11 September 2010

Night Out, Part One: Haley

A friend (an amazing bassoonist) told me about Crash Theory, a New York City / New Jersey area rock band. I got in touch, listened to some of the music, and headed out to see the band play at Don Hills (on Saturday, September 4, 2010). Now I had not been to Don Hills (511 Greenwich Street, in Manhattan, New York, NY) in a few years; though it has the oddity of having the stage in the immediate area of the main entrance, this has always been a locale that is worth checking out. I got there early, with a photographer from Gray Door Studio, and found myself a comfortable spot up in the front: where else would you want to stand at a show?

Being early, I got to see the opening bands; one in particular caught my attention. Now something that I have said before is that metal is in need of a renaissance; I’ve heard how the premier Reading Festival use to be the “metal” festival, but these days, with the exception of Metallica, you are not getting much real metal there. I think that the problem is two-fold. First, there are many, many, many purists among metal bands; every year there is a new band that sounds like the prior one, that sounds like the prior one, that sounds like the prior one…. all the way back to 1979! The same antics, the same clothes, the same feigned attitude on stage… and endless “blah blah blah” that has driven me to run the other direction. The second problem has been the corporate adulteration of metal – or at least what they call metal. (Though some are good, really how much crap is there is nu metal?) But recently I have seen glimmers of the future. The Unravelling (some links: review and interview) from Canada was my first sign that many nascent artists are reviving, experimenting, and expanding the genre. And now I have come across Haley, the second band on the bill.

I had never heard of them before, but their energetic stage presence, the driving music, and just the general vibe really impressed me and kept my attention. Hailing from the City of Brotherly Love, this is a band that infuses metal with punk – yeah, I know this has been done before, but Haley pulled it off live better than any band I had seen attempt it before. They capture that “big” metal sound (especially with many of the 80s musical references), but deep down you hear things like Iggy Pop and Misfits – think “Night of the Living Dead.” The punk infusion is not what many people nowadays seem to equate punk with: the socially-acceptable-rebels-with-power-chords being played in Starbucks. But rather what you get here is an array of old style punk: proto-punk like The Stooges, the in-your-face of the original punk wave like The Sex Pistols, and the sensibilities of the second wave of punk like The Germs or Cockney Rejects, all the while retaining a metal’s big feel.

Having self-released their own album (see links below), I am forced to admit that the music live is more explosive than what you will listen to over your speakers – but that’s the way it’s supposed to be, no? This is not a criticism; I can say this about most of bands I listen to. This is a testament to just what an intensive live band they are. Nevertheless, check out the music streaming on their MySpace site – “Burning Witches” is current favorite song at the moment. And if you get a chance, go seem them live; you will not be disappointed.

Keep up with Haley at their homepage and MySpace. And if you like the music, support the band and purchase here: link.

[My many thanks to Carlos Aranzazu of Gray Door Studio for the photography.]

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