Photos from the last Parts & Labor show, with Oneida and Neptune.
Words by Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor
Seeing Parts & Labor for the first time is like walking into Spanish 101 on the first day of high school: It's confusing, but exciting enough that you don't drop the class. Eventually you learn the language and revel in it. Over 10 years, Parts & Labor created music that was experimental, heavy, and accessible. Many hapless audience members were driven from the room by the first blasts that came out of Dan & BJ's amps, not to mention the merciless drum assault from either Jim, Joel, Christopher or Joe. But for those who stuck around, there were incredibly special, engaging sounds to be heard.
Last Friday, BJ, Dan and Joe played their last show before their indefinite hiatus—Fugazi is still on indefinite hiatus. Besides every member of their revolving drummer's throne joining the band for a few songs, practically every person who has ever played with Parts & Labor, live or in studio, was also on hand to help. Former members stalked the side of the stage with an extra pair of drumsticks playing along to the song, or bounced around in the crowd having just as much fun as anyone else there. The band played 20 songs, weaving their way through every phase of their existence—from their instrumental beginnings, to their pop-noise middle, to their noise-pop conclusion. They ended, appropriately, with "Changing of the Guard," the final song on their Jagjaguwar debut, 2006's Stay Afraid. As the song reached its conclusion, Dan stood at the front of the stage and held the last drone while BJ, Joe, and Christopher smashed the two drum sets and tore down the stage set that had been constructed from moldy panels saved from their first music video.
Parts & Labor's shows always felt intimate. Every show felt like you were seeing a band that was about to be really big, and you were lucky to see them now. Ultimately, they never broke through like many of their Brooklyn peers, but there's no doubt they went out with the same power and energy they had when they started a decade ago.
• Parts & Labor - No Nostalgia
A caught mention of a "secret house show" eventually leads to an address and a time. Somewhere around the Myrtle stop on the J train, a door to a basement apartment opens and immediately reveals a sweaty mass of thrashing bodies in the windowless front room. 40ozs being passed around among two distinct sections: the roiling bodies surrounding the band, and the calm socializing kids in the hallway of a kitchen. Moisture (appropriate for the setting, considering the amount of sweat dripping off of everyone) holds the room with their raw Nirvana-esque sound, followed by the "get active" set by Ritz Riot with lead singer Shirley Cruz bouncing around in the crowd and trying not to step on people on the floor.
Switch to the next night, heading over to see a friend's punk cover band play at a new bar in Williamsburg. F*cking Bullshit plays the hits (The Misfits, Minor Threat, Black Flag, etc), and expects you to sing along with them. Fist-pumping is encouraged, messing with the frontman is returned in kind, and like any punk cover band worth their salt, there's a little blood-letting and not-so-subtle nod toward Mr. G.G. Allin. By the time I left, I was wearing spilled beer and spit from the frontman, but no bloodstains that I noticed (another good reason to wear black).
• Ritz Riot - Dance Macabre Dance
This past weekend Unstoppable Death Machines brought their sonic onslaught to an art gallery in Williamsburg as part of an interactive performance installation based on the animated music video for the UDM song, "Space Time Continuum." It all took place at Present Company Gallery in Brooklyn as part of an ongoing series called Synaesthesia, which focuses on exploring relationships between visual and musical thinking. Bands collaborate with artists to create spaces surrounded by sound. For this exhibition, Drew Toews aka Fake Money and Unstoppable Death Machines collaborated and created an interactive sound/light relational exhibit. Also pictured is the one man band, Gull who performed in a room full of masks made out of junkyard leftovers. During the set by UDM, large paper machie aliens and robots that had been populating the room were crowd-surfed until ripped apart by the crowd as they revealed their secret contents of balloons and glitter.
• Refused - New Noise