Black Dice, David Grubbs

May 10, 2003, Brighton, UK
The Fat Cat label has always been a haven for interesting idiosyncratic music with an experimental edge, and they've constantly sought to expose new artists, so it wasn't surprising that I'd only heard half the artists on this label showcase in an all-seated theatre venue. One is still a marginal mystery. Appropriately due to drowsiness, we arrived a little late and missed Drowsy who was described by earlier arrivals as a one-man folk-strumming funeral. Crescent are a band who've been around in some shape or form for quite a while and an obvious comparison is Hood, with maybe some Soft Machine influence? No other band in the UK really sounds much like them though. They play fragile ruminations on the beauty of nature, with sax, keyboards and what looks like a home made double bass meandering streams along. The weak spot is the rodent-like singer who is totally flat. Although his lyrics fit the music really well, I'd rather have heard the band play instrumentals.
The Animal Collective are two possessed nerds from France who sit next to each other strumming very odd and original unchord shapes from their guitars whilst yapping immature over-excitement about pregnancy and other things that make them happy. They were pretty funny. Most everyone was agreed that they'd never heard anything quite like them, and if you like Half Japanese you'd probably also like them. The venue was perfect for Semiconductor's upbeat laptop visions, and the huge video game visuals projected at the screen that had descended over the stage were just the right journey for my drunken head to take at that point. I probably enjoyed them the most and was left energised and eager to hear more. David Grubbs came on alone and played a typically sparse instrumental on a grand piano and then some songs on acoustic guitar. I enjoyed him a lot more when he played with a band, and I can never help thinking that it seems quite unlikely that he'll ever make another record as great as those last couple of Gastr Del Sol albums. Black Dice headlined and made a similar noise to their recent Beaches and Canyons album although I'm pretty sure none of the material was replicated or if it was they'd drastically deconstructed it. They were at their best when the two effects twiddlers let out a prolonged climactic noiseburst. I'd have much rather seen them in a more intimate venue where they might've stood more chance of overwhelming the senses. Despite perfect sound, I wanted it louder so I could drown in it and they seemed a little static behind their wired tables.