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Live: Craft Spells at Brooklyn Night Bazaar

For those who have never been, Brooklyn Night Bazaar is the venue you always dreamed of in high school. Every weekend they host a range of artists from big to small, and while making your way back to the stage you can browse vintage clothing from assorted sellers, stop for a quick arcade game battle, and grab a taco from your (my) favorite snackerie, Oaxaca Taqueria. The Bazaar can be a bit overwhelming to both newcomer and veteran alike, all the activity and options an overload on the senses. And on a night like last Saturday where the entry line wrapped around the block, there was no way of denying it would be an intense welcome for Seattle's Craft Spells, returning to New York for the first time in three years after a long dormant period following 2012's EP, Gallery. (Shortly after its release, frontman Justin Vallesteros moved to San Francisco and struggled to find his footing in its music scene, eventually returning to his home town and learning piano while experiencing the physical nausea which would drive Craft Spells' second full length LP, 2014's Nausea.) 

As the band quietly took the stage, Justin sat for a moment on an amp as if to take it all in. The immense space, the frenetic crowd, the smell of sizzling taco. But as soon as the intro beats to Idle Labor's "From the Morning Heat" are dropped, he's in it, and by the time the song is done, the entire crowd is there with him. With business-like focus, tracks from Nausea unfold before a softly swaying crowd flashing analog cameras and snapping polaroids as various scenes of rising fog and men in monster masks loop in the background. When the first few pings of Idle Labor's "Party Talk" are laid out, I suddenly find myself standing in the middle of a dance party so intense and unexpected that even Justin can't help but stop singing for a moment to let out a laugh. With that, the energy for the rest of the night is set, and what follows is a gradual escalation into full blown pit status, soundtracked by songs from of Gallery, Idle Labor, and Nausea represented equally. 

When a broken string reveals itself 3 chords into the final song of their set, Nausea's first single, "Breaking the Angle Against the Tide," guitarist Javier Suarez simply leans across and places his hand on the neck of Justin's guitar stopping everything, grabs himself a new guitar, and just like that they all pick up from the beginning as groups of college students thrash around. They're barely off the stage before the decision is made to play one more song, crowd favorite "Scandinavian Crush." An appropriate ending to our short lived engagement, its lyrics asking us "If not tomorrow when will it be? When can I see you, please?" 

Sooner than 3 years, I hope.

By Ren Tarpley

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