Up and coming alternative band Madder Rose brought a dynamic sample of the New York underground to the Bar & Grill Wednesday. Those who missed it missed out.
At 11:30 p.m., members of Madder Rose, as in "More Angry Flower," walked calmly on stage and began to informally tune their instruments. They looked at each other and opened the loose, hourlong set with "Widow Song."All through the night, Billy Cote' punched out chiming chords on his guitar that mixed well with singer/guitarist Mary Lorson's clean breathy vocals. New bassist Chris Giammalvo stood solemn, gripping a cigarette between his lips as his fingers plucked out the funky bass lines that were highlighted by Johnny Kick's drums.
The songs were played with hyper intensity as Cote' stomped around the stage while Lorson stood on tiptoe to reach her microphone. The loose set left the band members open to improvisation and experimentation. Feedback was used to enhance the songs' arrangements rather than interfere with the performance.
Madder Rose's trademark depression mood came through with thrashing chord changes in "20 Foot Red" and "Black Eye Town." Cote' lunged on the downstroke and used Kick's cymbal crashes to emphasize the malevolent atmosphere.
But there were lighter arrangements, too. The happy skip of "Panic On," the title cut of the band's second album, mixed an easy backsnap snare with a bright guitar riff and roaring dynamics. Lorson's vocals once more set the mood with a catchy chorus.
Throughout the show, the songs were short and most were tinged with the bite of distortion. "Ultra Anxiety (Teenage Style)" was one such song. The hyper, grungy guitars and staccato snare beats seemed to push the band to its limits. Cote' pulled out screaming leads and filled the room with ear-piercing feedback.
After taking a little time to re-tune, the band counted off and played the snappy syncopation of "Almost Lost My Mind." Cote' peppered the arrangement with harmonic chimes a la Velvet Underground.
Then, once again, the abysmal feedback was used and kicked off another tune, "Amnesia." Kick took to the low thunder of his tom-toms while the rest of the band cranked out deep gloomy chords. The next song, "Swim," relied on moaning guitar fills and soaring leads to capture the grunge mood.
One of the most dynamic songs of the evening was "Car Song." Cote's guitar fills seemingly etched a winding path into the audience's subconsciousness with eerie hypnotic strains. The mood was solidified by Lorson's haunting vocals.
A catchy tune called "What Holly Sees" was played next. The song's alternative folk sound once more brought images of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground to the forefront, especially when Kick harmonized Lorson's vocals during the flowing chorus.
The band then featured a wall of distorted friction to showcase "Star Power." Cote' even slid a bottle on his strings for the bluesy, distorted solo. The grinding chords and screeching arrangement segued smoothly into the last song of the night "Bring It Down." Band members pushed their instruments to the limit and pulled out any type of sound possible during the song's coda.
Madder Rose proved itself worthy of being one of the most promising new bands in the business by playing hard and raw. The audience saw what it was getting and showed its appreciation by vigorous applause.