Christ on a bike! My dance card has been stacked all friggin' week. Not hatin', just statin'. But of all the big events that transpired recently, one of the most compelling was a very small gathering. By all outward appearance, it was an intimate house party of about 40 or so guests. Only this get-together featured a recital by Pelt's Jack Rose. In the tradition of great pickers like John Fahey, he demonstrated how expansive and ambitious acoustic music can be. Though entirely instrumental, the music conjured finely etched, fully formed vistas in the mind, his progressive folk venturing into native stripes like Appalachian, ragtime, country and blues, as well as non-Western styles.
The function itself, though, may just prove more meaningful since it was the inaugural event for Commonhood, a garage space beneath an apartment in the ViMi district converted convincingly into a makeshift theater. Put together by three veterans of the local art and music scenes — Alex Boeckl, Matt Gorney and Pat Greene — the event was restricted primarily to a small, connected circle but they want to open it to anyone interested. Yearn for something cool and different? Then join the mailing list at www.commonhood.com to be informed of future events.
When it rains, it roars
The resurrected Sebadoh played the Social last week, original lineup and all. Sure, they rocked, but that's all they did. Some of their best moments are the quiet bedroom songs; this flat set paid little heed to the shifting dynamics of their catalog and left me yawning. Openers the Bent Moustache, from the Netherlands, however, really brought the heat, taking the Fall's rough, headlong muss and swathing it in more feedback.
Another bona fide stunner was Brooklyn's Parts & Labor at Back Booth over the weekend. With an exhilarating sound informed by noise and experimental rock, the trio exploded with dynamic drum signatures and a small arsenal of black-box effects, the music constantly taking unexpected turns. But unlike many experimental and especially noise bands, these guys were unafraid to be melodically soaring and outright anthemic. So amid the storming bursts of chaos were moments of real beauty. Some acts push the bounds of rock music, but very few do it well. Marked by originality and an unending ability to surprise, meet my new favorite band.
Headliner ADULT. was, well, awfully serious as usual. Underwhelming last time, the Detroit duo managed to pull off the fiercely distilled sense of dread and discomfort in their proto-industrial techno more believably this time. And in spite of their complete humorlessness, they still managed to kick up a teen dance party, which singer Nicola Kuperus even joined.
Man, are The Decemberists blowing up or what? It's always nice to see a decent act be able to not only grow but blossom, and it seems that the group — so far, at least — is wearing the ballooning profile that comes from leaping to a major label quite well. Though the crowd at the recent Hard Rock Live show was big, they were rapt, reacting en masse to cues and making the concert flow like an interactive play at times. Maybe I run in jaded circles, but I haven't heard a reception that deafening in ages.
Speaking of interactive, did I say last week that Of Montreal was a big production? Shiiit, that was before The Flaming Lips rolled into town. The ticker-tape parade atmosphere — complete with superheroes, aliens, Santa Clauses, confetti cannons, props, huge balloons, giant LCD screen and hundreds of audience-wielded laser pointers — was essentially a big-budget rave for indie rockers. As soon as the first etheric note was struck (to the near-perfect "Race for the Prize"), House of Blues lit up like Times Square on New Year's Eve. Besides nearly kicking me into a flashback, this goes down as one of the most magnificent concert spectacles I've seen.
It was packed butts-to-nuts at Club Firestone for critics' darlings TV on the Radio, but it was worth enduring the sardine situation for their hot-blooded performance. With megawatts of charged tension, the Brooklyn boys pumped their elemental, atmospheric sound with the primal energy of a sweaty jazz session.
Has anyone taken note of the recent changes inside the club? The new slate walls are rather tasteful, even if they do make the stage look kind of like a huge fireplace. Those new projection screens spanning the entire wall above the far side bar, however, are something else. Like huge interior billboards, they were as informative as they were glitzy, since they advertised the venue's upcoming events. However, flashing the specs for other shows on such a large scale while a band is on stage just seemed less than tactful. Shill all you want between sets. But during a performance, how about something that actually doesn't distract from the firstname.lastname@example.org