Friday, May 20, 2011

Pygmalion Day 3: À la carte

By Jon Stone | @jwstone - September 25, 2010

Tonight Pygmalion wraps up. It's been an interesting and eclectic festival and I've had a great time.

Yesterday, that eclecticism reached its full potential as nearly every act I saw differed significantly from the last. Here's a quick recap:

Colour Revolt - I got to Canopy Club last night right at the tail end of Gold Motel's set. I was sorry to miss them. Colour Revolt was great though -- despite some sound difficulties; I dug their set. They do a decent job moving between heavy and soft, and they have an interesting vocal approach that moves between  close harmonies or doubled melodies and a the fast-talking, speak-singing made popular by bands like the Hold Steady. Colour Revolt was probably my favorite set of the night. I look forward to seeing them again.

Unwed Sailor - Instrumental bands have my respect. It takes a lot of mettle to let the music speak for itself. Unwed Sailor was good -- not amazing. But again, mettle!

OWEN - Mike Kinsella is an interesting guy. He's one of those talented musicians who, when you hear him play, seems -- I don't know -- unhappy to be performing. Maybe it's the result of years and years of playing with only moderate success. I can imagine how frustrating that would be. Mike's style, though, is kind of incredible. Each song is a pithy (if often smug) vignette explicating a moment from his lived experience. What fascinates me about OWEN is Mike's use of open tuning. He seemed to use a different one on every song even though sometimes the songs are only a minute or two long. It was impressive, if a little overwrought.

Finally, I had no idea that Mike was a member of the band Cap'n Jazz. I'll be seeing him tonight in that iteration and I'll let you know how the two projects contrast. Perhaps the better observation will be how and if there is any correlation.

+/- (plus/minus) - These guys were a bit weird if only because I was expecting something completely different. Their songs on MySpace are heavily sequenced -- with canned beats and neatly drawn keyboards. Guitars are present, but they aren't the first thing you're directed toward on the site. Live, plus/minus are a pretty straight-ahead rock band. Guitars are at the forefront and only one song had a prominent sequenced element. I actually quite liked them, but rather than feeling like something new and interesting, they felt instead like an amalgam of other bands (in this case, early Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab). Which is to say, I was entertained, but I didn't buy anything from the merch table.

Cut Chemist - I think I can honestly say that last night's DJ set from Cut Chemist was the very first time I have watched/listened to a DJ spin (oh, wait! I saw Flying Lotus this year too). It was amazing and reminded me a lot of the Books show I saw at last year's Pygmalion. Cut Chemist employ the same visual/sound element that the Books do, except, of course, that while the Books create a soundtrack to their video element, Cut Chemist are manipulating both the audio and the video live while it's happening -- really fun to watch. Exhausted, I had to take off at 1:30 AM after they had been on stage for a little under an hour. Who knows how late the kids kept on dancing.


Tonight, Ted Leo, Rokey Ericson with Okkervil River, and Carabou will close things out. I'm hoping to squeeze in a nap before things get going.

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