It has been a very long time since I have been to The Basement in Cortland. Descending down the dank steps into the small, humid area with it's low ceiling, it was all coming back to me. It may very well be that the last time I saw a show there was Punch Drunk Monkeys, and perhaps Bent Peg, so sometime in the 90's. It really isn't a bad place to see a show, as long as it's not a big show.
It has also been a long time since I have gone to a show just to watch and enjoy the show. Usually, even if I am not running the show, I am recording it, and / or taking pictures, and although I enjoy it, there are certain nuances that are lost when looking at things from a purely technical standpoint. So, on June 4th, we went to see New Animal play in their hometown, just to watch and enjoy.
We missed Check Engine and Westgate, but we caught most of Torment the Vein. They don't really do anything for me, but from an unbiased view, they are solid and good at what they are doing, which is pretty much middle of the road modern rock. Good stage presence, and well played.
As for New Animal, I love these guys. Back to being a four piece after being a 3 piece while their second guitarist was away at school, they really do define Rock. Even in a super humid basement, with a very low ceiling, especially on the stage, they managed to bounce around, and just release an amazing amount of energy throughout the performance. Loren, the bassist, being slightly shorter than you average giant, likes to bounce up and down in stage while he plays, and how he didn't knock himself out on the low pipes in the ceiling is beyond me. Jonah, the slightly shorter vocalist / guitarist, had his own issues with a strangely placed mirror that hung down right behind him at a seemingly useless angle. So they blasted through their set of high-energy Hard Rock, including a few covers that they have thoroughly re-interpreted, and a bunch of awesome new songs, with feeling and lots and lots of sweat. New Animal are a band where nothing is wasted, everything in their music matters. With far too many bands the bass player, for instance, is almost an afterthought, but not here, where he adds a lot to every track, now also bellowing out some of the backing vocals. It's an ever progressing thing, and if you like Rock, a little on the harder side, this is the band to see. They have dynamics to their songs, they really don't sound like anyone else (although there is a hint of a Tool influence here and there), and when they get out there and play, they mean it. I have yet to see them and feel like they were just going through the motions. Joe, their second guitarist, is oddly as short as Loren is tall, and he makes even the most amazing guitar parts look easy. Their drummer T-Bone, is exceptional, and I have no idea how he survived the night in that heat. Loren, as I already said, bounces around the stage like he's on a pogo stick, and occasionally falls over because of it (and last time without stopping playing), and Jonah, their slightly demure but charismatic frontman, create a force to be reckoned with. They are a refreshing dose of passion in a cookie cutter music world, and if you can't tell that by the CD, go see them live, because you will see a genuine and bold rock show. It's nice just to get to watch sometimes...