Friday was a sufficiently shoegazey evening at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, with NYU-incubated psychonauts Field Trip opening for Brooklyn’s own MOTHXR in celebration of their debut album’s release that very same night. They’ll be crisscrossing the European continent in support of the record for the next few months, so Friday’s show constituted a farewell to the loyal New York fans that have made MOTHXR a familiar, if unpronounceable, name in the indie music scene of late.
The shoebox-sized backroom was sparsely peopled with wall huggers, drink-holding conversationalists and a loyal front-center-throng when Field Trip took the stage promptly at 9 p.m. with a few selections from their debut EP “The Sounds Inside Your Mind.” Though young enough to bear the X’s of underage shame on the backs of their hands, Field Trip pulled off their lo-fidelity space caravan sound admirably. They also worked in an appropriately drowsy cover of Marcy’s Playground’s “Sex & Candy” that had knees and shoulders sagging in beautiful unison from wall to wall. After a few polite thank you’s and the obligatory merch table reminder, the field trip concluded and the boys filtered off stage.
I overheard them later talking with the bouncer about the Achilles heels of fake ID’s state-by-state (evidently Ohio’s got routinely sloppy holograms, and Rhode Island is always suspect, because “there’s only like 2000 people that live there in the first place”). But it was a cold and blustery night in Williamsburg so cigarettes were smoked quickly and I began pushing my way back into the considerably more packed floor just as MOTHXR were taking the stage.
As MOTHXR were tuning up the crowd began to chatter excitedly over the arrival of lead singer Penn Badgley, well-known for his role as Dan Humphrey in the popular drama “Gossip Girl.” Luckily anyone’s insufferable contrarian nature was proven wrong in short order when Badgley and his band finally launched into their set.
I gladly swallowed my skepticism in the face of 45 minutes of keyboard-backed, dancey pop tracks complete with some nice palm-muted arpeggiated guitar riffs that were reminiscent of Foals. The comparison to a big name indie act is worthy here because of how well mixed a performance they managed to execute; not a single element sounded overpowered and you could even make out the bass line on nearly every track.
While that kudos might be better directed to the sound tech, there’s something to be said for stage presence and MOTHXR came off convincingly like a band about to kick off a 20 date tour across two continents. It was a worthy farewell show, and perhaps also a glimpse into what the future holds for Field Trip, still rough but very much on the come up.
Keep an eye out for future Field Trip dates, and pick up MOTHXR’s debut album “Centerfold” from their website, or stream it on Spotify.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 29 print edition. Email Jonah Inserra at [email protected]