Words and Photos by Andrew Parks
Yes, Johnny Jewel‘s bedazzled look–a cross between a baseball cap-rocking rapper and Rainbow Brite–is a little much. Or maybe we just think that because none of self-titled‘s editors could pull it off ourselves. Not even Arye, sneaker freak collection and all.
Regardless, Glass Candy‘s transformation from skronky no-wave beginnings to a second life as the staple act of Mike Simonetti‘s disco-driven Italians Do It Better label has been surprisingly seamless, as if they emerged fully-formed from one of David Mancuso‘s infamous loft parties. This despite their aversion to the road, a decision that’s allowed the group to evolve in its own little bubble amid the comfy coffeehouses and rampant microbreweries of Portland.
Last night’s rare New York set was part of a long-overdue showcase for Simonetti’s growing roster, which also includes the muted, phantasmagoric pop of Nite Jewel (well, at least this single) and the theatrical EBM of Twisted Wires (as previewed here). While those two provided us with promising performances, the former’s subtle, lightly-sweetened voice is better suited for a much smaller room than LPR–like the Brooklyn basement she played with Drawlings tonight–and the latter’s too early in its infancy for us to dig or deny.
Glass Candy, on the other hand, made up for years of trainwreck sets with a laidback runthrough of their B/E/A/T/B/O/X album, from the persistent buzz of “Beatific” to the Technicolor horns and backwashed beats of “Candy Castle.” Speaking of a persistent buzz, Jewel was gracious enough to pass around his Maker’s Mark bottle along with shimmering Glass Candy T-shirts and Deep Gems CDs. Not a smart move if the guy wanted to make some extra money at the merch table but a good chunk of the crowd definitely went home with Glass Candy on their minds …