I went into Centeroo early this morning to get a good spot for The Postelles noon-time Sonic Stage set. Luckily for me this New York quartet’s talent for playing a contemporary fusion of crude and powerful 1970’s punk rock and mellifluous 1960’s Motown was still somewhat concealed from the Roo-Fest masses.
The Postelles is a band on the rise and in a musical era where the weirder get work and many new musicians choose to occupy an electronic palette, with synths, turn tables, and computer generated drums and/or bass beats, this New York foursome has “stripped down” to an archetypal rock format, and in turn produced some of the catchiest garage-punk tunes I’ve heard in years.
“New York City is sort of the birth place of Punk Rock and growing up there, it was what we lived with and were exposed to,” said lead guitarist David Dargahi of the band’s sound, “as well as a lot of other 60’s rock and Motown music.”
“Our first show was at the old CBGB’s,” Dargahi continued, “so we were led in that direction from the beginning.”
I made it to the rail with ease standing no more than ten feet from the band’s fedora sporting guitar maestro who strums his six-string with a similar sound to that of Strokes axe-man Albert Hammond Jr. who helped produce The Postelles recently completed debut studio album.
“Albert’s an awesome guy and was a huge help,” said bassist John Speyer. “He taught us how to use guitar tones and how to really record an album.”
The self-titled record contains 11 tracks and is due out on July 27th.
“We’re really excited about the album,” said Speyer. “It’s the ultimate example of what we’ve been doing for the past two years and we’re really proud of it and all the work that went into making it.”
The most exciting time for a band is right before it blows up and The Postelles exhibited that excitement running through a collection songs that included a super charged cover of The Ramones’ “Beat On The Brat,” two new cuts off the upcoming album, and three tracks off the White Night EP, and they did it all within the 30-minute parameters of the performance.
All three of the songs on the EP are undeniably satisfying with catchy choruses and guitar play that sinks its hooks too deep within the listeners mind to be removed. “Looking glass” is simplistic, poppy, garage rock excellence. Daniel Balk’s intoxicating vocals on “Sleep On The Dance Floor” will have you pressing replay for a long time. And “White Night” is the absolute cream of the crop showcasing several tempo changes spurred on by drum cues from Billy Cadden and the bass play of Speyer.
“”White Night” is one of the first songs we ever wrote,” said Cadden. “It was that song that really steered us in the direction we’re headed now.”
“It’s about us going out into New York City as 16 and 17-year olds,” said Dargahi who throws down a distortion laden solo on the track, “living a fast paced life and growing up really fast, and the song captures what that was like.”
“Stella” is a song that will be on the bands upcoming album and saying it was Strokes-esque is a legitimate claim. However, these days, whenever a new band with a raw sound and a “less is more” dynamic hits the scene they undoubtedly will be compared to The Strokes. The Postelles is another act that has not been able to escape that label, yet feels honored to have it.
“We grew up on The Strokes,” said Dargahi. “I was 14-years old when Is This It came out and I was blown away. We take it as compliment, maybe some people think it isn’t, be we do.”
“That’s the highest compliment we can get,” added Cadden. “We love The Strokes.”
“I think it’s because we’re a straight forward rock band, and no matter what, you’re going to be compared to the other straight forward rock bands like The Strokes,” continued Dargahi. “And there aren’t that many bands now that are straight up rock, a lot of bands use synths and other electronics, but we’ll take it.”
Today’s performance was a little more intimate than the opening night show. The stage and audience was smaller and compared to video I saw of their first set, the band appeared more at ease this afternoon. I’m not saying they have trouble playing to the larger crowds, I’m saying on the tinier Sonic Stage the guys seemed more within their element.
The tiny, fenced in compound’s dimensions resembled those of a New York City night club, a surrounding The Postelles are comfortable in, and the show had that feel. They performed with an enthused swagger and appeared to feed off the energy of specific faces rocking out in the crowd. The majority of spectators appeared well versed in The Postelles’ music, a big difference from the opening evening. Calling out to friends and dedicating songs to others, the band played loose and the musicians felt free to show off their personalities to the audience, both parties exchanging smiles after well struck drum beats and precisely performed guitar solos. Daniel Balk even felt good enough to jump down off the stage, shake hands with us in the front row and even share his singing duties with surprised female turned vocalist.
This was the band’s second trip to the farm, The Postelles made their Bonnaroo debut in 2008, and have enough experience touring clubs and festivals to give an opinion on their preference. I asked John Speyer about it and he gave me a genuine, although predictable, answer.
“I like it all,” said Speyer. “That’s why I do this, I love playing music for everybody. It’s all about the crowd. If the crowd is receptive and into it, then I’m having a good time.”
After spending time with The Postelles, talking with them, and watching one of their shows, I can honestly say that this band is the epitome of everything that is great about music. These guys are humble and hungry, they crank out awesome tunes, and they embrace where they come from and who supports them. The Postelles have the potential to do big things.