Cheap Girls brings refreshing rock sound to the Pussy Pad
The crisp air on Sept. 22 pushed Rutgers students and fans into a stuffy basement show at the Pussy Pad. The walls were appropriately lined with green graffiti cats and multicolored spotlights, creating an intimate atmosphere for New Brunswick basement crawlers to dwell.
Hailing from Lansing, Michigan, pop punk band Cheap Girls paid a musical visit to Rutgers while on a break from their nationwide tour with renowned punk band Joyce Manor. Cheap Girls were accompanied by their friends David F. Bello of The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, as well as local acts Teenage Halloween and City Limits, combining four raw and unique musical environments for the crowd to enjoy.
Toward the beginning of the night, City Limits and Teenage Halloween unleashed a lethal dose of punk to New Brunswick. The crowd was pushy and rambunctious during both bands’ sets. Mini mosh pits and groups of swaying people differed from song to song, really bringing everyone together to enjoy music as a whole and establishing a close, casual vibe for the remainder of the night.
When Bello stepped onto the makeshift stage, there was a definite shift in atmosphere. Compared to TWIABP’s large size and louder, more traditional performance style, the solo set was definitely much more unique and intimate. Bello’s songs consist mostly of repetitive ambient vocal sounds, lo-fi synthesizers, and hard-hitting emotional lyrics. Because of the personal nature of the material, it is unfair to judge Bello’s set on the way he sounded while performing. With music as different and thought-provoking as his, the effects the music has on its intended audience definitely matters more — and the crowd detected this. They were a lot less physically active and seemed to be adjusting to the sleepy, experimental nature of Bello’s solo project by becoming one with the basement walls and allowing the nostalgic and emotional content to envelop their minds.
Although the night as a whole encompassed a variety of underground environments, it was obvious that Cheap Girls was the most anticipated band of the night. The basement was packed almost immediately after Bello’s performance, and the crowd was thrumming with excitement. From the moment their set began, Cheap Girls started a fire within the hearts of the crowd. You could really feel the passion coming off of each member of the band as they played their instruments, and the crowd was crazy about it. Louder and more popular songs like “Ruby” and “Hey Hey I’m Worn Out” were driven by Adam Aymor’s catchy guitar riffs, Ian Graham’s singing and Ben Graham’s offbeat drum beats, giving off an overall pop punk vibe that encouraged head nods and other forms of physical interaction among the crowd.
Quieter songs, on the other hand, were mostly acoustic guitar-driven and were welcomed warmly with swaying and vocal reactions, once again displaying the intimacy of the jam-packed basement. During “Her and Cigarettes,” there was an outstanding sing-along moment where the crowd took over. You could barely hear the actual vocals over the dozens of voices surrounding you. It truly established a warmth that could only be experienced at a basement show.
The band wrapped their set time up with a bang, performing “Slow Nod,” the first track off of their most recent album, Famous Graves. Driven by outstanding vocals, steady drums and catchy guitar riffs, it truly is an anthem-worthy song for anyone who frequents underground shows, and it was evident in the crowd’s reaction to the song. There wasn’t one person who wasn’t singing along and really enjoying themselves during their closing song, making it a perfect closing and representation of the whole night.
Cheap Girls blatantly displayed their prevalence in the underground scene with a high-energy, crowd-approved performance. They don’t quite fit into the typical pop punk band stereotype, and their genre-bending is inspiring to anyone who enjoys punk rock. It definitely sets them apart from the rest.