Monsters Calling Home fights to keep the fire burning in the night.
Gemini Club controls the machines and the beat at The Canal Room.
Truly transcendental. The ASCAP Showcase last night included six bands. But I came to the Canal Room because of one act: Monsters Calling Home. They're a new band from LA. Not even signed yet. So an intimate New York show (and a free one at that!) was a gift, just three weeks after hearing their music for the first time. I was impressed at how good Monsters sounded live given the fact that they're only been together for a year. They've definitely spent time crafting their live performance.

I love Monsters' indie folk instrumentation, but I think their lyrics are their best attribute. My friend Steve shared how it's like the words are speaking directly into him. They do the same for me. I listen to a lot of music, and I don't remember the last time I felt that way about a band. Monsters, thank you for that.

I try not to make comparisons, but you can't help but notice the similarities between Arcade Fire and the opening song, "Monsters Calling Home" (by the way, the song came first, then the band name). Monsters were without their main violinist who couldn't take time off from school. But the guitarist filled in nicely.

"Foxbeard" is currently my favorite Monsters song with its awesome poetic verse, instrumental layering, tempo shifts, and vocal climax. I can see why they play "Fight to Keep" live a lot. It builds up in stages and it's pretty much impossible to not sing along to the chorus.

There were a couple of new songs, too. "Excuses" added some more edge and electric guitar work, giving the set a fuller sound. The song was described as a passive-aggressive response to friends who bail on you. But "Excuses" also gave you a promising glimpse of what's to come from Monsters, which will hopefully lead a full length LP soon.

Talking with the band members after their performance was one of the highlights of the night. Monsters are such normal, laid back, cool people. It was great to hear about how they came together, how they're really involved with the worship music in their church community, and what life has been like since their unexpected performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Here's the set list, which included a couple of new songs:

Monsters Calling Home
Growing Up
Lion Beast (?)
Fight to Keep

MCH stole the night, but there was a lot of good music the entire night. Gemini Club, for one, rocked out and ended the night on a high note. Like Phoenix but with a little more rock and harder rhythms, Gemini's sonic synths, live resampling, and massive percussion attacks were addictive. At one point, it seemed like the entire band had drum sticks in their hands. Songs like "Can't Believe You Said That" and "By Surprise" earned a few million head nods.

I was also really impressed with The Lone Bellow. A lot of Brooklyn bands look like they're from Brooklyn. Not so with The Lone Bellow. Seemed more like Biloxi than Brooklyn. They call themselves country, which you can definitely hear emanating off the strings and lead vocals. But there's a folk vibe that's appealing as well. The thing I loved best about The Lone Bellow was their harmonies. Powerful, tight, and soul-quenching. I also loved the fact that they used the upright bass to cover the low registers on rhythm.

Air Traffic Controller had some great harmonies too, and I liked their sound which they delivered on instruments like electric violin and a single floor tom in place of a full drum kit. I'm not sure ATC belongs in any one genre as you can hear multiple influences on songs like "You Know Me" and "Hurry Hurry". After their performance, I got to talk to the band members about their hometown Boston and hear about all the old venue haunts that I used to hit up during college. I love The Canal Room's intimate space which makes it really easy to talk with the performers. All in all, it was an unbelievable night of live music.


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