Saturday, January 22, 2011

Regal Degal, Dustin Wong, (The) Tony Castles and Nightlands Played Glasslands Gallery Jan. 20

Hidden on a desolate stretch of warehouses near the waterfront in Williamsburg, a muffled bass was the only indication that I had reached Glasslands Gallery last week for the Tony Castles show.

Inside, I chuckled at the DIY interiors – paper clouds, woodsy wallpaper, etc. that decorated the place. The crowd was small and convivial, full of extended musical families giving hugs and backslaps while we waited for Dustin Wong to take the stage.  Regal Degal had already played, probably the “coolest” dudes in a lineup that included guitar virtuosos and former band nerds. I said “hey” to Regal Degal’s baby-faced vocalist and planted myself in front of the stage. I did not get a drink. Was thinking about maneuvering the deserted streets alone later that night and thought I should keep my wits about me.

Dustin Wong took a seat and began tuning his guitar, playing a few riffs, fiddling with the spaghetti of wires and space shuttle buttons at his feet. But wait, that was the show. That was his performance. Oh. 

Guitar playing = 10. Performance = 2.  I might have just as easily been in his basement on a cold Saturday night. Maybe it's just me, but I like a little bit of the magic. This was technical beauty but not a performance.

Finally, my raison d’etre – (The) Tony Castles - began setting up. They had promised new songs on Twitter earlier that day and I was pumped. Tony plays lo-fi pop that isn’t as lo-fi-y or poppy as a lot of stuff out there. Think Women or The Young Friends. It’s got a little more longing, a little more R&B soul and a dab more motorcycle grease. I think the latter comes largely from guitarist and keyboardist Willie Miesmer, who blew an amp just as they were about to go into their new tune. He seems like a tinkerer. New song was cool, too.

After their set, I waited to get a peak at Nightlands. The five of them set up and then left the stage to wunderkind Dave Hartley. He IS Nightlands and the rest there to execute his vision. (Take a note here, Dustin Wong.) Hartley looked like a fatigued long-haul trucker. So I really wasn’t expecting the next thing that happened: Angels flew out of his mouth when he sang.

I figured that was a sign to wrap it up. Also a 20-something tweeking on X was petting the fur-lined hood of my coat and telling me she wanted to wiggle.

I slung my camera over my shoulder and headed out into the quiet of the street. A fuzzy moon followed me to the subway.

Photos by Shanda Boyett. Copyright 2011.

Dustin Wong

The Tony Castles

Dave Hartley of Nightlands

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