Longwave 2/12/2005: Luna Lounge – New York, NY

It all comes back to this,” sang Steve Schiltz, the angelic-looking frontman of Longwave, in a rich, warm voice to listeners at the Luna Lounge on the Lower East Side Saturday night.

In a secret show, posted on the band’s website just days before the performance, the post-punk popsters returned to the Luna, the place where it performed its first gigs back in 1999.

Gracing the stage at exactly midnight, the special show was to mark the upcoming closing of the club, which is slated to be torn down, in order to make room for luxury condos. Steve made it a priority to pay tribute to the club’s co-owner, Rob Sacher, for giving the band its start six years ago. Sacher founded Luna Sea Records soon after spotting Longwave and offered the band a deal.

“I remember the first time we played here. It was a great show,” Steve told the crowd of fashionable bohemian East Village hipsters. “Before Rob put our record out, we went downstairs and signed the contract on a case of Red Stripe.”

Steve-O said what has made the club on Ludlow Street such a success over the years is the fact that Generation X’ers could always get in to see different indie and alternative acts play for free. And many times, during the early days of their own career, concert-goers had no clue who Longwave even was. “I’d look out into the crowd and see a lot of interpretive dancing to our songs,” he said with a smile. “We want everyone to know how much we appreciate Rob and the Luna Lounge. We will never forget it.”

The intimate setting exuded a special charm that is rare to see at most rock shows. Inside the cozy yet small, dimly-lit room, the band was clearly at home amidst a sea of old friends and fans. Just two weeks earlier, the guys lit up the room at North Six in Brooklyn, but not nearly with the same passion and exuberance that blazed across the Luna Lounge.

The New York band pleased the audience by offering up a wide mixture of songs from its music vault including older tunes from the Untitled EP. The group played a lot off their first full-length disc, The Strangest Things, which is often compared to early U2, to new songs from the upcoming sophomore effort, There’s A Fire. That album is described to be about a sea monster and due in stores by the end of May.

Inside the dark room, a golden light illuminated his face. With the appearance of a choirboy, complete with porcelain white skin and a head full of beautiful, blonde ringlets, Steve sang the emotional “Wake Me When It’s Over,” and fan favorite, “Best Kept Secret.” His deadpan vocal delivery and introspective lyrics were reflected in the “Tidal Wave” declaration of “I am everything you wanted, I am everything you need.”

The gentle grooves and soothing melodies of the band’s carefully crafted songs demonstrated how Longwave is indeed different from the usual garage rock of New York City. Back in 2002, the guys landed the opening spot on tour with The Strokes, an opportunity that allowed great publicity for the band, plus a contract with their current label, RCA.

At the Luna Lounge, their sound was lush and velvety but haunting too as in “Meet Me At The Bottom.” The faint sound of keyboards floated gently over skittish drums that never missed a beat. Heavy bass lines and hungry driving beats could be heard in the spirited, “Everywhere You Turn.”

And a space rock tinged sound was evident in “Exit” and the new “River (Depot Song),” when Steve crouched forward, curls dangling, strumming ferociously on the guitar.

It’s obvious that the lead singer and fellow bandmate, guitarist Shannon Ferguson, love playing together. After touring in the Northeast in February, the band is now making its way towards Chicago. Schiltz and Ferguson are familiar with taking the stage at these smaller venues and know how to create an atmosphere that effortlessly evokes deep and personal moods, blending them together from one song to the next throughout the night.

The band’s enthusiastic energy is what left the crowd craving more after almost more than two hours together. Although not many of the serious-faced New York concert attendees showed much reaction, a few male college students in the audience managed to jump up and down, dancing their way through multiple numbers. They grinned and shouted for more. “Don’t just stand there. The band needs to know we want to hear them play,” the tallest of the two guys, in a navy blue peacoat said. Of course, Longwave obliged the request and returned with an encore of two old tunes and something new.

In between songs, Steve stopped to pour some red wine in a plastic cup. Endearing and gracious, Steve raised his glass to toast Rob and The Luna Lounge one last time.

Earlier in the night, fans of Longwave were pleasantly surprised to discover two of the group’s members on stage with another band, Falcon. With Shannon Ferguson on guitar and Steve Schlitz on drums, singer/guitarist Neil Rosen brought an old friend’s music to life on stage.

It turns out that Shannon and Neil went to junior high together back in Petaluma, California, where a fellow student by the name of Jared Falcon, at the tender age of 14, was writing songs and recording tracks on an old Fisher Price tape recorder. Unfortunately, the child prodigy passed away of spinal meningitis in 1988.

Now, together in NYC, Rosen and Ferguson are performing some of the 336 songs that were discovered after the young teenager’s death. Although the set at the Luna Lounge lasted only half an hour, concert-goers enjoyed a short taste of the band’s contemporary feeling pop songs. Rosen says many are about animals and don’t necessarily have a set chorus or standard pop structure. In fact, some like the slow and sweet, “Dry Land,” were barely two minutes long.

Listeners who were lucky enough to catch Longwave twice during the last month, also got to check out another New York band, The Picture, as the opening act. The band combines a healthy dose of sonic indie rock with Brit-pop to create a tone that is unmistakably their own.

Singer-writer Chris Buckle looks and sounds a lot like a modern day version of Robert Smith from The Cure. His earnest voice coupled with sincere lyrics in tunes with new wave melodies like “Blind Side” and the quirky, uptempo “Upside Down” made the group an instant hit with Longwave listeners.

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