Next door in First Avenue’s mainroom, the constant thumps of 4onthefloor could be heard during the lulls in between songs of the opening act, Snowblink. “Should we play to the tempo of 4onthefloor?” their frontwoman, Daniela Gesundheit, joked to a half-filled crowd. However, by the time headliners Zammuto took stage, the crowd had filled in and all noise in the background became just that — background noise.
Zammuto, or Nick Zammuto, former guitarist of the Books, put together his own band after the Books broke up last year. Along with brother Mike Zammuto on bass, Sean Dixon on drums, and former Books member Gene Back on several instruments, the band showcased their 2012 self-titled debut album at the 7th Street Entry on Saturday, April 6.
Part of what made the Books so appealing was the facade of high-concept art that accompanied their music—it’s also, we can assume, what made their “fair use” of copyrighted recordings legal, around which their songs developed. Zammuto mostly cuts free from that aspect in their debut album, but what it lacks in witty satire and beautifully crafted nostalgia, it makes up for with earnest expression and energy.
That energy translated particularly well live during their upbeat, dance-pop numbers “Yay” and “Groan Man, Don’t Cry.” In “Yay” a slicer effect cut Nick Zammuto’s voice into perfectly timed, fast-paced pulsations, making it more synth than human, while his light and plucky guitar in “Groan Man, Don’t Cry” helped us to forget that it snowed just last Friday.
But the true culmination of Zammuto’s newfound energy surprisingly came in their techno-heavy “Zebra Butt,” a song which feels a bit forced on the album. Live, the song was a glorious breath of fresh air, a cathartic expulsion of frustration through dance and rhythm, which showed just how important the addition of Dixon was to Nick Zammuto’s musical transformation. We even got a five minute drum solo from Dixon, something unimaginable in the Books.
Yet despite the new beginnings, the night wasn’t without it’s tribute to the reason Zammuto even existed. The crowd was treated to the Book’s “That right ain’t shit” and “The Classy Penguin,” accompanied by the familiar videos that went with them: old family videos of Nick Zammuto as a child.Talk about nostalgia.
Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.