Live Review: Twin Shadow, Niki/Dove; Jeremy Messersmith’s supper club; Orange County loves Nebraska…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Before I headed out to see Twin Shadow at The Waiting Room Saturday night, I sat out on the back patio of my Dundee/Memorial Park home and caught Dim Light’s set. No, Cooper and Co. weren’t playing in my back yard; they were playing miles away at Jake’s “Because We Can” outdoor festival in Benson, and never sounded better. While pure volume does wonders for these guys, I wonder how many fish floated to the top of Benson Park’s lagoon overcome by the sonic density of it all, a la circa 1971 Pink Floyd.
I don’t know who was playing Jake’s when I finally got to Benson a half-hour later, but they were just as loud; way louder than they needed to be to entertain the hundred or so milling about behind the chain-link fence at the edge of Military Ave., but not loud enough to seep through the thick walls of The Waiting Room, where Niki and the Dove were opening for Twin Shadow.
I knew virtually nothing about N&TD other than it was a duo (the name gave it away) and they played Euro-synth music direct from Stockholm. There on stage was Niki a.k.a. Malin Dahlström, sounding and looking like a Swedish Carol Kane singing Laura Branigan’s greatest hits. Her voice is sort of a nasal-inflected version of Stevie Nicks meets Kate Bush and is indeed lovely. The Dove is Gustaf Karlöf (how do you pronounce an umlaut?) the bearded ABBA-looking guy behind a rack of synths. While the music consisted mostly of prerecorded synth/rhythm samples, for a couple songs Gustaf pounded out beats on a small drum kit behind the keyboard rack, adding tasty Euro-tribal flair. Though clearly influence by ’80s synth-dance music, the duo were at their best when playing more intricate Eno-esque rhythms, closing out their set with a grand cascade that would have made Ms. Bush proud.
Smoke bellowed out of a fog machine for 10 minutes before Twin Shadow finally took the stage like a second coming of Prince, backed by his own 3-piece version of The Revolution. I’m not sure why I made that comparison, as Twin Shadow a.k.a. George Lewis, sounds nothing like the Purple One. TS’s recent 4AD release Confess is an homage to every ’80s and early ’90s New Wave dance project that you can think of, from General Public to Peter Gabriel. Even the album’s production cues sound purposely dated to fit the era.
But on stage, Twin Shadow was oddly modern-sounding, taking those ’80s-themed love songs and ramping them up with a more intricate, more intense approach; throttling back the synths and pumping up his electric guitar. The set was front-loaded with the best songs off Confess, including personal faves “Five Seconds” and “The One.” The crowd of somewhere around 150 grooved it up in front of the stage, doing the classic ’80s shoulder-shrug dance while George pounded out the chords on his guitar. There was a macho drama to everything he did, more intense than fun but fun nevertheless.
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Unless you subscribe to Jeremy Messersmith’s various social media channels you’re probably unaware that the singer/songwriter who has played at Slowdown Jr. a couple times in the past (including opening for The Mynabirds and the debut of So-So Sailors) is playing a special “Supper Club” house show tomorrow night somewhere in Bellevue. Tickets to the intimate performance are still available from the tour website for $15. Don’t forget to bring a covered dish.
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There’s a sweet review of FYF Fest in The Orange County Register declaring The Faint and Desaparecidos as highlights from the LA festival’s second day. From the review, which went online Sept. 3: “But three bands from Omaha – Cursive, the Faint and Conor Oberst’s recently reunited post-hardcore project Desaparecidos – also were on the bill, and without a doubt the latter two ruled the day.” The write-up called The Faint’s set “a final dazzling pick-me-up after a hot and particularly dusty weekend,” and went on to declare Desa as Oberst’s best project. “While Oberst’s other projects (Bright Eyes, the Mystic Valley Band) have been hit-or-miss, there was no question – throughout 45 minutes of loudly intoxicating new and old tunes, including a thrilling cover of the Clash’s ‘Spanish Bombs’ – that this is his most affecting outfit.” Whoa! Read the whole thing here. One question that came to mind: No love for Cursive? Come on… By the way, though Desa’s brief tour is over and Conor is now headed out on some solo dates later this month, I’m hearing rumblings that we haven’t heard the last from them…
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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