Saturday, February 27

Atlas Sound [Noisepop, Great American Music Hall 02.26.2010]

A few blocks down from Fillmore was the venue for tonight's show. Noisepop Festival had been in full swing since Tuesday but unfortunately school had gotten in the way and was not really able to make it out to any of the shows (Harlem, Best Coast, The Sandwichs, and Young Prisms on Wednesday and Citay on Thursday were the must see ones). But come Friday I was free and ready to enjoy some music. After surviving the monsoon between Stockton and Dublin and I soon in the city, albeit a bit soggy.

The Great American Music Hall is nestled between Polk and Larkin and is a medium sized venue. I had just bought a new camera with enhanced low light capabilities and was itching to try it out and play around with it. However, after taking the below photo I was immediately confronted by the anti-camera nazi police guy who quickly threatened further repercussions by me taking any more photos. Not wanting to be kicked out before the show even started I complied, a little bumbed that I would not be able to document the event.

The first band to kick of the gig was a duo from Portland named Yes Yes, who I can describe as interesting to say the least. What was there music like? Well, I don't really know. It consisted of an excellent drummer who was all over the place hitting his kit and drum machines with rapid pace and ferocity. His band mate on the other hand went between guitar, keyboard, synthesizer and several other sound machines and pedals. The music was not electronic nor was it anything indie or pysch rock. The mashup was fairly well played except for a couple errors and some of the machines not working properly every now and then. Regardless they finished the set strongly by looping a duck caller, gazoo, sleigh bells, keyboard and a couple other odd ball instruments and created such an overlap of sound that even as crazy as it seems, it blended perfectly.

Next up was the band Magic Wands who seemed to have an obsession with the jungle. As the lighting was being set in place all of a sudden a man wearing a zebra mask walks on stage to help the crew out, but that was only the beginning. Soon two mic stands were brought out with tiger heads (fake heads people) on top. Looking towards the ceiling was a trippy display of lights that set an ambiance of being under a starry sky. With all the Christmas lights set up and the stage ready to go, animals and all, on came the band; dressed in sparkles and Raybands.

To say the least I was intrigued by the set up but I should have known better. They started off strong playing a very danceable pop song which was played fairly well but it went downhill from there. They followed that with a song called Teenage Love which was just terrible. Song after song it just got worse and worse. The band was trying way to hard to be a cool band that they let their whole obsession with image get in the way of actually playing good music. The music was annoying with childish lyrics and thankfully it was over after 30 minutes.

The third band was a local act from San Francisco called Geographer. After hearing such aweful music a few minutes earlier, I really needed something to pick me up. Their style started out as slow progressing ballads with a bit of electronica thrown in; there lead singer was able to carry notes and sing melodies perfectly. But towards the end it got a little bit more interesting when it slowly became a bit more electro rock. The music was a lot more upbeat with more synthesizer and drum machine usage. If your a fan of nontraditional pop music then this band may be for you. After about 40 minutes on next was Atlas Sound.

When most musicians from a successful band go "solo" they usually just have a new band backing them up. I have never really understood why they call it going solo, and with Atlas Sound I was expecting Bradford Cox to have band mates behind him. But to my pleasant surprise he just walked on stage with a guitar, harmonica and a gazillion foot pedals. After a very brief intermission and the camera nazi unrelenting in his pursuit of catching people with cameras Bradford was on and his usual excitement and giddiness.

The story with Atlas Sound is that Bradford doesn't write down lyrics during recording, he improvises a lot while playing and singing so everything sounds fresh; listening to the album Logos will give you sense of unarrangement and freedom. With that in mind, most songs in his set were not recognizable until he started singing. With long, slow introductions into each song he blended prerecorded sounds and baselines with vocal wails and guitar distortions. An example of this was "Walkabout", I had no idea what he was playing, but I finally heard something recognizable amongst all the layers of sound and he then began to sing my favorite track off the album. "Orchid", "My Halo" and "Sheila" were just incredible and his reworking of every song added something fresh to each track.

Inbetween songs Bradford took time out to chat with the crowd but what was memorable was the fact he didn't know what Oakland was. Being from Atlanta it is easy to forget that not everyone knows the geography of the West Coast as those in California do, so the conversation was just hysterical. He also went on about how he bought a bat in glass case and some other weird things he had found in this crazy city that we all love. After all the banter he finished the set with my least favorite song off the Logos album "Attic Lights" which was a bit of a bummer but again as with Magic Wands, I should not have prejudged.

He turned a 3:40 minute song into an epic of noise, distortion, psych, and pop which went on for close to 10 minutes. The song was beautiful yet intense which added much more to the lyrics. I have a huge respect for Bradford Cox as a musician and performer, having seen Deerhunter play but watching him by solo with his feet and mind controlling the orchestration of his music put him on a whole other level. He is a talented singer/song writer and performer who deserves all the praise that comes his way. If you ever get the chance to see him perform I highly recommend it.

Oh and near the end I had had enough of the camera nazi and snuck a couple shots of your truley

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