Pressure Pin Live: Surprisingly calculated art punk, but still weird

by Ann Pill

The night began with Held. This pathologically late reviewer missed their set but their last 40 seconds were awesome. Considering how the rest of the night went, they clearly set everyone up for success.

Then came Palm Sander from Toronto. Their sludgy melodic distorted sound was sometimes a bit overcomplicated. They sounded a bit like Dead Moon and Nick Cave back in The Birthday Party days but with an added level of distortion and glamour. I’ve never seen anyone drum with the power and grace that their drummer did. I thought they were going to go hammer straight through their drum set. I’ve never seen anyone decide that they weren’t getting enough leverage from being seated and decide to stand up to really propel their drumming. I’ve also never seen anyone dismantle the symbols, remove them from the stand, and smash them together. There were a few times where there was so much going on that it felt messy but their lead singer was so captivating and they all had such incredible hair that all was forgiven. 


The next set was Antenna ‘93. They played with the reckless abandon that comes with being a very new band. They had a more upbeat indie sound replacing the sexy sludge of Palm Sander with crispy riffs in almost a Her kind of way. They did have a few evident technical difficulties with pedals deciding to rebel and a guitar strap with a mind of its own, but they were having so much fun it was easy to ignore. They had their bassist in the middle which was a brilliant choice. Nothing against their two guitar players but the bassist and their drummer were not so carrying, but elevating the team. 

The singer could feel us paying attention to their drummer and their bassist over him and descended into chaos for the latter half of their set. His between-song banter ranged from, “Who else is sweaty” to “Who wants to get their organs harvested,” with an eloquent call for a free Palestine somewhere in the middle. At one point he began screaming, holding up a magazine which was then very enthusiastically flung into the audience. Antenna ‘93’s music was fun and sparkly, so it made sense that their live performance incorporated a significant amount of sparkle. They just need to find the balance of the antics highlighting their music and bringing energy to the crowd, which they certainly do, without feeling like a distraction from a not quite fully formed sound. 


Pressure Pin closed the show beautifully. After listening to their 2022 EP, Superficial Feature, a delightfully disorganized art-punk new wave sound assortment, I was expecting a similar amount of havoc that the previous two bands brought. But they were surprisingly calculated. They played their set almost entirely in sync. The bass line, drums, and guitar mirrored each other nearly perfectly. Playing live seems to have forced them away from the tumultuous sound assortment from their EP and the result was still weird but much more intelligible. 

Things really heated up when the bassist, Danny Pretzel’s shoes fell apart and he had to do the rest of the set barefoot. Honestly, I would suggest the elimination of all shoes moving forward. Their curated look added to the performance. The full suits and bolo tie were seemingly incongruent with how new and urgent their sound was. For people who looked like they had wandered out of the 70s, their music reflected something fresh. It’s always a little bit heartbreaking when a band just absolutely crushes a cover. They played an incredible rendition of “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” that worked so perfectly with the rest of their set and everyone loved it, almost too much. But if they continue on the path they’re on, pretty soon people will be flailing as emphatically to their music the way we all did to The Cramps. Any second now. 

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