Take me out tonight, because I want to see people and I want to see life. - Steven Patrick Morrissey
Earlier in the morning yesterday, I downloaded some music (legally, of course, I pay my music service well) so I could expand my knowledge on the band I was to see that night.
During my commute to work, I had my mp3 player at random (I'd like to cross out Creative and write Apple iPod, so you guys and gals would think I'm more upscale), and for some reason, it chose only songs that were only able to be produced in the studio and difficult to listen to and reproduce on a live stage. I started having my doubts about the gig.
Then I thought to myself, they're not going to play things that aren't difficult or not crowd pleasers and pull an Andy Kaufman maneuver.
I get there after the doors open. There couldn't have been more than 40 in the room, so I start to get nervous. I grab a beer, the opening band comes on, and I shuffle to the front of the room by the band My Dearest Darling. The room starts to fill up during their set and by the end of their surprisingly good set, the room swells with probably over 250 bodies.
One noticable thing about My Dearest Darling. The bassist and drummer switched places 3 times or so during their set. Why this is I am unclear, but I think the shorter guy was the better drummer and the taller one was the better bassist.
Fiery Furnaces take the stage and after another beer, I am near the stage again, but not as close as I was at first, about 3 or 4 back, and in clear view of Eleanor and the band. First song played was the only one I knew with any certainty, Navy Nurse. The rest was for the most part was unexplored territory, and enchanting it was. Older favourites such as Single Again and Blueberry Boat were played as well as newer live versions from Bitter Tea and Widow City.
Early on in the set, it was revealed that bassist Jake was playing so hard that his wrist bled over the top of the bass. Helter Skelter Paul McCartney has nothing on this guy. Jake took it like a champ and kept playing, sans bandage. Truly Jake is a Les Claypool for the next generation.
Matthew is a mad master of the keys. Whilst everything aurally seems to be in chaos, every dissonant cluster chord has been carefully and meticulously planned. Ray Manzarek of Doors fame he is not; only so much more.
And Eleanor, unassuming in her own style. Vocal intensity is her forte. However, not as one usually expects female vocalists. She is more of a vocal percussionist, attacking each sung syllable with a drummer's precision on a snare. The rhythms flow out of her like an engine piston, as if there was a fourth instrument in the band. Lyrically, she sets forth a positive future while reflecting on a stormy past, and the juxtaposition of the two set the tempo for most of the songwriting - "I'll never get married again/When I was single/My pockets would jingle."
Audience participation was minimal until toward the end of the set. Eleanor announced to the room that this is a derockracy, she will take secret ballots on slips of paper on the stage that they would do the song with the most votes before the end of the set. Place Freebird joke here.
Now it wasn't fair of me to classify them prior as electronica, this couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, their set last night didn't feature a guitar, just bass, drum, and keys. And not in the way you would think like Keane. Other YouTube vids feature guitar, sometimes two, sometimes other percussion and instrumentation. I have the tremendous feeling that no two shows are the same as they tweak theme and variation. Let's call them indie and leave it at that. Let's also say they are a much better and different band live than they are on their studio CD.