Friday night I went to go see two of my recent-favorite bands, Twin Shadow and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. It was, first and foremost, a fantastic show and, secondly, an interesting exercise in bands being out of their element. Twin Shadow as I previously covered is an individual making synthpop, while on stage he plays a guitar backed by a drummer, a bassist/electronics and a keyboardist/electronics. The live set was a completely different take on his very, very good debut album, Forget. There was this imperfection to the timing that all but the most manufactured live shows have, and in this case, is also the polar opposite to the slick and minimalist production on the LP.
The Pains (covered here) are a dream-pop/shoegaze band, which is a combination not making for an interesting live set - the very term "shoegaze" comes from the general immobility of the band on stage. However, Kip Berman (vocals/lead guitar) was as alive as you could be and doing everything short of tearing his guitar in twain. Fortunately, someone did take some good footage of their encore:
Also, I finally found some video of the Zola Jesus show I went to a few weeks ago:
I am pretty sure that Zola Jesus and Die Antwoord's Yo-Landi Visser are alternate universe versions of one another. See for yourself.
Fair warning, the Die Antwoord video below is absolutely swimming in phalluses. It's also a protest song against Xhosa ritual circumcision. I compiled a few links explaining it here.
I saw Xiu Xiu and Zola Jesus at the Bowery Ballroom on Friday night. Well, I actually saw Twin Sister, Zola Jesus, tUnE-YaRdS [sic] and Xiu Xiu, but I was only there for one group. Fortunately, the concert was a delightful surprise. Twin Sister was forgettable. Well, the music was okay but much like every overtly twee opening act I've seen in the last few months - and by "every" I mean every opening act I've seen in the last few months has been overtly twee - they were nothing special. Zola Jesus was wonderful. I have listened to her on record and, much like WOODS, it doesn't compare to the energy and ambience of seeing her live. Her set was an unfortunately short 20 minutes, but she packed a mile's worth of improvised stage acrobatics and the entirety of her glorious and operatic-influenced voice into them. One of the funnier moments of the show happened between two of her tracks:
Zola Jesus: "It's a very important weekend for me. It's my birthday weekend..."
Zola Jesus: "...I'm turning 21."
Audience: SELF-CONSCIOUS SILENCE
tUnE-YaRdS - may I briefly call attention to how much I fucking hate creative casing in band names? - was an odd act: a young woman with two drums, a modified ukulele, a looper and a bassist, blasting out West African and Carribean-influenced indie pop. Think Vampire Weekend wearing their influences on their sleeve (well, moreso, anyway) crossed with Final Fantasy and that's a rough approximation. If anything, her sense of rhythm was dead-on and her scat-like vocalizations, looped over into one another with the drum beats created a genuinely original sound. I located a video of her doing "Gangsta", my favorite number from her live set. The video is a good approximation of what I saw, down to the hand motions:
Now, the topper was Xiu Xiu. If you watched the above video and have ever even heard about Xiu Xiu - from my repeated posts about them, if anything at all - you may rightly assume that a bunch of people split about halfway through their first track. Their stage presence is now minimal: Jamie Stewart on electric guitar (and occasionally Nintendo DS or percussion) and newcomer Angela Seo on synths and a very complex percussion set-up that may resemble a drum kit if you squint hard enough. Jamie's energy on stage is inversely proportional to his incredibly shy persona in between tracks. He becomes a waterfall of sweat, shredding the hell out of his guitar and singing as if attempting to exorcise a demon from the depths of his gut. The tempo and feel of every song was utterly different, some infused with a nervous energy the original track never had - their rendition of "I Luv The Valley OH!" for instance. Below is a video of "Muppet Face" from the show I attended.
...and here is a photo I took of Jamie Stewart playing a Hello Kitty branded Nintendo DS Lite (complete with Hello Kitty charm):