Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Chairlift @ Bowery Ballroom 9/5

Kenya went to see Chairlift on Saturday, here goes...

Chairlift w/ John Maus and Here We Go Magic
@ Bowery Ballroom

Missed John Maus by a hair, but from outside it sounded like the world was coming to an end and Maus was issuing a proclamation from heaven with a little machine and a microphone. Very experimental, loud booming, omnipresent vocals distorted appropriately by some (I don't know the name of) machine breathing over space-aged sounds. I had no idea what he was doing in there, I couldn't see for the brick wall smack in front of me, but it sounded epic and pleasing.

I was left to imagine elaborate costumes, make up, hair, lights, puppets. I don't know what, something theatrical to fit the taste that the avant garde, extreme, noise pop was putting in my mouth.

When I finally got inside, however, and caught the last dying seconds of his act, I was disappointed to find one average, ordinary looking dude standing there, center stage, not channeling Bowie. Sweaty, hair-covered face pressed to the microphone, fist clenched in the midst of some emotion I missed out on. The last sound died out and he disappeared.

Here We Go Magic:
"We've been living in a cabin all summer." he declared just before showing us what that actually meant. 'Stream-of-consciousness', psychedelic, indie-folk - all apt descriptors for such a trippy jaunt through Luke Temple's simultaneously calming and enthralling world.

Their set seemed short to me, but quite the tick up the level of enjoyment by great leaps and bounds. I watched from the back, intrigued. Unfamiliar with their songs and unable to snag a set list, I couldn't tell you specifically what they played. "Tunnelvision" "Ahab" and "Only Pieces" must have ended up in there somewhere.

They played what seemed like a handful of endless, ascending tracks that built you up and then came crashing down on you. Intimately involved with each piece to the puzzle, it was like watching a hobbyist in practice with extreme concentration, manipulating the pieces and creating a perfect picture. So subtle, so loose, then so intense and all encompassing in one singular stretch of time. Everyone involved played as much for themselves as they did for us, becoming lost in what they were doing.

It was a very good set and quite the primer for Chairlift.

Who turned out to be one of the most amazing bands I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing on stage. Caroline Polachek (vocals, keyboards), Aaron Pfenning (guitar, synths, vocals) and Patrick Wimberly (keyboards, drums).

Most times now days going to see someone you've never seen before, there's usually always something commercial to attach them to. "Bruises" is that thing for them. But it is by no means the highlight of what they gave us.

Caroline all but cut herself open and offered up her blood for our consumption. She was raw and vulnerable and absolutely present for each offering. Backwards white washed jeans, sweaty tank top depicting the clouds, she danced around bumping into keyboards, smacking a cow bell with a drumstick, crawling on her knees and singing, singing. Her voice never wavered or lost pitch, always perfect, reverb and all.

Aaron spent a great deal of time on his knees as well, making adjustments to his effects machine. Patrick was busy hopping from drums to bass, and back again. A drum machine filled in for him when he was out of his seat. There was another dude up there, all but invisible, positioned strategically directly behind Caroline at an angle.

They tore through their set, everybody's hair in their faces. Performing:

Dixie Gypsy
Flying Saucer
Evident Utensil
Planet Earth

They also played an encore of two songs. "Somewhere Around" and "Make Your Mind Up". The latter song kind of blew mine away. It was brutal and tinged with emotion. It created a perfect, haunting echo left standing in its wake after they cleared the stage for the final time and left us in the dark.

Catch them on tour with Phoenix and The Killers if you can.

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