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Thursday night I went to the Crocodile Cafe to see Battles, along with FCS North and Teeth and Hair. All of these bands were new to me, although I've been enjoying Battles' current single "Atlas" on KEXP, and I recognized FCS by name though I couldn't recall whether I'd heard anything by them before. I'd been hearing a lot about this show - a friend in Boston even made a point of emailing me to highly recommend I attend - and sure enough the room was tightly packed well before Battles came on.

First up was Teeth and Hair, a trio on guitar/vocals, guitar/keyboard, and drums. They played basic young-guy punk rock, complete with unintelligible vocals howled in falsetto, never something I care for much. However, they played with enthusiasm, skill, and even some showmanship. Several times the vocalist jumped down off the stage to play guitar in the audience, strutting around people and support pillars or getting down on his knees. So even though their music's not my style, I still found them pretty entertaining.

FCS (pronounced "focus") are also a trio on bass/vocals, drums, and guitar/turntable/samplers; they had a guest conga player as well. They played groovy electro-influenced funk that bordered on disco at times, though never with the heavy orchestration and pop hooks often associated with disco. The bassist led the group with complex bass lines and half-spoken half-crooned vocals, evoking a sexy dance club atmosphere, while the drummer drove the urge to dance, and the congas, guitar and samples added texture. I could easily imagine the group jamming away for a few hours in a club full of dancing people; at this show, however, the audience just bobbed up and down appreciatively. I really enjoyed their sound, and I'll be looking for more live shows from them.

Battles are the quartet of Tyondai Braxton (vocals, keyboard, guitar), Dave Konopka (guitar, bass), John Stanier (drums), and Ian Williams (guitar, keyboard). They make the sort of music that gets called "dance music for robots," but you don't need a computer for a brain to appreciate the complex rhythmic structures they build out of live sampled loops. As the band crafted melodies out of sampling and trading off brief riffs, the intricate interplay of their music reminded me of the experimental art rock of Robert Fripp and King Crimson. However, don't be misled by the overly serious sound of "experimental art rock," this was very fun stuff. The complexity rewarded the brain, but the rhythms rewarded the body as well, and robots would never enjoy this as much as the audience did. I had a great time, and bought their current CD, Mirrored, after the show. Catch Battles on this tour if you can, I expect them to be selling out bigger venues next time around.



There are two other shows this month that I might catch. First on Monday the 16th, Airiel is playing at High Dive, along with the Jake Shaw Trio and White Helicopters. I've been hearing Airiel on KEXP recently, they sound like a cool shoegazer/dreampop band and I'm curious to check them out. Then on Thursday the 26th at Neumos, Three Imaginary Girls present "Yacht Rock", featuring a whole bunch of musicians covering soft-rock hits of the 70s, as a benefit for People for Puget Sound. That should be a lot of fun.

Next month, I'm super-excited that Boston synthpop band Freezepop are going to be in town. They're playing the Penny Arcade Expo on Friday August 24th, but they're also lining up a local show outside the Expo; according to their website, they're now scheduled to play Chop Suey on Thursday the 23rd, although the Chop Suey site doesn't yet have them on its calendar. Freezepop are a whole lot of awesome fun and I'll be sure to see them, even if I do have to brave PAX to do so.


Comments

( 2 have written — Write )
(Anonymous)
Jul. 11th, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
dude. i played flute on ty braxton's record with parts & labor "rise rise rise." he never friggin' sent me a promo copy. sheesh! nice guy, otherwise. and the son of one of the most important musicians alive, anthony braxton, but not being into out-jazz, you probably don't care much about that.
philaros
Jul. 11th, 2007 02:58 am (UTC)
You need to keep me informed of this sort of thing, I could've hit him up for your promo copy!

Also, now I get to pretend like I'm in with the band. "Yeah, my sister jammed with those guys. Well, one of them. Once. He might remember her name..." ...hmm, perhaps not.
( 2 have written — Write )

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