Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tartufi, Red Hands Black Feet and Phantahex @ Neurolux (8/28/12)

Tartufi's solid performance at the Crux on Sunday got me curious to see what they'd do with this headlining gig, but what really attracted me to this show was Red Hands Black Feet.  They've been busy lately: they returned from a successful first tour earlier this month, and they're working to get their first album released soon.  With this big a head of steam worked up, no way was I gonna miss their first proper gig since they got back.

I counted about twenty people inside when I showed up with a friend.  That number would almost triple by the time that Red Hands Black Feet took the stage.

First up this night was Phantahex a.k.a. Tristan Andreas and Grant Olsen.  Their fascinating, slightly ominous experimental music sounded more aggressive and dissonant than I remember it sounding at Tom Grainey's.  Perhaps they just didn't want to sound like dithering wimps next to the other two acts.  In any case, Tristan Andreas stroked and banged out some Industrial-strength buzzsaw noise, deceptively soothing riffs and disorienting, polyrhythmic loops on his monochord.  Grant Olsen's synthesizer set-up rippled and blared.  Some of the crowd clearly wasn't feeling this stuff (including my friend), but I liked it fine.

Red Hands Black Feet took the stage next.  As with Finn Riggins, touring seems to have done this group a lot of good: Eric Larson and Jake Myers' intertwining guitars, Joseph Myers's basslines and Jessica Johnson's drumming all showed an astonishing increase in finesse while retaining their fundamental raw power.  The already strong rapport between the four members seemed to have reached an almost subliminal level.  The crowd moved in close and cheered wildly, and not without good reason: in its own unassuming way, this set was almost as powerful as their Treefort performance.

For their headlining set, Tartufi played much of the same material from last Sunday's set at the Crux but with greater intensity and impact.  You could maybe chalk that up to a mixture of the Neurolux's sound system, a desire to show up the openers and the adulation of the larger crowd.  In any case, their bright, airy guitar, their tough, twangy bass and their kinetic drums all sounded in top form.  Not only that, I could actually hear the lyrics on a couple of songs (including an encore number which they once again invited Lisa Simpson from Finn Riggins to sing on).  Didn't sound too bad at all, if maybe a bit ungainly (it's kinda hard to shoehorn "From the fish fields of the north Pacific" into a soothing, ambient tune).

You can find info on Red Hands Black Feet and Tartufi on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise.

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