School of Seven Bells(SVIIB) are one of those bands that after slowly creeping onto my radar the past few months, have suddenly become a current favorite. Judging by the crowd they pulled last night at Bottom Lounge, it appears they've caught the attention of numerous other Chicago fans as well. Headliners Fujiya & Miyagi clearly brought in their fair share of people to the club, but the buzz factor surrounding SVIIB was evident in the fact that a huge line built up outside the venue doors just prior to the advertised show start of 9pm.
However, while I was surprised by the fervent punctuality they inspired, I wasn't surprised when they finally hit the stage and didn't quite live up to expectations. Actually, I take that back…the problem was that they did live up to expectations. Namely, the cliched expectation that, as an ethereal dream-pop act, their highly textured electronic beats and atmospherics wouldn't translate as well in a live setting as it does on their recordings. Sure enough, this was the case, not so much in a lack execution by the performers, just a lack of resources on stage. Alejandra and Claudia's vocals sounded great and guitarist Benjamin Curtis injected a tasty dose of distortion and reverb, but all the blissful blips and bass hooks that really bring their songs to life got muddled in the mix. As I noted in my review of Sebastien Tellier's recent performance at Schubas, it just blows my mind how invaluable live drums and bass still are to producing electronic music.
Meanwhile, I highly recommend picking up a copy of their debut full-length Alpinisms, which will soon be released in limited edition 180gm vinyl form. If y'all fork over some cash for this fine album instead of just pilfering tracks here and there from random blogs like this one, maybe the band be able to afford to bring along a live drummer and some extra knob-twiddlers on their next tour.