Psychedelia, Jagged No Wave and Big Stadium Sounds at a Williamsburg Guitar Shop on the 9th
There’s an intriguing triplebill coming up at 8 PM on March 9 at an unexpected out-of-the-way spot, Main Drag Music at 50 W 1st St. at Kent Ave. in Williamsburg, where polymath guitar god Pete Galub opens the night, followed by a couple of anthemic yet acerbic and sometimes abrasive acts, Woodhead and Mustafina
Galub is probably the only artist who’s shared a stage with both Americana icon Amy Allison and art-rock mystic Carol Lipnik. But he’s also a solo artist who’s just as adept at straight-ahead powerpop as he is at psychedelia, a guy who can find the inner James Brown in Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 3. It’s been awhile since the last time this blog was in the house for a Galub show. That was a low-key set with multi-instrumentalist Matt Kanelos in the fall of 2017, at a little Williamsburg spot that four years later would throw away its storied past, and will be remembered for its ugly complicity in a divide-and-conquer-and-possibly-murder scheme.
Galub has put out some good records over the years, but he also has a delightful Soundcloud page where he collects his more uncategorizable material. For starters, there’s Artificial Weather, a catchy rainy-day folk-rock ballad with acoustic guitar and and electric piano, an aptly metaphorical theme for the era of chemtrails.
A solo electric version of Brave Words by the Chills is a lot warmer and louder than the originals, with a strange Jerry Garcia-style interlude tacked on. In typical, puckish Galub fashion, his cover of the Feelies’ It’s Only Life is much more terse and low-key. His wryly psychedelic, Dylanesque take of Roxy Music’s A Really Good Time is also pretty classic, if insider rock humor is your thing.
Other rarities include a funny little cartoon of a tune, Have Yourself a Really Crappy Christmas; Raga Against the Machine, a pretty hilarious evocation of a sitar, and the best song on the page, Psycho Seder, a klezmer horror surf instrumental.
Woodhead’s new single is part skronky new wave, part 80s King Crimson and a little stadium rock. The one before that, a “lockdown version” of Walking Uphill has all kinds of tasty layers of ugly noise, evil tritones and frontman/guitarist Vern Woodhead’s declamatory 80s vocals over Dmitry Ishenko’s snappy bassline. The band’s most recent album, El Inmortal, goes back to 2016 and features the same improbably successful blend of noisy abrasion, punchy anthemic choruses and spoken-word vocals.
Mustafina make a good segue: they mix up 70s acid rock, noiserock, guy/girl metal vocals and the same kind of tricky tempos that Woodhead sometimes negotiate. Their Reverbnation page has a small handful of songs: click the big six-minute second track, Good Times and the Scars to Prove It, to see what they can do with a big stadium anthem. This is the kind of lineup you might have seen at the late and badly missed Bar Matchless – where Mustafina used to play.