Now, I’m all for the promotion of smaller labels, but if Holy Fuck are such big fans of Lovepump United, they must know how much better they could have done for openers. Pictureplane and Health? Fun! Genghis Tron and AIDS Wolf? Exciting! Clipd Beaks and Indian Jewelry? Swing and a miss, you guys.
I’m trying to figure out the nicest way to say I fell asleep during Clipd Beaks’ set. For a band I had never heard before their set, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard something a lot like Liars’ “A Visit from Drum.” The problem is, their vocals are so murky, and their droning so level, that it was hard to tell the difference from song to song. That, and the long day, and the soothing vibrations… and I was out for a minute. There were glimpses of energy in the set, like when the vocals were at the forefront of the mix, or when some surprise trumpet joined the mix, but, by and large, I would have rather just seen Liars play “A Visit from Drum” proper, then different songs for the rest of the show.
Indian Jewelry had the opposite problem, energy-wise. Between being double the volume of the other two bands, and having a strobe light on for the entire show, it was impossible not to hear everything. You could see the band’s style coming from the sounds produced during their quick pre-show tune-up. Fuzzed out floor tom, deep Rhodes-y synth, heavy vocal echo, it was as big a mess as you might expect. Almost every song started with the triggering of some ill advised drum machine, which was then taken over by an obnoxious wall of screeches and thuds from the band. Moving from guitar to synth, toning down the reverb, switching vocalists, nothing made any of it any better. But! I will give Indian Jewelry a big line of credit for sticking to their image. Whether or not I liked any of it, the set was uniformly creepy, and it takes uncommon dedication to stick to it that long. So, Indian Jewelry, I don’t want to kick an already thoroughly kicked horse, but maybe it’s time you got serious, and went on tour with a band anything like you. I’m open to change! Really!
Despite the rocky start to the evening, Holy Fuck came onstage to a still energized crowd, and started off right with a locked-in “Super Inuit.” What followed showed how far the band has come in just a few years. The band, while still jumping around, now seems to work with kraut-like accuracy and restraint. Near constant touring must have sharpened the four musicians, because they played forcefully, but as one. It’s a far cry from both their shows at Bumbershoot two years ago and the Capitol Hill Block Party in July (both in Seattle). With the former show, while more energetic, felt propelled more by each band member’s musicianship that by any cohesive feel. At the latter, the band was more together, but the energy dipped with the introduction of simple between song palette cleansers. This show at the Rickshaw proves that the band has taken the best of both worlds, and emerged stronger. They propelled between songs from this year’s Latin, and 2007’s LP, but never lost their restraint and freaked out in an unnecessary solo or fill. Two notes into “Frenchy’s,” a weaker song on the album, and the audience was eating out of the palm of their hands. The only real sonic curveball was “Lucky.” Last time I saw it performed live, it was as pretty as on the album, but somewhat limp. At this show, it was still pretty, but rock solid. It was almost definitely the song of the night. By the end of the set, the diehards were clawing for more, which they got in the form of “Lovely Allen,” the only song of the night that did get taken for a bit of an extravagant spin. At that point, they deserved it.