Dark Beasts Play a Mystery Show in Fort Greene
“We are the daughters of the witches that you’re burning,” Dark Beasts bassist Lillian Schrag intoned, knowing and sinister, over the jagged jangle of guitarist Trixie Madell and the airy lines of violinist Violet Paris-Hillmer on the chrorus of Witch Hunt, the high point of their their impromptu, quasi-secret show in Fort Greene this past July. There is no other young Brooklyn group who can touch them, in terms of imagination, songwriting or social relevance.
Some bands grow up in public, usually with embarrassing results. Dark Beasts, as you might expect from the band name, have grown up playing secret shows – or at least semi-secret ones. They began as a trio, about three years ago, playing ominously amorphous no wave. Over that time, they’ve solidified their sound centered around Schrag’s brilliantly surreal lyricism.
The July show was arguably their best ever. They tend to have new material for every set. This one was characteristically brief, just four songs. They opened with Killers Raining Down on Me, a a creepy waltz interpolating a familiar Byrds folk-rock theme, Paris-Hillmer playing piano and doubling Madell’s lines behind Schrag’s somber vocals.
Mythical Creatures Are Not Far Away – with guest vocals by Chris Nelson of Escape by Ostrich – chronicled the adventures of a drunk unicorn in an ATM and then afterward. “You might just end up dead in a most peculiar way,” Schrag intoned gleefully at the end. The last song of the night was Lobster Quadrille, a Lewis Carroll text set to the tune of 99 Bottles of Beer, more or less.
The band are currently on hiatus as their members are all back in school (Paris-Hillmer and Madell in Brooklyn, Schrag in Missouri); watch this space for possible future shows during school vacations or next summer.