Commentary and photos by Jeff Rey
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From the instant The Break-Up’s Jay H. pumps up the buzz-saw bass intro to kick off the set at Sin-é you just know things are gonna get raucous. And when Greg Altman brutally slams the skins into action and Jeff Mensch launches a screeching guitar assault, only the steady, solid keys of Allie L. seem to keep this suddenly awakened rock ‘n roll animal from tipping over the precipice in the wild throes of passion. Amid the aural attack, James Spoiler struts the stage, pumps his fist, glances above as if for divine inspiration and then launches into it, not so much because it’s time, but because what has to be said has to be said – NOW!
That undeniable urgency is at the heart of The Break-Up’s sound. They aren’t weaving stories here. They’re sanctified witnesses jumping to their feet to boldly testify - loudly and directly from the soul. That approach doesn’t come as a surprise from this bunch. Spoiler, Mensch and Altman were all in raunch ‘n roll outfit Girl Harbor and Spoiler and Mensch were the principals of the almost-famous Come On before that. But what is surprising is just how tight The Break-Up are. This might in part come from their recent cross-country mini tour – including a recording session in L.A. – with the requisite van breakdown in no-man’s-land on the way back to New York City. Lots of strange gigs in strange places and living on the go can quickly tighten things up.
       The songs they did this night from their CD
She Went Black were virtually indistinguishable from the recording. Of course added was the visual element (and this band does look cool) and the roar from the stage vibrating the floors and walls of the joint also added to the excitement. Control while seeming out of control. It’s rock ‘n roll slight of hand that bands like the Stones and NY Dolls were masters of. And that brings us to Spoiler’s voice. There’s certainly shades of Jagger/Johanson in there, as well as a good deal of Dictators era Dick Manitoba’s braggadocio – all by way perhaps of more contemporary disciples. Despite all that, James has one of those rare instantly recognizable rock voices that is clearly his own.

       The Break-Up are a fun band to drink in excess to, and with that relentless, driving beat – doing the nasty to ‘em seems like a natural, too. It’s more than a refreshing shot in the arm for a scene that continues to be flooded with sexless, meandering whiners in T-shirts and (gulp!) baggy shorts and where it all too often seems like we’re watching a (yawn!) band rehearsal rather than a rock event. This is New York City for God’s sake – you know, the big stage? The Break-Up realize it and use that stage as a platform to launch their gritty, street-wise brand of rock ‘n roll played at full intensity.