Sup, More-lando? Still pedal to the metal, I see. Keep it up. The beat
As psyched as I was to see Baltimore dream-pop diamond Beach House perform (Oct. 11, Hard Rock Live), I was concerned about how their highly impressionistic sound and presentation would translate in such a big hall. But the live band was beefed up and their sound, instead of lost and reaching, was surprisingly as lush, womb-like and memory evoking as it is on record. The rich, enchanting tones and textures washed everything in a warm bath of coaxing layers, making the cavernous room feel like a huge, life-sized snow globe. And with Victoria Legrand’s sky-parting voice as the beacon in the heavenly haze, their prime melodies never drowned in the swirl. Kinda cool, too, that she and Alex Scally mentioned onstage how much they enjoyed the time they spent here on vacation last winter when they actually sampled some of our real indie scene firsthand. Vampire Weekend headlined this show, but whatever.
Who you should’ve seen instead was Canada’s Born Ruffians (Oct. 10, Back Booth). They’re far more exhilarating and their new sound sometimes resembles Vampire Weekend except far less, y’know, argyle. Although I prefer the joyfully spiked work they debuted with, hearing their sharp, buoyant songs in today’s zeitgeist showed that this may be the ripest time for them to step out.
The last time they were here was three years ago opening for Caribou, who also came to town this week. During that time, Born Ruffians sprouted a sizable and fanatical following here, which is awesome because this band is a powder keg of fun. And this particular audience earns equal credit for the success and experience of this show. In a mammoth concert season studded with heavyweights, the crowds have been bigger. But none have been as demonstrative as this one. This was a crowd that came to get down and let a worthy band feel the love. A deaf person would’ve sworn it was a wild punk rock show just from the look, energy and physicality of it. Not bad for a poppy indie rock band.
With a reception like this, it’d be a supreme insult if Born Ruffians didn’t make Orlando a regular stop. If more audiences here were like this, more bands would come through, guaranteed. Just try and prove me wrong on that. Not that you need to crowd-surf and sing every word aloud like this crowd did, but some sustained applause at least would help, people. You get what you give. And Born Ruffians, a young band with only two albums, gave this audience a gracious hour-and-a-half set.
Speaking of spirit bombs, the irrepressible Ted Leo & the Pharmacists returned (Oct. 13, the Social). Although I was just coming off a cold and this was the perfect cure, I won’t stoop to prescription puns. But Leo’s songs do have a way of making you feel singularly alive. Despite some heavy, conscious themes, his intelligent songs beam with such a force of life. Moreover, he never lets fashion or self-consciousness muzzle his evergreen abandon for melody. His head’s screwed on straight, his heart’s out in front and he lays it on the line every night onstage. His music is more than just a reveille for the soul. It’s a template for living: headlong, breathless and hell-bent for beauty and meaning.
Despite their plural name, New Jersey opener Screaming Females only has one tiny female but damn can Marissa Paternoster scream with a mighty voice that’s somewhere between a trill and a tornado. And, boy, could she play guitar, shredding so hard that she virtually threw flames. All that power bursting from that little frocked body was pretty supernatural. And together, this band is a rock machine that kicks like Sleater-Kinney with big swagger.
Brooklyn’s School of Seven Bells (Oct. 15, the Social) lost a sister (Claudia Deheza suddenly left the band only two days before the show) but the addition of a live drummer picked up lots of slack. The twin harmonizing would’ve been nice but it wasn’t really a deal-breaker.
L.A. opener Active Child dropped the best cover of New Order’s “Ceremony” since the amazing Xiu Xiu, who – fuck yeah! – are finally coming to town. If you’ve picked up this issue early enough, you really need to get out to their show (Oct. 21, Back Booth).