Prior to the band’s debut performance at Silent Barn in Brooklyn/Queens on Wednesday night, Population 1280‘s guitarist Ivan Lip promised me that it would be a total s*&t show. I told him that this was a g-rated blog (and not because I have no social life, because I choose to make it that way) and that there would no cursing allowed.
Clearly knowing that I preferred sheet shows, the band brought a huge piece of sheet metal that the bass player exquisitely played between songs. And by “played” I mean banged on the floor. That segment of the performance, which seemed to exist in the center of a Venn Diagram representing apathy, humor and rawness, only hints at the convention-defying chaotically deliberate essence of the band’s show.
The band was pulsing with enraged conviction and yet seemingly too cool to really do anything about it. The low-ceilinged basement venue, clogged with bleary eyed smokers in white jeans, old boots and clutching expensive cameras was, in a word…totally meta. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Population 1280 is that seemed to defy the stereotype.
The lead singer Chris Bug snarled and sputtered with an anguished distaste that was all the more striking for being largely aimed inward. The narrow intensity of the performance made the explosive volume of the show all the more glaring, and between the two poles, each band member was able to exude a mix of cynical dismay and artistic innovation.
Mirroring Bug was the nearly sneering but impeccable guitar of Lip, refusing to comply exactly with Bug’s sentiments, but fairly complementing his rhythm and tune. Lip mastered the ability to both support and express individuality, offering a near-discord proving that Population 1280 is legitimately in a category of its own.
The bassist provided a stabilizing thump of shocking inevitability. The bass-line, in keeping with the performance as a whole, stuck just within the lines of normal with a twang that suggested latent dissatisfaction. The drums helped make it a rock show: in a room not full of hipsters, there almost could have been a mosh pit.
Of course, sheet metal banging on the floor was the best part.