Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Show review: The Rosen Association, Chants at The Whistler, 7/7

By Gene Wagendorf III

For a brief period on the 7th of July The Whistler was transformed into what my friend aptly dubbed "The Green Mill in the future"- quality cocktails in a slightly snooty atmosphere with music that both leans on and eviscerates jazz. That music came courtesy of Chants, an outfit from Madison, WI whose musical influences would just read like an annoying list of genres. Throughout the entire set Chant's sound seemed to challenge the audience's expectation of what was coming next. Scuttling percussion bounced all around The Whistler, tricking the crowd into bobbing and dancing before breaking down or blowing up. Tense, hypnotic melodies whimpered furiously, at times creating that neo-jazz sound my companion was so fixated with, and at other times seeping Nintendo-inspired tornadoes from the speakers. Each elegant hook and catchy beat was countered by drum and bass whirls and the occasional plodding, introspective detour. Where Chants excelled live was in their refusal to submit to simple pop arrangements, instead choosing to create and populate entire worlds with each number.

Rachel Rosen
The Rosen Association, a local quartet of synth-gothers, were a nice payoff after the somewhat obtuse set that preceded them. The group's dreamy, seductive soundwaves are both easily embraceable and warmly satisfying. That isn't to say that the Rosens don't have an edge to them, much of the material played at The Whistler conjured visions of black clouds, Icelandic plains and desperate, lonely nights. Throbbing, heavy bass lines carried a few of the songs with Peter Hook-muscle, offering Rachel Rosen's voice a safety net over which to soar. Most of the songs hovered around the three-to-five minute mark, forcing me to wonder what kind of places they might take me to if they were a little less restrained. The band pulled off their songs with admirable precision and grace, the aural equivalent of a slow drag off a cigarette. The sizable contingent of corset-wrapped and black-lipsticked goths that followed The Rosen Association into The Whistler seemed to be holding back: not enough room to dance, or sway apathetically from side to side. Admittedly, the band's sound is too large, aims to move in too many directions, to fit into the tight confines of a smaller bar. I'm looking forward to catching them at a bigger club where their echoes might linger a bit longer and there's a better chance of an encore.


Check out more show reviews:
Briar Rabbit at Double Door
Jason Webley at Panchos
Not in the Face, Moon Furies, Man Your Horse at Memories
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

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