whew, it’s been a while since i contributed anything to tongs-land, but if there was ever a reason for me to return to form here, it was the show i saw at the ‘dise last night.
i only found out this thing was happening about two weeks ago, when i was checking to see if there were any details about phantogram’s july show yet posted to the club’s website. i have to admit i didn’t really listen to the dodos at all before i saw the posting for this – it caught my attention purely for the involvement of gauntlet hair. i discovered them last year – i wrote about them in this blog (OH MY GOD, IT’S BEEN OVER A YEAR AGO NOW, LOOK: http://tongsmusic.com/2010/05/26/some-new-songs-that-dont-blow/) because i was so impressed by their song “our scenery,” which, once upon a time, was featured on gorilla vs. bear. this is what i had to say about that track at the time:
“There’s this interesting new crop of lo-fi musicians that seem to be combining the shoegazey, surreal sounds of bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain and Slowdive with contemporary indie (and by ‘contemporary indie,’ I mean everything from the quirky pop/rock of The Shins to the dance-or-die electro of Passion Pit). Gauntlet Hair is one of them, and bizarrely enough, they sound a little bit like Dom, a group from Worcester that I assume they can’t possibly know much of anything about (GH is from Colorado). At any rate, I’ve loved what I’ve heard from GH so far, and ‘Our Scenery’ is no exception – it builds up innocuous, drifting verses into wall-of-sound choruses, all interwoven with echo-laden vocals doused with as much reverb as the guitars. Between the jumpy guitars, crescendoing drums, and chilly vocal harmonies, listening to the song is a bit like opening a time capsule of late ’80s-early ’90s indie rock. Go their Myspace page and turn it up loooooooud.”
anyway, i was thrilled at the opportunity of seeing these guys on what i found out was/is their first states-wide tour, so i got tickets right away. i checked out the dodos after the fact and loved what i heard, so that was a plus (though everyone seems wrapped up in sucking the dick of their 2008 breakout album visiter, their entire catalog is pretty damn solid and satisfying). and soon enough, last night was upon us.
there weren’t many people watching gauntlet hair, but many of those in attendance seemed familiar with the band, and both those who were and those who weren’t all definitely enjoyed themselves. it was hard not to: their music is a reverb-drenched, echoey wall of monstrous sound, and it’s a beautiful thing to get lost in. i’ve always felt like i’m in a cave, lit by a d&d-style torch or two when i’m listening to their stuff; it’s just cavernous music. that’s the word i’d use to describe it if asked: cavernous. it also has this bizarre…i don’t know, “candlelight” quality to it. to my synesthete’s ears, it sounds burnt orange, and shadowy – it’s a little like when you’d shine flashlights at your chin when you were telling ghost stories as a kid.
these guys are incredible performers, too. drummer craig nice is front and center, and between his kit-battering energy and his tongue-in-cheeky stage banter it’s hard to not think of him as the frontman (which is not to belittle singer/guitarist andy r. in the slightest – they just have very different stage presences). andy clearly loses himself in the channeling of his soaring, reverberating vocals; every strum of his guitar was another floodgate burst, another wave shaking through us audience members at bone-level. these two core gauntlet boys were joined by a bassist and a rhythm guitarist who rounded out the live sound succinctly. for a band who claims to have played less than 30 live gigs in the entire duration of their career, they were tight as fuck, especially on the aforementioned “our scenery” (which better get these dudes the attention they deserve, i’m sayin’) and the head-sticking “i was thinking.”
oh, and when my best friend and i walked past mr. nice as he was chatting with some people outside, we caught his eye and he joined us for a stroll through the back alleys of commonwealth avenue. we chatted for a while and i let him know that i’d blogged about his band before, and was actually there to see them quite a bit more than to see the dodos. i think he was either impressed or just generally taken by us weirdos, so he gave us a copy of gauntlet hair’s 7″ record and later led us to the front of the crowd (now quite a bit fuller) to watch the dodos. we spent the duration of the headliner’s set bopping around with him and his bandmates and largely feeling like the coolest people in the observable universe.
i suppose the dodos deserve some of my attention here, too – and oh, i shouldn’t say it like that, because they put on a killer show. i do have to admit the bulk of my familiarity with them is visiter-based, so i didn’t immediately recognize a lot of their set. still, every song was perfect or damn near it, percolating with the tension i feel this band has a real mastery of, replete with enough push-pull loud-soft-loudness to keep us on our toes (and dancing, at that) for close to an hour and a half. what impressed me the most was their comfort in the louder end of the sonic spectrum, something one might not expect from the content of their records. there was a heaviness there, though, and undeniably so.
i’m always eager to point out happy bands when i see them, and the dodos looked every bit as content as they were making their audience feel. from the way they were acting and grinning like kids on christmas, i’d guess it was their first major headlining tour or close to it. they had a superb onstage rapport with one another – you know, those knowing looks musicians shoot across the stage, that “we are of one mind” vibe – and with the crowd as well. i feel like all of this culminated in the form of their most famous tune, “fools” (yeah, that’s the miller chill one). maybe it’s trite to single this song out, but it’s one of their best and certainly among my favorites of theirs. it seemed a bit sped up, like most of their set, but not rushed in the slightest. the energy was palpable in that room, and though many of us knew where to expect the rises and falls, the tension remained. those “purple bottle”-esque drums thrummed like a heartbeat; meric long’s stellar voice rollicked through those mouthy lyrics without a misstep; the audience was mixing in foot stomps and “oh-oh, whoa-ohs” as applicable.
so, bottom line: one of the best shows i’ve been to all year? fuck yes. definitely one of the most intimate, participation-friendly concerts i’ve gone to in all my years of music fandom, too. i’d jump at the chance to see both of these bands again and i’m already stoked for gauntlet hair’s forecasted by-the-end-of-the-year return. i was a little late to the party with discovering the dodos, but i’ve been ranting about those gauntlet men for 13 months and you, dear reader, ought to check ‘em out and hear why. google that shit!
over and out, blogneticut.