Elvis Guesthouse – June 12
Northside Fest – June 14
I saw American Wrestlers twice when they were here in NYC. Once at the oddly named Elvis Guesthouse in the East Village, which despite the charming attempt to create a story around Elvis still being alive somewhere on the “hippie trail” in the Middle and Far East (sure, why not), was a stunning example of how shrinking supply and rising rents is pushing music into places not entirely suited. Yeah, yeah, it’s all about the vibe and not the sound, but a drum kit in a corner across from a tiled-in seating area that seems a throwback to when the space was a kitchen, or toilet, or massage parlor is going to overpower everything, no matter what. There was free beer before 8, not complaining, and some eager fans, and the dancing guy who finally broke loose, freed by the music and started dancing from the bathrooms to the tiles very happily. It’s a tribute to the quality of the songs that even in such inauspicious surroundings, Gary McClure and his band brought the album alive.
After a killer show supporting Viet Cong on Saturday, the Northside Festival in Williamsburg – Brooklyn – was the next port of call for American Wrestlers. A hot, sunny day, Bedford Avenue closed down to traffic, some squares of grass put down in the street to mimic a park, and the opportunity to watch the endless parade of hipster fashion was the setting.
American Wrestlers hit the stage in very low key fashion, no introduction. The music was left to stand for itself, especially after the bassist let the audience know they were from St. Louis, then after another song, let slip the name of the band. No matter.