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Gang Gang Dance, Ariel Pink, and Octis

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I anticipated this concert since the last time I had seen Gang Gang Dance. They, with the help of Ariel Pink's band and some members of the audience, not only met but exeeded my high expectations


As excited as I was for the headliners, I wasn't looking forward to seeing the other bands. Orthrelm was billed as the opening act, but the drummer Josh Blair was absent. Instead, Orthrelm's guitarist, Mick Barr, was playing solo as Octis. Without percussion, it's difficult for me to appreciate the kind obtuse shredding that Barr does, and I grew impatient just a few minutes into the set. His guitar tone was too high and thin to produce a full sounding arrangement, despite fret-board gymnastics and the use of a looping pedal. The performance reminded me of an especially fat and dirty fly trying to land on my eardrum. This is not in criticism to the abrasiveness of Barr's playing, but the monotony of a 30 minute unaccompanied guitar solo. I prefer my pains to be diverse and varied. Ariel Pink was the wild card of the night. Last time I had seen him, he merely sang and pecked at a keyboard to the accompaniment of backing tracks on a cassette deck. Fortunately, he had a full band with him this time and his performance was more animated. The band stuck Pink's more enjoyable material, mostly playing from The Doldrums. Even the songs that I didn't recognize would fit easily with that album's hazy, lo-fi soft-rock. What was most striking about the set was how similar to his records it sounded. I’m still puzzled as to how a full band with top shelf equipment could end up sounding like an exercise in bedroom recording.

Gang Gang Dance began their set with slow synth washes, building momentum as drums and electronic percussion began to form a cohesive rhythm. The audience needed no warming over, and were enthusiastically cheering the band on. The performers maintained forward momentum throughout with a dance-music informed sense of beat, blending each song into a continuous whole. Keyboardist Brian DeGraw's playing had the brash qualities of Grime or Baile Funk music, while Lizzy Bougatsos filled out the spaces in between with her Bollywood style singing.

For the encore, the Gang Gang Dance got back on stage and started jamming with members from the supporting acts. They then called out people from the audience, including myself, and handed them instruments. This act and their generosity were both surprises to me and it became the highlight in a night of highlights.

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 July 2007 05:44  


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