Live Concert Photography: The Veldt with Band Antenna and Black Rabbit
February 5, 2015
Currently comprised of founding members and identical twin brothers Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar) along with Hayato Nakao (bass), Frank Olsen (guitar), and Martin Levi (drums), Raleigh, NC/NYC-based quintet The Veldt can trace their origins back to the vital and quirky Chapel Hill, NC music scene of the late 80s and early 90s — a scene that featured Superchunk (perhaps, the best known out of that entire scene), Polvo, Dillon Fence and others. Initially featuring the Chavis Brothers and Levi along with Joseph “Hue” Boyle (bass) and later David Burris, The Veldt quickly were not only an extreme rarity as a shoegaze band prominently featuring black men in a place and time in which it was considered highly unusual — and honestly, at times still is; they also quickly managed “must-see” status in Chapel Hill.
With the 1992 release of their debut effort Marigolds, the members of The Veldt quickly saw an expanding national profile — not only were they profiled by MTV as a buzz-worthy band, the then-Chapel Hill-band earned a much more lucrative recording contract with Polygram Records, who in 1994 released their Ray Shulman produced sophomore effort Aphrodisiac, a now-highly regarded cult-favorited effort that at the time reverberated so much that the band wound up opening for the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Oasis, Cocteau Twins, Pixies, Fishbone, Corrosion of Conformity and others. However, despite their growing international profile for a sound that meshed soul, shoegaze and alt rock the band’s label and management repeatedly told them they were “too difficult to market” and eventually they were dropped from Polygram and two other labels. Naturally, without the support of their label, the band found it difficult to tour Europe, where their profile was growing the fastest. After releasing their last two albums, Universe Boat through Yesha Recordings and Love At First Hate on their own imprint, End Of The World Technologies the band continued through a series of lineup changes before officially going on hiatus in 1998. (As an interesting side note — and a strange occurrence of 6 degrees of separation: Burris, who left the band in 1994, left the music industry altogether for a career in film; interestingly, Burris is now the producer of CBS’ long-running TV series Survivor.)
A few years later, the Chavis Brothers relocated to New York with their post The Veldt project Apollo Heights, a project that received quite a bit of attention locally for a sound that meshed shoegaze with soul, trip-hop and electronica; in fact, I remember reading a raving article about them in the old New York Press while I was studying in NYU — and wishing I’d have a chance to catch them. Interestingly, their 2007 debut as Apollo Heights was produced by Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and featured guest spots from Guthrie on guitar, Mos Def, Lady Kier of Deee- Lite, TV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek, and Mike Ladd.
Interestingly although the Chavis Brothers work has been reduced to cult-favorite status, their work in The Veldt and Apollo Heights has managed to quietly reverberate among some rather highly regarded contemporary musicians — the members of Bloc Party and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek have publicly claimed The Veldt as influences, proving the Chavis Brothers were just simply 20 years ahead of their time. Since reforming The Veldt over the past few years, the Chavis Brothers and company hope to firmly stake their claim in a sound and scene that they helped pioneer all those years ago. Additionally, with forthcoming the release of a new EP on March 18, the first batch of new material from the band in almost 20 years, the members of The Veldt will be embarking on a series of tour dates to build up buzz and then to support their new effort.
Now, a couple of weeks ago I caught the pioneering shoegazers at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s newest venue The Shop with local shoegazers, Arrow, Band Antenna and Black Rabbit. Before we get into the photos though, some background information on the bands who opened for them. Arrow, a Brooklyn-based rock quartet opened the night. Band Antenna, a Brooklyn-based shoegaze trio comprised of an Ian Couch (keys), Jofo (electric mandolin) and Christina Rintoul (drums) followed. Interestingly. Band Antenna has developed a reputation locally for crafting a shoegaze sound led primarily through mandolin fed through a series of delay and effects pedals paired with driving rhythms and twisting and turning keyboard. Black Rabbit, a Brooklyn-based quartet featuring young people of color also played.
Check out photos from a night of shoegaze.
(Photo Caption: Band Antenna performing at The Shop earlier this month.)
(Photo Caption: Black Rabbits performing at The Shop earlier this month.)
(Photo Caption: Shoegazer pioneers The Veldt performing at The Shop earlier this month.)