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Irving Plaza: A venue for punk to play like it should


Meghan Cody/The Chronicle

If you ever find yourself in the city lost and bored, you don’t necessarily have to call a cab to go home.

There are a countless number of venues and petite DIY places that can host you for a few hours. Holding immaculate live music for show-goers to thrive in, Irving Plaza had an ambient, yet punk show this past Wednesday.

Balance & Composure of Doylestown, Penn., Seahaven of Torrence, Calif. and Creepoid of Philadelphia had New Yorkers of all kind steadily head banging and vibing to their sounds.

Starting at 7:00 p.m., Creepoid invaded the stage with their four piece shoe-gaze tunes. Irving plaza set them up with some blue, rotating lights that reflected off the nearby chandeliers and disco ball, which complimented their translucent, ambient sounds. Regradless if you like shoe-gaze or long guitar solos of screaming fuzz pedals, this is a beautiful atmosphere to “get lost in” as the most basic term to put it.

Creepoid lived up to their name and brought it Halloween style and ended their set in an elongated emo breakdown of drums and simplistic riffs. Creepoid in general wasn’t the most popular band to play, but still fulfilled their role in opening up the show and setting the tone of the next two bands.

As the bands transitioned and stage crew disassembled Creepoid’s set, a larger-than-life projector screen ascended down from the ceiling and projected upcoming shows all the way to December. Not only does Irving Plaza promote other bands this way, it reels you back to their venue with bigger and better bands of each genre NYC has to offer. Establishing Seahaven’s set the crowd rushed forward as the projector screen gradually flew up.

As “Black & White” by Seahaven began playing the entirety of crowd rolled towards the stage like the crest of the wave. Smoke machines went off as the band hit the chorus of their song. As opposed to DIY venues where the band asks you to come closer, these fans magnetized to the four-foot stage.

As Kyle Soto of Seahaven belted out the lyrics, “Don’t you know that I am,” the crowd also yelled along to complete the lyric, “Exactly what you wanted.” The energy was one of a positive riot.

Even if you’re not into the punk scene of music, this energy is seemingly contagious and it’s exciting to just bounce around to live music in NYC, regardless of where you’re from.

Surprisingly, this show was taken from a generic easy-going show, to a head-banging, yelling, crowd-surfing, euphoric party. To keep the crowds attention and maintain energy without tiring these lil’ punk kids out, every two songs or so, Seahaven would slow things down with a song from their newest album “Reverie Lagoon.”

These songs were the epitome of ambient rock, super assessable, even to a friend who was dragged to this unwillingly. Lucid guitar strums of happy chords, woodblock to keep on tempo, high nostalgic vocals – it was like you were living an indie movie in real life, like “Juno.” The lights had a different color scheme than Creepoid; these had a purple, blue and pink-hued show to match their cool, but also warm-toned set.

Unfortunately, Seahaven ended on one of these said songs, easy and simple with sincere lyrics. As a punk rock band from California, it was a high expectation to land on a song of more girth and weight as opposed to these sissy songs in comparison. The crowd wasn’t too pleased but Balance & Composure was on deck, so they were quickly over it. There was plenty of time to head bang to those dudes.

Once again the projector screen was reeled down, exposing electronic pop bands like Lights to play soon, along with classic shows The Misfits and even an EDM show. From my view you could see another projector screen being lowered behind the stage. This was a separate projection that read “Balance and Composure.” As the promotional screen scrolled up, a new projection onto the balance and composure blank, white screen. An amoeba-like video or gif of green, yellow, purple and pink moving cells panned over and over as if it were revolving around a circular solid.

The band opened up their first song with drums, the rest of their band followed at about a fourth measure of the drums repetitive beat. As the rest of the band instantaneously played, four smoke machines went off releasing a puffy, yet condensed cloud of fluorescent smoke. The lights reflected onto the smoke, making it appear to be yellow and purple. So, not only was this was a musical performance of one of the biggest progressive punk rock bands, it was a visual stage performance to compliment the music.

Irving plaza promoted these bands very well with the location of their merchandise tables, stage set up and banners. The visual performance was over-the-top impressive of the venue – icing on the cake.

The crowd had a similar reaction, except this time more intoxicated for Balance & Composure. Due to this set being later and more intense but also the final, biggest band of the night, these people went all-out energy. Lyrics were tossed and thrown around amongst the audience. Balance & Composure shined brighter than a sheriff badge.

Bailey Van Ellis, the drummer of this band clearly showed he was the superior drummer of the night. His breakdowns were followed by strobe lights and more smoke, this filled the air with music exhilaration and gratitude. By this time, the entire upper level of the venue was booked, the color scheme changed from purple and yellow to teal and pink, the crowd still wasn’t tired and everyone was losing it, in a good way of course.

By the end Balance & Composure maintained their composure, sweaty, but still there and walking off stage throwing a snare drum over the back stage. The crowd continued applauding for another five minutes or so. I swear someone was about to cry; the happiness and enthusiasm was overwhelmingly contagious.

In totality, Wednesday, Oct. 1 at Irving Plaza was the way to begin the pumpkin spice latte season. With contagious contentment, one could not encompass the energy in that room anywhere else. If you’re not going out to one of these events this fall you’re not participating in fall correctly.

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