I recently discovered the frantic sound of Canada’s four piece Frog Eyes and was just as excited about their live show as their most recent psychedelic tinged album Tears of the Valedictorian. They did a fantastic job of bringing this postmodern energy out live with lead singer Carey Mercer being the main event (though the others did well to hold that jarring rhythm and those riffs all together in a tight package). Moving all about and singing with vocals reminiscent of an anguish wrought version of Bruce Springsteen, he sounded as if his entire trachea was being wrought with a kind of tension mere bystanders could not imagine. Yet, between the songs, he seemed almost jovial smiling and being appreciative as well as indulging in long rambles about things like going on a hunger strike until everyone buys his albums. It was the kind of thing you didn’t quite know how to take just as it was difficult to predict what might come next. Playing to a packed house, they really won the appreciation of the audience as they cheered for an encore following their main set.
Yeasayer from NYC had quite a different sound and though they seemed to awe a crowd who many of which were already familiar with their songs, I felt they overdid it. At their best were the stripped down moments when it was just three sets of vocals singing with a passionate force. What ruined the songs for me were the almost cheesy science fiction movie sound effects coming out of various Yamahas samplers and synths. The backbone of those songs remained cluttered and difficult to decipher and though I could possible see fans of bands like Menomena digging their sound because of their various textures and layers, I found them to be much less wholesome.
Mittens on Strings opened up the night with visuals this time on both sides of the stage. There are two things that really help make this band’s songs and live performance more interesting. The first, as I believe I have mentioned previously when I saw them play the first time, is the cello playing which involves both a bowing and plucking style but seems to really bring out a warmer tone to the indie rock pieces. The second is the personality of the banter which seems somewhat geeky but involving things you might imagine other people could relate to…I believe this time it was the confusion about whether the monster truck Gravedigger was the WWF wrestler The Undertaker’s main vehicle. I don’t really think it related to any thing in particular but I still found it rather amusing.