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Members of the dancy, psychedelic hardcore Reader downplayed the idea that they were playing a “reunion” show. (“It’s a ‘why the hell don’t we do it again because she `singer Miranda Mireles` is in town show,” said keyboardist/guitarist Joseph Caceres.) The band officially called it quits in 2007, partly because Mireles was struck by wanderlust and started traveling the country. But on Black Friday, they played their fourth or fifth “last show” to a packed house at The 1011.

Like the heaviest of hardcore bands, Reader is loud. Not “rock show” loud, but “rattle-your-rib-cage and knock-the-pigment-out-of-your-skin” loud. With Mario Trejo (of Grasshopper Lies Heavy fame) on guitar, the volume is hardly surprising, but it’s no less disarming. Meanwhile, Reader adds its own special dash of swagger with nostalgic synths, effects-laden guitars, and no shortage of math-rock syncopation. Factor in Mireles’ warbling Benatar-esque vocals and you’ve got what might be post-punk’s answer to Stevie Wonder.

Opener “Right Angle” tempered staccato, power chord-driven verses with extended legato passages and one really sexy, reverb-soaked guitar solo. Speaking of sex, Mireles made her intentions known, shouting the chorus “She’s such a sexual being/I want to make her scream!” with bouncy abandon. On the epic “Scene Patrol,” Reader paired fuzzy synths with a brooding baseline and found a meeting point between the campy darkness of Dio and the outright nerdity of Yes. Mid-song, they pulled what felt like a fake ending before launching into a pulverizing build-up/break-down capped off by Mireles’ aggressive cowbell playing. The band played more than a few spacey, noisy interludes, proving that no musical idea was off-limits. Performing on the floor, rather than the stage, made it easy for Caceres to run into the audience and clap his hands with patrons. On the closer “Vicky,” the band put no less than two players and a dude from the crowd on the drum kit to bang out the song’s ending.

Indeed, there was a lot to like about Reader — the punky funkiness and prog tendencies, especially — but the bulldozer of sound made it hard to discern the finer points of the music (even with earplugs) in such a small space. Hopefully, at their next “last show” they’ll lower the volume so we can enjoy the cowbell.

Fri, Nov 26
The Ten Eleven
1011 Avenue B

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