Amityville Music Hall is a closet of a venue. One could theoretically throw a rock from the middle of the concert space and do some serious damage to the bartender. In short, it’s the perfect venue for a bombastic and intimate comeback.
On March 8, a windy Saturday evening, this is where This Good Robot decided to host their first show in eight years.
The show also featured performances from Tree Line Drive, Jennah Vox and Machinery of the Human Heart.
Kicking the night off was Tree Line Drive in their very first live performance, not that you would have guessed by watching. While still rough around the edges, the group clearly has potential. With a set including their original track “Magnolia” and a cover of “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon, Tree Line Drive exhibited a kind of talent and poise that can only go up from here.
Jennah Vox must subsist on a strict diet of Cranberries records, because her powerhouse voice recalls the late great Dolores O’Riordan. Singing from the bottom of a bruised soul, she was accompanied only by a keyboard (lent by Marvin of Machinery of the Human Heart) and a guitar at any time. Next time you need to cry out your heart into a bottle of wine, crank up “WDYL” or “Cannibal.”
Machinery of the Human Heart certainly lived up to the project’s name. With painful honesty and raw vocals, frontman Marvin took the stage with just a piano and some damn good songs to exhibit exactly what makes his heart beat – and break. Songs like “Jesus on the Telephone” and “Your Surgeon is Human Too” made the crowd laugh, cry and cheer along with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and near-uncomfortable bouts of honesty. The last song, described by Marvin as “about a funeral,” hit the hardest when Marvin tearfully screamed “I love you, Danielle!” With that, and shouts of support from the audience, Marvin left nothing but blood on that stage for the headlining band to splash in.
About that headlining band…
If nothing else, This Good Robot proved Amityville Music Hall to be a live grenade, and frontman Michael Ragosta was beyond eager to pull the pin. The second they launched into “We Don’t Just Rock, Together We Roll,” the mosh pit was open and thrashing. “Barnaby Black is dead,” Ragosta screamed, and all us “motherfuckers” were next.
This Good Robot only has two records released: their 2011 EP The Human I Am and the 2015 album The Light is Taking Me to Pieces. Not only did that make it easy for new fans to get into them and old fans to get caught up, listening to the latter front to back is like reading a comic book. The concept album is filled with triumph and turmoil, heroes and villains – oh, and zombies. This is made perfectly clear with the track “The Human I Am,” which Ragosta performed with an acoustic guitar and the crowd literally at his feet.
Ragosta’s dynamic vocals aren’t the only thing that makes these songs soar. Guitarists John Welsh and Andrew Sclafani shred the songs to pieces before scattering them like Barnaby’s ashes. This shines particularly bright on “Get That Money,” a standout track with perfectly-calculated rage towards an insulting bribe. Layered lightning-fast guitars and apocalyptic drums from Vinny Nuzzi make it one of This Good Robot’s best, an impressive feat with a setlist that also included “Let’s Find Some Meaning” and “Woe is Barnaby Black.”
Of course, there was only ever one way to bring this set, as well as the entire show, to a close: “Call the Police.”
Easily This Good Robot’s most iconic track, “Call the Police” is both a deranged supervillain anthem and a resigned cry of defeat from the hero. Yet, it does both extremely well, balancing the villain’s mania and the hero’s dejection with detail and precision. In just over four minutes the hero gets captured, the love interest betrays the hero, the villain kills the love interest and proposes a partnership with the hero. All of this, against an instrumental that goes from a fanciful waltz to a post-hardcore wail at the flip of a switch, brought the show to a verbose and epic climax.
The song is not only iconic for all these elements, but also the way Ragosta crawls over the audience during the final chorus. Supported only by whoever has the best grasp on his ankles, he sings “This world, let’s tear it apart” in a way that makes you believe he will at any moment.
The March 8 show was the first This Good Robot played since 2015. Based on the energy between the band and the audience, it’s sure not to be their last.
Update: In the initial post, it was reported Kyle Carberry was one of the guitarists performing on March 8 when it was actually John Welsh. The In-Crowd has corrected this error and is committed to better fact-checking in the future.