Memoryhouse, Twin Sister, SLEEP ∞ OVER
August 25, 2010
Better than: ironing out the kinks of that new Windows XP installation.
Each of the two non-Texan touring bands who took the stage last night at The Loft have enjoyed a busy summer of touring the United States, with Memoryhouse even enjoying a stint in Europe to capitalize on the buzz that their pop music dreamscapes has sent throughout the indie music scene.
Such is the world that we occupy in 2010, with both Memoryhouse, as well as August touring mates Twin Sister, yet to even record a full-length album.
How does this happen?
Thanks to the Wide World of Blogs, bands such as these two can eliminate the middle man, so to speak, preferring a DIY approach and cutting out the record label part of the equation, getting the music right into the ears of the listeners. Rising in popularity over the past couple years, the aesthetic known in some circles as "chillwave" was on brazen display for the audience of The Loft.
Opening the night was Austin band SLEEP ∞ OVER, whose airy soundscapes and chilling female vocals aligned perfectly with the aural approach of the headliners. As a whole, those with a soft spot for feminine vocals would have been on cloud nine for this one, as each of the acts showcased an extremely talented female vocal performance.
Brooklyn's Twin Sister came next, mostly showcasing material from this year's arresting Color Your Life EP, which is only the five-piece band's second recorded release. Definitely the band with the most edge of the night, they blended the hazy lilt elements of dreampop with occasional guitar wailing. Lead singer Andrea Estelle, with her slight build and savagely cool sense of style, held the crowd's intent awareness as she skillfully weaved in and out of the texturally-potent backing of the musicians behind her.
After what was an expectedly sedate performance given the genre, Twin Sister let loose a bit as they sprawled before the crowd on the closing song "The Other Side of Your Face," which both opens and closes with extended instrumental section. The experimentation that they hit on with their mix of ambient music with something a bit harder is a fine lesson in charming charisma.
Memoryhouse, closed the night, reminding us in the process that they are indeed a brand new band. The Guelph, Ontario, duo of Denise Nouvion and Evan Abeele were joined by another guitarist for the live act, which consisted of a pair of guitars, a keyboard, and a sampler.
Their debut from earlier this year was the hauntingly beautiful The Years EP, four charming songs whose run time do not even reach the 15-minute mark. With so little material, one has to wonder exactly what they fill their time on stage with.
This skepticism was somewhat quelled by knowing that they have recently played shows in London, Paris and other points across the pond. So how did it go?
Well let's just say that Memoryhouse had a rocky start off the line.
Partially into their first song, the beautifully atmospheric "Lately," the band abruptly stopped playing, none of them able to hear the stage monitors as they performed. After some tweaking, they gave it another shot, absolutely nailing it. Nouvion's vocals filled the room excellently while simultaneously sounding far away, almost as if she was a ghost or singing underwater. Her Nico-esque ambiance was tempered by the deep cadence of a bass drum hit, thumping and rumbling underneath as Nouvion's alluring voice rained down from above.
But the sound problems continued for the band--while the effect was only subtly apparent to the audience, the lack of proper monitor calibration wreaked havoc on the band as they attempted a fix with the sound guy before each song. About half way through the set, they gave up, opting to scrap the sampler and go the route of relying on playing their instruments.
While some acts would simply fall apart without the aid of electronic assistance, Memoryhouse actually came out on top, paring down their sound with no ill effects on the show. The sound carries with it a definite bedroom recording aesthetic. This "unplugged" section of the show sounded more appropriate given the organic nature of the band's sound. The vocals seemed more at home on this more proper pedestal.
The show was saved.
Their lack of recorded material was another non-issue. They played the songs fans were familiar with, including a second (and better) rendition of "Lately" after the relegation of the sampler. They also played a couple of promising new songs. And they closed the night with two impressive covers.
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The first was My Bloody Valentine's "When You Sleep" from the 1991 ahead-of-its-time shoegaze prototype release Loveless. Closing the show was a cut from last year's epic Grizzly Bear LP Veckitamest, "Foreground."
Personal Bias: In addition to being exceptionally talented, each of the lead singers were cute. Like real cute. I am not to be blamed if that fact colors my commentary in any way.
Random Note: At concerts of this genre, you can expect to see a few things: crossed arms, hands in pockets, plaid shirts and very little dancing. I want to reserve this space to give a shout out to the one guy who was absolutely rocking out. Clad in the skinniest of skinny jeans, clunky black Nikes, thick black-framed glasses, and a black tee, the wildly spiky-haired young man consistently pulled out moves from the Fresh Prince book of dance (but not as good as Carlton).
By the Way: While Memoryhouse played without a sampler for half of the set, they seemed very at home doing so. They say that they've never played a concert like that, but they did record a session for yourstru.ly using the sampler-less approach. That session has yet to be released, so be on the look out.