October 14th, 2006

October concert: Ladytron at the Showbox

Last night I went to see Ladytron with CSS at The Showbox. I was having doubts about whether I really wanted to go to this show, because I'd just seen Ladytron back in April; it wasn't likely there'd be much new to the show, so I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this one as much as the last. However, I'd already agreed to go with John and Amy Peltonen, who'd unfortunately missed the previous show. My doubts turned out to be foolish, as Ladytron rocked the house and was totally worth seeing again.

Opening act CSS were a sextet, five women and one man, from São Paulo, Brazil - although the only hint of that was a slight accent (which I couldn't identify) when the lead singer spoke between songs. The women included the lead singer, a bassist, and three guitarists - one of whom took over drums for the last few songs, while the other two played keyboards as well. The man mostly played drums, but near the end of their set came out to play guitar and bass on a couple songs. Musically, they had a '70s-punk/rock vibe to them, reminding me of both The Ramones and Joan Jett. They played enthusiastically, and the lead singer worked hard to rally the crowd, though the band did seem to have a fair amount of fans in the audience. The singer even crowd-surfed twice during one song, something I believe I actually have never seen before. For one song they dragged Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service) out on stage to share a bit of vocals, which had me thinking they were a local band; it's only now that I've discovered their Brazilian origins. I didn't find their music particularly interesting, overall, but it wasn't bad by any means. Mostly they just seemed like an odd choice as an opening act for Ladytron: brash, youthful, enthusiastic punk-pop rock, in contrast to Ladytron's calculated, sophisticated, often-dark synth rock.

The notable difference between the previous Ladytron show and this one was the additional stage lighting; whereas the previous show had mainly moody red spotlights, on the Showbox's larger stage they were able to add five light stands, each with four white spotlights and a large strobing lamp with red, blue and clear filters. As with the Goldfrapp show last May, the banks of lights facing into the audience added a real rock spectacle feeling to the show, heightening the excitement of the performance. In another similarity to the Goldfrapp show, as the concert progressed lead singer Helena Marnie let her detachment slide and roused the audience to bounce up and down, pump their fists in the air, and clap hands overhead. The lighting and the crowd-working accentuated the driving beat and danceability of much of the music, in contrast to the often dark and desolate lyrics. But loving Ladytron is all about taking delight in doom and gloom, and the audience was full of love. The set covered much of their latest album, Witching Hour, but older songs were featured too, including "He Took Her To A Movie", "Seventeen", and set closer "Playgirl". The two-song encore brought the house down with the anthemic "The Last One Standing" and current hit "Destroy Everything You Touch". It wasn't long into the set before I had a big grin on my face, and by the end I was bouncing up and down and clapping in the air along with everyone else, very happy that I hadn't passed up this show after all.

There are quite a few promising shows this month. Besides Ladytron, I could've gone to see Melissa Ferrick last night at the Crocodile; tonight I'm missing out on Bettie Serveert at the Crocodile, Math and Physics Club at the Sunset Tavern, and the Dresden Dolls at the Showbox. Tomorrow I might still go see Yo La Tengo at the Showbox; it'll depend on the mood I'm in, and whether I can get around to making dinner early enough. This Thursday, the 19th, Ghostland Observatory are doing two shows at the Crocodile. Stephin Merritt and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) are at the Town Hall on Thursday the 26th, and KJ Sawka is at Nectar Lounge on Sunday the 29th. Next month, Kinski are playing at the Crocodile on Friday the 3rd, and Tahiti 80 are also playing there on Sunday the 12th; I'll probably go to the latter show, and maybe to the former as well.