New Talent: Bad Neighbors

Photo by Anamieke Quinn


I’m always on the hunt for new and exciting sounds–always. A lot of times I  stumble over bands that are good and they remind me of other bands that are good, sometimes I stumble over bands that are great and remind me of no one I’ve ever heard before. I like the latter kind of stumbling. This week I had that luck, through a weird series of synchronous events through which I was first told about Bad Neighbors first by Dan Tripp, then a few other fine folks, then had the luck to catch their five song set at the Rogue this past Tuesday night. In five songs, no more than twenty minutes, they presented something so cataclysmically different than anything I’ve ever heard or seen before that I was instantly enamored with their sound and fucking hungry for more. So it appears that if you take Echolalia, which is Tim Allyn on guitar and Collin Fall on drums and you add poet/performance artist Martin Schaffer the end result is Bad Neighbors and they have one of the most original, vibrant and intense acts I’ve seen in a long time. Clearly I see a lot of bands, but I realized recently during a Captain Squeegee show, watching the theatrics of Danny Torgersen, that I don’t see many “performers” or “entertainers”. A lot of musicians stick to either that “indie rock aesthetic” of keeping their stage behavior low key and playing it cool or they have that “serious musician” intensity that doesn’t allow for antics of any sort–there is nothing wrong with this in either capacity. This is, however what makes a band like Bad Neighbors so engaging, what makes their brief show so captivating–it felt like I was holding my breath the entire time they were playing because I couldn’t miss a moment, I could wait to breathe after their set, because I hadn’t seen anything like this before.

So what do Bad Neighbors sound like? They sound like pure Indie Rock meeting a poetry slam, with a frenetic frontman shouting spoken word wisdom, while histrionically gesticulating to emphasize every phrase, word or syllable. The performance itself is as fascinating as the musical dynamic they project, it’s really bloody brilliant and every song in their five song set (at this point they only have five songs) carries a different flair with it, a unique vibe that is just as appealing as the rest. The night I saw them there was even a photographer/videographer who took time to interview them, because he’s been all over the country and never seen anything like them, echoing my exact sentiments that night. It was only five songs, but I walked away that evening just shaking my head in stunned wonder at what I had just blissfully witnessed. Simply put, it was exciting. There too is something great watching Allyn and Fall weave and wrap their music around the manic rantings of Schaffer who never spends a moment still on stage–he’s always doing something, even if standing in one spot, as though his frantic antics, his performance art, even if they are simply hand movements are tied to the very words he purges from his soul like symbolic marionette strings between his heart, mind and hands.

They began the set with “Life’s No Cakewalk, But I’ll Have A Slice” which I was already familiar with because the night I heard about them I had to watch the videos of one of their first shows (the link to their channel is below) and while the video showed the seed of promise, the song now has become a much more mature beast musically, working more cohesively with their poet/jester/madman orator. This was followed by “Aries Arrow” another from the vids that once more proved that they had come a long way in just a little over a month–the fact that they have progressed so much in a small amount of time holds great promise for these guys. I knew I would like it when I saw the videos, but the “rough around the edges” quality of those recordings is diminishing rapidly with each stage show, I’m guessing. Schaffer donned a “Dunce” cap for a song that he referred to as an alliteration of “P”s, which is almost entirely delivered with words beginning with “P” and is cleverly called “Profound Philosophy.” The next number was “Schizofrantic” which was Schaffer’s most energetic performance and the bands most “musical” delivery of the evening, it was fiercely paced and probably my favorite moment of the evening, which is why I’ve included the film of it shot by Anamieke Quinn below, check it out. The sound can’t quite convey what it was like to be in the room, but it gives you a damn good idea. They concluded with another song from the videos “Once Upon A Planet” and it was with this finale that I realized these were all instant classics. They have their first EP right there ready to go, and after the show there was a lot of talk about when they were going to record. I personally can’t wait for them to have a bandcamp site or soundcloud so that I can listen to their stuff over and over and maybe decipher more of Schaffer’s verse than I have been able to thus far.  I cannot wait to see them progress throughout this year, because this is one band I will definitely have my ears on.

Fuck, what else can I say, Bad Neighbors set my soul on fire, I’m still shaking my head over how good they are and what a wise decision it was to stop off at the Rogue for half an hour this Tuesday to catch them. You can stop off at the Rogue this Saturday and catch them as they have just been added to the Sidepony Trading Post show which features Sunset Voodoo, Catfish Mustache, Swindel and Something Went Awry.

“Schizofrantic” by Bad Neighbors (Filmed by Anamieke Quinn)

Bad Neighbors’ YouTube Channel

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