All the lawlessness of a basement show and comradery of a house show poured off the stage with Thick, Gymshorts and Dropper Wednesday night. Though the large room at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade was packed with bodies, the D.I.Y. vibe that these bands grew from was very much alive.
Just a few years ago at the now-defunct D.I.Y. venue Shea Stadium, I was one of only five people in an audience headbanging to Thick. The NYC trio rocked out hard despite the sparse attendance. We spat beer in each others’ faces and sang into the mics together. The set ended with us all on stage forming a lifelong friendship.
Fast forward to the present: Thick signed to Epitaph Records and just announced their debut LP comes out in March before their spring tour with The Chats and Mean Jeans. You’d think after getting a label deal and prepping for a big tour those days of getting drunk with these punks on stage were just distant memories but, believe me, they’re still thriving.
Dropper kicked everyone’s asses into high-gear with their steel-toed hooks. Singing about shoving some asshole’s ego down his throat or simply telling everyone to leave her alone, each song was painfully relatable. “Don’t talk to me,” filed into everyone’s ears as the five-piece stirred up chaos with their instruments.
Speaking of bands that get stuck in your head, Gymshorts, a stoner punk band with a don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, was next. Standing upfront in her signature oversized t-shirt, frontwoman Sarah Greenwell howled into the mic while shredding on her Nascar-themed electric guitar. Each thrasher was projectile vomited onto the crowd with lyrics telling stories of mischief. Songs about stirring up trouble, ding dong ditch and “browning out” got everybody nice and greased up for some hardcore moshing.
The crowd was vibrating with the need to slam against each other when Thick took the stage. To my surprise and delight, they kicked the show off with a Thick deep cut, “Puke’s Diner.” Hearing the lyrics, “I’ll grab my bike, you grab your board/ let’s take a ride down to the shore,” instantly put myself and other longtime Thick fans back into our D.I.Y. gig days. I imagine all the people at the Whole Foods down the street were shaking in their designer boots as they heard a crowd roar in the distance, “tonight I drank too much and I think I fucked it up.”
Thick pulled all their friends onto the stage, to the bouncer’s horror. After several human torpedos launched themselves into the crowd riding the wave of hands for entire songs, the bouncer sat side stage, defeated and rubbing his forehead with his hand.
Of course, all the friends had to be on stage for the last song “Wasting My Time”—another Thick deep cut. Gymshort’s Greenwell, Dropper frontwoman Andrea Scanniello, myself and a few other longtime friends of the band took the stage to shout along and headbang. Thick guitarist/vocalist Nikki Sisti and bassist/vocalist Kate Black passed their instruments to other musicians and dove into the crowd. By the end of “Wasting My Time,” half the audience was on stage jumping along. It was a beautiful moment.
After this show, I don’t care how big the venue is, if you’re a band that grew from the D.I.Y. scene you better stick to your roots and keep headbanging with your fans.