Brooklyn dance bands crash Rat; Players mash big beats and melodies

The Bloodsugars frontman Jason Rabinowitz joked with energized College fans on his return visit. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Yacone)

The blue flyers adorning the walls of bulletin boards all around campus called for a “night of dance-worthy tunes from some of Brooklyn’s best up-and-coming indie rockers.” Advertising the College Union Board (CUB)-sponsored “Sounds from Brooklyn” show at the Rathskeller, the flyers were not shy in their advocacy of the featured bands’ music, calling it “quirky” and “sure to entertain.”

It was a lofty promise to make about a show that had been canceled once due to the snow and was rescheduled to a bleak Tuesday where the snow was still in abundance.

But the two bands, The Bloodsugars and Project Jenny, Project Jan, delivered.

“It’s kinda shitty out there tonight,” shouted Jeremy Haines, lead singer of Project Jenny, Project Jan, “but we’re really happy to be in here with all of you!”

Haines’s band kicked off the night with a rousing set of electro-pop, synth-heavy tunes that relied heavily upon his bandmate Sammy Rubin’s use of a keyboard and a laptop. The keyboard provided the hooks for nearly all of the songs, which were powered by a pounding, insistent beat and keyboard-driven melodies. The computer provided the effects — a slide show of eclectic images that was projected onto a large screen behind Haines, providing a playful complement to his wail and constantly shimmying feet.

Project Jenny, Project Jan has seen its predominantly underground music flirt with the mainstream scene over the past several years. The band’s single “Negative”

The Bloodsugars (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Yacone)

appeared on the soundtrack to the 2008 film “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.”

The band assaulted the Rat audience with an onslaught of color, energy and sound. They pulled from their 2007 album “XOXOXOXOXO” to deliver songs such as the bouncy “Summertime” and “Train Track,” a song, Haines announced, “about public transportation.”

They also played “Negative” — but not right away.

About halfway through the band’s high-energy set, the crowd took up a chant.

“Play ‘Negative!’” shouted a voice from the audience, rising above the steady chant of the song’s name.

“Yes! We will play that!” Haines responded enthusiastically. “But not right now!”

They played a well-received cover of Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” before giving the crowd what it wanted.

“This one is by request,” said Haines before launching into the frenetic “Negative” to close Project Jenny, Project Jan’s set.

Next to take the stage were The Bloodsugars. The four-man outfit gave the Rat a dose of their signature rocking, multilayered indie pop. The driving beat and dancing melodies had feet tapping and students dancing in front of the stage.

The band played at the Rat last year, and made a note of it in their introduction.

“We’re called The Bloodsugars, and we’re from Brooklyn. It’s really good to be back here, really good to be back at the Rat,” said lead singer Jason Rabinowitz.

The Bloodsugars provided a lighthearted, fun performance with lots of interaction with the audience. At one point, Rabinowitz sheepishly admitted his failure to bring a keytar — the lightweight keyboard strapped on like a guitar that had been one of the highlights of last year’s performance.

“This is usually the part of the show where I bring out the keytar,” he said. “I failed on bringing the keytar. Just imagine that there’s one — a big, red keytar.”

“A little red keytar,” amended Brendan O’Grady, The Bloodsugars’s bassist.

The Bloodsugars played songs from their 2009 album, “I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On,” and their 2008 EP “BQEP.” They closed the show with a cover of Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science.”

Estephanie Betances, senior psychology major and CUB-Rat co-chair, cited the band’s ’80s influence as one of the reasons she brought the band back to the College.

“The Bloodsugars came last year and I liked the music,” Betances said. “I liked the ’80s vibe. I thought it would go off well with a student crowd.”

She said she was pleased with the overall results of the show.

“We thought we’d expose the campus to something different. We wanted to have one more traditional ’80s-sounding band with The Bloodsugars, and one that was different with Project Jenny, Project Jan,” she said. “We would have preferred to have more bodies at the show, but the bands were very enthusiastic. They enjoyed themselves.”