It’s two days before CMJ, New York’s annual industry schmoozefest, and Baby’s All Right, one of the city’s newer and hipper venues, is practically empty. In fact, there can’t be many more than 15 or 20 people watching Danish trio Baby In Vain play their first ever NYC gig.
Baby In Vain, live in New York
Venue: Baby's All Right
Danish trio play debut NYC show
You can bet though that when they play their actual CMJ shows in a few days, the venues will be riddled with industry types. And the trio will probably approach those shows in exactly the same way as they did this one – with an assured air of insouciant cool, rocking the hell out for 45 minutes, clearly lost inside their own ’90s alt-/stoner-rock time-warp.
Yet as much as it’s a throw-back, there’s absolutely nothing affected or insincere about Baby In Vain's music or their performance, which are both as pure and authentic as the pain that was channelling through Kurt Cobain’s head back in Nirvana’s heyday. Corny #1 is a snarling snake of a song that starts off all tender and wounded before it bursts into a vicious, sinister dust cloud of feedback and guitar solos that J Mascis would be proud of, while Sweetheart Dreams is a slow-motion storm of desert rock, a dark and disturbing rumination on a (bad) relationship gone wrong that skulks and crawls along with electrifying torment and a doom-laden insistence.
“Don’t humiliate yourself and pretend that you love me and I love you,” harmonise Andrea Thuesen Johansen and Lola Hammerich a cappella before the song once again explodes in a cloud of brazen, raw and sexual energy.
And there's the rub. Baby In Vain consists of three teenage girls who weren’t even born when Kurt Cobain died, yet somehow they’ve managed to absorb not only an astounding attitude and technical mastery – that runs the gamut from Sabbath to Kyuss to Nirvana – but which feels like something vital and new and fresh at the same time. How long they’ve been working towards that is anybody’s guess, but to watch them and hear them you could believe that they’ve been doing this for twice as long as they’ve actually been alive. Of course, that in itself creates a sense of unease, as the battle between innocence and experience, between what you’re seeing and what you’re hearing, unfolds onstage. A truly mind-blowing, mind-melting, mind-fucking experience that’s as mysterious as it visceral. What’s more, however accomplished they seem, it’s also clear they’re only just beginning.