Speedy Ortiz – The Bowery Ballroom – April 25, 2015
Without stepping into an easy band-name pun, it’s recently been a remarkably quick rise to indie-rock stardom for the Massachusetts four-piece Speedy Ortiz. After passing through The Bowery Ballroom as the opener several times over the past few years, Speedy Ortiz sold out the venerable venue on Saturday night as the headliner—and fresh off the heels of their sophomore LP release, Foil Deer. The room felt packed to its gills even before the first band hit the stage, fellow Bay Staters and shrill rockers Krill, who did a killer (Kriller?) set of their own. Amongst the sea of Speedy fans (can we call them Speedsters?) was a who’s who of indie-rock royalty, including Dylan Baldi, lead man of Cloud Nothings (and significant other to Speedy Ortiz lead woman Sadie Dupuis), and Joseph D’Agostino of Cymbals Eat Guitar. Mitski Miyawaki of the second opener, appropriately named Mitski, after mentioning an earlier phone call from her mom, had the audience chew on the fact that we all had someone guide us through “helpless baby years,” and that someone out there fended for all of us at one point. Dupuis followed up on this sentiment, dedicating the night to her own father, a fellow New Yorker and rock royalty in his own right, who had passed away earlier this spring.
Speedy’s set drew heavily from Foil Deer, beginning the show with the LP’s first two singles, “The Graduates” and “Raising the Skate.” “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss,” sang Dupuis on the latter, an appropriate proclamation on a night that felt something like a victory lap for the band. Dupuis crafts sharp, witty songs—with a background in poetry, she writes some of the best lyrics in rock right now. But if her words offered bite, the guitar riffs left the sting. The lyrics felt at the forefront in part because the guitars gave them punch, both Dupuis’ own and those from fellow riffster Devin McKnight, sporting an epic head of hair, backlit throughout the night by the neon stage lights. The raw energy made for a fast-moving set. The band, deciding planned encores were cheesy, announced what would be considered their encore and plowed right on through it to the end of their show. And to paraphrase Ferris Bueller, Speedy Ortiz sets move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and listen to the music once in a while, you could miss it. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks