CMJ: Beach And/Or Campfire (Or Both) Vibes Abound At The Group Tightener Showcase
Monster Island's basement couldn't have been more perfect for last night's Todd P/Group Tightener party. High ceilings and sparkly, stone-layered walls loomed over a warmly lit floor setup with a definite mountain-retreat sort of air, as the Group Tightener label--a project of Fader associate editor Sam Hockley-Smith and Jamie Granato from Brooklyn's Men & Women--made their official debut with a bill featuring their own Alex Bleeker & the Freaks (Real Estate remixed, basically), reverb-heavy Fluffy Lumbers, and lo-fi Californians Best Coast alongside Ducktails, Coasting, and Highlife.
When we walked in at 10:30, Coasting, quite possibly Brooklyn's newest band (literally, they're two weeks old) had just taken their first-ever stage. The duo (Madison from Dream Diary and Fiona Campbell from New Zealand riot grrl outfit the Coolies) jumped right in with a driving set, heavy on drums and echoing vocals and only the occasional missed cue. ("I didn't know we were supposed to stop when you fuck up!" "Oops, sorry, once more!") Madison briefly chatted with us afterward: "I was working at Monster Island when Fiona and I started talking about our projects, and we were like, 'Let's try this together' . . . she's this amazing drummer." She really is.
Next came Highlife, side project of White Magic's Sleepy Doug Shaw, a shaggy-haired, maroon-denim-wearing gentlemen whose rolling tribal yells were backed by dreamy melodic loops (which sounded a lot like fuzzy, Latin banjo strums) and mellow vocals by WM's own Mira Bilotte. The equally dreamy (though much more energetic) Best Coast followed, the NYC-via-L.A. pop project of Bethany Consentino (of Pocahaunted) and Bobb Bruno. (They're Group Tightener's first seven-inch release.) They made do without a drummer once again, but we certainly didn't mind, fully immersed in a set worthy of a beach or a campfire. (Or both.) Consentino croons in a decidedly moody but definitely earnest way about lovers old and new--no matter the lyrics, they all sound like love songs. She credits the Beach Boys as her favorite band, and we can see why. They peaked with "Something in the Way," the duo surrounded by enthusiastic head bobbers. (Because who dances at rock shows anyways?)
Heading out, we spotted Group Tightener's founders celebrating with a bottle of Jack in hand. "We've always wanted to start a label," Granato said, explaining that the in-house artist/producer/studio vibe he picked up at previous internships for DFA and K Records inspired this his own project. "We work with people who have similar sounds, but we always want Group Tightener to be an open and inclusive environment. I've always thought the vibe of music-people being snobby is annoying. Not that we don't have our own tastes, but not being mean is key."