Whistles, Cowbells, and Drums on the Lower East Side

WRITTEN BY
SPIN Staff

During First Nation's set at Cake Shop, there was little movement in the crowd or onstage. The all-female NYC trio played a trance-inducing set built on primitive drumming, chant-like harmonies, and dissonant keyboards. They played their instruments languidly and tentatively, as if waiting to see what sounds would emerge from them. It was charming punk amateurism -- during the closing song, the three women exchanged "what are we doing?" smiles -- but with restraint. Think the Slits' early shows transposed to the Brooklyn noise scene of 2006.

Professor Murder recalled a totally different side of late-'70s post-punk during their Pianos set. Afire with the bass-heavy grooves and amped-up percussion of pioneering NYC acts like ESG, Liquid Liquid, and Konk, Professor Murder immediately burned through any reticence in the crowd. Lead singer Michael Bell-Smith blew his whistle with the aplomb of an overzealous gym teacher and pounded on his drum set's cowbells and tambourine as his throat muscles bulged like a young Henry Rollins. Pianos' small room made dancing tight, but hey, isn't that what dancing's all about? KAREEM ESTEFAN / PHOTOS BY ANDREW HINDERAKER
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