Black Rebel Motercycle Club, 5.31.07, Webster Hall
By Charlotte Deaver
Smoking cigarettes on stage, looking vacant and aloof, wordless between songs, The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club don't have much going for them in terms of stage presence. Unless that's your thing. They do, however, hammer out slick, crunchy, southern-style chords on low-slung guitars and, with the help of a lot of dry ice and other kinds of smoke, create a dark, sexy mood that's nicely appropriate to their sound.
The set started so unpredictably early at Webster Hall that I missed the first four or five songs (Webster Hall: grrrrrrr). But what I did catch, apart from the songs played at the piano, was strong: driving, grinding rock and roll. Not amazing, but good.
I wasn't fully won over, though, until the encore, when one of them (Peter? Robert? not sure) played a few songs acoustically. It was then that the band seemed more real, less affected, stripped down to just an acoustic guitar. And he even demonstrated some personality with a welcome introduction to a quiet song: "This is a small song for a large space." Beautifully put — and beautifully played.
The full band then continued their extended encore with several more songs, making the set last a nice long time even for us late-comers. It seemed like an apt way to say "fuck you" to Webster Hall for making them start so early just so the club can fit a second show in later that night. Now that's an attitude after my own heart.