Home / Concert Reviews / Pontiak w/ Absolutely and WORK @ Riverwest Public House
Monday, Feb. 24, 2014

Pontiak w/ Absolutely and WORK @ Riverwest Public House

Feb. 21, 2014

pontiak
Pontiak @ Riverwest Public House
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Rock shows will often either offer bands featuring up-beat, hook-laden songs with oft-repeated choruses or terser groups that divulge chaotic, unnerving, dissonant dirges. The most captivating bills, however, lie somewhere in between those polar opposites. Friday night’s Riverwest Public House lineup combined both ear-worming melodies and squalling noise, resulting in a remarkable and thrilling sonic landscape.

WORK began the night forcefully, with an aggressive take on Thermals-esque power pop. After their opener, they immediately scaled back and settled into more earnest, guitar-driven indie-folk. Behind the microphone, Joe Cannon displayed his intrinsic poeticism and tendency for clever turns of phrase. Highlights included the sleek, “That’s My Story And I’m Stuck With It” and a song that suggested that a down-on-his-ropes Jesus sought your help (though, as Cannon noted, the theology didn’t go so well over with the apathetic Public House crowd). Still in its nascent stages, WORK requires some time to iron out a few minor kinks, but regardless, the band established their propensity for a compelling and delicate performance.

Next on the bill, Absolutely commenced to bring the noise. The opening two minutes of feedback only played the precursor for the sonic ferocity that followed. A fiery, enthusiastic and, more impressively, loud stride through its material, Absolutely eschewed a heavy dependence on lyrics and focused the attention directly on rocking the place. When that brashness seemed to grow stale, drummer Andrew Grygiel pounded his kit progressively harder to intensify the atmosphere. Clocking in under 25 minutes, Absolutely’s set remained quick and to the point, but unforgettable in its bravado.

Up last, Pontiak, who hail from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, took the stage, fresh off their recent release of Innocence, regarded as the band’s most reigned-in and accessible record to date. If there was any concern whether their performance would emphasize their newer pop-driven qualities and steer away from more neo-psych elements, those were wiped away immediately as the three brothers stood on stage, toasted the audience and all threw back shots of whiskey. What followed was a blistering 45 minutes of crunchy and unrelenting guitar work, powerful drumming and some heavily reverbed vocals. Showing remarkable restraint for a trippy, psychedelic rock band, Pontiak stayed away from its more sprawling and intense compositions and kept the set tight, cramming in what few hooks they could over all the distortion. The band keenly trudged that murky line between plodding, corrosive jams and gleeful stoner melodies. The balancing act was enchanting.