Castevet (CSTVT) proved that sometimes a band’s live performance will outshine their recorded material when they appeared at Empty Bottle on Feb. 23, 2012.
The influence of prominent indie bands such as Appleseed Cast and Chicago’s American Football are easily identifiable in Castevet’s sound but the band stands on its own through the delivery of a high energy performance that captivated the audience.
Front man Nick Wakim opened with a brief monologue in which he weighed the pit falls of a snack-less life. “Do you ever feel like what you’re doing is less important than eating snacks?” Wakim asked the crowd, before the band eased into their first song with an ambient guitar landscape layered with arpeggios and accompanied by rhythm guitar similar to the sound of a beating heart.
In stark contrast to the watered-down sound of their recordings, Wakim wailed into the mic like a man possessed, his gravelly voice perfectly punctuated the crescendo of “Between Berwyn and Bryn Mawr” as his band mates pitched their bodies in time to the staccato beat.
The live, emotive translation of “Chilsen” teased listeners with an arrangement that began quiet, swelled and erupted only to return to its former, hushed tone at a moment’s notice and prompted one or two dancing bodies out of the sea of stoic “too punk to move” figures.
The drum driven climax hit like a punch to the chest in a way that isn’t possible to capture on a recording of the song, and left the listener wanting more.
Between songs, Castevet’s chemistry and light-hearted stage banter complemented the intensity with which the band played and created an atmosphere that was at once effortless and urgent in the filled show space. Wakim jokingly reverted back to the love of snacking and changed the name of their fourth song from “(Get) Bucktown” to “(Get) Snacktown.” The easy going attitude with which “(Get) Snacktown/Bucktown” was introduced matched the song’s upbeat tempo, power slides and “whoa oh oh” gang vocals backed by poppy drumming in true Midwestern punk style.
Castevet’s set built on itself and the audience’s ovation grew at the end of every song until the performance exploded in a marriage of metal and indie with the band’s final number “Cities and Memory.” The performance was nothing less than mesmerizing as the band moved in harmony with the increasing intensity of the beat. The song climaxed in a break that was nothing less than Fucking Metal as Wakim belted the lyrics, “in foreign unpossessed places,” with a voice raucous and powerful enough to rival sludge doom legends.
The band put away their instruments amid feedback and with a humble “thanks” walked off the stage, shoulders slumped in a modest display of earned exhaustion.