Reviews > Shows
ARMS at Pianos
New York, NY
While it appears customary to disclaim any review of ARMS with a reference to lead singer and guitarist Todd Goldstein’s former project, Harlem Shakes, the intensity and raw talent of the indie rock band is arguably more pervasive. This was especially true for the crowd at NYC’s Pianos showroom on September 25th, which didn’t shy away from expressing enthusiasm in the intimate venue. Exchanging friendly banter with the audience while tuning, Goldstein proceeded to flow rather than burst into songs (mostly) from the band’s most recent LP, Summer Skills.
ARMS is at their core a wistful band of outsiders, moving away from the generally upbeat and sunny outlook of the Harlem Shakes to a more detached observational, pensive, and harmoniously soothing tendency, such as on numbers like “Shitty Little Disco” and “Glass Harmonica.” While ARMS is never a band to skimp on metaphor or sentimental slants, especially in the opening of “Whirring,” which recalls the unassuming urgency of East River Pipe or Bright Eyes, this isn’t to say that the band isn’t capable of delivering dirtier underlying hooks to the beautiful arpeggios that really got the floor literally shaking and the crowd moving, such as on “Fleeced.”
The show was also the last for bassist Matty Fasano as he moves on to other projects in the future, which Goldstein announced ruefully as a wedding-funeral-birth-death situation for the performing trio, including drummer Tlacael Esparza. Impediments to the performance were few and technical in nature, such as a broken guitar string or two, but the band and crowd had built up an easy repertoire that enjoyed the pauses. A bigger problem was the fuzzy acoustics, as ARMS is really a band made for a more open, larger site.
The set concluded with an encore of the fan-requested “Heat and Hot Water” from their first EP, a song which probably best exemplifies the heart of ARMS: a contemplative, crooning beginning exploding into ecstatic repeating chords which conclude with a memorable, reverberating whimper instead of a bang and leaves the audience feeling both satisfied and wanting more.
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