Concert Reviews

Last Night: Tapes 'N Tapes, Wild Light and Les Americains at Club Dada

Tapes n' Tapes, Wild Light, Les Americains
Club Dada
Friday, January 30, 2009

Better Than: Watching Ghostbusters on the big screen at the Inwood? Maybe.

Download: We had a couple photographers at this show, so expect a slideshow by Monday.

Before the Minnesotan indie-band Tapes 'n Tapes started its set, and as the group tweaked the vocals and keyboards in the monitors, the crowd, which was pressed against the stage, was already lauding the quartet with cheers and applause.

The warm welcome was a well-earned one, the band's 2005 debut release, The Loon, found the band comfortably wearing its Pavement-Pixies influences on its sleeves and quickly earned a place in the hearts of bloggers and indie kids everywhere. But, besides Tapes 'n Tapes' reputation as a great live act--what with Broken Social Scene canceling it appearance at House of Blues last night--the Dada bill was definitely the show to see in town on Friday night.

And, maybe the crowd gave the band such a warm welcome because it had finally started to really warm up itself.

Earlier in the night, at about 9 p.m., I found myself standing behind a half a dozen people in queue to get into Club Dada. With my arms crossed, trying desperately to stay warm, I was feeling, well, to be perfectly honest, cold and grumpy. Once I was inside the club, I was still shivering cold. Dada had its garage doors wide open, letting the crisp, wintry air blow right into the bar. I didn't want to take my jacket off, and it turned out nobody else had that desire either.

The few people in attendance at that time were all sporting jackets, hats and even scarves, determined to stay warm since the thin crowd had yet to generate enough body heat to warm the room.

By the time the first band took the stage about a half an hour later, not a whole lot had changed. Les Americains, a local Dallas Band no doubt gave the crowd all it had, and in spite of a jarring and somewhat off-sounding vocal mix, the band held the modest crowd's attention. And once the band wrapped up its set, people started slipping out of their jackets and getting comfortable.

Before the second act, Wild Light, even played its first chord, I found myself drawn to its players. Four like-dressed boys took the stage with collars popped and shirts uniformly unbuttoned--three from the top. From the second the boys, sporting skinny jeans and meticulously sculpted hairdos, took the stage, the girls in the audience (myself included) drew near to get a closer look.

"Sure, they're pretty," I thought to myself, "but can they perform?" Yeah, it turns out. The New Hampshire-based band could rock out like all good energetic emo boys, but when it came to the lyrics it was kinda la-de-da--with a few notable exceptions, like the song "California On My Mind," with its repeated angry-pop chorus of "Fuck today. Fuck San Fransisco. Fuck California". 

But any momentum the band could've earned was lost: Between, and even during, most of their songs, at least one of the band members would make a request to the sound booth for an adjustment of the mix. To top it off, right splat in the middle of its very last song, one member (who had previously asked for more "center vocals" while on the mic) was now back to his primary role of bass and was requesting more "bass in the monitor." This band was as particular about the sound of is instruments and vocals, as it is about its wardrobe and the style of its members' hair. Ugh.

As for headliners Tapes 'n Tapes, the most glamorous thing on stage as the band was playing away--in all its Malkmusian fervor--was the drummer's yellow and orange drum set. And, in the same way as its delivery was as unpretentious as it could get, it looked like the band members had plucked its wardrobe from a duffel bag, throwing on whichever items came out fiirst.

"Down. To. Earth." I thought, as the guys in the band passionately hammered out 15 of its songs. (Or maybe 16? I lost count.) Instead of the band constantly calling for adjustments from the sound booth, several times the audience members called out for "More vocals!"

The band's energy was contagious. By the time the band play its blog-popular single "Insistor" to the now-packed house, the crowd was on the verge of erupting into a full-on indie-rock version of a country hoedown. Frontman Josh Grier's vocals sounded like those of Spencer Krug's, and, at times, the band sounded like a hybrid between Modest Mouse, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and, of course, its most obvious influence...Pavement. By the end of Tapes 'n Tapes' set, I was no longer cold, nor grumpy, the emotionally charged delivery of their set had managed to win me over.

Personal Bias: Like most people, I wasn't as impressed by TnT's latest album, Walk It Off, as I had been by The Loon. But the live versions of the new tracks were so packed with energy that I found it nearly impossible to stand still.

Random Note: I wish Club Dada sold pizza so I didn't have to cross the street in the cold to get some Zini's after the show.