by Freya Wilcox
While the rattle of the JMZ tears a hole in the conversations of lingering deli-goers and derelicts, a growing handful of Bushwick DIY bars are breaking the sonic chaos with the thuds and chugs of indie bands in their darkened domains. XPO 929 is one of these fresh establishments on a mission to establish a reputation as the “off-off-Broadway” (as in: Bushwick Broadway) of the NY music scene.
Torn Shorts, a young, indie/folk/blues trio from Providence, took the stage Friday night, displaying a talent for borrowing and breaking-in the classic sounds of American music: Cobain’s watery chorus, Dylan’s half-spoken plea, Muddy Waters’ howled licks.
The band was put to the test early on when the bass guitar and drums blew out in a technical malfunction. Rising to the occasion, frontman Josh Grabert showed that his honest, slightly self-deprecating melodies could stand alone in campfire glory as well as at the reins of a blues/rock darkhorse. Guitarist Nick Molak brought some blues prowess to the party with his precise and resonant cradling of a Les Paul – occasionally breaking into a heartfelt bashing that revelaed a true henchman of rock’n’roll.
Torn Shorts had enough variation in their set to show some real potential, swinging from the whine of harmonica-sprinkled folk songs to the drive of contorted, contemporary blues without ever straying too far from the undertones of indie pop. Given some time to grow, these guys will have the ears of both young hipsters and open-minded blues/folk vets.