It’s the last day of August and about 300 people have chosen to close out the month inside an abandoned subway tunnel in Bushwick at a generator show hosted by the Brooklyn-based band Godcaster.
Thanks to some flood lights purchased from Home Depot earlier that day, a halo illuminated the structure making it look like an industrial cathedral, perfect for an all-star bill of up-and-coming New York bands — also including Chanel Beads and YHWH Nailgun — to take up residency for the night.
It’s hard to put a single label on Godcaster’s sound, especially because the band is constantly pushing to reinvent itself. Inspired by the likes of Radiohead, Swans and The Flaming Lips, the sextet has landed somewhere in the middle of experimental rock, art rock, noise rock and shoegaze.
“We’re not trying to genre hop,” says lead vocalist and guitarist Judson Kolk. “In fact [it’s] the opposite. I’m trying to find a sound that we do.”
All of this has made Godcaster one of the more exciting bands to watch as it carves out a space on the local and national stage. In recent years, the sextet recorded a live session on Audiotree, played South by Southwest and opened up for the noise rock band Guerilla Toss. In 2023 alone, they’ve already completed two tours, released their second album (Pitchfork calls it “proudly over the top” and “relentless”); and will embark on an ambitious two-month North American and European headlining tour later this month.
They’re also in the process of writing and recording their next album, the first single of which, “Lady Said a Body,” dropped on Tuesday. Twinkling keys pulled evocative of a cursed musical box serve as a leitmotif for the titular Lady, a high school track and field star in small town America who begins experiencing disturbing trances after being stalked by an otherworldly man. The song comes to a jarring end, perhaps suggesting the downfall of its main character.
Kolk says the new song is an interpretation of the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone with an injection of Stephen King-inspired absurdity.
“I love Stephen King’s characters and specifically the idea of ‘The Shining,’ which is a recurring phenomenon in his universe,” Kolk says. “It’s kind of horrifying and beautiful. Modern preteens having these unexplainable otherworldly ecstatic abilities that they have to discover and experience. It’s so good.”
As the evening unfolded in that abandoned subway tunnel, cigarette and weed smoke billowed from the tunnel while Gen-Z fans tagged the walls and took pictures with vintage cameras. Anyone who claims rock is dead apparently doesn’t know where to look.
Godcaster went on around 10 p.m., and the crowd immediately pressed forward toward the stage. Anyone who’s seen the band before knows it’s best to get a front row seat.
They opened with the walloping tune “Diamond’s Shining Face,” and it only took Kolk a couple of minutes to start haphazardly flailing through the crowd. The tension of the band’s discography brought to life through his movement amplifies the explosiveness of Godcaster’s music — not to mention the sheer force with which the band plays its songs live.
Which is why Godcaster is a band best experienced in person. In addition to Kolk’s kineticism, you might get multi-instrumentalist David McFaul army-crawling like a snake during the hypnotic 10-minute epic “Didactic Flashing Antidote,” or multi-instrumentalist Von Kolk wandering through the crowd as she sings “Pluto Shoots His Gaze Into the Sun.” Throughout the set, members of the audience could be heard at one point or another saying,“This is my show of the year,” “I love when he sings” and “They’re my favorite band.”
Five songs into the band’s set, flickering LED strobes from Brooklyn Police officers’ flashlights signaled that the evening would be coming to an end. The band told everyone to go home, but the crowd chanted for one more song.
After some internal deliberation, Godcaster burst into a thrashing version of “Gut Sink Moan,” immediately triggering a mosh pit in front of the stage. The performance was visceral; a chaotic swirl of noise and emotion.
As attendees vacated the area, they were met by an almost comical legion of cops. All six band members received trespassing fines, but the general consensus is that forfeiting some of their ticket sales from the night in exchange for one of the most talked-about underground shows of the year was worth it.