Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lost Lander and Atomic Mama @ Neurolux (7/24/12)

Yesterday hit an uncommonly sour note for me.  A couple of weeks ago, I got a new job after a little over a year of unemployment.  It seemed absolutely perfect: it'd let me make use of my English degree, it'd pay me enough to get by and it'd give me enough free time to keep this blog going.  After going in one day for a few hours of orientation, however, I didn't hear anything from this job for a week.  I emailed them and asked when I should come back in.  The response that I received informed me that several of their more seasoned personnel had left their positions and that my current skill set did not suit their needs at this time.  They encouraged me to contact them regarding possible available positions... in 2013.

I didn't let this get me too down, however.  For one thing, I've done enough moping in my life to know that it doesn't get you anywhere.  (Indeed, those of you who may have tallied how many times I've mentioned Nick Drake in this blog have probably deduced that I've done enough moping for three lifetimes.)  For another thing, I figured that my renewed unemployment would give me ample time to read the Elizabeth Bishop and Sam Cooke biographies that I found in the clearance section at Hastings.  For yet another thing, my mood couldn't darken much when I was going to see my second favorite Treefort act later that evening.

I counted about forty people when I reached Neurolux.  That in itself would've made for a larger crowd than Lost Lander played to back in March.  Happily, however, the audience at least doubled by the time that the Portland-based band took the stage.  It probably didn't hurt that they shared the bill with local favorites Atomic Mama, who had just returned from playing the Massv Music Festival over in Ketchum and the Underground Music Festival down in Denver.

Atomic Mama's opening set felt mellower and more casual than the other performances of theirs that I've caught.  I didn't consider that a bad thing, however.  Indeed, it only pushed to the forefront the playful funkiness that underlies their music (gotta love that falsetto on Daniel Kerr).  It also showed off just how tight and confident a unit these three guys have become--they only need to glance at the ball to knock it out of the park.

As at last month's Delicate Steve concert, Atomic Mama's grooviness was aided and abetted this night by a surreal, funny, galvanizing projection show.  Both of these came courtesy of antimagic, the joint project of local VJ's Tyler Walker and Jason Willford.  Jason and I go all the way back to elementary school (almost twenty years now).  I've been aware of his talent since I saw his student films back in the early 00's, and I'm overjoyed to see him firing on all cylinders now.

Soon after Atomic Mama came Lost Lander, whose performance was broadcast live on Radio Boise.  "Here's hoping that Lost Lander can maintain their edge," I wrote in my Treefort Top 10 post.  Right from the start, they showed that they've done just that and then some.  They kicked off this night's set with the last song from their album DRRT, "Your Name Is a Fire," and transmogrified it from a sprightly, folky bagatelle to a swaggering, funky show of force.  Every song that came after followed suit: each sounded just as good as the album version, and most sounded better.  Matt Sheehy's clean, beguiling tenor sang out clearly, strongly and without a trace of that phony Donovan-esque accent.  What's more, the rapport between Patrick Hughes's lithely powerful drumming, Dave Lowensohn's calm basslines, Sheehy's dreamily searing guitar work and Sarah Fennell's tender keyboard parts made unmistakably clear that this is a band, not a solo musician and his underlings.  And as if the pumped-up renditions of their original songs weren't proof enough of their sharpened edge, their encore included a tense, menacing cover of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper," which stood toe-to-toe with any version of that song that I've heard (Springsteen's, Steve Earle's, the Drive-By Truckers').

This performance deserved its live broadcast.  It's just too bad that the folks listening on the radio couldn't see antimagic's montages, which went with the songs like beauty goes with truth.

You can find info on Atomic Mama and Lost Lander on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise.

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