For a Thursday night, Mississippi Studios was surprisingly packed. Word must’ve gone out that Brooklyn-based band Crystal Stilts was a band who consistently delivers satisfying performances. Perhaps people know that Zachary Cale is the next Kurt Vile. Maybe local babes, Pictorials, have a cult following. Whatever it was, the crowd caught me off guard. Because of the events that followed, I was never able to actually understand what was going on.
The guitarist, JB Townsend stayed hidden in the shadows for the entirety of the night. Bellowing vocals and rolling eyes were an ongoing thing from Brad Hargett. “Star Crawl” and “Shake the Shackles” welcomed heavy movement. Enticing visuals cast over the band; Intoxicatingly scenic landscapes with lots of green, red, white and blue hues drowned everyone involved. Setting the projection screen directly behind the band was a good choice. People made out, shouted for the band members to take off their clothing, argued with their lovers, sobbed near the side of the stage, danced with dads and started a revolution.
The music was dark and droning, in a way that could seem overwhelming. Guitar parts spiked through haze. Their newest release, Nature Noir, could also double as a genre for them. Crystal Stilts have found a way to mold organic sounds in the darkest way.
The encore was introduced by awkward statements from Kyle Forester, but it was well worth the struggle.
I’m being true to you when I say that Zachary Cale is going to be soon recognized as a darker guitar strummin’, gracefully-singing gem of the singer-songwriter genre. He is also based in Brooklyn, but originally from Louisiana. His accent came through in between songs. Southern charm doused the audience, who was severely lacking in grace and charm. His sound radiated a Kurt Vile-Bob Dylan-Townes Van Zandt fusion. Cale’s intricate and emotional guitar playing, unabashed vocals and shy demeanor had me melt over and over again. The heavy influence by blues was proved by a Robert Johnson cover. The musicians backing him were picked well, accentuating his finest attributes. JB Townsend from Crystal Stilts joined them onstage for a couple of songs, but continued to stay in the shadows. Red hues were eventually cast on them until the end of their set. It was one to take a couple of moments to yourself afterwards.
Pictorials were the local band on the bill. Seeming to be greatly influenced by 80s, the intricate and heavy bass lines coupled with their cheery vocalist definitely helped them gain more fans. It was endearing when they were trying to be rowdy. The natural upbeat and polite playing did them well and it seemed natural. It’s best to mention that if you missed this, you missed watching the bassist making love to his instrument.