Friday, April 26, 2013
Marnie Stern, SISU and the Funs @ Neurolux (4/23/13)
I'd heard from a few folks that Marnie Stern could do some serious shredding on guitar, so I figured that this show would be something to see/hear. The chance to see SISU, whose Treefort set I'd missed, made this concert doubly attractive.
There were about twenty-five people at Neurolux when I got there. When Marnie Stern started her set, I counted over seventy. Now that's what I'm talking about.
The Funs, a duo from Chicago, opened the show. "Wow," I thought, "those dudes in Art Fad have really let themselves go. Jacob Milburn's put on some weight, and man, I don't even recognize Theo Maughan now. I guess the slower tempos make sense, under these circumstances. But how come their tunes and riffs don't sound nearly as good? And why's Jacob's voice sounds so sad and high-pitched? And when did he dye his hair blond?" I'm kidding, of course. But not about those tempos, tunes and riffs, unfortunately. And while it feels awfully mean to fault musicians for their age, the four or five years (I'm guessing) that Jessee Rose Crane and Philip Jerome Lesicko had over Milburn and Maughan didn't do their brand of punky incoherence any favors. Indeed, they made it feel less like growing pains and more like protracted adolescence. A lot more insular than Art Fad, in other words, and a whole lot less fun.
Just to show that I wasn't kidding too much about that whole Art Fad thing...
SISU played next. Now this was more like it. Between their massive bass sound, their propulsive drums, their spooky keyboard hooks, their spindly guitar and their breathy, cooed vocals, this Los Angeles group could've sprung fully formed from Ian Curtis's anima. Some lights, lasers and black-and-white projections augmented the music's ominousness. I couldn't ID their cover song (New Order? The Cure? The Jesus and Mary Chain?), but whatever it was, it sounded just as good as their originals. Eerie, enticing stuff.
Marnie Stern closed out the night. While her playful, squealing vocals suggested Kimya Dawson on helium, her hummingbird-speed strumming and tapping suggested Robert Fripp or Richard Lloyd on speed. Her bassist served as the maypole around which she and her drummer danced and skipped. They wore their chops lightly, however, which suited both the punk enthusiast and the pop enthusiast in me just fine. Spunky, dexterous fun. I just hope that the broadcast didn't get cut because of that F-bomb that Stern accidentally dropped.
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