Black Box Revelation | Brooklyn | Review

By: Andrew Berry

Black Box Revelation :: 06.12.12 :: Brooklyn Bowl :: Brooklyn, NY

Black Box Revelation
There’s a certain school of thought that says anything exciting and fresh in Rock & Roll (with capital Rs) happens either in North America or the UK. Just when it started to look like that might actually be true, along come scrappy Belgian garage rockers Black Box Revelation to jolt you back to reality.

There’s no doubt that the duo are enjoying a bit of a moment right now with the June 12th release of their debut album (My Perception) in the United States, an appearance at Bonnaroo, and their network television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman, but none of that matters come show time. Once that lights hits the stage, it’s all about the riffs, the attitude, and that sense that something slightly illegal is going on. Nobody who ever saw Iggy and The Stooges circa 1973 left the building wanting to tell their parents and teachers all about it.

Let’s get this out of the way: these dudes rock. Guitarist Jan Paternoster unleashed a furious roar on his six-string and drummer Dries Van Dijck began pounding the skins with wide-eyed abandonment. It was obvious this was the real deal. No frills, no fluff, just an honest to goodness rock show featuring two guys beating the crap out of their instruments, and thank god for that. In an age where virtually everything is synthesized and processed to the nth degree, it’s good to get a potent reminder of the way things ought to be.

Black Box Revelation
“Come closer, because I think you’re beautiful” said singer/guitarist Paternoster at one point to nobody in particular. The crowd obeyed and the Belgian duo continued blasting through an assortment of tunes both old and new. The guitar tone was rough and jagged, not unlike something you’d hear on a record by The Sonics during the garage rock heyday. I could also detect shades of Black Sabbath in the dirty, sludgy riffs being offered up at Brooklyn Bowl that night. However, the duo wasn’t afraid to pull in more other influences as well. Paternoster delivered his vocals during songs like “High On A Wire” and “Bitter” in that time-honored tradition of a young John Lydon preaching Anarchy in the UK or Liam Gallagher full of piss and vinegar. From the start, Paternoster easily commanded the audience’s attention.

Even a cursory glance reveals Dries Van Dijck to be a powerhouse in the John Bonham, Dave Grohl, or Tommy Lee (minus the spinning kit) school of drumming. The way Van Dijck thrashed, flailed his arms, and swung his head around served as a powerful punctuation mark to the controlled chaos being generated by these two rockers. I could actually see the sweat flying around Van Dijck, and there was never a time where he didn’t have a big smile on his face that said, “This is what I was born to do.” It’s been said that a band is only as good as its drummer, and those in attendance at Brooklyn Bowl witnessed definitive proof of that adage.

It would be tempting to compare Black Box Revelation to other duos like The White Stripes and The Black Keys, but that would be doing the band a huge disservice. There’s a spark there, an indescribable “X” factor that pushes the group into different avenues of sound compared to other two-person configurations that people may be familiar with. During their performance, the band wasn’t afraid to explore different rhythms, textures and tones, which only kept the crowd ever-present and on their feet.

The way this Belgian duo threw down on that rainy Tuesday night at Brooklyn Bowl, it was obvious they believed. These guys were utterly confident in their conviction that this music can take you places you can’t otherwise go, and isn’t that really what it’s all about?

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