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Posts Tagged ‘Black Cat’

Two shows to start the year

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I closed 2009 with a whimper rather than a bang, not going to a single show in the last six weeks of the year. So it was nice to get back into it with a pair of shows here in DC early in 2010. Last Friday, I saw Massachusetts-based post-rockers Caspian at an amazingly packed The Red & the Black; last night, I saw a great metal double-bill of Jucifer and Salome at the Black Cat backstage.

The glib way to describe Caspian is “Explosions in the Sky but heavier and not as good.” They play a melodic, accessible, largely predictable brand of instrumental post-rock that does the soft-loud-soft thing religiously. One of the things that sets them apart is that their loud parts are really loud - and not just really loud, but quite heavy as well, with some good ol’ chunky riffage that appeals to the metal fan in me. Their live show had some pretty great, cathartic moments, but it didn’t take long before it kind of all started sounding the same, which I suppose is the major pitfall for most post-rock bands. Even the really great ones don’t always manage to avoid it (see: Mogwai, etc etc). Still, a fun show, and the last song ended with a huge percussion breakdown that was pretty cool.

One thing of note: Caspian’s drummer used a bare-bones kit of snare drum, bass drum, hi-hat and two cymbals. No toms to be found. To be honest, I missed the toms a bit. The band’s music doesn’t really demand much from their drummer, but a bit more variety in his sound might have helped keep the show from getting samey as quickly as it did.

As for last night, Jucifer and Salome were a real treat. I’ve seen both these bands multiple times at this point and really enjoy both of their live shows. They’re a perfect bill together: Jucifer completely eschews their poppy album material in favor of a pure wall of sound, while Salome plays (to steal words from a coworker and fellow metalhead) “doom with fifteen Os” - monstrously slow, sludgy, riff-centric metal, with a seriously ferocious vocalist. Neither disappointed at this show; although I think I enjoyed Jucifer’s last show in the area (at Baltimore’s Ottobar) a bit more than this one, I couldn’t really pinpoint why. Maybe because at the Ottobar show, I was able to pick out a few familiar riffs here and there and could actually tell what album material they were playing, albeit transformed into near unrecognizability - this time around, it was all completely unrecognizable to me.

Turnout at this show was great too. I’d guess 30-40 for both bands, which is great considering the last two times I saw Jucifer there were probably 20 people combined. The fact that folks came early to see Salome was awesome. People seemed into it, too, although with DC crowds it’s sometimes hard to tell. To be fair, this isn’t exactly mosh-pit music. Although it’d be fun to see a Salome mosh-pit. Slowest wall of death ever!

Anyway, I also just had a nice experience at this show talking with folks, which is something I often don’t get to do at metal shows. Enjoyed shooting the shit about why I don’t like current-day Mastodon, getting all prog-nerdy about the likes of Opeth, Symphony X, “Starless” and more, hearing Salome tour stories, etc etc, with various friends and band members. Definitely a great way to start a year in concerts.

Photos from the Jucifer/Salome show coming to a Washington City Paper Arts Desk post soon.

Japanese stoner-metal: Boris @ the Black Cat

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Boris 11

On Tuesday night at the Black Cat, Boris (pictured above), Torche and Clouds played one of the loudest shows I’ve been to all year, to one of the most raucous crowds I’ve been a part of all year. All three of these bands are very heavy rock bands - many fans would call them “metal” but for their own reasons, I believe Boris and Torche tend to eschew that label. But this was almost as “metal” a show as any I’ve seen so far this year, right down to the mosh pit that exploded during Torche’s set, and the wild stage dive by Boris’ drummer at the end of their set.

Clouds 3

Clouds (above) were first, replacing Wolves in the Throne Room who (very sadly, for me at least) dropped off the tour after being pencilled in as the openers. I’m not familiar with their material at all, but they put on an entertaining set of what seemed to be fairly straightforward sludgy metal. Their new album is on Hydra Head, and if this show was anything to go off of, it seems like their music is just a tad poppier than the norm for that label. Solid opener, but I wasn’t inspired to pick up their album right off the bat.

Torche 3

I saw Torche (above) a couple months ago at Rock & Roll Hotel, where I thought they stole the show from headliners The Sword. These guys play a very catchy brand of metal, with melodic hooks galore embedded in their jackhammering guitar riffs. They’re also not afraid to bring the noise, eschewing the poppy stuff in some songs in favor of pure cathartic brutality. But for the most part, they’re a crowd-pleasing band, and that was in full effect last night, as throughout their set a fairly large (by Black Cat standards at least) mosh pit roiled violently in front of the stage, at times threatening to push those of us in the front row practically up onto the stage itself.

The Torche dudes were loving it, playing to the moshers with huge grins on their faces, and seemingly upping the energy of their performance as compared to the one I saw in May. As before, they put on a hugely enjoyable show, even if the music is a little too straightforward for my tastes on record. Also as before, they closed their set with a monstrous, extended version of the title track from their most recent album, Meanderthal, that absolutely brought the house down. Good times.

Boris 13

Boris took the stage after a 45-minute set change, obscured by fog pumping out from the drum riser, playing the opening strains of their newest album, Smile. Their setlist was actually just Smile in its entirety, played in order, except with “Pink” and “Floor Shaker” inserted into the middle of the set. As such, their set exhibited by far the most dynamic range of any of the three bands performing, ranging from hard-driving stoner metal to meandering, pretty soundscapes to breathtakingly exciting extended jams (the final, set-ending song).

I’m not a huge fan of Boris‘ studio output - as I just mentioned, I generally find stoner metal and stuff like this (I realize Boris is not really easy to pigeonhole in any one genre) a little too simplistic - but like Torche, these guys really shine in a live setting. Something about how they bounce between peaceful melody and merciless pummelling is just really fantastic to witness live. Wata is a beast of a guitarist, but you’d never know it from watching her, as she just stands there, expressionless, barely moving, while cranking out some killer riffs. But Takeshi made up for her stoicism with his manic stage presence, flailing around wildly on his headless double-necked guitar (as in the above photo). Atsuo, if anything, was even crazier, but ensconced behind his drum kit as he was, that never really became obvious until the end of the set. And all the while, guest guitarist Michio Kurihara (”guest” even though he’s been on Boris‘ last couple tours) stood quietly in the corner, barely lit, often completely obscured in fog:

Boris 2

The highlight was the end of the set, which was “You Were Holding an Umbrella” followed by its 16-minute closing section, a spectacular jam that built from a near-ambient beginning into a series of noisy, cathartic crescendoes. Almost post-rock-like, except a couple of the noisy parts tended to come more out of nowhere, giving the piece a much less linear feel than your average post-rock epic.

Towards the end, with guitars wailing and feedback screaming, drummer Atsuo started dismantling his kit, chucking cymbals against the giant gong hanging behind him and generally going apeshit. After he had thrown everything around, he jumped up on his bass drum, arms raised, face upturned, reveling in the glorious noise, and then hopped down onto the stage and dove into the crowd. From what I could tell he crowdsurfed half way back into the heart of the club before climbing back on stage, striking another pose, and exiting backstage with the rest of the band still hammering away. The wall of sound subsided shortly thereafter, leaving the crowd to cheer lustily in the hopes of an encore that did not come.

Boris 15

Also check out another nice review, by someone who’s a much more enthusiastic and knowledgeable fan of Boris than I, here at

Full set of my photos, as always, at Flickr.

Plastic People of the Universe: still got it

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Last night I had the chance to see The Plastic People of the Universe, which was great because I missed them here two years ago when they were guests at the Czech embassy. I’m not all that familiar with these guys — I have Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned and Muz bez uší, the album of their earliest live recordings. I’m not very well-acquainted with the latter, but I think pretty highly of Egon Bondy. Regardless, given that the bandleader Milan Hlavsa passed away in 2001, I really had no idea what to expect from this incarnation of the band.

What I was treated to was a melodic, accessible brand of sorta-avant-rock — still a little out there and experimental, but not enough to scare off anyone even moderately familiar with dissonant music, and nowhere near as edgy as their early stuff, at least the stuff I’m familiar with. There were tons of catchy themes, bouncy rhythms and melodic guitar solos; the most out-there stuff were the vocals (mostly chanted or spoken), the sometimes weird keyboard harmonies, and the occasional white-hot sax solos. I was a little surprised at how prominent a role the guitarist was given; he’s a very good player but many of his solos were a little too straightforward for my taste. The sax solos were more up my alley, soulful and searching; and the highlight of the entire set was definitely a rendition of “Apocalyptic Bird” from Egon Bondy, which dispensed with the annoying keyboard squalls present at the beginning and end of the studio version, but faithfully rendered the funky beat and blistering sax work.

This was a really fun show; if not the most compelling one I’ve seen this year, it was great to see these guys looking so hale and hearty and having a great time. Also nice to see that they were able to draw a crowd of probably over 100 folks (and interestingly enough, I think more than half of the audience was female). I might have to pick up some more of their material at some point.

Do Make Say Think and the danger of high expectations

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

This past Monday, I saw my second Do Make Say Think show of the year. The first one was one of the best concerts I’ve seen all year, and their new album, You, You’re a History In Rust, is one of my favorite new records of the year. So needless to say, I was going in with pretty high expectations. Not surprisingly given those sky-high expectations, I was a little bit disappointed.

This time around, despite having exactly the same eight-piece band (I’ve heard that at shows closer to their home base of Montreal, they sometimes play with as many as 12 instrumentalists onstage), they seemed a little sloppy, which especially came through in the new songs with vocals. The singing is pretty rough on the album, but in a charming sort of way; at this show, it was downright bad. Also, they played a lot of older songs that are less compositionally rigorous than the new stuff, and instead focus on establishing a groove or a jazzy rhythm and riding it into the ground. I like that stuff well enough — it has a kind of trancelike effect on me after a while — but it just isn’t quite as compelling as the more song-oriented new material.

The world was set aright, though, after the encore, which consisted of beautiful renditions of three of the best songs from the new album: the gorgeous, acoustically centered “A Tender History in Rust,” the powerful and energetic “The Universe!” and the satisfying denouement “In Mind.” The latter is a perfect example of how Do Make Say Think craft gorgeous melodies and then mess with them just enough to keep you off-balance, but not quite enough to keep you from enjoying the songsmanship (I just made up a word). It starts off beautifully but quickly becomes cacophonous, at first retaining the central melody and even building on it with ecstatic vocals, but then gradually just turning into glorious noise. It’s a fabulous way to close the album and an even better way to end a concert.

So although the bulk of the concert was a little disappointing, the encore made it all worth it. I went with three friends who enjoyed the hell out of the show, and it’s good to see the appeal of this band growing (I’d guess there were 300+ people there that night). Best of all, they seem to be really hard workers, touring incessantly, so hopefully there will be some new material coming sooner than later!

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum live: I finally got it.

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Well, last night Sleepytime Gorilla Museum put on the best show of the three I’ve seen thus far. Maybe it was just that I’m now familiar with all the songs — with very few exceptions they played stuff from In Glorious Times, as they have been doing for the past two years. But despite a surprisingly small crowd (smaller than in 2005, when they didn’t start until nearly midnight, and much smaller than three months ago, when they barely made it to DC thanks to a nasty ice storm), they were really on, both musically and theatrically.

They opened with “The Companions,” which they’ve been doing since I first saw them in 2005. Actually, technically they opened with a gimmick, parading slowly from the back of the club while playing some kind of brassy fanfare, walking straight into the middle of the crowd, finishing the fanfare, and then taking the stage. It was a highly amusing stunt and set the tone for the rest of the night. It’s amazing how these guys can be so creepy one moment and then completely and genuinely funny the next. After “The Companions” — which I found much more enjoyable after hearing it on the album, and I picked out some subtleties I’d never noticed before, like Carla Kihlstedt’s ghostly wordless backing vocals — they brought down the house with “The Widening Eye,” just as they did last time. I described this song last time (which was the first time I ever heard it) as a more metallic take on “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part 2″ — it’s easily my favorite song on the album, and it’s a real crowd-pleaser live.

After playing most of the songs on In Glorious Times, the band surprised me by playing some stuff from Of Natural History — previously I’d only heard them do “Phthisis,” but this time they played “The Freedom Club,” “Hymn to the Morning Star” (Nils’ voice in this song is just astonishing) and “The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity.” All of these songs killed and this reminded me that, as much as I dig the new album, Of Natural History is still easily my favorite of theirs. They did an encore of their new, tripped-out version of “Sleep Is Wrong,” which despite its funkiness I actually don’t like nearly as much as the original version, which is much more lean, mean and heavy.

Theatrically, the whole band was funnier and more animated than I’ve seen them, which is definitely saying something. This is even though the crowd was probably half as big as their last show at the Black Cat, which must have been disappointing.

Openers Stinking Lizaveta I found mildly disappointing; I’ve heard great things about them but aside from a couple songs I thought were great, they mostly played songs consisting of odd-time riff after odd-time riff, and I ended up finding them rather tiresome. Great musicians to be sure, but I just wasn’t a huge fan of the compositions.

Holy fuck the Dismemberment Plan are still amazing

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

I would be remiss if I didn’t post about my 23rd show of the year — the much-anticipated Dismemberment Plan reunion concert at the Black Cat. A quick Technorati search reveals a ton of breathless blog reviews of the two shows these guys did this weekend (for instance here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). And you know what? Even my rather jaded showgoing self can’t help being really, really excited about last night’s show.

In various pre-weekend interviews, the D-Plan’s frontman Travis Morrison had said that he actually felt that the band were better than ever — better musicians, more comfortable with the material despite not having played any of it in three and a half years. I was skeptical, to say the least, but I honestly have to say that last night’s reunion show was easily the best show I’ve ever seen the band put on, and I saw them four times during their prime. The sound was perfect and their performance was shockingly tight, as if they hadn’t just picked up after three and a half years apart. They played all the songs one would expect — “You Are Invited,” “Time Bomb,” “The Ice of Boston,” and so on — playing almost all of Emergency & I and their usual selection of earlier stuff like “Onward, Fat Girl” and “The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich.” The only notable omission was “Superpowers,” though I also wished that they had played “Sentimental Man.”

Setlist aside, the energy at the show was just tremendous. I caught the second opening band, whose frontman said, “We’re going to play a short set tonight, because we’re not stupid.” An apt statement, as everyone there was clearly there for one reason only. People had traveled from all over to see this reunion show, including someone from London and a bunch of people from up and down the eastern seaboard. The crowd was as I remembered from previous D-Plan shows, dancing spastically, pumping fists, jumping all over the place. What was different was the singing: it seemed like every song, the crowd was singing along as enthusiastically as Travis himself was singing into the mike. The band seemed a little overwhelmed by the response, which was understandable — during “The Ice of Boston,” in which traditionally the band asks audience members to join them on stage and dance, the crowd flooded up onto the stage to the point that the band didn’t have enough room to play their instruments, and by the end of the song Travis had given his guitar to some dude, Jason Caddell and Eric Axelson had stopped playing, and it was just Travis singing with Joe Easley tapping out the beat on drums. And everyone in the club singing along, of course.

They played two full encores, although they quipped to the crowd that they were running out of songs that they remembered how to play (they claimed to be making stuff up as they played “Bra” and “Onward, Fat Girl,” but damned if I noticed except for one flubbed line in the former). The band-audience dynamic was unforgettable. And it was all for a good cause. By the end of the year, I’ll probably have gone to many shows that were more challenging, musically ambitious, and whatnot, but I doubt any of them will have matched the atmosphere of this one.

UPDATE: There is now a review up at Pitchfork (complete with crowd shot in which one of my friends is visible, wooo), and I added to the list of blog reviews above.

Aereogramme @ the Black Cat, still screaming

Friday, April 27th, 2007

A small crew of fans came out last night to see Aereogramme at the Black Cat’s back stage. This is a neat little space that’s ideal for folk and acoustic jazz performances (Ken Vandermark played there a couple years ago with his Free Music Ensemble), but for heavily amplified rock, it’s definitely not the best spot. Sadly, Aereogramme’s overdriven guitars and pounding drums overwhelmed the sound system and made for a trying listening experience.

There were still some nice surprises, though. The story with these guys is that they started off as a curious cross between indie-pop and death metal, combining saccharine melodies with crushing riffs and screaming vocals. Their lead singer, Craig B, caught a nasty throat infection a couple years ago, and they went on an informal hiatus before releasing a new album this year, My Heart Had a Wish That You Would Not Go (an emo-sounding title if there ever was one, but it’s actually a quote from The Exorcist). With Craig B rendered unable to scream anymore after his ailment, this new album dumps almost all of the metal influences in favor of a borderline sappy alt-indie sound that’s like a more interesting and heavily orchestrated Coldplay.

Still, a recent collaboration with Isis (In the Fishtank 14) led me to believe that Aereogramme have not completely exorcised the heavy elements from their music, and this show proved that belief right. Their set spanned their entire career, including a couple favorites like “Indiscretion” and “Dreams and Bridges.” The band didn’t shy away from the metal, either, as Craig B’s plaintive vocal melodies often gave way to crunchy riffs and, yes, screamed vocals courtesy of another band member with a presumably more healthy throat. Satisfyingly powerful at times, at others they were hamstrung by the very muddy sound — the drums often overpowered everything, especially the vocals and orchestrations. Also, the densely layered orchestrations were completely sequenced, which was very disappointing; I was hoping for a live violinist or something, or at least for those lines to be played live on keyboards. Instead, they were played back pre-recorded from a laptop. Pretty lame.

Despite the crappy sound, overwhelming volume levels, and stripped-down orchestration, I still enjoyed myself, if only because I was pleasantly surprised that these guys still play their edgy older material in addition to the more heartstring-tugging new stuff.

Zombi @ the Black Cat

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

A couple nights ago I saw Zombi, opening for Trans Am, who I did not stick around for. I’m feeling lazy so I’ll just paste in what I posted to ProgressiveEars a little while ago.

Saw Zombi last night at the kick-off show in DC. I didn’t stick around for Trans Am - after listening to Sex Change a couple times I didn’t find much to like about it, which surprised me given the reviews it’s gotten so far. (I still like Futureworld a lot, but that’s from 1999, and they’ve definitely moved on in some senses…)

Zombi was solid… extremely loud, but solid. The bassist didn’t play much bass, instead sticking mostly to keys, which meant he wasn’t all that exciting to watch, which meant naturally the bulk of the audience’s attention was directed to the drummer. He was a beast. But sometimes I felt like I was just watching a drum solo, because the keyboard textures were relatively simplistic.

For whatever reason I liked them better when I saw them last year and wasn’t familiar with their recordings. Oh well. I’d still recommend that anyone who digs Surface to Air go see them.

Crowd was ok, but I was expecting more considering that Trans Am is from DC. Maybe they all showed up late…

Tomorrow night I am heading to Baltimore to check out the Red Room, a new venue for me — Peter Brötzmann is playing there with a trio of his I’ve never heard, but whose record garnered a rave review over at Outer Space Gamelan. Seriously, that review all on its own made me want to drive an hour to go see these guys. Can’t wait!

Two great recent shows

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Over the weekend I saw two big-band concerts: the 10-piece free-improv Instant Composers Pool Orchestra at the Library of Congress, and the 8-piece post-rock collective Do Make Say Think at the Black Cat. These were both excellent shows, albeit very different, of course. I think the latter was good enough that it’s destined to make my top 10 list by the end of the year, easily.

But first things first — ICP Orchestra played this gig of their 40th anniversary tour to a respectably large audience at the Library of Congress’ Coolidge Auditorium. I had never seen any of these guys before, but was familiar with Misha Mengelberg, Ab Baars and of course the ubiquitous Han Bennink. They surprised me by playing very accessible music clearly grounded in the jazz idiom — probably a function of the audience and venue. No need to scare everyone away at a free show, I guess. In any case, Bennink was completely nuts. I had no idea he acted out so much, but the dude was ridiculous. At almost 65 years old, it seemed like he had about three times more energy than the rest of the band combined, and in fact he kind of overpowered them at times with his playing (and his vocalizing would have made Keith Jarrett blush). He sat behind a single snare drum and eked all kinds of noises from it, but didn’t satisfy himself there — on several occasions he leapt out of his seat and played pretty much anything on the stage that struck his fancy, including chairs, music stands, the floor, his foot, and so on and so forth. Entertaining, to say the least.

Oh right, the rest of the band. The other nine were just as fun to watch, if for a totally different reason: it was neat to see their interplay, the little nods and hand signals present at any improv show, the way they would split into little mini-ensembles that would seemingly play in opposition to each other before coming together just as spontaneously. Again, for the most part the improvising stayed in relatively structured and melodic territory (and the harmonies that this large ensemble stumbled upon were often beautiful), but it was a pretty rewarding show nonetheless.

One last note about this show: by total random chance I sat next to the saxophonist from DC Improvisers Collective, whom I’d never spoken to but recognized from the one show of theirs that I attended a month or so ago. We had a very brief interaction in which he mentioned that DCIC might be playing as backup for Joe Lally, ex-bassist for Fugazi, something that sounds very interesting indeed!

Moving on, Sunday’s show at the Black Cat got off to a less-than-promising start, as the openers, death-country group Elliott Brood, cancelled with no explanation. But when Do Make Say Think got on stage, all was forgiven. My brief recap at the ProgAndOther list:

I think DMST are the most interesting current post-rock band, and the only one who doesn’t seem to be rehashing the same formula over and over again (don’t get me wrong, I tend to like that formula, but you know…). I too was struck by the diversity of instrumentation, and their compositions really take advantage of that diversity.

The sound at the DC show was definitely at earplugs-needed levels (I put mine in after the first song), but their soundman was fabulous and even at the high volume levels, little things really came through in the mix - especially the violinist. It seemed like a lot of the band’s modus operandi was to develop a repetitive, trancey beat with subtle ornamentation from the guitars, and then a beautiful melody would surface out of the murk, on violin or horns or gently picked guitar. Really gorgeous stuff.

The diversity of instrumentation I reference comes from the fact that many members of the eight-piece band played two or three different instruments over the course of the show. The “standard” lineup seemed to be two guitars, bass, violin, trumpet, sax, and two drummers (although admittedly the horns were used more for color and ornamentation than for melody or lead lines), but when called for, there’d be a third guitar, or there’d be some keyboard or marimba in the mix, or the guitarists would pick up horns to make a muscular four-piece brass front line. Every one of these guys, but especially the three who rotated on guitars and bass, are impressively accomplished musicians, with some of the more intricate guitar picking a consistent highlight throughout the show. However, it was the violinist who held it all together for me. While the rest of the band was jamming along to trancelike rhythms or blissing out to ear-splitting climaxes (one audience member’s good-natured heckle: “do you guys have any songs with, like, big crescendoes?”), she was more often than not playing gorgeous melodies that, thanks to the skills of the soundman, were clearly audible even above the din.

Highlights of the show for me were all the quieter pieces like “A Tender History in Rust” — no post-rock group does quiet and pretty better than these guys — and the polar opposite, the extroverted and energetic “Horns of a Rabbit,” which absolutely slayed. But the whole set was fabulous, and it ended with a good sign: the guitarist said, “See you in the fall,” seeming to indicate that DMST will in fact be touring again soon. This is one band that I wouldn’t hesitate to see again, as their material is much more memorable live than on record (and I like their records).

Let me tell ya, Christina Aguilera (who yes, I am going to see tonight) has a lot to live up to. :-)

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum @ the Black Cat

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Despite awful weather — a 40-degree drop from Thursday to Friday and a dramatic shift from cloudless sun to icy sleet — Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Secret Chiefs 3 made it to Washington, DC last night to play at the Black Cat. Secret Chiefs actually didn’t get in until very late, so SGM played first, starting at around 10:15 (doors were supposed to open at 9, but I guess they were doing their soundcheck because the club made people stand out in the cold until almost 9:45). They played almost exclusively new material, with only “Phthisis” somewhere in the middle and then closing with a crowd-pleasing “Sleep is Wrong.” They opened with a song I recognized from when they played here two years ago that reminds me of Idiot Flesh — maybe this one is called “Companions”? But then they played something that absolutely blew everyone away, a chunky odd-time instrumental with Kihlstedt flailing away on violin against a dual-guitar attack, that really sounded like SGM’s version of “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part 2.” Seriously, this was a blistering piece that will likely be on the next album, out in late May.

The rest of the set was good but not transcendent. Nils was in full performance mode throughout, but also made time to banter a bit with the crowd. I dug most of the new songs, but am looking forward to hearing the studio versions; the sound in the club was surprisingly good (much better than the last time they were here), but most of the nuance got washed out by the odd-time heavy-metal riffing that seemed to dominate everything. The crowd absolutely ate it up though; there was a great turnout despite the weather, and band seemed to feel so good about their set and the audience that they did a clearly unplanned encore of “1997,” which I always thought was a vastly overrated song but which of course drove the crowd to a frenzy.

It’s nice to see that this band has evidently developed quite a devoted following. I think they’re one of the most innovative current bands out there, and the fact that they’ve made such a name for themselves pretty much by touring incessantly is great. Sadly, since they didn’t finish until 11:45, I didn’t stick around for Secret Chiefs 3, which apparently is my loss. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to catch them again in the near future, but as it was, I was happy enough just seeing SGM again.