Review: Beach Fossils, Mon Khmer, Midnight Masses at Brooklyn Bowl

Gray Hurlburt :: Friday, May 14th, 2010 5:46 pm

Last night, Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg played host to Mon Khmer and Midnight Masses, two experimental rock groups  that opened for the bliss-pop ensamble Beach Fossils. Depending on your taste in venues, going out to see music at this notorious megaplex can take the wind out of anyone’s hope for a great night of live music. Despite the location, the three groups had their sets dialed, with material either hedging towards shoegaze one way or endless-summer the other, making for a fun medley.

If you haven’t been to Brooklyn Bowl before, let me tell you what it’s like. The facility exists within a reclaimed warehouse that’s been camped up to look like a saloon/shooting gallery, has massive televisions on the walls, and a decent stage that’s adjacent to a sprawl of bowling lanes. Whatever you don’t find in other venues here just works to draw intimacy out of performances and leaves the artists grasping to pull the audience in closer. So, the bands had that to work against.

Mon Khmer went on first, opening with their roiling track, “Anniversary.” The band’s makeup includes two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and a steel guitarist. They even had a Bez in the back on maracas! You can easily parse out an influence of Battles in their sound, for it was breezy and punchy, and their pool of effects pedals kept people’s ears perked up throughout.

Midnight Masses, widely eclectic, went more toward the psychedelic side of things, circa Black Angels and even Papercuts, and profited from the theatrical energy of their vocalist. They were easily the most animated group that night, with members switching instruments and singing in chorus.

Then Beach Fossils closed it out by playing through all their material. Their tunes, fun and awash in Dick Dale shimmer, got people on their toes and dancing, but their sound is so ubiquitous these days that it was hard to decipher just where they stand out from the Vivian Girls, Surfer Bloods, and Best Coasts that have rolled through so many times in recent years. But that’s just me being a stickler.

Photos by Xavier Aaronson