Thursday, June 24, 2010

Concert Review: This Will Destroy You (Philadelphia, PA)

(photo courtesy Music Underfire)
Concert Review: This Will Destroy You w/ Light Pollution and Slow Six
Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia, PA)
June 11, 2010
I suppose I should begin this concert review with a disclaimer: I am currently an intern (whatever that means, even I'm not entirely sure yet) at the bar where this show took place. That means that I have exposure to all of the bands both before and after the show, that I get to deal with sound check and scheduling problems and cranky tour managers - the whole deal. Not that it should affect anything I write about the show, because it won't. I just thought you all should know in the interest of fair and honest journalism and all that jazz.
Allow me to actually begin this review by saying a few words about the opening bands, who are each deserving of their own article of praise. First up was Brooklyn band Slow Six, a group of five guys with an obvious classical interest in music. There were two equal violinists onstage alongside a keyboardist, a drummer, and a guitarist. No vocals were necessary for the sweeping sounds of their own miniature orchestra, the songs themselves both lulling and engaging without being too overbearing or difficult to follow. At this point, I can't say that there was much of a crowd to speak of, but those who were there found themselves unable to look away from the stage. Not showy at all, the members of Slow Six managed to grab attention solely through their prowess and obvious love of the music they were playing. And just as a fun side note from the backstage end of things, some of the guys were pretty shy and blushed a lot when they were given compliments (which happened a lot). Overall, definitely a band to look out for in the future. They're going places quietly, but surely.

Do I really have to say anything about Light Pollution? This Chicago psych band has been blowing people out of the water at their shows for the past year or so on tour. They've been through DC before, not to mention most of the country, and no one can seem to stop talking about them afterward. There is good reason for this. Once onstage, everyone in the bar fell silent and stayed that way while the dreamy chords and steady percussion swirled through the room and made itself present in every molecule of air. The band is the perfect combination of quiet and sweeping, every single instrument working perfectly in tandem and the vocals of James Cicero highlighting all the right parts. I wouldn't be surprised if these guys end up headlining their own U.S. tour sometime in the very near future, so keep your eyes peeled.
That being said - I remember listening to This Will Destroy You, well, a long-ish time ago. A couple of years at least. On their recordings they are often quiet and subdued, the kind of music that you would put on in the background while you were trying to take a nap or doze for an hour or so. I'm guilty of that. I did that before the show, actually. So imagine my surprise when I eventually see them get up onstage and start playing, and they just blast the entire bar out of the water. There is the occasional slow build-up in their songs, but it's more similar to that of the calm before an epic thunderstorm than the calming feel of a summer drizzle. Let me just say this - the crowd was mostly there to see This Will Destroy You. The crowd was also almost entirely dudes - dudes with ponytails, dudes wearing clothes from the grunge era of the 90s, dudes headbanging and playing their air guitars throughout the entire show, stopping only occasionally to scream and hoot and holler. All in all, however, I was pretty impressed. Sometimes exactly what you need is guitar and bass and drums so loud that you can't hear yourself think, can't even feel the beating of your heart because everything in the building is pulsing along with the music.
I will say that I was glad to be able to hide in the booth with my favorite sound tech, so we could safely roll our eyes at the strange movements of the crowd while avoiding the hundred or so sweaty men on the dancefloor. Word.
NOTE: Since I was technically working the show, I couldn’t really take any pictures. I did find some good ones on the interwebs though, so here are links to those.

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