It’s not every day one of the best unsigned bands in Manchester, England comes to the United States to play a show in the heart of New York City. But when they do, trust me — you don’t want to miss it!
That’s how I felt when I found out Partisan was coming to play at Pianos, in NYC, and being a six-hour drive from Pennsylvania away, nothing was going to stop me from being there.
So, six months later – and six hours later – My husband, Jack, and myself were in New York City on a sunny Saturday afternoon, checking in to an expensive, albeit convenient hotel a half a block away from the venue.
I’ve been a fan/friend of Partisan since last fall, thoroughly enjoying every bit of music by them (and Stuart Armstrong’s previous band, Six10Repeater) and wearing out the mp3 files in the car while driving.
Late in the afternoon we arrived at the club and were greeted by Stuart Armstrong, singer/guitarist, Rob Jones, drummer, and Dan Albon, bassist/backing vocals. There were hugs all around as we talked about the beautiful weather they were getting to experience on their trip, as well as what they had done since arriving. Once band manager Lorna Guess arrived, we were off to a pub down the street for some much-needed relaxation.
Lorna has been a great contact when it comes to getting things done with and for the band. It was such a pleasure to meet her finally, and to get some time to sit down and talk with her and Stu. We pulled up seats at a pub down the block and had a snack and a drink before the show.
It was a wonderful bit of time spent chatting about everything from the apartments in Brooklyn where they and their entourage of about a dozen friends were staying during the visit (oh, the tales they were telling that I best not repeat!) to how much the band was enjoying their first visit to the city.
Appropriately enough, Stu “conveniently” left his guitar at home, necessitating a purchase of a shiny black Les Paul Epiphone guitar, which he wielded on stage like a magical battle-axe … more on that in a bit …
So after a quick bite, a beer and a chat, we headed back down to the venue, Pianos NYC, one of dozens of little clubs sandwiched in between tempting restaurants and tiny apartments. The main showroom of the venue suggested it could hold over 200 people, but I think slightly more than 100 shoulder-to-shoulder was pushing it.
It was pretty much standing room only, with just a few stools around the bar area. Unlike the Pittsburgh clubs we are used to, the venue was very small – and no dressing room for the band. They stood around the room with the rest of us watching the three opening bands that preceded them – Douglas Firs, Girls on Grass and Even Twice. Each had their own unique sounds.
Douglas Firs, with Gertjan Van Hellemont, singer/guitarist, and his brother Sem Van Hellemont, keyboardist/singer, entertained audiences with simple songs of love and life. Originally from Belgium, Gertjan is spending time now in Montreal and just spent a week or so in New York, playing several shows, including this one. We had a chance to chat for a few minutes after his set and I will be listening more to him and planning an interview in the future. This young man is an exceptional talent.
Also on the bill were Girls on Grass, a Brooklyn-based a kind of country/cowpunk four piece, who worked hard to entertain the growing crowd. Led by Barbara Endes, on vocals and guitar; Nancy Polstein on drums and vocals; Dave Mandl on bass; and Sean Eden on guitar, the band ripped through a collection of tunes, mostly upbeat and lively. While the set was a bit uneven, several songs had a fast pace and got the crowd to perk up.
Brooklyn band Even Twice, with Pat O’Shea on drums/vocals and Robert Hait on bass/vocals, brought a prog/punk rock vibe to the night with their heavy industrial rock sound. These guys came on hard and heavy and were relentless. Their set was very loud and thoroughly enjoyable. It’s amazing how loud two guys can actually be.
Then it was time for the main act … Partisan … All three of the guys were their own stage crew, prepping the area and setting up their own equipment. They took several minutes to prepare then, with no introductions necessary, tore right into “Chemical Soup,” a brand new tune that immediately had the crowd jumping. The energy the lads gave off was evident. Excitement crackled in the air. If they felt any nerves, it didn’t show.
Stu and Dan looked well smart as they were dressed in black – shirts, vests, trousers and shoes, with Stu sporting a purple tie and Dan a black one. Rob kept his drummer’s arms free as he wore a black T-shirt with dark jeans.
“Ashes” was another new tune, equally as rambunctious as the first, that kept the fans going. They followed up with the newest single, “Two Lovers,” which drew massive applause and cheers from the audience. Stu beamed between songs, basking in the love being offered up.
“Pushing Up Daisies” sounded perfect live, as did “Juggernaut,” which again had the crowd pogo-ing around the room and singing along. I was overjoyed when they tore into “Grounded,” my favorite Partisan tune because of the bombastic energy it creates. It’s a real cracker.
“Animal” was a pure hard-rocking delight, and a cover of “Rockin’ in the Free World” had everyone singing along. Wrapping up the show were “Today Somehow” and “Coming Up.”
Partisan left the audience wanting more, singing their praises well after the show ended. Even later, the large, menacing-looking bouncers, who were letting people standing behind velvet ropes in to dance to blaring electronic music, told us how well they thought Partisan had rocked the joint. High praise indeed!
When the stage was all torn down, we hung out for a bit outside, drinking in the atmosphere and posing for photos with the amazing blokes from Manchester, shouting out “Partisan!” when cars cruised by and slowed to see who the rock stars were. It was also a pleasure to meet Johnny, Publisher/Entertainment Editor, and Cindy, Editor-in-Chief, both of @allthemagazine, and Bianca of @LadyBfromNYC at the show. They are huge Partisan fans too!
It was a shame to have to call it a night, but what a night it was!
All I can say is anyone who is thinking about going to see Partisan on Oct 1 at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, Calif. Is … go! Do it! Don’t miss this show.
Get ticket information here: https://www.fatsoma.com/mobile/events/wr7cszfl.