Ten years ago Lemuria, the indie/pop-punk trio from Buffalo NY, recorded their debut album Get Better. Although technically not physically released by Asian Man records until 2008, the band are celebrating its tenth anniversary with a reissue of the album that includes new liner notes focused on the album’s creation, as well as making some previously limited-edition songs and outtakes available. Not content to limit the celebrations to just the reissues, Lemuria have also hit the tour trail where they are playing the album in its entirety. With the tour well into the homestretch, they recently stopped at Motorco Music Hall in Durham NC.
New Jersey-based punk rocker Mikey Erg started off the evening with a one-man sonic assault. The one time drummer and lead vocalist of celebrated punk rock band the Ergs!, Mikey stepped out from behind the kit and took to the stage with just a guitar and an amp. An acoustic “Storytellers” set this was not… Mikey played with ferocious intensity, often pacing the stage and delivering vocals with a furious gut-wrenching urgency. His catchy songs and high intensity delivery were reminiscent of both Ted Leo and Mac McCaughan from Superchunk.
With the audience collectively catching their breaths after Mikey’s set, magician Michael Casey came out to provide a bit of light-hearted excitement. Casey is a local artist renowned for his close-up magic tricks delivered with a bit of rock ‘n roll attitude. While chatting with the audience about his recent travels, Casey took out a large nail, placed it through a wooden base, and enclosed it in a paper bag sharp side up. He then took out several more paper bags and like the old three card monty street game, challenged folks to figure out which bag held the nail. He then proceeded to slam his hand down on each bag, that Lemuria bassist Max Gregor guessed didn’t have the nail… With each pick the crowd groaned, expecting it to be empty but still harboring that little bit of fear that maybe it wouldn’t be… Rather than give away the ending, we will say that band members and audience members alike were mesmerized and expressed their approval.
Taking the middle slot was Philadelphia rock band Cayetana. The trio consisting of Augusta Koch on guitar and vocals, Allegra Anka on bass, and Kelly Olsen on drums, played through a set of fuzzy hook-laden pop-punk that included songs from their positively buzzed debut album Nervous Like Me as well a few new songs from their forthcoming sophomore release New Kind Of Normal due to be released May 5th on the band’s own record label, Plum Records. Cayetana is a band that has found an enticing balance between lo-fi dirty garage punk and more mainstream high-energy indie pop and they deliver it with charisma. Unfortunately, shortly into their set Motorco experienced some technical problems that resulted in the fire alarm going off and power to the stage cutting out. Despite the short unplanned intermission, the band soldiered on and still managed to deliver a cracking performance.
And then it was time for the celebration to begin in earnest as Lemuria took the stage. With the set focused around Get Better, the band cruised from song to song with a joyful abandon. Their layered blend of indie rock, 90’s emo, and rapid paced punk guitar was as tight and engaging as ever. While the songwriting duo of guitarist Sheena Ozzella and drummer Alex Kerns tended to draw the attention with their distinctive alternating lead vocals and harmonies, Max Gregor on bass and Tony Flaminio on guitar and keyboards were the unsung heroes filling out the sound as well as blending in vocally. They were all clearly enjoying themselves, sharing smiles with each other and engaging the audience. Like the album being celebrated, the show was fast-paced, concise and ultimately satisfying. The audience was left sweat soaked and euphoric. Lemuria’s timeless self-reflective songs sound better than ever, and the band seems to be experiencing a well-deserved resurgence.