It is hard to imagine that any band has a more appropriate name than Total Slacker. When a friend first mentioned the band, a very particular imagine came to mind: Sloppy, lo-fi garage rock, and light-hearted bordering on sardonic lyrical content, maybe even some 90s era nostalgia thrown in the mix. It was all there at the band’s record release show Wednesday night–especially that 90s nostalgia. There were Total Slacker t-shirts for sale, emblazoned with a Jurassic Park logo-flip, and frontman Tucker Rountree sported a sweet vintage Tommy Hilfiger sweater.
Total Slacker Release Party at Baby’s All Right
With Total Slacker celebrating the release of its new full-length, Slip Away, on Black Bell Records, it seemed fitting that recent Black Bell signees, Honduras, opened the event. The band’s hazy pop-punk sound provided the most melodic set of the night. Honduras is certainly a band to keep an eye on. Having recently released its single, “Ace,” the band put together a set that proved there is more where that song came from.
Life Size Maps was the second band of the evening. For a band whose music relies so heavily on electronic programming and synths, it was pretty surprising to see them take the stage with a traditional guitar, bass and drums arrangement. The band used backing tracks for the electronic parts, and that always seems to take something away from a performance. It was a bit of a let-down, especially because the band’s recorded material is quite good.
Riding a tsunami sized wave of buzz into the show, Perfect Pussy was up next and the crowd seemed to multiply by the time the band’s set started. This band is edgy. Its name, its attitude and its hardcore punk bonafides have earned praise from every “hip” publication on the internet. The passion and the authenticity are certainly there, but–at risk of losing all indie street-cred–the band’s performance was a bit too chaotic. Judging by the crowd response, that opinion was certainly in the minority. The kids loved every minute of it, and I was left wondering if I really am getting that old.
Finally, Total Slacker took the stage. The band opened with its current single, “Keep the Ships At Bay.” This track is the most–if not the only–earnest, urgent song on the new record. It is by far the heaviest track–lyrically and musically–on Slip Away. As the band played the opening chords, it unleashed a gang of strobes and black lights that would continue through the rest of the set.
Beyond its ironic apparel, the band’s overall sound is decidedly 90s influenced. Self-identifying as “slimegaze,” the super sludgy, distorted bass and steady pounding percussion are hallmarks of the early 90s grunge movement updated for a millennial audience. At times, lead guitarist David Tassy’s searing tones could be a dead ringer for vintage Alice In Chains.
As the set progressed, the band got into its more serious stuff. You know, songs like “Thighmaster” and “Super Big Gulp.” The latter of which matches the sheer euphoria that can only be felt when buying an enormous fountain soda from the local 7-Eleven. Watching the crowd mosh and crowd surf to song about Suzanne Somers-endorsed fitness equipment was oddly disarming. This is one of the more charming aspects of Total Slacker’s appeal.
The band closed its set with “Touch Yrself.” The song’s anthemic refrain warns the listener, “You gotta touch yourself, before you can touch someone else.” This is actually pretty sound advice–on a number of levels. The crowd appeared to thin out a bit at this point, and one couple used that empty space to perform an awkward, drunken interpretive dance to match the song’s message. It was cute?
As the venue emptied out, it became more apparent that the room was packed well beyond its 280-person cap. All the cool kids had made the trek out to Brooklyn that night and most of them left satisfied. This band is a lot of fun and does not try to be anything more than that. Publications that have chipped away at the “immaturity” of Slip Away seem kind of silly; the immaturity is a big part of the band’s appeal. If you are looking for a deeply moving musical experience, I recommend going elsewhere. If you want to get weird and rock out to a song about fighting your babysitter’s boyfriend, Total Slacker is your best bet.
Article by Jason Schellhardt