By Chelsea Booth
All Photos By Brielle Tumbarello
A Place To Bury Strangers (APTBS) have long been hailed as New York’s loudest band and during their release show for their fifth album Pinned, APTBS proved themselves not as New York’s loudest band, but instead as America’s loudest band in not just volume, but in vigor and stature too.
The show, which took place at Elsewhere on April 12, kicked off at 9pm with Brooklyn punk-rock outfit Surfbort, who are known for their high-energy and absurd performances. Named after the sex position, Surfbort are authentically punk; it oozes out of their pores. Sean Powell, the band’s drummer, once accurately remarked, “Surfbort’s like a true underdog band. It’s three 50-year-old dudes [Sean, Alex Kilgore and David Head Jr.] with some Dracula chick [Dani Miller]… It’s a weird band.”
Surfbort are weird—that’s why people love them.
On stage, the “three 50-year-old dudes” stay anchored in their spots, while Dani prances around the stage in her light pink metallic “space prom dress.” She has a goofy menacing smile and potent punk rock rage. During “Fetus,” a song about Trump, whom Surfbort vehemently hate, Dani jumped up and down like a small child having a tantrum and roared, “EVERYTIME YOU TALK TALK TALK YOU CHOKE!!!” The Thursday night crowd licked it all up, slamming into one another in a healthy mosh pit. Dani puts so much into her performance that her dress (on more than one occasion) fell down leaving her breasts exposed. Not once did she seem concerned. Instead, she flaunted her unshaved armpits and introduced the next song, “Hippie Vomit Inhaler:” “This next one is about when you wake up and say, ‘Where the fuck is all my shit?!’”
It’s easy to fall under Surfbort’s spell; they are freaky, fun and refreshingly honest. And although they may give off an, “I don’t give a fuck” façade, the band plays with the type of musical mastery that shows that they really do.
Surfbort’s set ended around 9:30pm and eager fans franticly try to push to the front to get a good spot for A Place To Bury Strangers.
Just after 10pm, Oliver Ackermann, Dion Lunadon and Lia Braswell, of APTBS, exchanged high fives seconds before going out on stage. In total darkness, the crowd’s anticipation mounted as they waited for the set to begin. Seemingly out of nowhere, the room was struck with a booming sonic thunderclap of guitar distortion and feedback. Its explosive force jolted everyone back a few inches. The entire audience looked to their neighbors with a bewildered, but euphoric, face of disbelief. And with a flick of a switch, a distinctive palpable feeling of utter excitement and slight fear filled the air. “HOLY FUCKING SHIT” someone cheered.
A Place To Bury Strangers needed no introduction and they wasted no time by diving straight into their hard hitting noise-rock power anthem, “We’ve Come so Far,” from their last album Transfixiation, Oliver’s curly matted hair hangs over his face as he alternated between strumming and using the tremolo. He works the guitar so fast that you can’t even see his hands. Dion is more reserved and bends his knees into the song’s pulsing rhythm as he plays, occasionally turning his back to the stage. Lia’s face twists and contorts, showing her teeth, as she pushes herself to somehow play even harder and faster. The song’s pounding drumbeat, heavy bass line and slicing guitar are only a precursor to the madness that’s yet to come. The crowd’s moshing intensified and as the room’s temperature began to rise, shirts started to come off. Before the first song is even over, Oliver smashed his guitar in half; it only took one foul swoop.
This was just the warm-up.
As soon as Oliver grabbed a new guitar, APTBS moved into a selection of their new songs off Pinned, starting off with the album’s melody driven second single, “There’s Only One Of Us” and continuing with “Look Me in the Eye,” “Situations Changes,” “Too Tough to Kill” and “Frustrated Operator”. Considering the brute force of APTSB’s music and their smack you in the face, wall of sound, it seems almost impossible to believe that there are only three of them up on stage.
About halfway though the show, APTBS abruptly jumped off stage and brought the spectacle down to the audience. While the three of them played, the crowd formed a circle around them as if they were preparing a ritual sacrifice and other people climbed up stage to get this musical conjuring on camera. After playing amidst the audience for around ten minutes, A Place To Bury Strangers got back on stage to finish off their set with a chaotic face melting and gut-busting performance of “Never Coming Back” and then closed with “Oceans.”
Seeing A Place To Bury Strangers is a sensory-overloaded full-body experience that pushes you so close to the edge, you lose track of where the edge actually is. There is nothing else out there like it.
Catch A Place To Bury Strangers on their tour
Get tickets to one of Surfbort’s upcoming Brooklyn shows