New Yorker neo-lords of ball-stomping indie rock, the Secret Machines hammered through the second show of a three-date residency at Manhattan’s Annex club last night (Sept. 19), debuting new material from their still nameless third LP with reckless abandon.
The shows come in a shaky period of the band’s existence, due to founding member (and brother to lead singer) Benjamin Curtis’ departure last March for his new Brooklyn project School of Seven Bells. But the crowd of Lower East Side eccentrics and weathered enthusiasts ate up the new tunes, including some celebrity fist pumps from Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins, who recently toured with the Machines in Europe.
The band kicked things off with a droning trio of 15-minute jams called “Terrible Light,” “Dreaming of Dreaming” and “The Fire is Waiting,” all of which, with their psychedelic swarms of guitar and John Bonham-like pounds, suggested that the future of TSM is far much more of a return to the furious classic rock rhythms of their debut, Now Here is Nowhere. Other new tunes such as the delay-smothered, power chord heel-stomper “Last Believer, Drop Dead,” and the foot-pedal punches of “Have I Run Out” and “The Walls Are Starting to Crack” were so loud, you couldn’t hear a word Brandon Curtis was saying. But watching drummer Josh Garza kill his drum kit was definitely worth it.
SPIN.com caught up with Curtis post-show, who offered some comments about his brother’s departure and hinted at a possible new guitarist. “It’s a mixed bag. [Benjamin] is probably one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met, and ever had the chance of playing with,” Curtis shared. “But I think [Phil E. Karnats, from Tripping Daisy] has been a really incredible friend for a long time, and he’s a really incredible guitar player. And Josh and I feel that what we’re doing now is connected to what we were doing before.”
We asked: Though Tripping Daisy’s Phil E. Karnats has been touring with TSM, Benjamin Curtis’ shoes have not officially been filled. If you had to make the call, what axe-slinger, famous or non, would you plug in and why?