Mission of Burma and an Expose of Exclamation Pony @ Bowery Ballroom, 1/18/13
Photos by Ken Grand-Pierre
The first time I saw Mission of Burma was when they opened for Wild Flag last August at Prospect Park, where I was left nonplussed. It now seems like further evidence to me that support and festival gigs can oft be detrimental for a harder sounding band to get its attitude and sound properly out to their audience. This night offered me an entirely different perspective, and now I understand how this band earned its respect and dedicated fanbase. But Burma wasn’t my sole intent with this gig…
I also visited tonight for a chance to cover Ryan Jarman (of Cribs fame) and his new band, Exclamation Pony, which so far has operated in almost a black box. There is an entire album’s worth of material here that’s been recorded in stealth. The project is billed as his solo project, but prominently featured is the collaboration with Jen Turner, Here We Go Magic’s recently departed bassist. For any Cribs fan, this band’s sound invokes both confusion and familiarity; their slower songs immediately bring nostalgia, but there is a menagerie of faster jams that intrigue, veering from Ryan’s former work. I’ll be excited when their recordings are out.
Back to Burma again, whose sound is absolutely intended for small, dark venues. The bass instrumentation of this band is what strikes me most; it’s such a strong and authoritative line that it lands more in the realm of a guitar to the lay listener. Their louder songs were even able to bring out a tentative group of moshers, impressive given the general age of the audience. These guys still rock and do it with a pronounced edge.