Saturday, April 12, 2008

Caribou, Live at the Empty Bottle

The Caribou/Fuck Buttons show at the Empty Bottle last night was roundly excellent. Totally one of those "I was meant to be here and nowhere else but here at this very time and place" shows. There was a lot of extraneous bullshit swirling around my attempt to get myself there--a severely annoying combination of the fact that I'd gotten a ticket for the 10 pm show when my crabby-old-lady-ness has pretty much been dictating an early bedtime most nights recently and the fact that, between waiting for the bus and then riding on the bus, it took me a bloody hour to go those four miles south on Western to Division--but as soon as I got there and heard the bleary-eyed ecstatic noise of the Fuck Buttons rumbling through the wall, all my stress completely melted away.

I've totally been loving Street Horrrsing. Seemingly contrary to everything I think I know about my musical tastes, listening habits, and preferences, I've come to realize that every so often I get in the mood to submerge myself in some high quality, well-made noise. I got semi-obsessed with Tim Hecker's Harmony in Ultraviolet early last winter and was delighted to surprise the crap out of RTW a little while back by mentioning how much I like Oval. And it seems Street Horrrsing has come to me at a time when its loud, gorgeous, monotonous chaos is perfectly mirroring the current state of my own inner life: a simultaneous combination of anger and peace and frustration and confusion and brattiness and stripped-down urgency and all-consuming focus and spaced-out expansiveness and constantly recurring, seemingly unresolvable motifs. Plus, those adorable, skinny Brit boys work the whole "yeah, we're just standing here on stage fiddling with knobs" thing with a vigor that never tips over into trying too hard. Even though I missed more of their set than I would have liked (see above re: public transportation can suck on it), I was thrilled with what I did manage to catch.

And Caribou just completely blew my mind. Going in, I had no idea what to expect but knew I was in for something special based on the discerning Kirstiecat's assertion from last fall that their set at the Metro with Born Ruffians was the best show she saw all year. (Kirstie was taking more lovely pics at both shows last night, too, and afterward said the band was every bit as good as last time, even if Dan's vocals seemed a little tired/rough from so much touring.) I really (regrettably) only know Andorra, but based on the sweetness of that album's melodies, I kind of wasn't expecting so much ferocity in performance. I guess I knew to expect some fierce drumming, which their pinch hitter certainly provided, but I lamely and stupidly didn't expect the epically dorky Dan Snaith to bring so much intensity. (Srsly, I love this video [via] to bits, but it probably unfairly skewed my initial impressions on this matter.) But, when in the space of the first song and a half, he'd already sang (with that lovely, lilty voice of his that somehow evokes both Elliott Smith and Ben Folds), played guitar, recorder, and keyboards, and then sat down at a second drum kit for a mind-blowing simultaneous rhythm attack with the other drummer, there was just no doubt in my mind that this guy is made of music. Not in any kind of grandiose, personal-mission-to-the-masses, Prince-esque kind of way (he's entirely too Canadian for that) but with a calm, reasonable confidence that he's most himself when his edges are blurring a bit as he dissolves into a vehicle for these gorgeous sonic layer cakes he so painstakingly assembles, which, paradoxically, then allows him to shine almost violently brightly with a nearly beatific fire on stage. No wonder he doesn't wear his glasses while he's performing; he'd start burning holes into shit all over the place. So yes. It was a fantastic and much-needed night of music.

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