Friday, November 20, 2009

The Big Pink at the El Rey Theatre

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The Big Pink easily made one of my favorite albums of 2009 along with The Horrors and A Place To Bury Strangers. The El Rey Theatre had slowly filled to capacity to see the US debut of The Big Pink with support from Crystal Antlers and IO Echo.

IO Echo
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IO Echo continually impress with their live performances. They have come so far from the first time I saw them back in August 2007. They most recently had the honor of opening for the final Nine Inch Nails show at the Wiltern. On this night, they rolled out three new songs "Chelsea Smile", "Poison Apple", and "The Leaving Kind (William)".

"Poison Apple" was a dark and moody tune accentuated by the plumes of smoke on stage. IO (Vocals) seemed cramped on stage, so she took her vocals up the the ceiling when she climbed the scaffolding on the side of the stage. "She's So Heavy" and "Addicted" were performed as tightly as ever with the final closer being "Doorway". I really think its time they release these songs as a proper full length album.

Crystal Antlers
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Crystal Antlers manage to have different line-ups every time I catch their shows. Two guitarists, then one guitarist, and most recently a new keyboard player. The one consistent factor is that Damian Edwards (Percussion) is still the most entertaining bongo player on the scene with his drum stick twirls mid beat.

Crystal Antlers worked through most of their debut album Tentacles. I have to commend Johnny Bell (Bass, Vocals) for crushing his Fender Telecaster bass too hard as he snapped his "E" string. Johnny wins the prize for the quickest restring job in a live concert setting all year. I hope the downsizing of their label Touch & Go won't impact the release of any future albums.

The Big Pink
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The wait seemed to take forever. Suddenly, the curtains drew and the loud smack down drum beat and shrieking guitars of "Too Young To Love" blasted the audience. Blinding strobe lights and chest rattling bass immediately gave the impression that The Big Pink were going for a darker almost industrial vibe.

Robbie Furze (Vocals/Guitars) had some insanely modified Fender guitars (one Telecaster and one Mustang) and a slew of pedals that I couldn't make out from my vantage point. Milo Cordell (Synthesizers/Programming) had a full table of pedals to accompany his laptop and keyboard controller.

The chirping synthesizer squeals of "Frisk" funneled into a drone of guitar feedback while Leopold Ross (Bass) hammered away on his Gibson Thunderbird bass. I give credit to Leopold for pulling double duty having shredded with his Gibson SG earlier in the evening with IO Echo.

"Velvet" had a more tactile sensation as the bass and drums overpowered Robbie's crooning vocals but the crowd up front rhythmically pulsed to the beat. I couldn't quite discern the hooky synthesizer swells "At War With The Sun" but did hear Robbie's cutting distorted guitars.

Robbie did thank the crowd for waiting so long since they were having some technical difficulties. I had heard that they had lost some of their samples/patches on their laptop and had to recreate a lot of sounds prior to the show which had to have been extremely nerve wracking. This could possibly explain the minimalist versions of some of their songs.

The ice cold guitar lines of "Crystal Visions" was propelled by the throbbing electronic pulses of synthetic bass. "Count Backwards from Ten", "Tonight" and "These Arms" closed out their main set. I assume they might have lost the samples for the highly synthesizer processed "Golden Pendulum" which was omitted from the setlist.

People immediately started bouncing up and down upon hearing the drum shuffle of "Dominos" that unravels into its sexy synth hook. The volume seemed to be a tad bit higher during the song as you could feel the kick drum. I expect it to be pretty crazy when they play the Detroit Bar tonight.

The Big Pink Setlist at the El Rey Theatre (11/18/09)
"Too Young To Love"
"Frisk"
"Velvet"
"At War With The Sun"
"Crystal Visions"
"Count Backwards To Ten"
"Tonight"
"These Arms of Mine"
"Dominos"

2 comments:

Jennifer N. said...

I get excited when you're documenting shows that I'm going to - saves me the trouble of having to pull out my camera during the performances.

Great shots, as always, and your commentary was spot on. I talked to Io for a couple of minutes, and I was so impressed. She was the kindest person - she told me about the Big Pink sampling debacle and talked a little bit about her performance after giving me a giant hug when I told her she was fabulous earlier in the evening. Class act, that one.

Cureheart said...

Hey Andrew,
Love the El Rey shots (especially the last one). So glad we caught them at Detroit Bar. Seems they will be at Coachella. See you at next gig ;o)

Debi