Monday, December 17, 2012

Atomic Mama, Christopher Smith and Art Fad @ Neurolux (12/14/12)

I had actually planned to pass on this show originally.  Nothing at all against any of the acts--I'd just seen all of them several times in some capacity or another and needed to do a lot of work over the weekend.  Then I heard that this might be Atomic Mama's last gig for quite a while (no drama--Jake Warnock may have been recruited to play bass on tour for a very popular band from Boise).  That was enough to get me down to Neurolux.

I was somewhat alarmed when I only found about twenty-five people there.  This was at 8 pm, one hour after the designated doors time.  Happily, a pretty substantial crowd had built by the time that Atomic Mama played.

Art Fad opened the show.  This duo has apparently made quite a bit of progress since I last saw them.  While their tunes sounded as catchy as ever, their riffing sounded even sharper and more rousing, their drumming hit quicker and harder and their groove was much more limber.  Theo Maughan and Jacob Milburn's snarled vocals seemed to have ripened nicely, and I could even understand some of the lyrics.  Best of all, antimagic's montages of flashing colors, twisting shapes, weirdo film footage and 80's computer text created a new context for Art Fad's manic inchoateness.  Rather than the mere scribblings of punk-besotted ADHD cases, it came across here as the struggle to make sense of the postmodern age's information overload.  Might be a bit too much to read into it, but a darn impressive set nonetheless.

Next up was a solo set by First Borns' Christopher Smith.  His lean synthesizer instrumentals had a definite 80's robotic flavor to them.  He added just enough complexity to his steady beats and elegant hooks to make them hypnotic instead of boring.  This set had a few technical difficulties--the volume fluctuated and cut out altogether at various points--but not enough to detract from the music.  It helped, of course, that the music had antimagic's glowing squares, twirling spirals and oddball film clips to lean on.  I got a big laugh out of one montage that incorporated footage from the now-legendary bad movie Manos: The Hands of Fate.

He takes care of the place while the master is away.

Atomic Mama closed out the night.  While I must admit that I missed their drummer, these local favorites' mega-catchy tunes held up just fine thanks to their bubbling polyrhythms, dreamy synth blare, droll basslines and piercing guitar solos.  antimagic's clever, psychedelic, overpowering montages helped compensate for the sonic gap as well.  The crowd certainly didn't seem to mind the reduced lineup: they pressed in close, danced and screamed throughout the entire set.  If this group does go on hiatus, it'll definitely be missed.

You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Duck Club Presents.

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