Prisms: 4/21 at the Crunch House
The Crooked Sound
The Crunch House is the sort of place you can’t find unless you know where it is - it doesn’t register as a location on your phone GPS, and it’s difficult to find an exact address without being told it. Even once inside, you would never imagine it’s regularly the site of some of the greatest shows Connecticut has ever seen: it’s about the size of a living room, its walls are graffitied, every nook is crammed with some weird artifact (my favorite is the battered doll stashed in a recess close to the ceiling), and its door is plastered with band stickers. There are as many recognizable names as there are obscure: breakout death metal act Gatecreeper and local noise-rock band Perennial aren’t too far apart, to give you an idea of the breadth of the musical history that’s passed through the Crunch House’s peeling walls. It’s DIY as hell.
Friday is only the second time I’ve attended a show at the Crunch House, but it was, without exaggeration, one of the best shows I have ever been to. That would have been obvious if I had checked out more than a couple of the bands on the bill beforehand, but I hadn’t. Alex and I went in totally unaware of the incredible - and, I think, soon-to-be legendary - night about to unfold. We showed up early to catch Prologues, good friends of ours and no strangers to Metal Lifestyle. Once upon a time, they were a throwback metalcore band channeling the sounds of the ’00s for better or worse, but as their set of all but two brand-new songs proved, they’ve done some remodeling. The most obvious change comes in vocalist Tyler Maldonado, whose delivery is throatier and less screechy, but it’s also in the more chaotic structure of the new songs. Zack Santiago and Brandon Antoniak, guitarist and drummer respectively, are just a joy to watch perform. We once compared Prologues to Fear Before the March of Flames, but they’re really more in line with The Chariot at this stage.
Despite having no official recordings under their belt (at the time - they’ve since released a killer demo you need to listen to now), there’s been a lot of buzz of late for local powerviolence band Kidnapped thanks to a raging, no-bullshit live show we were lucky to experience firsthand. I’m not sure how many songs we actually heard, as they filled every spare second with noise and feedback to blur the lines between one burst of noise and the next, but their set absolutely brimmed with nasty riffs and primal beatdowns. I was variously reminded of Pig Destroyer, Full of Hell (bassist Liam Fossaluzza was wearing a shirt of theirs, in fact), and Knocked Loose, mostly thanks to vocalist Danny’s ragged hardcore scream, but it’s Kidnapped’s innate feel for rhythm that made their set so memorable. Even in the midst of all that dissonance and feedback, they never lost sight of the main groove. They’ll go far on that alone, and I will be thoroughly surprised if they don’t rise to same level of scene-prestige as Boston’s Vein. Yeah, they’re that good.
From hearsay alone, I would have expected Pretty Lush (once known as Better Half, a band I am told I saw on a bill with Prologues but cannot remember having actually watched for the life of me), to be the odd ones out on a bill that trended a bit closer to hardcore since they rock a more alternative/post-hardcore sound - and while they sort of did end up that band, the sheer emotional weight of their performance kept them well afloat. Looking back, I would argue that they were essential to the night, the “calm” band, swathed in pink and blue lights, that’s really anything but. Vocalist Eric Gustafson’s voice, thick with angst, complements his and Nick Firine’s fidgety guitarwork, which lays on the driving riffs and pretty leads with equal skill. While they’re stylistically miles apart, Pretty Lush’s knack for digging their heels into emotive moments - faulty notes, ringing chords, particularly resonant lyrics - reminds me of the uncommon vulnerability of early Evans Blue, when they were fronted by Kevin Matisyn. Underneath all the yearning is the hunger of a small band performing music they enjoy listening to as much as they enjoy playing, and it comes through on record, too. Let me tell you, it’s been hard to put down Sink Into My Skin since the show.
The Crooked Sound might have been the biggest surprise of the night, even accounting for Kidnapped’s tower of amps. I simply wasn’t ready for this band. Vocalist Kenny James did a quick guest verse in the middle of Pretty Lush’s set, but I was so preoccupied with the drama of that band’s performance that it didn’t really register until The Crooked Sound picked up their instruments. They live up to their name and then some: somewhere between Glassjaw and Every Time I Die, they occupy a niche that’s bound to propel them to instant stardom, blending the sneering attitude of the former with the vicious hardcore of the latter while doubling down on the caustic sarcasm of both. Their single “Mock” is a great summary of what they offer, strutting out tasty riffs and groovy drumming with the finesse of professionals, but the sneering bellow that dominates that track shared more space with James’s singing live, which borrows a lot from Daryl Palumbo’s trademark melisma. In a word, The Crooked Sound is special, and you would be an idiot to miss out on what they’re doing. Keep an eye on them. They’ll be huge before you know it.
The last time I saw Lucretia was on the floor of a banquet hall, under a chandelier, gentle lighting, and flanked by tablecloths. No joke. It made for some brilliant, surreal contrast, but to see them in a venue as gritty as their sound actually is brought things to the next level - it’s caged-animal vicious reverberating against those cracked walls, and when the cushions of the venue’s couch are being tossed back and forth across the moshpit. No joke, either. Despite the scarcity of Lucretia shows (“We only play one show per Overwatch event,” to quote guitarist Michael Terry), both sets have been deadly honed. Vocalist Tony Goncalves’s blackened screech tears right through Terry’s thick riffing, and no one seemed to miss a beat as they churned through slab after slab of deliciously sludgy hardcore. The undisputed highlight of the night was their performance of “Untitled,” or “Rat Song” as it’s sometimes known, after the art for the song’s release a year ago. It’s actually pretty rare for me to jump into a pit once it really gets going, but I was right in there with everyone else, and even had a chance to buddy up with Terry and a friend to shout the song’s anthemic climax, despite my utter lack of rhythm: “I would rather be dead than in love for a third time / I was told it’s nothing more than an action / I would rather be dead than in love for a third time / either way, it only lasts for a moment.”
My recollection of the rest of the night is a bunch of hallucinatory snapshots: there’s Tyler of Prologues crowdsurfing across the venue and back while drummer Brandon Antoniak couch-dived from, you know, the couch, into the crowd. There’s Kenny James and Eric Gustafson mowing back and forth across the moshpit. I remember snatching a pillow out of the air to shield myself as I caught my breath. Through it all, there was the growing certainty, later articulated by Prologues guitarist Zack, that we were all participating in something legendary, a show they’d be referencing years down the line when every band on the bill had moved onto bigger and better things. Every act that night is more than deserving of success, and given the Crunch House’s storied history, the future couldn’t be brighter.
Prisms is a place for local show reviews by the gang and photo recaps brought to you by our own photographer, Will Oldach.