On Friday, October 17, New York metro-area band Little Lungs made the long and tedious journey to Albany. They endured hours of weekend upstate traffic in a tiny vehicle packed to capacity with musical equipment, all to play a show in the comparatively sleepy Capital District.
And so, on Friday, October 17, I put away the books for a night and stepped far beyond my comfort zone. I went several blocks from my house, in maddening Friday night college town traffic, to the heart of the 'student ghetto', all to see Little Lungs, the only decent band that had come to town all season. Fortunately, I did not have to do this alone: my protegee and friend Stephanie came with me, to provide moral support, and also to indulge her own curiosity about the band.
I am happy to report that the band did not disappoint. Little Lungs played a short but tight set that seemed to entertain even the most jaded Albany scenesters who were in attendance.
Little Lungs really stood out that night, and not just because of the high quality of their performance and their songs -- they really are different from most of the bands that were on the bill in a number of ways. First, Little Lungs were the only non-local band playing that night. Second, they were the only band on the roster not playing seven minute posthardcore masterpieces that featured overwrought guitar work. Third, they were the only band that didn't employ screamed vocals or a heavy, masculinist sound made to be moshed to. And finally, and maybe most importantly, Little Lungs were the only band there that night that was not comprised of white guys who felt the need to antagonize the small audience gathered in the basement space that night. That's right, I said it: there are actual girls in Little Lungs.
But Little Lungs deserves more credit than "they were the band that didn't suck". Regardless of who they played with, or where they are from, their style of music, or the male-to-female ratio of their members, Little Lungs sounded really good that night.
Little Lungs write songs about ambivalence. From what I can tell, it seems that they are frequently inspired by that vaguely uncomfortably mid-twenties malaise, a malady that typically entails a disconcerting alternation between fervor and apathy, and an uncertain quest to figure out if there's really any point to any of this. They are the Reality Bites of current postpunk, and they are able, somehow, to recreate this feeling in the live setting. They play unsteadiness and vicissicitude with assurance and stability. Their songs might shift their weight from one foot to the other nervously, like a boxer who's considering throwing the fight while warming up, but Little Lungs never pull any punches. They carry off the contradiction, and the result is surprisingly uplifting; a cold, unfinished basement in a city that feels like the middle of nowhere never sounded so good.
p.s. Want to see for yourself? Catch Little Lungs on tour this winter -- dates are posted at ther myspace