LVL UP | Meow Wolf
Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sun 10AM-8PM
Fri, Sat 10AM-10PM
Holiday Hours (closed Tuesdays)
1352 Rufina Cir

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LVL UP

Monday, Mar 13th
7:00 pm
- 11:00 pm

Price: $10 / $10 day of show
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Meow Wolf
1352 Rufina Circle
Santa Fe, NM 87507 United States
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Ages: 15+
Phone: 505-395-6369
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“Hidden Driver,” the opening track of LVL UP’s third album and Sub Pop debut Return to Love, never stops moving. What starts with unassuming guitars and vocals adds new lines, depths, and intensity, until its unrestrained, triumphant finish. “God is peeking, softly speaking,” repeats the chorus, working through the relationship between spirituality and creative inspiration, and introducing a band that is always pushing further.

LVL UP — guitarists Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, bassist Nick Corbo, and drummer Greg Rutkin — is a true collaboration, a band that takes the stylistically distinct ideas of four members and brings them together into something new. Caridi, Benton, and Corbo write and sing equally, bringing their work to the group to be fully realized, resulting in an album built on different perspectives but a common drive.

“We have very different inspirations across the board,” says Benton, noting his own admiration for the writer and documentarian Astra Taylor, Corbo’s interest in the mystical and the occult, and Caridi’s attention to personal storytelling. The music itself grows from a shared melodic and experimental sensibility, as well as a nod to iconic influences like Neutral Milk Hotel and Mount Eerie. But each songwriter has a different vision every step of the way, and there isn’t always alignment–it shouldn’t make sense, but in the end it does.

LVL UP was formed in 2011 at SUNY Purchase as a recording project between Caridi, Benton, and their friend Ben Smith, with the original intention of releasing a split cassette with Corbo’s then-solo material. They instead released that album, Space Brothers, as one band, and Rutkin joined shortly afterwards for the group’s first show. Smith left the band for personal reasons just before the release of second album Hoodwink’d, a joint release on Caridi and Benton’s label Double Double Whammy and Exploding in Sound. DDW also put out records from other artists in the tight-knit community that launched the band.

“There’s not really a town associated with the school, so there’s no bar or club that you could go play in easily,” says Corbo. “But there was a student center on campus that was all student run. That was a great place to play, and also take care of a lot of practical issues like a place to put your stuff and a place to practice weekly. It was almost like an incubator situation for us and a lot of other bands — it gave us a little bit of experience and confidence, so it wasn’t as scary when we decided to go on tour for the first time.”

Also part of that university community was Return to Love’s producer Mike Ditrio, who mixed LVL UP’s previous records and “was basically a fifth member of the band,” says Corbo. “He played a huge role in developing the sound, without butting in too much. He also navigated our personal dynamic really nicely.”

That sound is marked by reverb, harmony and tape distortion, with a keen balance of pop and experimentation. From the fast yet flowing lines of “Blur” to the all-consuming wall of guitar in “The Closing Door,” each song pushes and pulls in compelling, unexpected ways. There’s deliberation as well as spontaneity — the latter developed with the help of a song-a-day project, which pushed Caridi and Corbo to write and record full songs in a single day. Some of that material, including “Naked in the River with the Creator,” made it onto the album.

“I ultimately made this half-drone, half-really loud guitar song, because it was an idea I had floating around in my head but never got around to doing until I had to write a song in a day,” says Corbo. “The thing that pulled me through was grasping onto words and images, but instead of pulling from an infinite sea of all the images that you could pull from, it’s easier to constrict yourself a little bit.”

While Palm, a four-piece from upstate New York, have made their home in the same Hudson scene as experimental art rockers Buke and Gase, Palm’s story started when guitarists/vocalists Kasra Kurt and Eve Alpert developed a musical kinship while attending the same high school. The pair decided to continue their education at Bard College and quickly founded Palm with drummer Hugo Stanley. Their earliest material was entirely instrumental and concentrated on the interplay between Kasra and Eve’s thick, mechanical guitar parts against Hugo’s sparse, loose drum phrases. Not long after that, the band added Gerasimos Livitsanos on bass and has refined its sound over the past few years with a focus on detail, density, and heaviness. With a palette informed by punk, metal, and noise as well as jazz and bossa nova, they utilize traditional rock instruments to create playful experiments that, using unpredictable time signatures, move up and down, back and forth, and all over the map.

‘Trading Basics’, the band’s full-length debut, released on Exploding In Sound and Inflated Records, challenges the listener’s expectations with moments of dissonance that are reigned in and precise. The pretty moments are often where the chaos is. Amid these constant and rapid changes, the band sneaks in an unrelenting, trance-inducing repetition. Recorded and mixed by Eli Crews (Deerhoof, tUnE-yArDs) at Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn, the album is a confident statement that this young band has carefully crafted a unique sonic vocabulary and methodology during their short time together. Being somewhat removed from city life, and having access to a 24 hour practice space in Hudson, has resulted in an unparalleled level of discipline and focus on their craft. In addition to the new record, the band’s impending relocation to Philadelphia, and September tour with Warehouse, expect Palm to take their incredibly tight live show on the road in support of ‘Trading Basics’ in the year to come.

 While Palm, a four-piece from upstate New York, have made their home in the same Hudson scene as experimental art rockers Buke and Gase, Palm’s story started when guitarists/vocalists Kasra Kurt and Eve Alpert developed a musical kinship while attending the same high school. The pair decided to continue their education at Bard College and quickly founded Palm with drummer Hugo Stanley. Their earliest material was entirely instrumental and concentrated on the interplay between Kasra and Eve’s thick, mechanical guitar parts against Hugo’s sparse, loose drum phrases. Not long after that, the band added Gerasimos Livitsanos on bass and has refined its sound over the past few years with a focus on detail, density, and heaviness. With a palette informed by punk, metal, and noise as well as jazz and bossa nova, they utilize traditional rock instruments to create playful experiments that, using unpredictable time signatures, move up and down, back and forth, and all over the map.’Trading Basics’, the band’s full-length debut, released on Exploding In Sound and Inflated Records, challenges the listener’s expectations with moments of dissonance that are reigned in and precise. The pretty moments are often where the chaos is. Amid these constant and rapid changes, the band sneaks in an unrelenting, trance-inducing repetition. Recorded and mixed by Eli Crews (Deerhoof, tUnE-yArDs) at Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn, the album is a confident statement that this young band has carefully crafted a unique sonic vocabulary and methodology during their short time together. Being somewhat removed from city life, and having access to a 24 hour practice space in Hudson, has resulted in an unparalleled level of discipline and focus on their craft. In addition to the new record, the band’s impending relocation to Philadelphia, and September tour with Warehouse, expect Palm to take their incredibly tight live show on the road in support of ‘Trading Basics’ in the year to come.

 

Madeline Kenney is an Oakland-dwelling Seattle transplant, whose background in bakeries, neuroscience, and modern dance curiously add up to an individual form of twang-hazey dream-pop. Imagine if Loretta Lynn had a secret shoegaze project and a looper pedal obsession—you might come pretty close to Kenney’s enchanting songs. Recently, Kenney traded in her looper for an ace backing band featuring members of Astronauts, etc., Bells Atlas, and Perhapsy. Working together, these talented musicians expand Kenney’s sound into a Creation Records-influenced fest of buttery distortion, driving rhythms, and soaring vocals. Her debut Signals EP is out now on Company Records. Kenney is working on a full length LP that’s due out in 2017.