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Wail Garage Grunge Melodies: The Babies concert experience

article & photography by Olaya Barr

It’s obvious I've arrived at an ultimate garage-grunge mecca. A skinny, hunched, and scraggly-haired youth welcomes the crowd in with a cartoonish smile to the small graffitied warehouse of a venue. Sharpie and paint adorn the walls.

It's a concrete jungle...but full of friendly animals. There may be grime and an industrial feel, but there is no pretention, no stand-offness in sight; although this home of the underground also fosters eclectic, friendly, and kooky musicians. Four bands are playing tonight: Life Sized Maps, Darlings, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, and The Babies.

From beginning to end, it's a hell of a show. The Babies play a set of well-known favorites: "Caroline", "Run Me Over", and end with "Meet Me in the City"; haunted surf-pop combined with classic 70s punk. The finale is a thrashing and bobbing dance crescendo. Cassie Ramone's echoey dreamy voice pairs perfectly with the twinkly punk lofi of the drums and fellow singer and guitarist, Kevin Morby's, voice. Their performance proves that garage-grunge is back, headbashing is back, mop hair is back, and by the look of the audience's reaction, the "I don't care what you think, I just care about rock” attitude is back, too. Or, well, it’s always been here, just underground, which is where we are tonight.

How did you guys decide to join forces?

Kevin Morby | The Babies

Kevin Morby: Back in 2008. We both would go to a lot of punk shows. I'm from Kansas City originally, and Cassie from New Jersey [other band members, Nathanael Stark and Justin Sullivan, are from Long Island], but we got together through the common music scene here. I was in the band Woods, and Cassie in Vivian Girls. We became friends, started living together, and one day started writing together.

Cassie Ramone: just clicked, so we just kept doing it.

Kevin: I'll add that although we sing about lovers, we're not lovers.

Do you have a special place to perform while on tour?

Cassie: We do travel quiet a bit. I really like Toronto, LA, Charlottsville. Honestly, I like any show, as long as the vibe is good and the crowd is good and the sound is decent. It's about the relationship between the band and the audience. There's a difference between an audience that is judging and staring, and one that is watching and enjoying.

How about influences, favorite bands?

Kevin: Velvet Underground, X, Neil Young, Lee Hazelwood.

Cassie: Favorite bands right now, I would have to say, Aereal Big, Girls, Deerhunter, Real Estate, the Beets.

Kevin: Oh, and don't forget White Fence, Crazy Band, the K-Holes, the Min!

How would you like to end this interview?

Kevin: Well, how ‘bout “No war in the new year!"


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