I’m only twenty-three, but at Tapes ‘N Tapes lone New York City stop on the Hit ‘N Run tour — on May 18 at Irving Plaza — I felt like the oldest person in the room. I knew that the members of Tapes ‘N Tapes are young (drummer Jeremy Hanson is twenty), and I figured the crowd would be younger than I was used to. But being the only legal-age drinker in my immediate vicinity was traumatizing.
That feeling was hardly aided by the first opening-act, the Virgins, who looked like they weren’t all that far removed from a victorious set at their high school’s battle of the bands. Fortunately, their brand of retro-flavored Strokes-esque garage rock sounded a lot better than most high school bands’. The Virgins were a last-minute fill-in for the Harlem Shakes, who were forced to cancel due to a member’s emergency appendectomy. Under these circumstances, the Virgins’ set was even more impressive.
They were followed up by Vancouver’s Ladyhawk, whose set was one of the most intense live experiences I’ve had in years. The band’s eponymous debut from last year was pleasant enough, but this music needs to be experienced live. Frontman Duffy Driediger and Darcy Hancock’s twin-guitar attack, along with the plodding bass lines (and awesome hair) of Sean Hawryluk, can best be described as Dinosaur Jr. meets My Morning Jacket on steroids. They are a live act that is not to be missed.
After Ladyhawk’s thundering performance and the cocky swagger of the Virgins’ set, Tapes ‘N Tapes just seemed underwhelming. The members came out a little before 11 to the rapturous applause of the capacity room, but the show felt tepid and static. The new material sounded interesting, but this is a band best enjoyed on record.
Still, the Virgins and Ladyhawk more than made up for the lack of electricity in Tapes ‘N Tapes’ performance, and the crowd was one of the more energetic I’ve seen recently (likely attributable to their age). It almost made me feel eighteen again.