Saturday, April 14, 2012

review: disappears, lotus plaza, implodes at lincoln hall 4.13.12

photos by Stefanie Goodwin

How many bands bother with an evening of fully curated music any more? Not many, it turns out. Last night at Lincoln Hall was another story, however. I normally don’t bother to show up early for a show no matter how excited I am, but last night was a good example of why I should do so more in the future. I got to Lincoln Hall at 8:30, ordered myself a beer and quickly found an open seat on the balcony—probably my most coveted space from which to watch a show there. Good sound, comfort and plenty of guaranteed personal space. ‘Black Earth,’ the Kranky records debut from locals Implodes (composed almost entirely of clerks from various Reckless Records locations around town) was one of my favourites of last year and I listened to it quite a bit. They took the stage right on time at 9 accompanied by a projection of various murder scenes from the original ‘Friday the 13th’ and delivered a tight set of entirely new material that managed somehow to be menacing, punishing, soothing, minimal, dense and beautiful all at the same time. Finally getting to see them live shed a great deal of light on who does what in the band for me as on record the music seems appropriately a whole rather than a sum of different parts played by different people. What interested me most was how much of the melody was provided by bassist Emily Elhaj and how guitarist Ken Camden functions as an almost virtuosic master of ambient lead guitar lines. I'm looking forward to whenever they release these songs. It was hypnotic to say the least and set the bar pretty high from the outset.

Lotus Plaza, side project of Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt (who is behind a few Deerhunter classics such as ‘Agoraphobia’ and ‘Desire Lines’) was another story, however. There was little sense of a band dynamic at play as they made their way through their rather stiff and restrained set. None of the songs ever managed to take off quite the way that they seemed to be building towards. It was difficult to figure out what the root cause of this constant stagnation was, but I did notice the incredibly wooden and repetitive patterns being knocked out by the drummer who looked like he was imagining what he was going to watch on TV once he was finished onstage. Even Pundt himself seemed similarly detached and disengaged in what he was doing. The mid-set highlight that seemed to be building towards SOMETHING merely went on despite itself only to end very abruptly having spent a long time going absolutely nowhere. Being sandwiched between two bands with such a focused sense of dynamic tension, atmospherics and release probably didn’t help.

Speaking of dynamic tension, Disappears hit the stage at midnight and tore out of the gate at full speed with 'Marigold' from 'Lux' (and also a personal favourite) and didn’t let up for the next hour. It was riveting. Somehow every time I’ve seen them they’ve managed to outdo themselves—the last time was the post snow-pacolypse set at the Empty Bottle and debut show with new drummer Steve Shelley in February of last year. Their newest, ‘Pre Language,’ has proven to be a grower for me. While it still doesn’t dethrone the majestic ‘Lux’ I admire the way that it pushes their sound into new territory jumping off from the excellent Plustapes ‘Live at Echo Canyon’ EP. It does a great deal to explore how the disciplined economy of their sound is so conducive to dynamic contrast. They played nearly the entire record live (except for two or three songs) and the songs did a great deal to keep the tone varied throughout the course of the night. The second half of the record in particular really came to life (which they played in its entirety) leading up to some amped-up versions of their Suicide cover ‘Radiation’ and encore of ‘Guider’s main setpiece ‘Revisiting.’ They also played a new song (which they often do) that focused in on the more hypnotic elements of their sound with the guitars droning in the higher range leaving the rhythm section to carry the bare bones of the song into swells of beautiful noise and then a nice, chunky chorus. The drunk guy next to me seemed to really be enjoying himself, turning to his friends after every song from ‘Lux’ was played declaring, ‘That was a fucking awesome song!’ I’m not sure how they’ll be able to top themselves next time, but hopefully on this tour that they’re embarking on with Lotus Plaza they’re able to attract the kind of attention that they deserve. Either way I’m sure they’ll come home and record another fantastic record and then go out and do it all over again. That’s alright with me.

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