Some of the most awkward experiences I’ve had in New York City have been at concerts. Either I’ll want to break out in dance because the band is high-energy, but the crowd is sullen, or the crowd is just scratching their heads because the band looks like a wax museum display. Something about the chemistry between too-cool people and too-cool bands makes for a clumsy live music scene. This, however, was not the case the last time I saw The Hotcakes, a punk/rock/disco/jazz combo band with a killer lead female, perform at Arlene’s Grocery in November.
“Our music really feeds off of a party atmosphere,” said Lee, the band’s scruffy-fun drummer, and they don’t disavow performance as an integral part of the experience. “It’s really about the audience,” says Erin (aforementioned killer lead), which really shows through in how easy it is for even a crowd of about 10 to feel sexy and uninhibited enough to dance to their music. The Hotcakes have style and confidence and enough gusto to get even the most tepid of hipsters to shake their hips.
That feeling is even further emulated in their just recently released EP “Gonna Go Out!” for which they are having a release show this Saturday at Arlene’s Grocery followed by an afterparty (!) at the Thompson Hotel featuring DJ Pierce Jackson of Paper Mag. It’s going to be a very special show with special guests such as their sometimes-back-up singers “The Cupcakes” and even a horns section. There will also be door prizes, and who doesn’t love that? They’ll be handing out fancy new music cards to download “Gonna Go Out!”, too.
Once described by Bootsy Collins as “Blondie on steroids,” it’s easy to see a Debbie Harry influence inside Erin. “I’m not as cool and collected, though,” she told me, “and we’re definitely more hyper as a band.”
Together, The Hotcakes have formed a collective personality drawing from each of their own selective and completely different music tastes. Everyone writes their own parts, creating a unique, energetic sound that could only come from a band with a lead singer who’s into Blondie and a guitarist who’s into Bruce Springsteen.
“I always ask myself when writing music,” Erin told me, “‘Could I see a bunch of sorority girls putting this on at a party and dancing like crazy?’ Yes. OK. And then I know.” She hits the nail on the head. But! Don’t take my word for it. Come see them tomorrow at Arlene’s Grocery (and definitely hit up the afterparty at The Thompson). Here, a teaser.