The way that the brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney – aka Pontiak – are able to live their lives as musicians is about as far from the New York experience as you can get. Where our musicians live in cramped apartments, borrow or rent practice space, and live near the places where they play, the Carneys record and practice their music on their own farm/studio in rural Virginia, where they decamped to after a five year stint in the Baltimore scene, where they played with compatriots like Arbouretum. The brothers’ rural location has given them flexibility to record how and what they want that their urban counterparts would surely envy. But it does mean a very long drive when you want to do a one-off show for the Northside Festival.
Given the distance involved, and the fact that the band tours much more regularly in Europe, I was honored that Pontiak agreed to co-headline our second annual Northside Festival showcase at 285 Kent. For me, Pontiak was not just a band that I liked and hoped would play a showcase; to me, it is a band that distills to its essence what is right and good about live music. Their sets are unpredictable, drawing from a deep catalog of nine releases, and they take fearless and surprising turns stylistically, even from song to song. Yes, Pontiak are unquestionably a “heavy” band, but that simple tag belies a huge range of influences you can hear in their material. They can evoke Sabbath-style riff-driven metal, stoner rock, psych rock, indie rock, southern rock and math rock, and they can even showcase a quieter, more acoustic side. The band’s most recent EP, Comecrudos, which predated this year’s excellent full-length LP Echo Ono, was a five-part piece inspired by the drive from Marathon, Texas to Phoenix, and featured guest musicians on horns and deep, penetrating psychedelic guitar musings. Echo Ono, on the other hand, “cuts out all the bullshit” (as Van Carney put it to the A.V. Club) and is a much more straight-ahead psychedelic rock album than some of their earlier work.
As a live band, it’s also fair to say the Carneys cut out all the bullshit. Up on the stage with their stripped-down selection of vintage gear cranked to ear-blistering levels, the brothers tore through this 40-minute set with few pauses or breaks. As always, the interplay between the brothers was deft and natural, and their material showed the full range of their catalog. Although several tracks from Echo Ono were played for the first time (for me), my personal highlight was when the band slowed things down a bit to play Part III of Comecrudos. We could not have been more honored to have them on stage on our behalf.
nyctaper and I recorded this set in the same manner as the other sets of the night, with Sennheiser MKH-8040 microphones, Audio Technica microphones split wide at the stage lip, and a soundboard feed. The sound is excellent. Enjoy!
Stream “Part III [Comecrudos]”
Stream “Across the Steppe”
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NYCTaper Northside Festival Showcase
Brooklyn, NY USA
Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded by nyctaper and acidjack
Produced by acidjack
Sennheiser MKH-8040 (ROC, 8ft, PAS) + Soundboard + Audio Technica 3031 (stage lip, NOS)>Sound Devices USBPre2 >> Edirol R-44 [Oade Concert Mod]>3x24bit/48kHz WAV>Audacity (mixdown)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, gentle tube)>Audacity (set fades, tracking, amplify, balance, downsample)>FLAC ( level 8 )
Tracks [Total Time 40:03]
01 Across the Steppe
03 The North Coast
04 Left With Lights
05 Part III
06 Shell Skull
07 The Expanding Sky
08 Royal Colors
09 Panoptica [short version]
10 Lions of Least
If you download this recording from NYCTaper, we expect that you will PLEASE SUPPORT Pontiak, visit their website, and purchase their official releases, including Echo Ono from Thrill Jockey directly [here].