Located in the heart of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, The Delancey hosted a 1000 Knives presentation of United Nations, Acid Tiger, and Gay for Johnny Depp on a cool Saturday night. (According to United Nations frontman Geoff Rickly, Bad Brains was supposed to be the night’s special guest.) The venue is split into an upstairs club and a punk rock basement; the latter held the night’s hardcore acts.
I didn’t catch Gay for Johnny Depp, but Acid Tiger was ferocious. Fronted by the enormous J. Rattlesnake, the band also features two tour members of United Nations (drummer Ben Koller, guitarist Lukas Previn) and bassist Michael Celli. Rooted in a mixture of hardcore and metal, the four piece ripped through their set, pausing only to thank promoter Rich Hall for the chance to play the show.
As the lone guitairst, Previn smoothly alternated lead and rhythm riffs to Koller’s ridiculous drumming; indeed, you could spend the entire set just watching Koller’s excellent percussion abilities. Best known for his work in Converge, he consistently kept Acid Tiger interesting through the entire set. The tiny crowd was surprisingly responsive yet were clearly in attendance for United Nations.
The self-described “emo power-violence” supergroup United Nations set up immediately following Acid Tiger. Koller remained on drums, and Previn shifted to bass guitar joining lead guitarist Jonah Bayer (The Lovekill), screamer Ryan Bland (Home 33), and rhythm guitarist/vocalist Geoff Rickly (Thursday). A motley crew–even by punk standards, the band looked like a group of high school friends still wet behind the ears and ready to to play a fire hall or VFW.
Limited to only one thirty-minute album of material, United Nations played an incredibly short set. Starting out slowly, it took a handful of songs before the crowd was ready to reciprocate the band’s energy. Midway through the set, however, things broke loose: Rickly lunged into the crowd, offering the microphone to anyone who knew the words. When not flailing in the crowd’s receptive arms, Rickly fell all over the stage in between passionate vocal deliveries.
United Nations clicked surprisingly well for a group of musicians that found themselves on stage together for just the third time. In a completely sweat-soaked Gorilla Biscuits shirt, Bland demanded the crowd’s attention, and the songs are incredibly well crafted and executed in a live setting. Still, Rickly was often sloppy on guitar, in fact abandoning the instrument altogether before the last song after he couldn’t get it in tune. It turned out, however, that it really didn’t matter. Without being tethered to a stationary amplifier on stage, Rickly spent the final minutes of the show in the crowd, a reminder of what punk rock shows are about: bands coexisting on the same plane as the fans. For a half hour, in an awful-smelling damp basement, United Nations played themselves into exhaustion, channeling the energy of a plethora of Ebullition Records artists and an early ’90s hardcore scene. If this band makes a rare stop in your city, do not miss them. The full setlist:
Revolutions In Graphic Design
My Cold War
The Shape of Punk That Never Came
The Spinning Heart of the Yo-Yo Lobby
No Sympathy for a Sinking Ship
Photos by Gabe Molnar, ZenaMetalz