Sunday afternoon I got an email about Monday night’s Precious Metal ritual at Lit Lounge in NYC, and to my surprise, it was the recently-featured Man’s Gin playing the show. The email said it was just two acts, and that the show was starting at 8:45, so I got out of class and hightailed it into the city in time to hopefully catch Goldhail, who was opening.
I made it and then some. The basement of Lit — a fucking institution when it comes to heaviness in Manhattan — wasn’t open when I got there, so it was happy hour upstairs for a drink while I waited. When I did get down there, I was one of about five people not playing. I paid my $6 willingly, helping a good cause. It was Goldhail‘s first show, and the one-man project of The Nolan Gate guitarist Paul Andress was a little rough in the offing, but interesting nonetheless, bouncing Gary Arce tones through loops and off the concrete walls. For a Precious Metal night that wasn’t really all that metal, it wasn’t out of place.
It was just the two bands, Andress as Goldhail and Man’s Gin, so I didn’t expect a late night and I didn’t get one. Joining Erik Wunder was Inswarm‘s Josh Lozano on guitar, bass, vocals and saxaboom (days to learn, weeks to master), as well as percussionist Brett Zweiman of experimentalists Clutter. Scott Edward was the missing piece of Man’s Gin “usual” lineup — I put “usual” in quotes because they’ve only played a few shows together — but Lozano, Wunder (on vocals and guitar) and Zweiman managed to put together a satisfying show nonetheless, riding as only the brashest of outfits can on swagger, talent and songwriting.
Wunder having made the curious decision to play without a shirt on, they played cuts from the Smiling Dogs album, opening with “Free” and including “Nuclear Ambition” parts one and two (with banter beforehand about whether or not they were indeed two separate songs), the title track, “Hate Money Love Woman” and set-highlight “Doggamn,” along with covers of Nirvana and Will Oldham. I would have liked to see “The Death of Jimmy Sturgis,” but in a world where you’re paying $5 for a bottle of Budweiser because you’re afraid if you don’t the place will close down, beggars can’t be choosers.
It was a low-key night for all involved. Wunder and Lozano were joking around as much as they were playing, pointing out friends in the crowd (most of us sat in the pews lining the walls) and joking about the video camera taping the show. Still, I think they probably sounded much better than they knew; the guitar strums of “Hate Money Love Woman” were gorgeous almost in spite of themselves. When it was over, I made my way back around the corner to my car and out the Holland, hitting practically no traffic, as had also been the case on the way into the city. I was back in the valley before midnight. Some nights, you just win.