How To Dress Well
1 a.m., Hailey's Club
Looking over the densely packed 35 Conferette schedule, Saturday night's show at Hailey's Club in particular stood out.
Festival performers How to Dress Well and Blissed Out, both performing on this stage, have each reached nationwide acclaim, and are, however fortunately or unfortunately, generally seen as part of the ongoing witch house, drag, cvlt, etc. phenomenon so big in the blogosphere these days.
Less-known opening acts Vulgar Fashion and SURVIVE, on the other hand, aren't identified with that scene so readily, but still share many of the dark synth aspects and influences that put the first two in that category. Which makes sense: The touring acts, for this show, were actually allowed to choose their lineup partners on this bill, and they hand-selected both Vulgar Fashion and SURVIVE.
Kicking the night off, Austin's SURVIVE put their usual strain on the P.A. with an orgy of analog synthesizers (at least two for all four members), producing a wall of sound that occupied all audible frequency ranges. Their open-filtered tones and 16th note apreggios were balanced very well, and their songs filled up every inch of the room, much like the smoke coming from their fog machine.
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Blissed Out's set, while to those unfamiliar possibly seemed overdriven, clip-heavy and amateurish in presentation, was all of those things, but in a deliberate way. The sort of "gained out" sound espoused by acts such as Salem, White Ring and a slew of others whose names have too many cross and triangle characters for some Internet browsers to display, is intentional. Along with heavy delay, droning vocals and spacey, dissonant synth parts, Blissed Out's set was the most prototypical "witchy" of the night. But it wasn't the best set.
That distinction belonged to Vulgar Fashion. Performing the best set they've played maybe ever, they took advantage of Hailey's respectable sound system by being ungodly loud and noisy. The volume and noise were in no way misguided, though, serving as a bed for raunchy synth lines that were simple and captivating. The combo of tape and synthesizer manipulation, passionate writhing and dark, metal-inspired chords, all in a warped disco/R&B format was on-point. And it fit well in the course of the night.
That much couldn't be said of How To Dress Well's Set. It's not Tom Krell's offerings didn't showcase his amazing vocal talent -- they did. On tracks like "My Body," his dead-on impression of a soulful '90's R&B boy band vocalist was impressive. But, following Vulgar Fashion, Krell's felt more like a wind-down than anything else. Still, a surprisingly large contingent of fans familiar with songs and lyrics were present, proving that his following has transcended past the tumblrphilic microscene that spawned him.
Clearly, Vulgar Fashion just needs a bigger Internet presence.