three shows, two days
I don’t normally lead the fast-paced, show-every-night lifestyle. The stars were in the proper settings lately, though, and it’s through some strange twist of fate that I found myself in motion from boro to boro earlier tonight, multiple destinations in mind.
First, though: last night. Mum, Stars As Eyes, and Animal Collective at the Bowery Ballroom, accompanying these two. I’d downloaded an Animal Collective MP3 not that long before, and had dug it in an eccentric kind of way. I suspected that I would have similar mixed feelings to their music as I did towards the Avey Tare & Panda Bear (members in common, etc) disc that I own. The Animal Collective stage setup for this show involved two fellows on assorted guitars and percussion, and….how best to put this…making noises. Shrieks, grunts, that sort of thing. Animal noises, basically. Lots of cycling and looping throughout; at times it came together, and at times it sounded like two guys on stage messing around with gear.
Stars As Eyes were next; I’d never heard them before, but – with one slight reservation – was quite impressed with what I heard. Beats and layers and layers of white noise and distortion; I’d seen at least one MBV citation in a review of something of theirs, and that’s not too far off the mark. The latter half of the set veered into slightly more beat-dominated territory, which didn’t interest me quite as much. (That would be the “slight reservation” listed above). Still, a fine showing; I’ll probably end up picking up a record of theirs before too long.
I’d seen Mum the previous summer at the Brooklyn Lycaeum, performing music while Battleship Potemkin was projected next to them. It was a hell of a show. The Bowery show focused more on newer (i.e. as yet unreleased) songs – though a couple of older ones made their way into the mix, to much applause. In some ways, the amount of applause seemed almost improper for the band – this is a group that makes deeply layered yet extremely delicate music; cheering and yelling encouraging words seems somehow too threatening. I don’t know.
Mind you, though, the audience was generally pretty quiet, which was understandable. Standing in front of me as Mum’s set began were three dudes, all with digital cameras, all practically giddy as the band began to play. The Lone Gunmen of Icelandic indie rock fandom? Maybe. They kept leaning in and chattering until one came to his senses and shushed the others. This happened more than once. One of the Gunmen was inexplicably sporting a hat, which he kept putting on, realizing subsequently that he was blocking the view of the people behind him, and removing. This, also, happened more than once.
The real kicker in the crowd, though, were two ladies at the bar at the back of the room, having themselves a nice sit-down conversation.
Had the band playing been, I don’t know, Hot Snakes, or Superdrag, or someone else with, well, loud guitars, this might not have been as glaring. But when you’re in the back of the room talking and you’re THE LOUDEST THING IN AN 800-PERSON VENUE, we have something of a problem.
I think someone said it best many years ago when they developed the word “Oy”.
Tonight. Stop one: Kilowatthours at the Mercury Lounge. Said venue is a nice, comfortable place to see a band, and I spend little to no time there. If memory serves, tonight was my first time seeing a show there in well over a year – though I’ll be back in a week for Dalek. Fine show, lots of guitars, keyboards more audible in the mix than previous kwh shows in NYC….an overall good time.
Left the show just before eleven. Went to a deli to get some cash from an ATM, and to buy some batteries for my camera, which had inexplicably (well, not that inexplicably – the last batteries I’d purchased for it were bought in the summer of ’01) run out of power. Spent the next twenty minutes trying to hail a cab; I’d mostly given up hope when one pulled up to me.
Arrived at Northsix just in time to see Frog Eyes. I’m still at a loss as to how to describe this band; the main points of comparison that I find myself coming up with are to idiosyncratic, unclassifiable musicians: Nick Cave circa From Her to Eternity, various points in Mike Patton’s musical history, Tom Waits – with a dark, almost carnivalesque quality running throughout. (The link above features two MP3s, which are well worth a listen). Their live incarnation has a slightly different feel than their recorded material, but that’s hardly a complaint. There’s a sense of immediacy throughout, a grandiose reach that few bands have….
Suffice it to say, the news that they’d be back in the city for CMJ was a fine piece of information to learn.