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Giant Squid
Union Pool
August 12, 2009

Written by Eric Atienza
Photographed by Susan Gurevich

Opposite Photo:
Jackie Perez Gratz

Over the past several years Williamsburg has become known as quite the hipster haven, with Union Pool serving as one of the central hubs of cool. Returning NYU twenty-somethings had some competition for bar space, however, when Giant Squid bought its entourage of metal-heads into the Pool’s stage.

San Francisco’s Grayceon took the stage first armed with ethereal vocals backed by an electric cello. These elements merged with the urgent, booming drums and visceral guitar to create an impressively epic sound. Instrumentally they sounded like a metal version of Explosions in the Sky evoking images of frightening drama. The music was like the soundtrack to a Michael Bay movie if Bay was directing Ragnarok: The Movie. Listening in, one imagined scenes in which large, intimidating men named Sven and Hrothgar fight their way through hosts of evil hordes in search of death and glory. It often seemed that the band would be better off following Explosions’ all-instrumental formula, however, as the vocals seemed more of an afterthought plopped on top music that was vastly more dynamic. Cellist Jackie Perez Gratz warbling croon was moderately interesting but wasn’t able to match Max Doyle’s robust guitar. Doyle’s own scream seemed alternately lost and out of place, and like Gratz’s vocal was practically bullied to the background by the music they were making.

Jackie Perez Gratz

Gratz and her cello stayed for the next set as parts of Giant Squid, however most of her cello was lost behind the band’s two droning guitars. The guitars proceeded to deliver an overabundance of melody that was only saved by Chris Lyman’s raucous drumming. The band’s musical fortunes also tended to hinge on how aggressively Bryan Beeson was working the neck of his bass. He laid down some seriously sick bass lines, invigorating entire songs on his own. The frenzied (at times) drumming and filthy bass play generally emphasized, however, Giant Squid’s dire need for more speed. The group certainly has talent, but more thrash would give them a much more driving, dynamic, blistering sound.

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