|Moon Furies (photo: Gene Wagendorf III)|
First up was Man Your Horse, a math rock trio from Vancouver. The first thing I noticed about the band was the way they set up: drummer front and center with the guitarist and bass player flanking him on opposite sides. I don't know if this was premeditated or simply out of necessity (with a total of five bands playing over the course of the night the stage area was swamped with gear), but man did it work. Said drummer was a fucking maniac on the skins, rolling and pounding out soaring beats that felt more like thunderstorms than parts of a song. Jack Kerouac once described a jazz quartet as working with "unmusical ideas that nevertheless never leave the music, always there, always far out." That's all I could think of while watching this guy work in tandem with the angular melodies and bubbly bass lines his co-conspirators were conjuring. It sounded like a mess, and usually that's not a good thing, but this was that rare kind of mess that works, that makes you want to move. Man Your Horse ended on what I think was "Breakfast for Dinner," but the set did such a good job of bleeding together as a single piece of music that it doesn't really matter. What matters is that they ended on the strongest note possible.
And so it happened for the first time. "I wouldn't want to have to follow those guys."
Luckily, local synth-poppers Moon Furies were up to the task. The group, currently somewhere in the first half of an ultra ambitious 100 shows in 100 days, appeared onstage no worse for the wear. Their entire set carried a bubblegum electricity that made it damn near impossible not to like them, though I don't know why you'd try. If Man Your Horse had my eyes wide, then Moon Furies had me grinning like an idiot and bobbing my head. Not content to let the audience have all the fun, vocalist Jim Wittmann ran around Memories like a Muppet on speed. This is the kind of guy who was probably born to be a rockstar, so it's a good thing he's talented. Otherwise he'd be like, I don't know, the most energetic barber ever? Guitarist Andy Kiel seemed to pick his spots a little more, waiting until the Nintendo-synths of "Logan Square" were in full swing before jumping off stage to stalk Wittmann around the bar. "Look At Me" best showcased the band collectively, giving them a chance to show off some striking harmonized vocals before Wittmann produced a trumpet and wailed over drummer Andrew Hertzberg's dance beats. Hertzberg seemed happy to let his bandmates soak up the attention, playing with a bit of a Stuart Sutcliffe smirk. Guess that'll happen when you're the one providing the beats that booties are shaking to. After announcing that the last song was "about astronauts" and getting an enthusiastic "fuck yeah" from the back of the bar, Moon Furies closed out their set with "Mercury 13." The song takes a few moments to build tension before launching into the group's catchiest hook, a squeaky synth line that dances over Hertzberg's water balloon splashy rhythm. The whole thing ended with an appropriate crescendo: stuttered drums, rising guitars, more trumpet and the line "we cannot lose, we were born to win."
And so I uttered it a second time.
|Not in the Face (photo: Gene Wagendorf III)|
And I can't imagine who would want to follow that.
Check out more show reviews:
The Kent McDaniel Band, Kraig Kenning at Custer's Last Stand fest
Project Film, Exit Ghost and more at Reggies
The 1900s, Gold Motel at Taste of Randolph
Ortolan, Bring Your Ray Gun at Pancho's
The Lopez, Wett Nurse at Memories