Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Live: Woods, Silk Flowers + No Age

When: October 14
Where: Le Poisson Rouge

So ages ago, I went to see No Age play at Le Poisson Rouge because I couldn't go to their weekend shows. It may have been a really late show on a weeknight, I may have had the swine flu, but nothing was going to stop me from seeing this band.

I got to LPR in time for Silk Flowers, who at first seemed to be some gangly young men playing around with droning, monotonous synthesizers, which looked fun for them, but I couldn't figure out why anyone would think it was a good idea to put them on a stage in front of an audience. However, eventually, one of the gangly youths slouched over a microphone and performed what sounded like a drunk gorilla doing an imitation of Ian Curtis. It was awful, but I think it was intentionally awful, and at least awful in an interesting way. With only a very loose sense of pitch and no annunciation, the baritone drawl slobbered spastically over the songs.

The synth parts were boring and the songwriting sloppy, but the vocals were just weird enough to really excite a small part of me. Over all, I don't think I can recommend this. I think it's just a disaffected imitation of a bunch of trendy bands. But I'm not entirely sure. [MySpace]

Woods, one of my favorites, were up next. Their set was really mixed. It started and ended with obscenely long, self-indulgent jam sessions. This kind of stunt is rude, even when once-good legends like the Grateful Dead do it. It's certainly not a right earned by Woods, whose success is moderate and recent. Anyway, Woods aren't particularly great at their instruments and they aren't particularly amazing noise-makers - their appeal is based on their extraordinary songwriting coupled with a bit of weird sound and delivery. The songwriting is more than half the equation, so what's the point of fucking around for fifteen minutes?

In the middle, though, Woods played like the band I love. Their melodies, new and old, are still captivating, and their sound still weirdly distant and otherworldly. They fixed up their old songs with some well-conceived adjustments, cranking the volume in some parts and adding new vocal harmonies to songs like "Rain On" (which pleased me, since whenever I end up working late, I end up sitting in my office trying to harmonize with that chorus). The band has tightened up, no longer struggling with tempos and locking in seamlessly - months of shows will do that for you!

Unfortunately, they ended on another ridiculous jam. Guys, keep that to five minutes, tops, especially as an opening band. The sound guy appeared to be trying to signal to the band to stop, but they just droned on and on and on. It didn't ruin the set, but still, a bad move. [MySpace]

By the time No Age took the stage, my H1N1 got the best of me (did you think I was kidding?), and I couldn't really enjoy much of the set. It was noisy and good and the band's two members seemed like really nice guys, but I was keeling over in a corner so I don't think I'm qualified to write a proper review. Let's just hope they come back to NY soon.

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