There is no warning before the room erupts. Prior to L.S. Dunes taking the stage, the air in Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar is dense with potential energy. The crowd is ready and eager for anything the night brings. As they enter, Dunes engulfs the stage in guitar riffs and slamming drums loud enough to crack all of that anticipation wide open. With its relentless rhythm, “Bombsquad” is a perfect opener for the night—it’s like casting an electrical line into a lake, sending off sparks of adrenaline across the entire venue. From the first punchy notes, the members of Dunes are giving this performance every ounce of zeal and angst that they have. And the crowd is not far behind. By the time the first chorus kicks in, they have given in to the boundless energy.
Born during the apex of the pandemic, L.S. Dunes is a post-hardcore supergroup that brings together legends from across the alternative rock scene. Their lineup consists of vocalist Anthony Green (Circa Survive, The Sound of Animals Fighting, and Saosin), guitarists Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance) and Travis Stever (Coheed and Cambria), drummer Tucker Rule (Thursday), and bassist Tim Payne. Though the band is still in its infancy (it has been less than a year since they first performed together at Riot Fest), they are embarking on their first US tour with their debut album, Past Lives.
One trapping of supergroups is that they don’t have to try. Their legacy is often enough to carry a crowd through a lack-luster performance, but L.S. Dunes is clearly uninterested in relying on their names alone. They plow through their songs with the ceaseless enthusiasm that their discography demands. Though they are well-established musicians, they play their instruments with a certain brand of raw adrenaline that is usually reserved for underground artists. This is evident in the fourth song of the night, “Gray Veins”. With a driving bass line and chilling vocals, the tension creeps through the song until it bursts at the chorus. As Green belts out the lyrics, “I don’t wanna kill time like it doesn’t matter / you chose this instrument yourself,” there are people visibly drenching themselves in the words.
The passion is palpable. With each passing song, there are more crowd surfers and more moshing until the pit becomes a blur of bodies and limbs clad in black fabric. Dunes conducts the mayhem of the audience with astonishing control. It is a dynamic give and take, band and fans feeding off of each other’s vigor.
The wailing guitars of “Gray Veins” have barely faded when they morph into a tempting and invigorating lick. The band break into their newest single, “Benadryl Subreddit” with enough tenacity to rattle the marrow in everyone’s bones. The spiraling guitars and quick-paced pulse of the drums emulsify with impressive precision. In an interview with Kerrang about the song, guitarist Frank Iero said, “Benadryl Subreddit represents the heat of the day out in the desert, sweating bullets and going fast.”
And Saint Vitus Bar could be no better venue for the song. Its tight interior keeps the commotion and clamor contained, allowing it to build on itself. The walls are dripping with condensation and sweat, the reverberation of the music is pungent, and the floor feels like it might cave in. It is like a snow-globe preservation of the pre-mainstream emo scene. A picture which L.S. Dunes fits right in. Their sound holds the same rage and powerful chords that emerged during the scene of the early 2000s, yet they bring a more technical and modern edge that makes their music something new entirely. One of their final songs, “2022”, is, as the name suggests, a sign of the times. The track claws its way through itself, an auditory depiction of the kind of desperation that was pertinent to the age of the pandemic. Still, hearing the persistent drums and Green’s pushing vocals live are a testament to the track’s timelessness.
As the night sprints to a close, L.S. Dunes slide right into their encore without bothering to leave the stage. “Sleep Cult” is the gentlest song on the band’s discography, but the melodic hum doesn’t dispel any of the energy; it simply gives it a new name. The precise and hypnotic ballad demands all the attention in the room. It is a stark shift from the rest of the explosive setlist, but it is captivating all the same.
The truly striking thing about L.S. Dunes is their duality. Such deliciously raucous stage presence is not typically paired with a polished performance, but both coalesce during Dunes’ set. At one point in the night, Green tells the audience, “I can see some of you fuzzing together.” And that’s exactly what this band is doing, too. They’ve combined each members’ distinct musicianship and experiences into a singular sound which is capable of breathing new life into the grittier side of the scene.
You can catch L.S. Dunes on the remainder of their US tour, or check out Past Lives on your streaming service of choice.