Monday, May 07, 2007

Blonde Redhead at 9:30 club May 6th

You can't go home again. You can't step in the same river twice. You can't un-eat a sandwich. Er ... you get the idea.

Rae and I went to see Blonde Redhead last night. BR is a band with a long career arc that has only in the past few years begun to distinguish itself from the continual stream of no-wave noise that NYC produces. Their album Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons was an amazing balance of dissonance and focus that continues to be one of my favorite albums. Their followup, Misery is a Butterfly, didn't so much tweak the formula further as much as it buried it under a tidal wave of synthesizers and production. Carefully calculated dissonance was replaced with swirling keyboards and synthesizer loops all recorded at the same meandering tempo. End result: pretty, but kind of boring.

Full albums, that is albums that don't sound like the artist just quit on 1/3 of the songs before fleshing them out, are exceedingly rare. Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons is an album practically bursting, whereas Misery is a Butterfly (for all its overblown production) left me wanting. They've recently come out with a new album called 23 that I've been wary of exploring, despite critics describing it as their "loveliest and most accessible work to date."

I should probably shut my mouth until I have actually heard the album, but what I caught of last nights show made me unwilling to expend the effort. Midway through the third song I remarked to Rae that they sounded like Billy Corgan's solo music. Learning that the new album was produced by a guy who worked with Depeche Mode, Smashing Pumpkins, and My Bloody Valentine is unsurprising.

Of what I saw, there was no audience interaction and very little actual music being played. The band was content in a lot of circumstances to plink out an introduction but then let the pre-recorded synth tracks play for them. We left at the start of the fifth song, victims of exhaustion and my inability to realize that just because a band released an album I adore years ago doesn't mean I'll at all be interested in them now.

Fields, who opened for Blonde Redhead last night, weren't half bad, and I'm not saying the night was miserable. In fact I can honestly say our first trip out to 9:30(!) was a pretty good time. It just wasn't the stellar night I had vainly hoped for when I bought the tickets. Granted though I was compelled to make myself go out more by the stellar Dismemberment Plan reunion show last Saturday. That show was the complete opposite of last night: fun, boisterous, exciting, and (for better or worse) recycled. While you can't go home again, home might still send you a postcard once in a while. The trick is finding it in all the junk mail.

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