by Lejla Subašić
With another wave of post-punk revival calls in mosh pits to Photomartyr (a killer and fitting double-header of the night) and bobbing heads of self-destruction from Preoccupations fans.
Thalia Hall welcomes Preoccupations, an art rock quartet opening with the self-titled remains of Viet Cong, transitioning to New Material and ending with not so new material from Preoccupations. The rolling drums start the night off with the jagged and potent song Newspaper Spoons.
Consequently, cue in the knocking of the heads as concave baselines, spectral reverbs swallow onesome and spit out the other in its shadowy menace. The fans who stand, bob their heads, take it all in through the anxious strain of the tunes in the 23rd hour of the day. They sure as well will be fully digested the following morning with their tense necks. It’s so natural to get preoccupied in the band’s labyrinth. You can get pulled from the shimmering of the synth, a sort of mantra, all the way to a musical trance undone by the impending doom of absent hi hats and rumbling toms but still be hypnotized. There comes a post-apocalyptic theme seethed throughout the lyrical intelligence Preoccupations conceives, a paranoid and bleak but conscious image of our current times.
Where do I start with the chameleon nature of Preoccupations? They can be anything with the help of Matt Flegal’s vocals. Signs of Bowie? Sure. Interpol? Very much so. DIIV? That’s an easy and secure comparison. They are not too elementary to distinguish with one set of rules in their game, which makes them all more remarkable. Being able to shift quick with these styles ranging from shoegaze, indie rock, noise, and make it work without seeming confused/directionless.
The raging drum solo by shirtless Mike Wallace in the song “Death”, accompanied with the shrilling guitar by Scott “Monty” Munro, sure got a wooing reaction from the crowd. There was no fan favorite, although, as they all indulged with their eyes, ears, and were relatively tame (surprisingly). The age range of these fans is diverse, with the young and the old under the same roof. I could see how it would be a snap for a rock veteran to be taken back to 1987. Personally, the music took me back to the current shoegaze scene in Bastille, Paris.
The lyrics speak for themselves. That’s the beauty of putting thought-provoking ecstasies in your compositions. There’s no use with having a passion for stage repartee because they don’t need to rely on additional comments about their creations or hype the audience up. Their movements were little, self-contained, foot tapping at most. The clothes they wore were without frills, just a couple of t-shirts and neutral colored pants.
The band members of Preoccupations seem to be humble guys with a case of big dick energy, getting by fine with their quieting presence and hour long sets.