Knifight Bathed Cheer Up Charlies with Waves of Dark Pop: Live Review

Knifight_020615-7Many of argued the importance and influence of both New Order and Joy Division on contemporary independent music. Friday night at Cheer Up Charlie’s provided some undeniable evidence as the venue showcased two bands that construct moody synth pop constituted of driving rhythms and expansive, dark synth waves. Both Knifight and Night Drive utilize colorful projections to enhance their upbeat, danceable live sets. While the latter follows closely in the footsteps of New Order’s melodies and pop tendencies, Knifight occupies the same space as whatever missing link binds New Order to the members’ previous, Ian Curtis-fronted incarnation Joy Division, with more jarring and gritty guitars and synth textures.

Night_Drive_020615-18After opener Gost, duo Night Drive took the stage to perform for showgoers on Cheer Up Charlie’s’ crowded outdoor patio space. Austin music fans have a reputation for their nonchalant demeanor at live music, often sipping a beer while chatting but rarely letting loose and actually dancing. Not so with Night Drive. The duo’s sounds simply command the crowd to get down. The first few rows of standing patrons couldn’t help but shake their hips and cheer as the group powered through their recognizable songs such as crowd pleaser “Sea of Love.” The night culminated in a shower of rainbow confetti courtesy of frontman Rodney Connell.

Knifight_020615-5Knifight’s evening held special significance as it operated as a celebration for the release of their newest album, entitled V. Onstage, bathed in chaotic and colorful projections, the band pummels the audience with forceful instrumentation. There’s just enough of a beat to keep an audience moving, but these riffs are heavy and seek to challenge the casual synth pop listener. You won’t find vapid dance tunes here; Knifight knows the histories of the genres in which they work and they employ styles with efficacy as evidenced by their excellent, expanded cover of David Bowie’s “Breaking Glass” from his 1977 album Low. Knifight has been a band on the rise for some time, and V continues that trajectory.

Check out photos from the night below. All photographs © Bryan C. Paker & Pop Press International; all rights reserved. Click any image to open in slideshow viewer.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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