Chalk it up to the family friendly butt rock of opening band Gypsy Saints, but there were a surprising number of children playing on iPhones in corners, unconcerned with the objects of their mothers' attentions, and their—the children's—numbers multiplied over the course of the evening.
The Jan. 26 lineup at the Knitting Factory included Gypsy Saints, Midline, 57 Heavy and Boise thrashers Krystos. It was a diverse evening, with four different takes on rock music that got fans clapping, dancing and moshing, but one that relied heavily on the smashing success of 57 Heavy and the raw energy of Krystos for its drive.
Gypsy Saints played a short set, but it was long enough to give the impression that its songs about lost love and triumph over adversity may (or may not) have also been about a certain figure of religious significance. With exhortations for the audience to secure the services of designated drivers—"Does everybody have a way to get home safely?" asked black-vested and Aaron Lewis-bald frontman Gerrad Anthony—and equally exhortative lyrics about overcoming obstacles and faith in one's self in clipped, metal-inspired riffs, Gypsy Saints sounded the way a spoonful of saccharine tastes.
Next on deck was Boise's '90s radio metal-inspired Midline, which featured heavy, shredding guitar licks that delighted in recalling everything from Metallica to Alice in Chains and extravagant efforts to connect with the audience. Drummer Fred Fischer's drumsticks spent as much time sailing through the air as they did en route to a drum, and frontman Anthony Fagiano, in a word, flailed across the stage.
The main act: 57 Heavy is a rock-ready band, and singer-songwriter Shane Horsley has an aptitude for all things that promise never to confuse, mislead or beguile. The Knitting Factory event was part of the band's release party for its new album, Aileron.
The tall, long-haired frontman in straight-legged jeans waxed coherently, engagingly, inspiringly about motorcycles and girlfriends, though for most of the show he complained to the audience that his guitar was out of tune and "driving him insane."
Though he bemoaned his poor performance, Horsley et al's brand of hard but too-cool-for-school rock, marked by the occasional tossing of women's undergarments and the apoplectic playing and facial expressions of fearsomely muscular drummer and backing vocalist Jeff Bartkowski, was eaten up by the audience, which danced and cheered along to the music.
Finally, rambunctious Boise thrashers Krystos gleefully took the stage, breaking strings, leaping from trampolines and making a mess of the notion of music. Billy Thornock knew his audience.
"I know you guys want to thrash," he told the moshers down in the pit.
The four-man shredder posse churned out notes like it was a competition, and seemed hardly inconvenienced when bassist Anjru Kalibyr missed a jump on the stage trampoline, sliding on his backside across a section of stage and tattering two strings on his base. He reappeared six minutes (and three lightning songs) later with a different bass.
"How do you break two strings on the first song?" asked Thornock.
Evidently by playing as hard and fast as you can.
The mess of fans below howled and pumped their fists in approval.