with a maraca in place of his hand. At the song’s  finish, Jim Harvey – the lead singer and founder of the band - gave a cheers to the audience, downing his signature combination of a shot followed by a beer. It was a fitting intro for "Mr. Pie Eyes," a noise-infused track about a drunk man stumbling home at night. With part performance/part reality, the group bounced and stumbled around on stage, bringing high energy and heavy distortion.

The audience seemed confused and intrigued all at once. They finally started dancing when "Young Ladies" came on – a crowd pleaser, despite the fact that the band has received flack about the so-called “misogynistic” lyrics. But for Jim, the music comes first and the lyrics follow. The band likes to tell a story with each song.  People may coin them as “60s psychedelic” or “carnival,” yet Harvey finds that “movies are more of an inspiration for us than songs. That’s what we do. When we’re in the van we don’t really listen to music, we watch old VHS tapes and DVDs and that’s where we get our stories from.”

"Young Ladies" is influenced by his favorite movie Roger Dodger (dir. Dylan Kidd). “It’s kind of obscure,” Harvey admits, “but it’s a dialogue driven movie that is idiotic, yet eye-opening at the same time. It’s a misogynistic movie about some guy being an idiot and he realizes that by the end. But it’s not something I necessarily live my life by [he says this in all sincerity]. It’s just something I enjoy peering in on…because I’ve always been kind of the guy at the parties who likes looking at everybody else because I've never really been friends of everybody who’s at the party. And I'm like wow, the limits and how far people will reach just to hook up with somebody is disgusting in a way.”

The highlight of the night was the release of their new song, "Walk Loud." This dance number conceived by keyboardist Farzad Houshiarnejad (and Harvey’s brother) had surprisingly strong funk rhythms, a seductive refrain,and a heavy build up as the finish. Harvey tells me that it’s influenced by “The Devil’s Rejects, a Rob Zombie movie that’s really about, just you know, this crew of girls that are a family that stomp around and look for people to kill.” He admits that stylistically the song is nothing like their other work and that we can see more of these changes in the future. “For our first album we were kind of like ‘Oh,  this is what Drink up Buttercup is. We’re going to sound like Drink Up' and we tailored everything to sound like Drink Up. For our next album we’re not going to have any restrictions. We’re just going to go ‘whatever, let’s just play everything and anything’ and whatever comes out – it’s still us.”

Harvey’s unrestrained expectations make perfect sense. The multi-instrumental band comes from a background of performance, classical music and, for Harvey, years of listening to hip hop. So what’s his Guilt Free Pleasure?

“The remix of Ignition by R. Kelly. [It] is the best song of all time – in my opinion – and some people might be surprised that I think that’s the best song of all time but that’s my favorite song ever. I mean that is like the masterpiece of modern times. And I don’t give a fuck. I’ll admit that.”

Purchase Born and Thrown on a Hook here!

No comments: