Since November, Airstrip has released three infectious standalone tracks on its Bandcamp page. The new project, formed around Matt Park's devastated, potentially nihilistic pop songs, played Friday night at Tir na nOg with Lonnie Walker and The Charming Youngsters. And while the opening and closing bands (both Greenville imports, though the Youngsters moved to the Triangle more recently) shared bright, occasionally dweeby jangle, Airstrip was uncompromisingly dark.
In fact, the live show transforms Park's home-recorded Bandcamp tracks into surprisingly psychedelic stoner-pop. Live, the driving riff to "Middle of Night" lumbers with precise, heavy menace. Drummer John Crouch and bassist Nick Petersen, who fill the same roles in the patient, hypnotic Horseback, rein in Park's natural upbeat tempos in favor of something hardened and mean. It's both the opposite of, and logical followup to, his last band: Veelee.
Yet Park and guitarist Tre Acklen (also of Gross Ghost) bring more treble than sludge, resulting in a surprising combination of stoner and psych-rock tropes with an indie-rock tonal palette. And though Park didn't have his usual vocal effects processor, there was something about the embedded, heavily-delayed vocals (thanks to a new effects box he's using) that lent a Liars-in-lo-fi flavor to Airstrip's punchy, patient, and distinctively-textured live set.
Things I wrote in my notebook:
• "This is what The Black Angels think they sound like."
• "WTF is song 2???"
• "INVERTED BEACH BOYS"
• "Blog post starts with 'Get excited, because Airstrip is really good.'"