Photos by: Charlie Homo
So, I get it – indie rock/electro duos and trios are multiplying like rabbits dosed up on viagra right now. Sleigh Bells, Matt and Kim, The Bird and the Bee, LA Riots . . . the list goes on. With such a densely populated field you run the gamut from ‘total shit’ to ‘holy shit!’ Â If you wanted to judge two such groups for yourself, the Rickshaw Stop last Thursday was the place to be.
My last visit to Rickshaw was about year ago for the Bay Bridged birthday bash, which was one hell of a bash so I was super stoked to be headed back. I made it in time to catch Bronze’s last few songs and they were one of those bands that nobody has lukewarm feelings for: you either love ’em or you hate ’em. I found myself in the former group. They made sure to kick up the vocal reverb and play with the effects knobs to keep the music psychedelic, yet always locked in with a solid beat. I couldn’t help but be entranced with the small effects unit that served as the sole instrument for one member. His warping and bending made me search around for a theremin somewhere onstage, but that was just him being his awesome musical self. The sequinsed remnants of a shirt added to the eye candy of the visuals projected on the rear wall quite nicely.
In a surprise turn of events (at least it was a surprise to me), Javelin was not headlining and instead took the stage second. I had been reading up on previous shows from these guys and I was hoping to see their twenty-boombox amp setup with an FM transmitter broadcasting the audio to a radio station that all ‘boxes would be tuned to. Despite the absence of this musical piece of art (a tear seriously rolled down my face when I came to the realization I would not hear a show via ghetto blasters), Javelin was great.
Cousins George Langford and Tom van Buskirk are masters of the sample, both from found sounds on other albums as well as recording their own instrument licks and throwing those in the mix. They make me think of Girl Talk on Xanax – lots of layers and stuff coming in and out, but not quite as frenetic.
It didn’t take long for the surprisingly thin crowd to shake their tail feathers. Moscow 1980 and Mossy Woodland got the crowd not only dancing but assisting on vocal duties as well. It felt as if there were some shared consciousness and we were all on the same wavelength. I didn’t even take any drugs and I felt this way.
They closed things off with their current hot track, “Oh! Centra”, complete with all the bleeps and bloops that us 80s kids fondly remember from early game consoles. The best part was when I picked up a copy of their 12″ Twyce. They did a limited run of 500 and used album sleeves from dollar bin records screen printed with Javelin on the front and a hand pasted track list on the back. My particular copy was in a Tennessee Ernie Ford sleeve and I just happen to own the Tennessee Ernie album. F’n rad.
Closing out the night was Tussle, who I had heard a lot about but hadn’t heard yet. They had a groove you just could not deny. Their bass player was laying down the low end with style and grace . . . and funk. Not funk with crazy fast slaps and pops, but bass riffs that had character and movement reminiscent of John Entwistle.
I heard from some of those in the crowd more familiar with their music that Tussle was trying out new material. Minus a couple of small hiccups (I mean really small, like seriously small) I never would have been able to guess. More so than any of the previous bands, it looked like Tussle took an artist’s careful eye to ensuring the visual aesthetics fit the music well, making for a multi-sensory explosion of awesomeness.
So how did they all fare to the quality test against their indie rock/electro brethren? In my book, they passed with flying colors and you’ll be seeing me at more of their shows in the near future.