Sunday, February 20, 2011

wild nothing- lincoln hall 2.18.11

another friday night show worthy of sleep deprivation- the perfect combination of shameless 80's nostalgia, jangly beauty, reverb-soaked dream-pop and some beautiful, melodic songs- wild nothing, the essential solo project of jack tatum. new order-style basslines, guitars that bounce between smiths-esque jangle, lush-style (as in the criminally underrated 90's band) strumming and occasionally my bloody valentine-spun background textural drones with some cure/depeche mode type keyboard lines.
i again left my house at around 10:30 so as to avoid the opening bands as a co-worker of mine told me that abe vigoda were awful (wow, he was not lying). i used the tail-end of their set to stake out the perfect spot in lincoln hall- which i finally found. one that allows for the type of perfect live sound that only seems possible there as well as a wealth of personal space. i'm not telling you where it is- that's how much i liked it. fortunately i only had to endure 20 or so minutes of abe vigoda and their hipster haircuts, strained caterwauling, pink miami vice shirts and bizarrely misguided machismo posturing amongst a din of cheesy sounding synths and upchuck reflex-inspiring melodrama. surprisingly they weren't the worst opening band i've ever seen. a group at the front seemed quite enthusiastic so i was hoping that maybe after they played a portion of the sold out crowd would leave.
wild nothing set up all of their own equipment very quickly, left us waiting for a considerate amount of time and started their set with a very no-bullshit reading of 'your rabbit feet' off of the 'golden haze' ep. this song is probably their most smiths-sounding song and i've never liked it much, but live i found it to be much more impressive. i was interested to hear how the songs would sound with a full band that weren't present on the recordings and this was the first of many songs that i'd never thought much of in their recorded form but enjoyed quite a bit live. tatum's voice was very assured and clear with just the right amount of reverb and without a suffocating sense of affectation- something i admire greatly in any singer. this song really set the tone for the entire night for me- no bullshit, we're just here to play the songs and play them with real passion and enthusiasm, not a bunch of posturing and bravado. kind of like the opposite of when we went to see crocodiles at the empty bottle (with the exception of that bands' rhythm section). from there over the course of the evening they went through about half of 'gemini' (maybe more)- which has revealed itself to be one of my favourite albums of last year- a shame i didn't own it when i put together my list as it's now one of my most frequently played records at work and at home- and two more tracks from 'golden haze' (including my absolute favourite- 'vultures like lovers' and the title track). the biggest surprise of the night and the exact moment that they won my heart completely happened midway through the set when tatum announced 'we're going to play a really short one that's also a cover,' counted it off to the other band members (it's always the mark of a true bandleader when the guitarist is the one counting the songs off and not the drummer- this is what also happened when i saw elliott smith) and the band launched into a beautifully faithful reading of 'velocity girl'- possibly the best primal scream song and b-side ever. just different enough to make it blend effortlessly with their own songs and just faithful enough to grant it the amount of reverence that it deserves. i don't think very many in the crowd besides me really got it, but i did and it was much appreciated. i was singing along and the people beside me looked completely baffled.
i was so enthralled and won over by the live takes of my least favourite 'gemini' tracks (i.e. 'confirmation,' 'bored games,' 'witching hour') that i didn't even notice until later that they had omitted my favourite section of the record- 'pessimist' and 'o, lilac.' it didn't really matter- one of my favourite features of many a cure show that i have witnessed and/or heard on a bootleg was when a live reading of an album track that i don't care for pushes the song into a context that makes me understand its aim and purpose better and winning me over completely in the process. i almost enjoy this more than when a band plays all of my favourite songs- i admire their ability to win me over with their songs that i had previously considered lackluster.
all told it was a fantastic evening. it's so refreshing to see a band that has garnered a lot of attention with a minimum of posturing and affectation. i think of it as a victory of an underdog. i'm on pins and needles to hear what they do next. the only bummer of the night was that i'd brought money to buy their 'cloudbusting' 7" as i was dying to hear their take on one of my favourite kate bush songs and i couldn't find it at the merch table.

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