Robbers on High Street

SXSW Live Shots

SXSW Live Shots
Photo By John Anderson

Robbers on High Street

Rockstars, Thursday, March 18 "We played this song earlier, but this is the drunk version of it." Words to live by, from Ben Trokan of New York City's Robbers on High Street, who, like that other Ben guy, folds piano into guitar licks that weld catchy, oddly downbeat lyrics to jittery beats. You'll forgive us if we say they're so New York it hurts. But pain is often a gateway to better things, in this case a band that has every bit of those celebrated Strokes boys' chops with a far more intelligent approach. Drunk or not, Robbers on High Street's collusion of scrappy, gutter-smart songs, like the bass-plus-kick-drum punch of "How It All Falls Apart," is immensely NYC without being verboten to the rest of us. You know the drill: fancy-pants Lower East Siders hang a shingle out reading, "Too Cool for You." That's some other band, the one that rhymes with blokes, chokes, gets-stuck-going-down-your-throat, not these nicely banged, accessibly miserable Yorkies. Drummer Tomer Danan and bassist Jeremy Phillips mount a mildly punishing, Television-esque backsmash that counterpoints Trokan and Steve Mercado's guitars. The resulting melee left puddles of gooey estrogen all over the first three rows of the sardined Rockstars (oh, the ignominy!) crowd. Seriously, they had to mop that shit up, we kid you not. If anybody's taking the blame, it's Trokan, whose craquelaire voice falls in that hallowed gap between Cheap Trick's Robin Zander and, well, Ben Folds at his most lugubrious. Not to be missed, their forthcoming CD should be a keeper and a half.

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