Selebrities @ The Old Blue Last, 13/03/12

March 21, 2012 by  

While Selebrities set up their gear in the darkened cavern that is the Old Blue Last’s gig room, a sense of growing excitement quickly fills the air. The Brooklyn three-piece have already made quite the name for themselves in the buzz band world of new music blogs, 6 Music plays and a recent Sports Illustrated gig Stateside. Comprised of Maria Usbeck on vocals and synths, Jer Robert Paulin on guitar and synth duties and Max Peterson on drums and drum machine Selebrities are doing that whole slick 80s thing with a touch of disco and doing it well.

Though opening dark synth band Charleston had tried their best, the audience was being as unforgiving as ever, with bare smatterings of applause greeting the end of each song. Luckily for Selebrities the Cascine fan-boys in the room, coupled with Maria’s physicality and effortless between-song banter, soon fill the venue with a contagious warmth. The band begin with “Paraiso”, a cut from the 7″ ‘Night Heat’ single (out now on Cascine Records) that transports us to the dank and dark mid-80s East Berlin clubs of our favourite daydreams (or best memories, depending on how old you are). They are well-rehearsed, tight and adept at pulling in the audience’s focus within the first few bars of the track.

Maria shakes her hair and shimmies across the stage when not pounding away on her synth, teasing the crowd with breathy exhalations of song and piercing eye contact as and when she wants to. She moves with the ease of a seasoned performer, executing the kind of hair flicks that should come with some sort of warning label (while apologising “guys, I really need to get a haircut”). Behind her Jer and Max hold down the fort, playing with intensity and crispness. The light and jaunty tones of Jer’s guitar melodies perch nicely atop Max’s harsh drum sounds, and all come together sounding almost unrealistically strong on “Night Heat”.

When they move to “Regret” (“The next one’s really sexy so I hope you control yourselves”, says Maria) you get the feeling that anyone in the room not sold on their performance would get lynched by the rest of the crowd. People are nearly mesmerised, giggling in that nervous audience interaction way when Maria talks directly to them and otherwise swaying or flat-out dancing to the more upbeat numbers in the set.

All in all a strong debut, showing promise and performance flair from the talented trio.