Ice Balloons at The Gutter
If you don't know anything about Williamsburg this might be a good place to start. See, there are a lot of art school kids around here making art and music and what have you so they have to try really hard to stand out. In theory that is what makes Williamsburg (and Greenpoint and Bushwick) such a great place for artists. Folks can't get away with lazily copying the latest trends or each other. They have to be distinctive. Whether or not this actually happens most of the time is a matter of opinion but the pressure to be original is strong. You absolutely, positively have to be different.
So anyway, Ice Balloons are a band with a giant fly for a lead singer.
If Ice Balloons were aiming to create a spectacle then they definitely succeeded. That's B. A. Miale way over on stage left controlling the projections. Add to that two vaguely gothick dancers (one dancing on a trampoline), strobe lights, a smoke machine and various costumes and you've got quite a vitual treat. Yet surely the most noteworthy thing I saw this evening was somewhat famous person Kyp Malone (from somewhat more famous band TV on the Radio) on the ground towards the back of the stage doing... something musical? With electronics? It seems they're making their most famous band member hide in a corner. Or perhaps I just didn't notice his Wizard of Oz costume?
Ice Balloons' music is super-fuzzy. I assume the vocals sound that way because the singer is wearing a mask with no obvious holes! The band's whole sonic aesthetic seems to follow his lead. Note for example that they have a bassist but no guitarist, growls but no screams. They have a heavy, consuming sound punctuated by bleeps and scribbles from the electronic keyboard which add tension to them music. It is neither high-energy indie rock nor mellow stoner rock but rather more like an unstable mixture of the two. Some songs drew me in, others not so much. It is an interesting musical fusion but not one which works every single time.
But these guys are certainly distinctive. Nooooo doubt about that!