Thursday, September 4, 2008

Xu Xu Fang Hypnotized Audience at Spaceland

Spaceland on Wednesday (September 3, 2008) became a murky, swampy, dark vortex into which we were drawn by a band called Xu Xu Fang.

Before that happened, The Black Pine played a set of terrifically orchestrated rock and roll. I like the sound of this band, but I think lead singer Mitch Cichocki's voice takes some getting used to. But I may be getting there. This was the third time seeing them and they're winning me over.

I chatted with Mouse (Classical Geek Theatre) and we compared notes on the speech earlier in the evening by Sarah ("hypocracy is my middle name") Palen. The next two months are going to be tense.

The moment the fog began to billow and the atmosphere altered, all conversation ceased, cleaving the evening in two. There was before Xu Xu Fang and after Xu Xu Fang. And in between, this spell was cast and it was like folding space in Dune. Basically, they pick you up and then deliver you back to earth at the conclusion.

I'm not even sure the band even knows the power they wield. They're not just a band, but performance artists and do they ever know how to put on a show without even trying. Led by drummer Bobby Tamkin, they began with an instrumental before Barbara Cohen even took the stage. As the fog swirls thicker and the music pulsates and Barbara appears at the microphone, they create the visual equivalent of a narcotized hallucination...without drugs. By stimulating the aural and visual senses they induce a state of euphoria as the audience leans forward trying to see if there's really a band on stage somewhere in the gauzy haze.

I'd never seen the band before Barbara joined them, but I can't imagine a better line up. Even without one guitar Wednesday, I heard that same intense wash of sound coming from them, defined by that blistering drumming, making it impossible not to move.

They sang "These Days, "The Mourning Son" and "Good Times Have Gone Away" from the CD The Mourning Son and the brilliant "7 Days Now". That's the one where Barbara's voice just soars near the end so intensely it makes your heart race, as she slowly raises both arms. Like that alien at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I'm not sure we weren't victims of a mass hypnosis.

The fog cleared and the lights became brighter and The Human Value took a turn on stage. Their music is kind of wild and punky and loud, but lead singer Turu is a sight to see. A one-woman spectacle, she dances, yelps, moans, pulls her hair and practically does a flamenco dance. She reminded me of a hopped up 'Anita' from West Side Story. I thought she was a star; lot's of charisma, charm, raw talent in a high-explosive package. The music's a bit rough and edgy, not really my favorite genre, but there's no denying this band's tremendous talent.


1 comment:

A Beautiful Fiasco said...

Hi Brad! We met at Earlimart's Spaceland show and discussed how wonderful their Amoeba performance was.

Anyway, neat to know we'll both be checking out the Swell Season & Fleet Foxes!

BTW, I'm sort of in love with this September, aren't you?