Thursday, March 17, 2005

Otherside, Invisible Cities, etc. 3/16 at 12 Galaxies

Though the show itself had its ups and downs, it’s been almost two months since I’ve seen some live music so I remained completely content throughout. Plus, 12 Galaxies (on Mission St. in San Francisco) has Full Sail on tap.

The venue is bizarre, to say the least. It’s sort of like seeing a show in an Iroquois longhouse, if you can imagine. The shape doesn’t adversely affect the sound in any serious way, but it creates a feeling of emptiness even with a good-sized audience. Given that it was a Wednesday night four-act show starting at 9PM, the crowd was decent. Had my girlfriend not been under the weather I would have had someone to talk to, but nice folks were all around.

Okay, music. The opener, Habit Forming, did an excellent job of completely weirding everyone out. I had a blast imagining them as the band for Peewee’s Playhouse – a position in which they would have excelled. They’re a local dance-rock outfit with vague funk and metal leanings, and no discernible self-awareness. The highlights were a fragmented song-cycle dedicated to Josie Wales and an absurd, jerkily dance-able cover of Slayer’s “Angel of Death.” As usual, I was much more interested in hearing other people play Slayer than in listening to the actual albums themselves.

Fastpass, the second band, burned through about twelve uptempo indie screamers, a la The Thermals or the Get Up Kids of a few years ago. I can’t offer a lot of comment here because this particular indie subgenre tends to leave me lukewarm. Great to bounce around to, difficult to remember afterwards.

The main reason I went to the show was to see The Invisible Cities live, since their album has been in non-stop rotation at work and at home for the last month or so. Like I said before, this band has a huge talent and tons of potential. The live show covered all the same emotional territory as the album, and I was glad to experience in person the unique moments of reckless joy, doubt, humor and quiet resignation that made Watertown so special. The absence of some of my favorite cuts was mitigated by a run-through of what seemed like a newish song, “A Squared Plus B Squared.” It’s about triangles, among other things, so awesomeness immediately followed. Anyway, reviews (even informal ones) make it nearly impossible to communicate the nature of the music, so I’ll again fall back on the tired old mainstay of accessible-but-still-slightly-insiderist comparison. Ahem: The Invisible Cities sound roughly akin to a mixture of Exile in Guyville, Life’s Too Good by the Sugarcubes, and Yo La Tengo’s mid-nineties LP, Painful. If that doesn’t explain it, I guess I’m not surprised because writing it certainly made no sense. Anyway – buy the CD and do your best not to completely adore it, I dare you.

As for The Otherside, when they started playing I went to The Otherside of the room, where the bar is. I liked the band fine, but the sound system wasn’t doing any favors for their particular brand of dark, jagged alterna-rock. Plus by then it was 12:45AM and I had to get home. You can find some of their stuff here, which sounds considerably better than it did last night. This will sound strange coming from someone who worships Mahler and Nine Inch Nails, but The Otherside came across as altogether too serious for my taste.

That's all. I hate writing reviews, but I desperately want people to listen to new music. Speaking of which, look forward to upcoming reviews of Corey Harris, The Decemberists, and Toychestra. (I'm really excited about Toychestra)

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