Archive for the 'live review' Category
Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 edition has come and gone, and while the dust has settled (literally), a look back at what has become one of Austin’s hottest festivals showcasing scores of indie bands sprawling genres that appeal to audiences as diverse as the festival’s lineup.
Relocating Fun Fun Fun Fest from the friendly confines of Waterloo Park to a much larger venue Auditorium Shores, was met by little skepticism by some of us who have grown to love the comfort and convenience of the smaller setup. A setup that gave us relief from the larger festivals that aren’t as quite as forgiving when trying to experience as much as you can at a festival with the ease of accessibility. Would FFF Fest still be able to maintain that feel that we’ve come to love so much about the event? Would the grown spurt be handled well enough technically and operationally that the quality of the fest not be compromised? And the dust? Most of us dealt with it years ago at ACL Festival and the thought of repeating the experience weighed heavy.
I should begin by stating that my approach to the festival experience has changed quite a bit over the past few years. Being that I really enjoy experiencing my favorite bands and live music in general in smaller venues, the idea of standing in a field in mid day watching a band run through a set that in some situations doesn’t replicate their club performance in many ways, just doesn’t appeal to me much. My approach to festivals is catch the handful of bands that I really do want to see and hope it translates well enough, and spend the rest of the time trying to experience other artists that might not be of extreme interest to me, but have built themselves a certain reputation or “buzz”. That, and catching up with peoples, and enjoying some beverages and the occasional tasty food offerings. Tasty food offerings a definite must at a festival and Fun Fun Fun Fest probably had the best selection of food that I have experienced at a festival.
I was only able to attend the last two days of the event, and as I entered the wind swept compound of Auditorium Shores, the dust was almost enough for me to consider my even staying for too long. The constant grit in my beverage, and the idea of trying to eat any food in the dust storm, played heavy on my mind, but the pending performance by M83 outweighed any decision to leave.
Throughout the course of the afternoon few bands achieved holding my attention for very long. The middle of the afternoon presented two, of which I was hoping to gain more interest in, tUnE-YaRdS and Ra Ra Riot failed to change any previous opinion that have on the recorded material. I know..gasp!
The pleasant surprise of the day, not really knowing much about the band was The Joy Formidable. I believe that there have been some comparisons to a local trio fronted by an axe wielding blonde front-woman, and understandable to a degree, but the energy, stage presence, and full band sound was impressive for such an early set.
M83 provided a great sounding set covering a fine selection of tracks from the band’s most recent release Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, but the band’s sound and visual performance would have benefited from a later set time after sunset.
Girls continue to impress as they blossom into a band that embraces the challenge of the larger stage with a sound that has evolved from quaint, quirky, cute jangly band from California into a full sounding rock band, incorporating a little psych with loud guitars.
This year my interest in the half-pipe and BMX ramp was a bit more than in the past, and it was a nice change of pace for shooting photography than the crowded photo pits where photo assigned wristbands at times sported nothing more than an iPhone for shooting. It’s great to see more interest by other media sources in the local fest, but the organization and security of the photo areas was a bit inconsistent.
In the interest of keeping this fairly short…
Sunday bands that failed to move my interest into to the plus category. Mates of State and We Were Promised Jetpacks. Always heard great things, but maybe on a smaller stage?
Kudos to Ted Leo for working through an almost non-existent voice and delivering his always infectious, high energy, sets of post-punk from one of today’s hardest working in the business.
Cannibal Corpse…that’s right. The opportunity to see something that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, and what a weird, humorous experience. Not to offend anyone, but wow. And that guy must pay thousands to his chiropractor to keep that neck in shape.
Consider me a new fan of Boris and once more impressed with the progress of Blonde Redhead in regards to their live show.
Sure, the dust was an incredibly unpleasant unfortunate part of the event. The reported exclusion of many of the local media photographers from the last two acts on every stage seems a bit of a slap in the face of the locals that have been supporting the festival since it’s infancy, and hopefully will be revisited next year.
The food was amazing, the lineup continues to grow and bring bigger acts, and the feel of the park still maintained it’s comfort while providing pockets of diversity that allows the attendee to experience something completely different in every corner of the park.
Now what are the reported numbers and facts about FFF Fest 2011? Just released:
- FFF6′s economic impact on Austin can be seen HERE
- FFF grew by over 40% in 2011, while still remaining progressive, intimate, creative, and relevant to the independent music scene
- FFF is made up of a mix of homies from all over - Austinites, Texans, U.S citizens, and International homies (45%, 41%, 13%, 1% respectively)
- FFF added over 5.3MM to the local Austin economy and over 700 jobs
- FFF employed 217 artists this year across the fest and NITES
- FFF got greener! Alternative transportation use cut emissions in Austin by 1,348 lbs (Amovens). Over 3,000 bicycles were parked on site. Over 4,000 people were shuttled to and from the park!
- Pitchfork Stream was viewed by a kujillion people
Check out the rest of our photos by Loren Root and myself…
I have to admit, that I had been looking forward to seeing this Besnard Lakes show for awhile, which for me to be this anticipatory of a live show, doesn’t happen that often. Along with that though, comes the fear that the band might not live up to your expectations, leaving a nasty mark when they don’t. Canada’s Besnard Lakes proved any doubts or fears null and void with the performance that they delivered on Tuesday night at Mohawk. And for those of you who might have thought about going, and opted for some other lame activity, you missed out. It was one of those shows that you want to share with everyone.
While the band has the recent release The Besnard Lakes are The Roaring Night to push, they blended previous material into the set seamlessly, while still touching on newer fan favorites “Chicago Train”, and “Albatross”. An enthusiastic response from the crowd after each song prompted casual banter between the band an the audience, with band members displaying the additional talent of well imitated animated character voices. And just as things started to feel as if they were going to reach this beautiful musical climax, it all ended. No encore available, and no more time to play as a result of the noise ordinance. A disappointing jarring end to a set that was on the brink of musical bliss. Maybe more time should have been allotted for the headlining act? Maybe 2 bands instead of 3? One can debate a more appeasing scenario, but then the short amount of time that was spent in the musical presence of The Besnard Lakes would be wasted on wishing and wanting. And that’s just not necessary.
And to the asshole who stole the bands keyboard earlier in the day. You’re a D***! Go steal a television, or some video games. Something we could probably use less of in our lives, not someone’s tools for creating work and art.
And….Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010..I’m talking to you..make this shit happen. Bring back the Besnard Lakes!
Photos from Mary Rehak. Go check out her site.No comments
A few years ago, I caught a little known band called Yeasayer opening for the burgeoning young band MGMT on the inside stage @ Emo’s. While the crowd was obviously focused on the blog buzzed band MGMT, Brooklyn’s Yeasayer made it perfectly clear that they were a band that was poised to be a contender in the modern rock scene.
Now, selling out 2 nights @ The Parish is quite the feat for a band, much less to have your shows moved to the almost twice the capacity La Zona Rosa for a 2 night sellout. That’s exactly what Yeasayer did this past weekend, selling out both Saturday and Sunday night playing to exuberant, dancing fans eating up everything that the band would toss their way.
What crossed my mind while watching all of this unfold on Sunday night, was the latest run in sold out shows around town. Not just selling out, but selling out quick. Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Portugal The Man, Beach House, just to name a few. What’s going on in this town, or more possibly, in the music industry? In a time when most of the country is still reeling from a recession that took some of us down like a kick to the groin, people are shelling out cash for live music. Is it possible that its a subconscious reaction to a negative situation, or maybe people are just tired of feeling shitty about life, and are seeking out that, that makes them feel good again? Or the less hopeful option would be that our little city of Austin’s music scene is just exploding? I’m going with people just want to have fun and feel good again. Which ever it may be, Yeasayer definitely made people feel good on Sunday night, and I would expect on Saturday as well.
Thanks to Mary Rehak for the photos
Is the buzz bigger than the band?
It’s a question that comes up from time to time, and the buzz surrounding the “experimental rock” band from L.A. called Warpaint has steadily and rapidly become ever so present. Some might attribute some of that to the band’s attractive looks and playful attitude. Thursday Feb 24ht was a chance to address that question. The band took the stage in Austin @ the Parish opening up for The Akron family, to a crowd eagerly awaiting the arrival of the female outfit in what would be their first performance in Austin since turning heads at CMJ 2009 and landing a recording deal shortly there after with the Rough Trade label.
With a 6 song EP the only recorded material released by the band at this point, the band had plenty of room to spread it’s wings and showcase material that the band might have marked for their full-length debut, reportedly due out sometime in the first half of 2010.
I was definitely curious as to what the band had planned for filling the drummer position, which has been the one spot that has remained fairly fluid with several taking turns on the beats for the constant trio fronting the band. Reports of experimenting with a drum machine, concerned me, but the appearance and performance of Stella Mozgawa served the lineup well. Starting out the set with an all instrumental jam, the band members worked into establishing their talents and instrumental roles on stage. Bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg bouncing up and down while laying down the thick infectious and at times a bit funky, bass lines driving the songs in the appropriate places along with the experience of Mozgawa on drums. Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman sharing the spotlight graciously taking turns adding effectively placing their guitar styles and talents adding to the dynamic of each track. The instrumental lead rolled into the single “Stars” which showcases the band’s talent for image evoking lyrics wrapped in lucid guitar sounds. While the band readily shares vocal responsibilities throughout the set, it becomes clear that guitarist and vocalist Emily Kokal is an undeniable force in the democratic unit. Comfortable with her guitar, which at times sounds influenced by the moody tense style of Disintegration era Cura ala Robert Smith, and vocally resembling another 80′s icon Siouxsie Sioux, Kokal blends sounds and textures within the alternating rhythms that warrant attention.
The band demonstrated it’s versatility with a 4 part vocal harmony on “Billie Holiday” while leading into a live version of “Beetles” that resounded more ominous and darker than it’s recorded version, showcasing Kokal’s influence on the band’s result. The set also featured a new track that hadn’t even be graced a title, along with a lengthy instrumental jam to close out their stage time, featuring members of Akron Family joining on stage for the “jam”. Warpaint spread their wings for sure, and showed the audience that there is more to the quartet than looks and a few catchy songs. They showed us that there is definitely more in store for both the band members and the rapidly growing fan base.
And the answer to the question is…No1 comment
It’s been just over one week since Fun Fun Fun Fest 09 closed down, and left us with one of the most memorable festival experiences this year. These are the last images we left with on that wet and sloppy Sunday.
I wasn’t that familiar with Mission of Burma before, but the band’s set felt pleasantly familiar, and took me back to a time that I wish still existed.
As much of a fan I have been of Lucero’s for the past few years, I had all but given up hope that the band was capable of delivering a set in which Ben Nichols voice would last to the end, as well as the band remaining sober enough to play the songs to some recognition. I was pleasantly surprised to find them in great form, along with a horn section in tow, breathing new life into the road worn veterans who still deserve their day in the spotlight.
Crystal Castles set seemed interesting enough, but I was unfortunately distracted. Photo access issues that arose late in the day, were the only setback for the festival.
There was a conversation that I had with a friend of mine who was more than excited about the resurrection of the Detroit band Death, but had concerns about how good their show could be so long after their time in the 70′s. Death quickly swept away any concerns when they took the Orange stage on Saturday night.
Arriving a bit late to the park, the band’s late start for their set didn’t upset any of the huge crowd of curious fans, many of whom weren’t even born before 1980. The band played tight and furious, to a the constant chants of “Death!” coming from the audience, an audience the size of which the band rarely if ever had played before. “Keep On Knocking” set the pace and “Politicians In My Eyes” closed out a set that had each member of the band grinning from ear to ear while receiving congratulations and high fives as they excited the stage. Well done Death, and well done Fun Fun Fun Fest.
Considering the fact that Athen’s Dead Confederate have only an EP and the 2008 release Wrecking Ball to their credit, seeing them at least a dozen times live, far exceeds any other band that has been around for that short of a time. Not that I wear this fact as some badge of honor, but for anyone that knows how judgmental I can be about live performances, it’s a testament to the band’s ability to deliver.
Taking the Yellow Stage, a scheduling decision much to my disapproval, the band drew a sizable crowd teeming with individuals obviously curious about the band’s performance. And as Dead Confederate are known to pay homage to other bands in means of covering their material, they launched into a lesser known track by a band that many may not be familiar with, including myself. “Smoke A Minor” by the band Officer May. The band then followed up with an unreleased newer song stirring curiosity as to if this was to be a preview of the next album from the band. Familiar ground took hold soon enough and the band performed all the Dead Confederate classics including the most accessible track for many, “The Rat” along with slower personal recording “Wrecking Ball”, and the ever present Sonic Youth cover.
While I could get descriptive of the performance from the band for those who haven’t seen them live, I’m more inclined to scold you for not having done so yet. The band’s constant touring schedule, and touring companions, including Dinosaur Jr, A Place To Bury Strangers, The Whigs, The Meat Puppets, and many more, should have given you the opportunity. What are you waiting for?
There’s word for a live album to be released soon, and the band is hitting the studio to record the follow-up to Wrecking Ball sometime around February. Expect the epic 6 minute plus songs found on the debut, to be replaced by tracks coming in around 4 minutes. This might be the change needed for the band to establish itself as one of the heavy mainstays needed in the world of rock-n-roll.
The announcement of the Jesus Lizard reuniting for a tour this year was some of the most exciting music news for me this year and the very early announcement of them playing at Fun Fun Fun Fest ’09 was both welcomed and torturous.
Bearing witness to the bands blunt,destructive but precision like force in the 90′s on several occasions, David Yow’s announcement “this is going to be really fucking good” previous to unleashing the first notes , sent chills. As if snapped back in time, Jesus Lizard launched into “Puss” as David Yow took to the air and the crowd. Like some twisted madman, Yow writhed atop the crowd recounting the tales of someone understanding their own brush if not their existence in a world of insanity.
It’s not all about David Yow’s intense performance either. Drummer Mac McNeilly and David Sims lay down the thunderous beat while the sometimes overlooked guitar talents of Duane Denison drove the songs like the teeth on a chainsaw. “Gladiator”, “Mouthbreather”, and “Nub” rounded out a set that couldn’t have been more well executed by the veteran rockers who showed us and reminded some, of how it’s really supposed to be done. Let’s hope that some young kid left inspired enough that he’ll convince us of that, in the near future.
As mentioned before, Brooklyn’s A Place To Bury Strangers recently released their follow up to their self-titled 2007 release, Exploding Head. The album has already garnished positive responses from critics, and is destined to make fans of those who may have found their debut a bit abrasive and unapproachable.
The weather on Sunday suitably fitting for a day full of APTBS, dark, gloomy, and drizzly, started with an instore appearance at Waterloo Records that had casual unsuspecting shoppers hurrying to complete their purchases as the bands performance grew ever more intense as each song progressed. Unfortunately the weather forced the show scheduled for the outside stage at Mohawk to move to the smaller confines of the inside stage, and a PA that may have not been suited for the intense, incredibly loud, warped sounds of APTBS. No offense to Mohawk, but there has to be a better solution to the weather issue.
For those who managed to squeeze into the tiny room inside and got close enough to see the show, which couldn’t have been easy through the dense cloud of stage fog, the band delivered an all out assault on the senses. As the show progresses the intensity increases with the effects building into waves of distorted, effect heavy, sounds complimented with visual effects and strobe lights that intoxicate the soberest of observer. Exploding Head seems all too appropriate. As the show completed it’s climatic finish, I walked away slightly disoriented and with the feeling that I had been punched in my right ear. Might sound a bit unpleasant to many, but the experience for many is just what they bargained for, and APTBS delivered.
And yes, I wore earplugs.
Photography by Maurice
I think it’s safe to say that the modern rock scene has felt an increasingly growing void in regards to artists that embody the true sense of rock-n-roll based in the punk aesthetics that once dominated the scene. The controlled explosive spill of passion, pain, heartache, and love, questioning everything in it’s path while just trying to understand, stated with guitars, bass, and drums. Colour Revolt is one of those bands bearing the burden of filling that void, whether it be knowingly, or willingly.
Since the band’s 2008 release Plunder, Beg, and Curse on Fat Possum Records, a year of constant touring, an ACL Festival appearance, and a 35 spot on Paste Magazine’s top 50 albums of 2008, the band has undergone some changes. Members Jimmy Cajoleas and Patrick Addison have moved on from the band, and into other aspects of their lives.
Sometimes change brings new challenges and discoveries of what you are really capable of, and this is the case with Colour Revolt, who aptly titled this tour “Alive” in response to questions that they had broken up.
Almost a year has passed since the band has taken the stage in Austin, Tx, and with the two members gone, and Robert Chisolm (Jonezetta) filling in on bass, the question arose as to how the band would achieve the sound of previous recordings and live outings. The challenge has spawned creativity for front-man Jesse Coppenbarger and fellow band-mates that is inspiring and hopeful. The fire and passion burns as intensely as before both with the previous material and the newer songs which have yet to see official release. Colour Revolt are definitely “Alive”, and some might say even more so than before.
From “Moses Of The South”
cause brother you are my weakness
i’ll listen and learn from your kindness
your wisdom is very thoughtless
but your window is worth looking out from
I’ll admit that I haven’t been much of a fan of the solo work of the former front-man for the Smiths, who calls himself Morrissey. Some of the early solo material sets well enough, but over the past few years, I’ve chosen to relish in the genius of the collaborative effort called The Smiths. A simple name, which simply contradicts the incredible library of artist Brit-pop/indie-rock that these four lads accomplished over the time that they were together.
Lucky enough for me, and with the assistance of some, I found myself in attendance of the Morrissey show last night here in Austin. I had probably set myself up for some disappointment based on a few years of witnessing live performances via Internet and video, and was cautious as to what I might experience this evening. What I did experience, was an unrequested trip into youthful memories that moved my emotions and spun time backwards in an instant. That instant was when Morrissey and company took the stage and launched into “This Charming Man”. Not soon after that the rendition of “How Soon Is Now” steadied that trip, while the lingering feeling of wanting to have seen the original 4 on stage for these performances, tirelessly attempted to falter the pleasure of what I was watching.The classic “Ask” beckoned for a personal sing along, which..for those that know me, is not of character, but who could resist?
As the show continued, it was evident that Morrissey still has it, and still flaunts it, much to the delight of the past and present fans. The band sounded great, Morrissey strutted the stage, crooning to the audience and playfully bantering with them between songs. There were numerous changes of clothes, and a barechested moment, while he, the man known as Mozz these days, captured the audience and held them in his hand for the entirety of the set. This is where you might understand that the reason of the dismantling of one of the greatest bands on earth came about. November spawned a monster, and monsters cannot survive together.
I loved what I saw tonite on stage, but it only made me long for once what was. A talented group of musicians and poets that brought us a musical message that was not only morose, but whimsiclay comical, and musically as serious as music should be. Please take some time to listen to The Smiths. And see the Mozz on tour if you can. It’s a treat that shant be missed.
MP3> The Smiths ‘Ask’No comments
In answering the question “what’s the best show you saw during SXSW?”, I have to think about it in a couple of different terms. There’s the bands that I may have seen times before, who are established acts and generally put on a great show and there are the bands that are really new, almost unknown to me, that completely take me by surprise. These are the 3 bands that I enjoyed quite a bit, if not quite immensely during SXSW 2009 that fall into the later mentioned.
- Twin Tigers: I had been told by some that this band was good, but when friends recommend other friends bands, I approach with caution. So this is how it all went down. Fellow Athen’s band Dead Confederate are set to close out a party on Thursday night, and upon taking the stage, announce that they are playing two cover songs then turning the stage over to their friends Twin Tigers. After DC ripped the sky open with their Sonic Youth covers, Twin Tigers filled the hole with sonic harmonial bliss, not just musically, but performance wise as well. It’s one thing if the music is good, but a great performance is key, and not having any experience with either, my reference point was zero. From zero to ten is what these guys achieved with me that night, while securing a fan or two along the way. The band has just released a 7″ on Old Flame Records and there’s an older EP that you can find on iTunes. It’s early yet for these guys, but if my experience is of any indication of what’s to come, the rock-n-roll revolution has a serious new player.
MP3> Twin Tigers ‘Envy’
- Port O’ Brien: Quite on the opposite end of the musical spectrum than the previously mentioned band, California’s Port O’ Brien combine elements of indie rock, folk, and acoustic. Although the recorded material is nothing to shrug off by any means, but it does little to relay what an amazing performance these guys put together on the stage. After receiving a nice recommendation from a friend who had seen them earlier in the day on Friday, I caught this amazing live performance @ the Soundcheck Magazine party. A high energy performance in which each song seemed to build and build in sound and texture, while each member bounced enthusiastically around the stage. Guitarist Zebedee Zaitz danced and bobbed while almost seeming to get lost in his own sounds, that it at times it was questionable as to whether or not he would be able to land safely on the ride and in time, but never failed to do so. M. Ward recently named the band his favorite new band, and it’s easy to understand why.
Photo by: Guillermo Herren
- School Of Seven Bells: Probably a little more well known to some, Brooklyn’s School of Seven Bells are no strangers to the music scene. Former Secret Machines member Benjamin Curtis has wisely choosen the beautiful talents of sisters Claudia and Alejandra Deheza to accompany him on this musical transformation from former outlet to this dreamy, lush, psychedelic, day trip destination. There’s a small hint of Curtis’s former self, and watching him lead the trio with his highly effected guitar work, reminds me of a lost opportunity to see Secret Machines in the past. The Deheza sisters add a warm harmonic element and worldly aspect to the sound that only seemed to grow more pleasant and encompassing as the afternoon set @ the Mohawk passed. Passing only a bit too quickly. The band’s debut Alpinisms found release in late 2008.
MP3> School of Seven Bells ‘Half Asleep’No comments
Austin’s own Black Angels hosted their 2nd edition of Psych Fest this past weekend, and as there was still room for a few more bodies, it was by many means a success. Plenty of music for many a music lover, great local eats, $4 Miller High Life, hula hoops for your swinging hips, and plenty of good friends made for an enjoyable weekend @ the newly opened Radio Room.
I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of some of the more traditional styles of psychedelic rock, but when the genre encompasses bands like Dead Meadow and A Place to Bury Strangers, I’m on board for sure.
The hosts of the weekend, The Black Angels closed out a cold wet Friday night, in true modern psych drone rock style, maintaining to keep the vibe intact despite issues with the PA. Issues which seemed to haunt the sound engineers most of the weekend, but failed to put a damper on the audience’s enjoyment of the music offerings. The Black Angels droned through a set that included selections from recorded material as well as glimpse of newer material that I can only hope will see availability some time this year. The band has really found it’s groove, creatively and live on stage, while arguably establishing itself as one of the best rock bands on the scene right now.
Saturday offered up two acts of interest, the first of which was San Francisco’s Wooden Shjips. They dabbled a bit much in what I consider to be the traditional psych rock, but a few songs rocked enough to keep me interested.
I have been spinning the Dead Meadow quite frequently since I caught them for the first time last January, and the live show only confirms the talent that this 3 piece outfit possess. Although the band has been around just over 10 years they are one of my favorite newer discoveries, that I highly recommend to anyone who fans a wonderful modern twist on 70′s hard rock with a slight injection of the psychedelic.
Sunday brought one of the more interesting acts to be included on the bill, Brooklyn’s A Place to Bury Strangers. Self proclaimed loudest band in Brooklyn and deliverers of total sonic annihilation. I caught the band during their last visit here in Austin, and the show was a complete sensory overload complete with throbbing strobe lights, more smoke than a Dead show, and a volume rarely experienced @ a live show these days. Singer/guitarist Oliver Ackerman lead the trio through a ferocious set once again that attacked the auditory senses slowly working himself into a frenzy that resulted in broken guitar strings while slinging the axe around on stage. Sonic annihilation that was absolutely a grand closure to a great weekend of music.
Festival organizer Alex Maas mentioned that there are definitely plans to continue with this annual event, with a committed effort to continue to build it bigger and better in the future. I’m already planning my wish list for next year.1 comment
With Deerhunter, we have a band that takes their name from an impressive war film of the 70′s, but their music has more to do with unnerving Russian roulette scene that seared itself into our collective conscious, than it does the entire film. With every song, Bradford Cox has transformed himself into Christopher Walken’s character and is spinning the barrel of his existential revolver, squeezing the trigger, smiling at his luck, and inviting us to try.
From the onset, we were met with oscillating fuzz and feedback loops that felt more like creatures from the ether swooping down on Emo’s and perching on the rafters as onlookers. Cryptograms kicks in and Cox’s voice swoons over the microphone with a ghostly reverb, the drawbridge extends itself over the hazardous moat, and we are in Deerhunter’s eerie Microcastle.
The Atlanta quintet drew from all of their recorded material to date and followed their intro with the propulsive Never Stops. Josh Fauver and Moses Archuleta held down the fort with a steady-punch bassline and a compelling kick drum, which then gave way to the epic, metal-wind chorus, as the band locked in to drive the song’s message home. It was made clear early, we were witnessing something special, something unaware of its own end.
As they intently moved through their discography, an insight began to dawn on me. The crew’s music functioned more like an incantation, the space we occupied felt more like a meeting ground for the living and the dead, and I was never more comfortable with my own mortality. There was a strange reassurance looming in the air comprised of banshee wail and Deerhunter music. Gone was the contrived head-bob and inappropriate mosh-pit, in it’s place, a committed engagement by a mesmerized audience. This was a full-blown trance, and despite my talkative friend’s wishes that “everyone should be jammin’ out,” I concluded the only thing jammed was her noodle and it prevented her from receiving transmissions from this ghost frequency. I was tired of Cox having all the fun, so I took the gun, spun the barrel, pulled the trigger, got lucky, and smiled back.
By the time they reached Nothing Ever Happened, a song that could make a serious run for song of the year in the underground circuit, I couldn’t imagine anything going wrong for these ATLiens. Nothing boasted it’s undulating hiss, exclamatory bass, Whitney Petty’s infectious lick, the tandem shimmer of Lockett Pundt and Petty’s guitars, Cox’s math-rock guitar trickery a la Van Halen, a climax culminating into a pitch-bending audio assault, and a challenge to one’s musical palate and sanity. What a great place to be!
Deerhunter’s last half of the set bounced around from new to old, to mistakenly-leaked, and back to new. At one bookend there was the grimy dance-pop of Weird Era release Operation, and at the other Twilight at Carbon Lake, a modern-day version of Santo and Johnny’s Sleepwalk. Everything in between confirmed a peculiar feeling. Although every member of Deerhunter is an integral part of its anthem(ic) sound, it’s Bradford Cox that appears to be in two realms at once, in the here and now and the hereafter, a beacon transmitting messages from a frequency which we should all hope to be attuned to. He possesses a musical soul that extends itself from the beginning of Rock’s musings to places Rock music has yet to go. At Carbon Lake’s thunderous, crescendo into tremulous, guitar fury, abrasive shrill, and percussive cacophony, I was relieved to find that we all survived this daring game of sonic Russian roulette and comforted by this thought. Once in blue moon, we encounter a band that reaches conceptual bliss, and Deerhunter is that band.