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Monday, January 17, 2011

Mister Heavenly Bowery Ballroom 1/16/11

We caught Philadelphia's Sun Airway opening the Bowery show with an amazing, high energy set. The band set a mood complementing their music, playing in low light with projected imagery behind them. Dead Oceans released the band's debut album entitled Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier on October 26th 2010. Jon Barthmus and his bandmate Patrick Marsceill, both from the now-defunct emo band the A-Sides, put on a sick show with fuzzed out keyboard, and highly driven bass and drums. Barthmus's voice was very pleasant, at times recalled a more experimental Ben Gibbard. The band put on an amazing set, which peaked on their last song and left the audience wanting more.

Mister Heavenly is an indie supergroup of sorts. It's comprised of dueling lead singers Honus Honus (Man Man) and Nick Diamonds (Islands / ex-Unicorns), drummer Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse) and comedic actor Michael Cera on bass guitar. Cera played a Vox Phantom bass, the guitar version of the instrument was made popular by Joy DIvision's frontman Ian Curtis.

The band has been making headlines in the last few months with their Sub Pop records deal and their tour with Passion Pit, traveling across the US from west to east. I had been hearing a ton of buzz about the band but had no idea what to expect as they had no released material except for a few YouTube videos. Just a few days before the show, Subpop released a free (ransom for your email) two song single with tracks “Mister Heavenly” and “Pineapple Girl.” The band claims to be an answer to doo-wop and they delivered it well at the Bowery Ballroom. The songs were amazingly tight for a band that has only been on one tour and doesn't even have a full record out. This was probably due to Joe Plummer's tightly metered drumming. Honus Honus's voice and key playing were strong and blended nicely with the quirky stage presence and guitar playing of Nick Diamonds. Michael Cera held his own on his bass; he has been playing bass during his films Scott Pilgrim Versus The World and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. The band sounded great as they plowed through a set of unknown tracks that, nonetheless, had the audience dancing. During the set, Nick Diamonds insisted that they were a Brooklyn band and that they wrote some of the tunes and lyrics in Clinton Hill. There was a wonderfully addled anecdote about the genesis of a song about a Bronx Sniper and when they broke into the tune, the blending of vocal parts by Honus Honus and Nick Diamonds made it sound like the start of a new genre, doom-wop, perhaps. They did an energetic cover of The Oblivions “Bad Man" and ended their set. They returned to the stage and satisfied the stomping, clapping crowd with an encore cover of The Misfits’ “Hybrid Moments."

Words & Pics by Kevin Serra

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