Seeing Red – or Rather, Scarlet – at the Knitting Factory

By Hailey Nuthals, Arts Editor

Of course, every band has a story, but few bands have quite a yarn like that of Scarlet Sails. Based out of New York, the duo is composed of drummer Brian Viglione (formerly of the Dresden Dolls, Nine Inch Nails, and Violent Femmes) and his wife, Olya. Olya came to the United States from her native Russia many years ago, working her way around the city and eventually ending up at Bowery Electric, where she met Brian. The two came together and eventually began Scarlet Sails, named for the novel by Russian author Alexander Grin.

After beginning a tour supporting rock artist Nina Diaz, Scarlet Sails ended up back in the city for the tour’s Brooklyn dates. With Olya on lead vocals and keyboard, Brian on drums, and two friends Joe Noval and Nick Emde on bass and guitar, they took to the stage at the Knitting Factory on Tuesday night. Together, they almost looked straight out of the 1970’s, with Emde sporting a Rolling Stones patch on his jeans of the iconic tongue and lips logo, Olya wearing a bandanna across her forehead, fringed boots, and a billowing, lacey top. The overall theme, though, was definitely scarlet. Emde’s guitar was shockingly red, Olya’s keyboard and lips matched the shade, and even Noval’s bass was a sunburst of orange and red. (Brian, for his part, had the band name emblazoned in scarlet across the face of his bass drum.)

At once, the band’s energy was palpable. Olya’s vocals seemed to come from a store of sound that drew on a mountain’s worth of power, and Brian’s drumming was unavoidable with its forcefulness. The guitar and bass were also carefully balanced, so that the quartet’s sound was balanced instead of overwhelming. Their songs held an anthemic quality, and it was hard not to draw a comparison to the iconic Queen. Certainly, Olya was no Freddie Mercury, but she held the potential to reach his prowess. Her range went from smooth soprano to aggressive shouts seamlessly, and each song was so defiant that one almost wanted to put their hands in the air without knowing what they were there for.

Not for a moment did the band’s energy falter, and the fact that they were having so much fun was contagious. (Especially for the band’s cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”) It carried through to Nina Diaz’s set of boisterous, hard-rocking blues, and those who had waited for Diaz’s encore were rewarded with a final bit of fun for the night. Olya came back out and in a duet with Diaz, performed the classic hit “Under Pressure.” The evening as a whole was so much fun that one might almost be tempted to follow all three of the acts (including opener Sophie Auster, whose own talent was like a bolt of lightning in a white suit) around for the rest of the tour.

Scarlet Sails will be premiering their music video next Monday – look for it on Brooklyn Vegan! Find them on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Web

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