Oberhofer (with Pond and Jeane) at Bowery Ballroom [3/21/12]
When we last caught indie wunderkind Brad Oberhofer at a local show, we were blown away and wanted more. Last Wednesday at the Bowery Ballroom, we got just what we came for and then some.
Brad Oberhofer signed to Glassnote last summer, and this show he played cuts from his hotly-anticipated record Time Capsules II. Much of the album is comprised from the material on his demos/EPs/previous touring repertoire. After time spent in the studio with producer Steve Lillywhite, Oberhofer’s songs have taken on a livelier dimension, and the transition was on display in full force.
Opening the night was Jeane, a group we discovered last summer via Oberhofer contributor (and sartorial wizard) Dylan Treleven. Jeane plays dance-pop that can be anywhere from dark to dreamy, with some really thick and catchy bass lines. Lead singer Paul Dally sounds a lot like Julian Casablancas with his mixture of deep crooning and feisty snarling shouts.
Up next was Pond, but not the 90s Portland band of the same name, fresh off a buzz generating stop at SXSW. Pond hit the stage bursting with energy and wasted no time in getting noticed for their oddball appearances. Guitarist with a crazy ‘fro? Check. Jittery, waifish figured guy with a bleached blonde mop? Check.
The Aussie group danced, wrestled, hip-checked each other off of the stage and walked through the crowd. Their set had a wonderful flow to it, implemented by the drummer and his ability to push the band from song to song in blocks without a break. Interacting with the audience came later. Pond played a very wide range of styles, with everything from Delta Spirit and Deer Tick influences. Most evidently influential was a sound similar to a beached-out, plastic toned Black Sabbath, and lead singer Nick Allbrook did everything short of eating a bat to reach Prince of Darkness level stage craziness. (Hilarious: He accidentally smacked himself in the face while adjusting his microphone).
Guitarist Joseph “Orion” Ryan explained afterwards how Black Sabbath directly influenced much of the band’s writing: “there was consideration of making a 5 song EP of coke era Sabbath songs that we were gonna call ‘Coke Sabbath.’ You can hear that influence most prevalently in “Moth Wings.” He also vocalized his thoughts regarding the increasing number of new American fans who point out his resemblance to members of the douche-pop group LMFAO: “Yeah! I get that a lot now! Fuuuck thaaaat, man.”
Oberhofer finally got on stage at around 11 pm, and the post-SXSW homecoming set began. With much of his material previously released on his self-titled EP, the crowd eagerly sang along from the moment “Gotta Go” started up. Brad and his touring band could barely contain their energy, dancing wildly and jumping off of the drum kit at points. They sprinkled in some new album material, including the incredibly catchy “Landline” and “Cruising down FDR,” a simple summery jingle about speeding down the FDR Drive in a borrowed car. The song obviously was not written anywhere near the Brooklyn Bridge exit.
In between songs, during a long pause, the band remarked that they were concurrently being shown on Letterman, where they had previously taped: “we’re in 2 places at the same time! we’re on Letterman right now.”
At only 21 years old, Bradley Oberhofer’s energy is absolutely contagious. He routinely reaches euphoric peaks, whether feverishly strumming his guitar or shouting his trademark “OOoooh”s which are the backbone of much of his work. The man is an absolute virtuoso on any instrument and played nearly every note on the forthcoming album. He has the charm, talent, and general New Yorkiness (via Tacoma in his case) of Ezra Koenig, Avey Tare, and Julian Casablancas. Having already made quite a name for himself, it’s amazing to imagine what the future holds for him and his touring band.
Time Capsules II is out on Glassnote Records on Monday, March 26.
–Writeup and photos by Benjy Tocker