Williamsburg’s Cameo Gallery – one of Brooklyn’s odder spaces, accessible only through the back of the Lovin’ Cup cafe – hosted Dawn Landes on April 14, but for me the real story was in first-opener Donora. The Pittsburgh trio turned up the reverb and gave every 80s baby ample reason to rock out that night.
Powered by a bass and guitar sound that’d be at home on a Cranberries record (or Wish-era Cure), the group worked through a good deal of their 2011 release, Boyfriends and Girlfriends, while also playing some tracks from their self-titled debut. Live they carry over all of the cuteness and sweetness from their recordings while adding an irrepressible energy. A lot of this has to do with lead vocalist Casey Hanner, who’s quite an expressive singer, but additionally the rhythms move faster, everything is louder, and from first note to last it’s hard not to break out into a huge smile. It’s even harder not to dance.
On one hand I think they’d be well served to bring a fourth musician to play the old school Casio keys from the record, but on the other it’s entertaining to watch drummer Jake Hanner and his epic beard play a sampler as if it were just another piece of his kit. From the big-time, anthemic, built-for-singalongs chorus in “Boom Boom” to the softly whispered verses of “Shhh,” Donora’s music is fun, engaging, and makes for a terrific show.
STREAM: Donora – “Boom Boom”