Sunday night I arrived at the upstairs lounge at Pianos in the Lower East Side. A small place to house a powerful voice, I thought, as Pianos tends to host bands with a metallic flair that would require good sound diffusion to appreciate.
About to start were the acoustic duo, Gazelle. Armed with a short blue dress and some serious copper pipes, the lead singer, Zeena Koda stood in unapologetic confidence, ready to either blow us away or take us all out. With the ever-present resilience that could only stem out of Jersey City, she already told the audience and myself that we fucking suck at least twice before the show even began.
With a swift methodic kick of the amp below him, the bearded quieter half, Jason Urbanski, wove the makeshift bass drum into his rarely amplified guitar with a whirling rhythmic motion that sent us all into a trance.
Koda’s smooth sultry voice opened us up to her world, and jaws dropped as her voice fluidly progressed into a powerhouse of endless capacity that drew consistent throughout. Deep into the show, it was clear that she could take us on an emotional high in an unyielding rasp that moves you like that of the Wilson sisters without the dramatic hook.
I followed the impressive oscillations, and though pitchy and raw at times, one particular melancholic tune at the end of the set convinced us all that a Gazelle show is a ride worth taking.
Self-described as a “beat laden slap in the face,” Gazelle has this impassioned sound that will push limits as far as an acoustic guitar can go. Just make sure you see them in a venue with enough room to support a powerful voice. It was difficult to find the sweet spot in the upstairs Pianos venue, and personally, I like to keep a safe distance from those of Jersey City.