Saturday, August 23, 2014

Slint at El Rey - August 22, 2014

I can't really say where my anticipation level was for this show, yet I remembered how much I was surprised and pleased at their 2007 concert when Slint went out on a very select tour, reuniting 15 years after originally disbanding in 1992. They played their 'already-classic' 1991 album Spiderland front to back at only a few dates in Europe, America and Canada, landing at The Fonda Theatre on July 23rd, 2007. I learned about them through Pinback, who often sited them as one of their major influences, purchased the Spiderland album and quickly picked up on the similarities. Although Pinback take the style in a more tuneful direction, the references are striking and both explore a dark and the dour melancholy which gives both bands their trademark sad beauty.

When they launched into "Breadcrumb Trail" for their second song, I sensed we were heading in a Spiderland direction. Considering they only ever released two albums, I guess that's understandable, nevertheless, it thrilled all of us. Continuing with "Nosferatu Man" and "Don, Aman", the intense trance state was heightened by the sheer beauty of the music that grips one in a communal bond with other audience members. So beautiful in fact that you could feel waves of ecstasy coming from the crowd. Contrasted with the lyrics that explore dark and troubling realms, the effect is one of introspection and reflection.

Slint fans elevate the activity of head-bobbing to an art form. Looking out over the crowd at the packed El Rey was to observe the full range of head-bobbing styles. I only saw one person engaged in that (to me) odd habit of raising one's had over one's head and jabbing a finger toward the band on the downbeat. That's far too much activity and distraction for the true slo-core, shoe gaze fan, whose full focus is on the music at hand.

Slint has taught me not only lots of back history of early indie rock, they have taught me a lot about fans of this music and the seriousness of their devotion. The intense concentration combined with the euphoria make a palpable environment that is tough to shake, creating a memorable concert experience and a valuable music history lesson as well.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Auditorium at Silver Lake Lounge 7/29/14

It was a lot of fun to see Auditorium again on Tuesday, July 29th, after the hiatus they've been on for a couple of years. Lead singer and writer, Spencer Berger (below,on the right) has hardly been inactive though, playing in a side project teamed with Mike Rademaker and performing a few solo shows, including the one he played for me at Feed Your Head in February at Lot 1. Speaking recently, he confided that he's
been doing a lot of writing and recording lately and he was anxious to get out there and start performing this new material.

Since his band is so much of a family affair (involving two families) it must make reassembling that much easier. His sister, Elizabeth Berger, on harmony vocals and his wife, Daya Berger, on bass, and the other family, Jon Hogan (above, on the left) and Justin Hogan, two brothers on voice and guitar and voice and keys. They have a familiarity that probably helps them fall back into their positions and contributes to the impressive coordination this band displays. I was so happy to see them on stage together again as a band. Chalk up another one for Silver Lake Lounge.

Jon Hogan, Spencer and Elizabeth Berger
Even though there were some unpredicted obstacles, like no drummer, they mustered on, urged forward by a persuasive Spencer, after members voiced some concerns about no percussion. But this band is so powerful vocally they still sound complete even without the drums, which sat unattended during the set. Forced to play a revised set list, they dipped back into their catalog and performed beautiful versions of "Did Your Heart Shake Like This Song", " Karaoke Freight Train" and "Sex Offenders" in addition to a couple of the new songs, one played with full band and another played solo by Spencer when he gave the others a break and did a couple of songs by himself.

Daya Berger and Justin Hogan
It's impossible not to be moved and impressed Auditoium. Even though it took a little time for the vocals to congeal, once they did it was again obvious they could be one of the most harmonically sound bands in the whole local scene. The tricky and clever songs are written to showcase this aspect with all their gloriously soaring voices pitched at the same level inducing wonder in this listener. Add in the coordinated guitar, bass and especially piano and you've got some of the best orchestrated,  lyrically inventive and adventurous indie rock that I've heard. A new album is coming.

This set was followed by old friends of theirs from Brooklyn, Chamber Band (at right), who are currently on an East Coast/West Coast tour, who dropped in to regale us with their splendid psycho/math rock. I was trying to engage in conversation with members of Auditorium and fellow Radio Free Silver Lake writer, Kathryn Pinto, but out attention was consistently interrupted by the blast of machine gun-delivery of Chris Littler and Ellen Winter in a vocal duel.  The songs are odd and original, with a hint of Broadway pizazz, and you must listen closely. We stopped trying to talk and just focused on Chamber Band.

photos too