Video editor and resident cool kid Anna Hotter recently made the trek to Williamsburg to see Slow Dakota perform live. Despite a continued hangover and general laziness/grogginess, the band did not fail to impress.
Last Friday I woke up at two, felt moderately drunk until four, and nursed a considerable hangover well into the ensuing evening. Needless to say, I wasn’t in any condition to leave the comfort of my bed, let alone that of my beloved Morningside bubble. But because I try to at least create the illusion of leading an interesting life every now and then, I had made plans to go see Slow Dakota, a Columbia-based band, in Brooklyn that very night. If it had been up to my pounding head and lack of hand-eye coordination, I probably wouldn’t have made it past the gates, but a friend was coming along and I’d wanted to hear them live for quite some time.
Slow Dakota is the project of CC junior PJ Sauerteig and released its second full-length album “Bürstner and the Baby” in September of last year. This was their first show outside of campus, so even though the locale, a fairly grungy Williamsburg bar, reeked of what my inner Liz Lemon would dismiss as “hipster nonsense,” it seemed worth the 40 minute train ride.
As expected, the number of beards and PBRs per capita quadrupled as we entered the bar, and the sight of a girl in a cable-knit sweater that also completely exposed her midriff provoked my friend to ask the legitimate question: “What kind of weather is she preparing for exactly?” After some ample people watching it was finally time for Slow Dakota’s set, which had drawn an impressive crowd of other loyal Columbians.
PJ, Erika Thompson, Vlad Bernstein, Corey Dansereau, Katherine Hreib, and a shirtless Stephan Adamow opened with a soft, hypnotic instrumental piece that quickly gathered momentum and evolved into a cover of Lana del Rey’s “Video Games.” PJ’s and Erika’s voices added warmth and sweetness to their interpretation, and since crowd participation wasn’t only allowed, but encouraged, they were soon joined by some braver audience members. Tentative swaying turned into seriously wacky folk dancing when the band attempted a fast, 15th century French piece that gave me some chilling flashbacks to the dark days of 8:40 Music Hum.
Highlights, of course, were Slow Dakota’s original songs, which are difficult to pin down in terms of sound and genre. Lovely melodic lines from PJ’s piano combine with forceful brass and drums, and are completed by vivid and at times surreal lyrics. Influences like Neutral Milk Hotel and Fleet Foxes are just as audible as Mozart and Bach, making Slow Dakota exciting, unpredictable performers.
So finally, after 30 minutes of erratic dancing in the back-room of a bar that is not 1020, I could only echo everybody else’s feeling: more, please.