…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead : New York City Bowery Ballroom

They’re not about to let us down...

In America, [a]And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead[/a]

are on the verge of becoming proper rock stars. Last time they blew through Manhattan they played a venue half this size – now, with two consecutive sold out shows punctuated by a super-cool Vice Magazine party held in their honour (in a former Chinese brothel, no less), a night with …Trail of Dead is the hottest ticket in town. From the swaggering, exuberant confidence of their performance, it’s clear that they know precisely how crucial and exciting a time this is for them. They’re not about to let us down.

[a]And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead[/a]

understand the thrill of spectacle, the gut-gripping effect of noise piled on noise, guitars cutting arcs through humid air like glinting knife-blades, sweat splashing back and forth between mosh pit and band like sea-spray. Even if you’ve seen them dozens of times and have begun to perceive that certain moments are carefully choreographed, [a]And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead[/a]

can still surprise: the sheer velocity of ‘Totally Natural’, the slow build and breathless anticipation of ‘Mistakes and Regrets’, the unexpected depth of Neil Busch’s voice on ‘Baudelaire’, the utter fury with which Conrad Keeley and Jason Reece kick and smash and scream their way through ‘How Near How Far’.

The band’s rapport with each other, and with the audience, is amazing to watch. They’ve streamlined their formerly messy and time-consuming instrument-swapping to the point where you barely notice it’s happening, and they engage the crowd with comaraderie and good humour. Jason destroys the drumkit too soon in the set (“Shit! That wasn’t our last song!”) so they invite people onstage to help them out with percussion, then kick them off for “not wearing black.” By the last furtive fits of the evening, Jason is lost in the pit, someone is singing into the mic who isn’t a member of the band, and the cymbal can be seen travelling high above our heads to the back of the venue.

Despite the major label push, the critic’s plea for more tunes, the impending inevitable pressures of notoriety, [a]And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead[/a]

aren’t compromising an iota of their punk rock spirit or becoming more palatable for dumbed-down US rock fans. Simply doing what they do on their own terms, they’re coming into their own – and it’s brilliant.

April Long