Local shows are always a blast, and Long Island ones are no exception! My first show back since Vermont didn’t disappoint.
Organized by progressive punk group, The Muckrakers, the event served as a “pre-party” and fundraiser for Muñoz-Stock 2019, an annual festival of music, art, and video games hosted at Station Sports Family Fun Center on August 3rd.
Many of the night’s bands were kind enough to sell their merch to profit the festival, including the first group, Holy Vulture. Their charity was an impressive start, but their performance immediately made the drive out to Shaker’s Pub worth it.
An energetic three-piece from Astoria, Queens, Holy Vulture was nothing but impressive. Each member was clearly experienced and present in the music, with a great mix of responsibilities divided between them, but also shared beautifully. The singer’s voice was classic, but still unique, especially with the addition of harmonies with the drummer (made even more impressive by her own lively percussion parts). The group’s solid rhythm section allowed the lead singer/guitarist to riff without worry, playing with the spaces between the notes as much as the sounds themselves. The bassist, in particular, was clearly experienced: He utilized the entirety of his instrument with precision and a zest for mixing melody and rhythm that is refreshing to see as a fellow bass player.
An intriguing blend of old and new, each song featured classic rock-style vocals that turned my mind immediately to the mastery of music that was Led Zeppelin. While that might be a powerful comparison, Holy Vulture deserves the credit: They’re a brand new band formed in 2019, and they’re already killing it!
The next band up was Aimless Again, a classic pop punk group with a penchant for volume. Aimless Again would be a great local group for fans of Blink-182, Green Day, and the like thanks to their fast, heavy-hitting style. At one point, it was a little too heavy hitting—Literally! They managed to break their snare, resulting in a solo performance by the vocalist, which turned out to not be such a bad thing: His voice was covered up by the sheer volume of much of their earlier set, and the small solo allowed him to convert the loudness into energy towards the song. If Aimless Again was able to continue shifting their focus from volume to aimed energy into each song, they’ll be able to make their live performance that much better.
Vigil Antics was the band I came to see, as this was their final show under the brand. The group definitely didn’t disappoint: Every member appeared well-practiced and comfortable on stage, even the fill-in drummer, who did a fantastic job. If I hadn’t gone into the set knowing he wasn’t a permanent member, I wouldn’t have suspected this was their first show together! The set sounded remarkably similar to the group’s recordings, proving a dedication to a high standard of both performance and the original audio that will clearly be repeated in the group’s music to come. Everyone in the group was clearly having a great time providing an energetic, engaging set that got everyone in the audience into it. Despite the energy, nothing in the music was lost: The instrumentals were interesting and unique in every song, especially since they made great use of both guitarists. It was refreshing to see that the second guitarist wasn’t just for show, and everyone was doing their parts beautifully to make Vigil Antics’ final show a great one.
Ü Blue was another group I was familiar with going into the show: I had the pleasure of being in the audience for their show with Glass Lungs in Burlington, Vermont, and meeting a few of the members after their set. As in Burlington, Ü Blue put on a great show for Shaker’s Pub. Although the band was big, everyone had a part to play, and the instrumentals were well-balanced and locked nicely. They utilized empty spaces in the guitar and basslines well, and there was a wonderful rhythmic foundation set up for the higher end. As I remember after the last show, I can’t say enough about the talent of the group’s bassist: He was among the best I’ve seen, and I wouldn’t doubt he could play anything sent his way—and make it even better.
The Muckrakers were the final band of the night, and due to the long drive home, I unfortunately wasn’t able to stay for the entirety of their set. The songs I did manage to catch proved that The Muckrakers have a special place in the Long Island music scene. Besides running a friendly, organized show, they put on a great set themselves. With a stage presence that only comes with experience, The Muckrakers used the space to their advantage to create an experience with wonderfully prominent basslines, balanced screams, interesting guitar parts, and diverse drum rhythms. The instrumental parts were clearly well thought out to complement each other without the monotony of matching bass and guitar parts. The Muckrakers were a wonderful finish to a great night, and I wish I had been able to stay until the end to experience all they had to offer.
Now, go see a local show to connect with these wonderful groups yourself….