Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: The Dig at Stickyz, June 12

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 10:34 PM

Brooklyn band The Dig played at Stickyz on June 12 pic
  • Brooklyn band The Dig played at Stickyz on June 12.

The Dig draws from the Brooklyn rock talent base that brought us bands like The Strokes and The Walkmen. After the dot-com bubble jacked up real estate prices on most every square inch of Manhattan real estate, penniless East Village hipsters countered by hopping the East River and setting up shop in the lofty warehouses of Williamsburg.

These concrete fortresses became the experimental grounds for much of the rangy tones and dreamy effects that now characterize contemporary indie rock. The Dig emerged from the thick of the indie cluster in 2010 with the release of their first album "Electric Toys." While the raw and sporadic guitar buzz of this initial effort lodged the band firmly within the indie fold, 2012’s "Midnight Flowers" signaled a distinctive departure and moved the group toward developing its own measured style and character. At Stickyz, fans and first-timers were treated to a cumulative sampling, including tracks from The Dig’s newest EP, "Tired Hearts."

The band’s progression shows a willful diminution from raw, physical buzz to a more nuanced soulfulness signaled and carried, part-and-parcel, in lyrical streams unabashedly born from pain. One cannot listen to The Dig without self-reflection. “I Already Forgot Everything You Said” showcased the vocal talents of singer/bassist, Emile Mosseri. Mosseri has an almost childlike sound that blends magically with weightier lyrical content. The effect is a juxtaposition of levity and gravity every bit as overwhelming and transcendent as a Richard Serra sculpture.

Here’s a lyric: “When you think of all the things that I said to you / They wouldn’t cut to the bone if they weren’t true / You can keep ‘em locked away inside your head / But I already forgot everything you said.”

With a head full of data, what do you hold on to, and what do you let slide? It’s a worthy contemplation, as we scurry into the thick of the Information Age. Are you hanging on, or moving on?

More recent songs suggest the band is moving forward into new musical territories. These tracks deliciously highlight the same refined, somber themes that define the group, but with poppier, groovier accompaniment. “How Can You Trust a Feeling” features a raw descending guitar riff that absolutely howls when played live, and “Without Your Love” is supported by a catchy surf rock beat.

It’s remarkably refreshing to occasionally catch a band like this. And some of us, perhaps, need bands like The Dig more than others. The crowd wasn’t rioting or bouncing off the walls, and sometimes a calm and collective sea of blank faces can actually be a surprising and uplifting source of fun and encouragement in the same way you might suspect hanging with a group of Zen masters might be kind of awesome. These aren’t the cool kids. These are the people the cool kids know are way cooler.

— Mark Holland

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