Friday, March 20, 2009

Crystal Stilts at Music Hall of Williamsburg 3-14-09

The thing live that struck me is how much Frankie really sets the tempo for this otherwise dreary sound. Watching her pound out this frantic tempo with two mallet handles is tiring just to watch. Its this constant pounding with her right hand that's keeping time like a high hat with the tom and then the snare is something like the accent hits. It's the most simple drumming style... really primitive and completely keeps this from getting bogged down in the slow psyche sound this could have ended up in. She singlehandedly sets the pace for the entire sound. Here is this kind of depressing shoegaze sound: muddied effected vocals, washed out heavy chorus strumming but Frankie keeps forcing the speed up to some kind of frantic dance track tempo. Taking the sound in this whole other direction then where you imagine it should be going.

The thing I notice about this live recording after the fact is how completely out of key Brad's nothing I've noticed right away, it's not obviously off's kind of a genius, just a little too late in delivery, just a little lower than the guitar melody, that disaffected chorus low mumble.
It's not a compelling live performance, he holds his hands back behind his body kind of holding back, not engaging the crowd. Instead the keyboard player took up the mic in the stage banter role. He was making it his show, annoyingly on the mic in between every song, trying to heckle the crowd back, I guess making up for the lack of perceived stage presence. I could have done without it. Not every band has to be about forcing the crowd to have a good time. It's enough to be performing something interesting for me.
it's not necessarily the kind of thing that has to be rocking your ass, crowd surfing. You don't give anything up by not trying to win over an audience with your personality. It goes with the territory. I wouldn't expect these guys to be doing some kind of stand up routine. They shouldn't feel like they have to.
Where's the antagonism towards the audience? Are they just in such a mutually beneficial relationship that we're all worried about not stepping on each others toes?... I wouldn't mind a little distance. A little more mystery behind this sound.

Here is the show complete with encore: Crystal Stilts at MHOW, that's this weeks podcast. 42mb-45min.

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