Friday, April 8, 2011
review- raveonettes/tamaryn at lincoln hall- 4.5.11
photo by Jason Persse
Second chances. When are they appropriate to give and to whom? I bought my tickets for this show a few weeks ago with one rule in mind—I wasn’t waiting an hour for the Raveonettes to set up at this show. If they weren’t on the stage after thirty minutes (which is more than generous, I’d say) I would simply leave. The reason for this rule is fairly simple—two years ago I saw them for the first time at their lollapalooza aftershow at the empty bottle. I was subjected to one of the top ten worst opening bands I’ve ever seen (I can’t even remember their name, but they were from St. Louis and the lead singer acted like Mick Jagger and brandished an American flag while he was singing at one point) and then an hour-long wait time between bands. Everyone’s been in this situation—you’re in a tiny, packed club full of people who are getting drunker and drunker, your back is getting sore and you’re getting sleepy and you watch the band’s employee fumble around onstage, leaving it and returning multiple times to retune the guitars. It’s a charade—who knows why it’s done. Maybe vocalist/guitarist Sune Wagner was running late (vocal/guitarist Sharin Foo was in the building, however, I saw her walking around—she’s a little tough to miss). Regardless it’s a bit cruel to keep your fans waiting for an hour. As if that weren’t enough when they finally came out after all of that prep time the guitars were almost inaudible for much of the set. Imagine listening to ‘Aly Walk With Me’ without guitars—quite pointless. What’s more I was looking forward to hearing some new material and while this wish was fulfilled I found the two new songs (‘Last Dance’ and ‘Suicide’ from the disappointing ‘In and Out of Control’) to be beyond disappointing after all of this. I left the show angry and bitter as ‘Lust Lust Lust’ was one of my favourite albums of the last ten years and has gotten me through many a rough time and here the Raveonettes were totally beefing it onstage AND the prospects of their next album seemed grim to say the least. They did play ‘Here Comes Mary,’ though, which I’ve always wanted to hear them do live. I left right before the encore. This bitterness was not helped by the release of ‘In and Out of Control,’ which I considered to be the most disappointing record of 2009. I figured they’d follow on from ‘Lust Lust Lust’ by expanding on some of the ideas they introduced with those two gorgeous digital EPs that they released in 2008 (‘Sometimes They Drop By’ and ‘Beauty Dies’) but instead I got an album with strained production, nine forced-sounding pop songs, one fantastic Raveonettes rocker (‘Heart of Stone’) and one of the most beautiful tracks they’ve ever recorded (‘Wine’). It’s a shame when the bonus tracks outshine most of the other tracks on the album. Who knows, maybe it was a record company thing.
Earlier on the day of the show I went and bought ‘Raven in the Grave’ which appeared far more promising and, indeed, was. They did expand on some of the ideas introduced on those EPs as well as the hazy, sun-drenched, reverby goodness of ‘Wine’ and what sounds like a more stripped-down approach similar to that of ‘Lust Lust Lust’ that favored synths and texture over feedback and fuzz. I actually think it’s their second best record. Tonight was a similarly redemptive affair.
One of the only reasons I bothered shelling out money for this show in the end was the fact that Tamaryn’s ‘The Waves’ is one of my favourites in a growing heap of recently released records. Seeing them live was something I was dying for and I figured that it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to go and see them and then give the Raveonettes another chance, provided they were onstage within thirty minutes this time. Tamaryn were more narcotically consumptive onstage than they are on record—their down-blanket warmth is even greater and fuller in a live setting. Even without the guitar overdubs and textures that are piled on the recordings, lone guitarist Rex John Shelverton is able to kick up a formidable cloud of noise and swooping beauty with a Fender Twin and a Roland Space Echo. The drums were also particularly lively and spacious as well whereas they tend to get buried on the recordings. They played my two favourites (I’m partial to their spacier slower songs and the two in question would be ‘Coral Flower’ and ‘Light Shadows’) and didn’t shy away from their more atmospheric tendencies, which would be an understandable inclination for a band in their position. As with every live review of Tamaryn I'll briefly mention that they showed some nice projections and kept the stage dark while Tamaryn herself also hid behind her hair.
The Raveonettes used their full thirty minutes. I was going to give them literally one more minute when the houselights went down and the smoke machines started going off. They went through most of the tracks from the new album and a smattering of old classics including several old tracks from ‘Whip it On’ and ‘Chain Gang of Love.’ They brought a very flashy stage set-up with them including a wall of strobes and they raised quite the ungodly din. The songs from ‘Raven in the Grave’ have a fairly soft sound for the most part, but in this live setting they were given a pretty sharp set of teeth. The stage was set with opening track ‘Recharge & Revolt’—a dizzying swathe of sound wrapping around your head like a swarm of bees. Beautiful. They played a few tracks from ‘Lust Lust Lust’ (‘Lust’ and the nearly-perfect ‘Dead Sound’ and the obligatory noisefest of ‘Aly Walk With me’—this time with the desired effect), one from ‘Pretty in Black’ (‘Love in a Trashcan’) and one from ‘In and Out of Control’ (a very fierce and impassioned take on ‘Heart of Stone’). The main set was closed by the beautiful slow-burner ‘My Time’s Up.’ Even the minimal, straight-forward single, ‘Forget That you’re Young’ sounded vibrant and full.
Nicely done, Raveonettes. Not sure what was up with that hour-long wait time at the bottle, but please don’t let it happen again—some of us really find that disrespectful. Fear not, though—all is forgiven.