Harmlessness

Love or hate the memories, the early Aughts were truly a high water time for eccentricity and excess in indie rock.

Bands could dub themselves nonsensical names like I’m From Barcelona or Architecture in Helsinki, even if they were from Sweden or Australia. And the only thing longer than the monikers were the band rosters, which routinely stretched to double-digit enrollments (hello Broken Social Scene.)

With the ever-permeating influence of pop and R&B in the indie rock world, those displays of nerdiness seem anachronistic now, but there are still a few bands who unabashedly embrace an ostentatious bent to their music.

One of those groups is (unsurprisingly) The World Is A Beautiful Place & I’m No Longer Afraid To Die (henceforth TWIABP), a nine-member outfit that plays shamelessly heart-on-your-sleeve tunes. The group’s warbly vocals and extensive collection of odd musical instruments put them in the class of indie bedrocks such as Neural Milk Hotel and The Dismemberment Plan, and their penchant for ebullient theatricality also recalls groups like Mew and Fang Island.

Their latest release, Harmlessness, sheds some of the more emo-laden sounds (there is still plenty of yelping, though) of their prior albums in favor of a grandiose and fearless sound that would make The Polyphonic Spree and Of Montreal proud. Anchoring the album is the stunning murder ballad/opera “January 10, 2014”, which tells the true story of a vigilante huntress killing corrupt and predatory bus drivers in Mexico. The back and forth vocals between singers David Bello and Katie Shanholtzer-Dvorak on the track is truly haunting - the stuff that tingles the spine and raises the hair.

When I moved to San Francisco in 2005 and started attending live shows, I’d often wonder how some of these crazy outsized bands would fit into venues like the Independent and Bottom of the Hill, a question of capacity that I rarely ponder now. I’m almost getting nostalgic contemplating how TWIABP will squeeze their bodies on to the stage at the Rickshaw Stop, where they’re slated to perform on November 17.

Not every band has to boast dictionary-length names, but it’s nice to see that some groups still have the audacity to do so. Expect TWIABP to bring that same kind of audacious energy when they perform at the Rickshaw Stop next Tuesday.

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I’m No Longer Afraid To Die, Foxing, TTNG, Brightside
Rickshaw Stop
November 17, 2015, 7 p.m.
$15 - $18

Tags: