We encourage all our writers to draw cartoons to accomadate their live reviews. These bitchin' drawings come via Mark Stock.
Sometimes three bands play a single show. Other times, three shows play a single evening. Wednesday night at Holocene felt more like a mini-festival than a single ticket, offering bands with certain ties but very distinctive sounds.
“There’s a whole lotta Canada in here tonight,” warned Cecil Frena. The brain behind dream-trance outfit Gobble Gobble was referring to not only fellow openers—and countrymen—Braids, but the legion of haphazardly dressed minions who kept his rhythms by banging on oversized drums or hoisting inflatable ghosts into the air. Frena, formerly of the Candian hardcore scene, hasn’t all together abandoned his love for the hard-hitting (as evidenced by his rave-a-fied remix of Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind”). Apparently, he lost his voice one tour and decided pop would be easier on the pipes.
While his show did not lack color or interaction, Gobble Gobble’s focus seemed to be spectacle rather than sound. Frena began his set wearing a glow-in-the-dark Wolverine glove, each claw offering a different color. His Auto-Tuned voice was awash in polish, and listeners couldn’t help but be reminded of Cher’s last gasp attempts at contemporary pop. Yet, Gobble Gobble turned it around, spilling drinks with the neurotic, arcade-bred amalgamation “Lawn Knives” and a few other wonderfully spinning brash-dance numbers.
When Raphaelle Standell-Preston of Braids walked on stage with a bag of cough drops, there was a noticeable breath of concern. She appeared sleepy but acted anything but, singing jazzily before outstanding drum work and a slough of simple effects. And while “Lemonade” deservedly earned the most claps, I was surprised to see people abandon Braids during the vocally-impossible “Native Speaker.” It’s not often a musician in a very balanced four-piece act is left to her own devices. But that is exactly the case in this the title-track for its stunning January release. Standell-Preston’s breathless wailing climbs up and down registers, always a bit nasally, but never held in one place for long.
The pouncing “Same Mum” shone a light on the band’s affection for improvisation. Rim shots and snare blasts formed an artillery-like backdrop for the multi-chaptered song. Running seven minutes on tape, Braids stretched it even further live, blowing on the embers of looping guitar speak and Standell-Preston’s voracious vocal crescendos.
One man wrecking crew Baths put the bounce back into the crowd’s collective step. Just a youngin’, Will Weisenfeld has earned the backing of coveted indie-hop label Anticon. and does to music what Darren Aranovsky does to film. That is, he dices it up and restructures it in a way that makes you cover your eyes and peak through your fingers. He displayed the many pluses of freshman release Cerulean, the rattly chill wave meets trip-hop that will leave you gasping trying to keep pace.
Weisenfeld’s vibrato and bubbly sampling technique came to the fore in “Apologetic Shoulder Blades,” his Passion Pit-esque jam featuring cacophonous bass and clean, always climbing vocals. He stood over his table of buttons and wires and turned out a stormy and checkered set of kinetic electronica.