October 3rd, 2008

August 2008 concert #2: Freezepop at El Corazón

I am seriously behind in my music blogging! A month ago, on Saturday August 30, I went to El Corazón to see Freezepop. On the bill were no less than five bands including Freezepop, an unusually large number for such a show, and they turned out to be a very diverse bunch. My best guess was that the club figured with Bumbershoot going on, they'd throw as many different bands as possible onto the bill and someone would show up for something. I don't believe this served the bands very well, and I think that a smaller assortment of bands with more similar styles would've made for a stronger show and better attendance, but then I've never booked club shows before and it's possible with Bumbershoot also happening nothing would've made a difference. Also on the bill was The Fading Collection, Blue Light Curtain, Ambulance for Angeles, and Cursed Lullaby.

I don't have much to say for Cursed Lullaby, a female-fronted quartet that might as well be named "Metal Band™". They had adequate musical proficiency but were completely unoriginal. My friends dubbed it "angry kitten rock" and commented that they wanted to take the singer home, cuddle her, and tell her everything would be okay. I could see them appealing to teenagers but I can't imagine how anyone past their early 20s could take them seriously. If you like goth-tinged metal though, these guys are the stereotype of it so you might dig them.

Ambulance for Angeles are a duo on synths/vocals and synths/guitar/backing vocals. They played angsty midtempo electronic pop that was very earnest-sounding in that early-twenties way. I liked that they bridged the space between songs with moody bass throbs. I enjoyed them more than Cursed Lullaby and they have some potential, but I feel they need to develop some more.

Blue Light Curtain are a trio including guitar and vocals, synths/drum machine and vocals, and drums. They were perhaps the oddest band in the lineup but I liked them the most of the three I didn't know. Their music was a heavy shoegazer style, though lacking most of the guitar shimmer and feedback often present in shoegaze; in a sense they were goth without being goth. All of their songs were sort of extended chants, with some repeated verses but no actual verse/chorus structure. They introduced one song as being inspired by Twin Peaks, and that seemed to describe their sound well, weirdly ominous - I thought of it as "music to watch stormclouds roll by". Most of the songs had about the same medium tempo and I felt they could've used a little more variation, but then toward the end they played a song that was a little more upbeat, less ominous, more rocking. I enjoyed their set quite a bit and will be looking for them at other shows in the future.

The Fading Collection are often billed as an electronic band, but as they played their first heavy rock songs I was suddenly struck by their resemblance to the opening metal band - similar powerful and soaring female vocals, similar crunchy guitar riffs, although not quite as heavy. It was only as they got into their set and started bringing out the dancier songs, with more overt electronic instrumentation and samples, that they distinguished themselves from the goth metal sound. Even then, I found that I wasn't getting into the music as much as I expected; despite their enthusiastic playing, they just weren't quite bringing it. This has been my experience the previous two times I've seen them, and I'm reluctantly concluding that they may be a better studio band than they are live, but still they're not actually bad live and I can always listen to the albums.

I was much too busy bopping and singing along to Freezepop to do more than jot down a couple quick notes; needless to say, they were awesome and I had a blast. They had a fourth player this time, named Seth, on electronic drumpads, and the addition of a live percussionist freed up The Duke to play more keytar and less sequencer, as well as allowing Sean to rock out on electric guitar for Freezepop's two big Guitar Hero hits, "Brainpower" and "Get Ready 2 Rokk". Still, the QY-70 was not forgotten, and got its turn for a bow during the classic "Freezepop Forever". In fact, the show was quite heavy on the old school songs, including "Harebrained Scheme", "Science Genius Girl", "Chess King", "Summer Boy", and "Plastic Stars". But newer songs were represented too, building to the awe-inspiring "Less Talk More Rokk". Once again, despite playing late at night the day after their big show at PAX and only two days after arriving from the East Coast, Freezepop put on a fantastic fun show full of energy and (no pun intended) enthusiasm, and I've seldom seen another band match their consistency. My only regret is that one of my favorite Freezepop songs, "Tenisu No Boifurendo", isn't well-suited to these hyper shows, though perhaps they could try something like the Kodomo remix version...

As I've noted in the past, El Corazón is not friendly to my iPhone's camera, so my pictures are all kinda crappy. Still, I have a few of Blue Light Curtain, just a couple of The Fading Collection, and several of Freezepop.

Still to do, reviews of Hotels at Nectar, TV on the Radio at the Showbox SoDo, Balkan Beat Box at Neumos, Goldfrapp also at the Showbox SoDo, and KJ Sawka at Nectar. Boy I've seen a lot lately. Looking ahead, I'm considering The Trucks and A Gun That Shoots Knives at Chop Suey on Saturday the 11th, and Fleet Foxes at The Moore Theatre on Sunday the 19th. Plus, the lovely and talented Sarah Vowell is doing a reading at the Town Hall on Monday the 13th, I need to get down to Elliott Bay Books and pick up a ticket!