by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
It was a three-day weekend for me, thanks to my birthday (and thanks again to all you Facebook peeps who sent good wishes). Monday off meant I was free to attend Sunday night’s shows at the good ol’ Waiting Room
We grew up thinking of a future where musicians will be able to create any sound using their computers. We landed there Sunday night — three bands whose sound was mostly driven by computers and synths, which meant lots of people on stage bouncing around, looking down at their gear and furiously twisting knobs and stabbing buttons.
Opener D33j created electronic soundscapes behind his work panels. He looked like a DJ, but I didn’t see any turntables or hear any specific samples. Instead, he created his own sounds / beats / melodies adding vocals mostly as just another layer of sound. Very trance-y.
He was followed by Houses, a more “traditional” band in that they actually had a lead guitar player who can shred with the best of them. I described Houses’ record last week as sounding like a more upbeat version of The National (thanks in part to Dexter Tortoriello’s vocals). But that comparison was lost Sunday night as Houses brought a much denser dreamscape sound augmented (in a New Order sort of way) by that amazing guitar. Despite modern beats and sounds, Houses owes a lot to late-era Cure (Disintegration, for example).
Headliner Baths gets grouped with the chillwave outfits, where it doesn’t really fit. Will Wiesenfield is the mad genius creating all the sounds from two panel racks, with the help of one other guy who “played” alongside at his own rack of electronic gear, occassionaly threatening to play guitar (but he if he did, I didn’t hear it in the din). Wisenfield’s “music” is an intricate proggy blend that reminded me of early, trippy Peter Gabriel mixed with the chaos of other electronic outfits like Grimes. When he isn’t shrieking in falsetto, Wisenfield’s voice bears an eerie resemblance to Adam Goren (Who remembers Atom and His Package?).
I wasn’t a follower of Baths (as most people who I spoke to at the show beforehand were) and found Wisenfield’s sounds take some… adjustment. In addition to having the deepest, loudest low-end I’ve heard at The Waiting Room since the last Faint show, Wisenfeild’s melodies were abrasive and tricky but worked their way into my psyche. What starts as awkward and ugly becomes big and beautiful by the end.
It was surprising how entertaining a guy standing (or sitting) behind a laptop, keyboard and pedal rack could be. I could ask you if this is the future of rock and roll, but it’s already here. And while artists like Baths and Houses and D33j can recreate almost any sound you can imagine, they can’t equal the energy of a traditional rock band, nor would they want to try. There’s an intentional soullessness to it all, a weird hollow trancelike quality, which I’m guessing is so appealing to their biggest fans.
And then there was Friday night.
Opening band Last Good Tooth might have the worst name in the music business but they’re still a darn good band. I said their lastest album was in the M. Ward vein, and that’s pretty much what the four -piece (including a tasty fiddle) brought to O’Leaver’s in one of the oddest, diverse line-ups I’ve seen at a show in a long time.
LGT was followed by Malaikat dan Singa, whose rhythmic, violent style bordered on confrontational performance art, except that the lead guy could play a mean bass clarinet.
Finally, it was the return of Touch People a.k.a. Darren Keen. Keen’s current sound mixes his own electronic creations (rhythms, noises, clicks, beats), with his electronically augmented voice (on helium). I’ve seen Touch People before and got lost in the noise due to sounds coming at me too fast, too disconnected, too dissonent. Keen’s finding his sweet spot with these new songs that not only have a more cohesive central rhythm/melody, but incorporate Keen’s abbrasively honest real-world views (which I just happen to agree with). Keen would have been right at home at TWR Sunday night.
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Pseudo indie (but not really) popsters Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros headline at Stir Cove tonight. The show starts at 7:30 and will run you a cool $42 (with fees).
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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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