Seen at Northside: Pooch, Looms, Secret Crush, Fat Heaven and Future Punx

In the dim backroom of Greenpoint’s Matchless Bar, Brooklyn-based, Skidmore College-rooted quartet Pooch started the evening off with a warm set of songs that touched on several kinds of rock (indie, psychedelic, maybe even surf) that particularly captivated thanks to frontman Jonathan Benbeniste. With a warbled timbre reminiscent of Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz and a formidable yet welcoming stage presence, Benbeniste ushered his bandmates through guitar solos, electronic loops, and drum riots that showed a group furthering their cohesiveness.

Fellow Brooklyn rockers Looms took the stage next, playing loose tracks that thrilled with their spindly guitars and calmed with their plaintive keys. Singer/guitarist/keyboardist Sharif Mekawy certainly was engaging, especially during the four-piece’s closer: a cover of Radiohead’s “Bodysnatchers.” Simulating Thom Yorke’s vocal idiosyncrasies on the keyboard and belting the beautifully pained line, “I have no idea what I’m talking about,” Mekawy put a wonderfully electrified spin on the 'In Rainbows' cut.

Then came Secret Crush. As its lead singer’s triangular, red guitar foreshadowed, the Bushwick-based outfit performed mostly joyous electric rock tracks while periodically dipping into the tremulous madness of Deerhunter. Through guitar lines that changed volumes (at times low, at others house-breaking) and songs that began with an ominous recorded voice, however, the Brooklyn quartet blended these disparate sounds into their own odd-rock.

Bassist Jack Counce of the next band, Fat Heaven (pictured), wore a Heatmiser shirt but the New York-based trio sounded a bit more like Nirvana (or, perhaps, a grungier Green Day) than that Elliott Smith-co-founded group. Over Gayla Brooks’ extremely fast drumming, lead singer Travis Yablon yelled into the microphone ferociously yet sweetly, delivering such lines as, “Will you walk with me?” There was warmth in the chaos.

To end this by-now-rainy night, the aptly-named Brooklyn quartet Future Punx (a recent Deli NYC record of the month) put on a danceable set at Cameo Gallery. Assuming the stage like aliens come down to party, the post wave band bounced into a set of electronic trances, skittering guitars, and rubbery basslines. The Devo and Blondie of the late ‘70s and The Human League’s early ‘80s hit “Don’t You Want Me” were clearly heard in these songs but Future Punx is not a gimmick. Refreshingly, they just seem to not take themselves too seriously and, as a result, allow for a good time.  – Zach Weg