Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Live review: Follakzoid played Rough Trade

Originally posted on Free Williamsburg HERE.

Chilean psych heavyweights Föllakzoid played my favourite show of the year at Rough Trade on Saturday night, and I will be amazed if anyone beats it. There is no better scene than Santiago right now, and the band pulled off a masterclass of cosmic proportions.
Support act SQÜRL feature director Jim Jarmusch on guitar and vocals, which has definitely brought a few extra faces through the door. I thought they were great, the songs have a slowcore influence to them, along the lines of Codeine and Low. The sound fills the room and they are definitely a good fit for tonight's bill.
I had a chance to speak to Föllakzoid bass player Juan Pablo Rodrigues before the show and ask if he has anything from Blow Your Mind Records on him. I feel a bit like an addict in search of the next fix when he says he has to check his case and will be back in a few minutes, I leave more than happy with the latest albums from VuelvetelocaThe Ganjas and the reissued Tsunamis self-titled record.
The band leap into Electric, the opening track from new album, III, which is out now in the US on Sacred Bones, and straight away they settle into a groove that doesn't let up.
When Follakzoid and their fellow Chilean/BYM friends The Holydrug Couple played in New York in 2013, it was my favourite show of the year (out of 150+), and if anything the band have gone up a gear. The new material on III is completely and utterly mesmerising in the strictest sense of the word, even moreso live as you can see the songs shift and build. The band are puppet-masters, controlling the audience with their sound, you can't help but get pulled around and swept away in the trance.
When the band want or need to, the guitars and drums can really crash through your senses, there is much more power to the live sound than on record. This is best shown when they play 99, from the band's second album, II. Guitarist Domingo Garcia-Huidobro gets pretty animated while the rest of the band mould the rhythm, speaking of Garcia-Huidobro, as I mentioned last week, you can see his film, Patir to Live, at Nitehawk cinema tonight with a live score from the man himself.
Watching Föllakzoid play is the best high, a true transformative experience, while I was watching them all life's anxieties went away, and everything felt good. Some bands reach for the stars, but Föllakzoid bring them to you.

Live review: Kaki King played Rough Trade

Originally posted on Free Williamsburg HERE.

Kaki King Rough Trade
Kaki King performed The Neck is a Bridge to the Body at Rough Trade last Thursday; it is a show where the guitar is the main focus in more ways than one. Aside from Kaki's always captivating style, the guitar itself acts as a screen and forms the narrative of the show.
Support act Glockabelle was a breath of fresh air, her casiotone keyboard and frantic yet expert playing gives her music an intense video-game quality. Drummer Ruben Sindo Acosta also has a bit of a cartoonish vibe to him in a leopard onesie and steampunk goggles. They really are a potent duo. We're also treated to some glockenspiel played with thimbles just to make things extra niche.
Kaki enters the stage and meticulously sets herself at the guitar, which is suspended from two stands so the projection is precise. Someone from the crowd takes a picture of Kaki on their smartphone which lights up the room, provoking a "wtf?!" reaction from her, it comes across as humorous and fortunately didn't derail anything. The visuals are a big deal with this piece, but special mention also has to go to Kaki's playing, who displays all her customary picking, scratching, tapping and percussive skills over the course of the night. I don't think I've seen anyone who seems part of the guitar as much as her.
About halfway through the set, Glockabelle makes a cameo to add some more thimble-played glockenspiel.
Kaki King Rough Trade 2
Some of the visuals have changed since I saw the piece last year, and if I were being harsh I'd probably say the visual side of things was more stimulating the last time. But it also shows that this is a performance piece by both Kaki and the visual artist and there is space for change. Sometimes Kaki is driving the visuals and sometimes the visuals are dictating the music. There is an interlude of sorts with a humorous film about the life of the guitar growing up, which gives a lighthearted break from what is a show you really have to dedicate yourself to get the most from (you can watch it here, but I didn't want to embed it directly as I think it works best as part of the show rather than independently).
The Neck is a Bridge to the Body is a unique show, and it's heartening to see this kind of creative process get its due in terms of attendances and given a platform, ventures such as this need to be supported and I think Kaki has created something breathtaking.
For the encore, we get a piece inspired by the Philae Landerwhich is just one of the most staggering achievements science has made: a 4 billion (yes, billion) mile, 10-year journey, to land on a comet. Speaking of breathtaking, she ends the show with Playing with Pink Noise

Live review: Courtney Barnett played Bowery Ballroom

Originally posted on Free Williamsburg HERE.

Courtney Barnett
It's probably fair to say that Courtney Barnett was the hottest ticket in town this week, and she duly delivered when I saw her at the Bowery on Tuesday.
Darren Hanlon
Opener Darren Hanlon performed a sometimes humorous and often sweet folk set, his bio says he lived in Oxford for a year in 2005 and I have a nagging feeling I've seen him play before. Songs like I Wish That I Was Beautiful For You snuggled alongside tunes about public transport woes.
Chastity Belt
Seattle's Chastity Belt followed shortly after and played a fairly relaxed set that got everyone swaying. It came across a little more politely than what I was expecting, which I think was mostly down to drummer Gretchen Grimm's delicate style, that ended up as a plus point as the band warmed up.
Courtney Barnett 4
These shows had been sold out for some time and there seemed to be excitement and curiosity building in equal amounts among the crowd. I've been enjoying her record, Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit, but the songs come into their own when performed live. While the band may have somewhat of a slacker demeanor to them, the trio are a tight unit and play with more power than their recorded counterparts. Drummer Dave Mudie and bassist Bones Sloane offer backing vocals and are an integral part of the show, though most eyes in the house are on Barnett, this is a power trio in action.
Courtney Barnett 5
The audience are more than appreciative but perhaps a little quiet, which seems to take the band by surprise at times, but mention it's better than hearing people talking in the audience (I concur!). Whether performing rockers like Elevator Operator or the singer/songwriter Depreston,  there's a certain magnetism in the air.
Courtney Barnett 6
Courtney plays the first song of the encore solo, performing a cover of one of my favourite Lemonheads songs, Being Around. In fact Courtney's music is probably fairly described as somewhere between that song and the other cover of the night, The Breeders' Cannonball. 
Courtney Barnett 2
If anyone was there simply to see what the fuss was about, they surely left converted. After 3 sold out nights at the Bowery, Courtney is making the step up (in terms of capacity anyway) to Terminal 5 with a show in July, which also features Speedy Ortiz and Torres. Tickets are on sale now.
Courtney Barnett 3