By Hailey Nuthals, Highlighter Editor
Tuesday night, the Knitting Factory belonged to Invertebrate. The record label (run by NYU Steinhardt sophomore Ben Locke) booked four of its bands to play at the Brooklyn hotspot, part of a week of shows and festivities that are building hype for label signee Field Trip’s performance at the upcoming SXSW.
Hypoluxo started the night off with their particular brand of shoegaze rock. The four-piece, having the unlucky slot of opener, began with a sparse and disinterested crowd, but by the second song, a tentative group of boys in leather jackets and girls in solid color tanks had begun to populate the area around the stage. Some even began to dance along (“This floor was made for spilling beer on!”), but they presented the most energy of the set. It was, overall, like a good hookup: nothing to complain about at the time, but not quite worth texting back the next morning.
The Misters followed, and immediately Michael Nitting, lead vocals and guitar (a sophomore at Steinhardt) woke the crowd up, beckoning them in closer. The band is a boisterous gang, consisting of Nitting, Sebastian Zel, Greg Jakubik, and Noah Hadland (who can also be seen playing Figure Eight and several other Invertebrate bands). Their sound was jazzy, uptempo, infectious, and unpresuming. Their songs got the audience dancing (for real this time), and Nitting’s theatrics, combined with the good humor and talent of the rest of the band, made the set feel like the way Hollywood makes college frat parties seem: illegally fun and always set to the best music.
After finishing with their classic “Mary Jane,” the Misters ceded the stage to the fellows of Modern Diet. Their stand-out feature, compared to Hypoluxo’s muddled vocals and The Mister’s energy, was the addition (for a few songs) of a trumpet and trombone. The brass texture combined with the four-piece rock setup would have been fantastic – and in fact, all of the parts sounded really well written, featuring well-crafted time changes and beautifully written lyrics – if the group could have kept time together. As it was, it sounded like six very talented musicians who weren’t quite listening to each other as they played.
The boys of Yabadum (pronounced like a slurred “yeah-but-um”) finished out the night. Their sound has the immediate impression of “experimental,” but the precise and carefully composed feel of something much more than merely a curious foray. With synth, vocals, bass, guitar, and drums, the sound was full to the brim. Vocalist Laszlo Horvath’s uniquely abrupt, staccato way of singing (and playing bass) was as much a performance as the song, and impossible to look away from. With joking ease and rock that made you want to burst out of your skin (in a good way), they brought the show to a peak, and then the close.