Last Night: Black Moth Super Rainbow, School of Seven Bells and Darktown Strutters at Hailey's

Black Moth Super Rainbow, School of Seven Bells, Darktown Strutters
Hailey's Club, Denton
June 3, 2009

Better Than: Sulking at home last night while poking around on Craigslist and eBay for those Animal Collective tickets you should've bought months ago...

Turns out there weren't any "Quadrophenia-esque rumbles" in Hailey's parking lot after Black Moth Super Rainbow and School of Seven Bells wrapped up their sets last night.

But, before the show started, plenty of grumbles took the place of rumbles (in person and via Twitter), as nearly 500 eager fans waited in a line that, at times, stretched all the way to Locust Street. Doors were scheduled to open at 9 p.m.

By 9:15 p.m., though, the line was thick (and it didn't really let up until up about 11:20 p.m. when School of Seven Bells finally started its set, the middle performance of the night).

Just after 10 p.m., the crowd inside pressed against the stage as opening local support Darktown Strutters kicked off the night. The duo played an impressive set, and, in usual fashion, had a good chunk of the crowd dancing and shimmying along by its final songs.

To this point in the evening, other than the line, things were running smooth and close to the schedule. But, between tearing down Darktown's gear and setting the stage for School of Seven Bells, there was a long intermission. Abnormally long.

"Stalling," I though to myself. So, I asked around.

"Yeah, we're trying to get more of the people who paid inside," I was told.

142 tickets were pre-sold to the event, and a total of about 500 people showed up, leaving the main room of the venue elbow-to-elbow.

Finally, at 11:21 p.m. School of Seven Bells strolled to the stage (they'd been watching the huge turnout filter in from a safe vantage point near the sound booth). Before coming in with the droning guitars, the Brooklyn-based trio of twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza and Ben Curtis (formerly of Secret Machines) blasted the crowd with a cacophony of noise that sounded like the low crack-crunching of a slow moving glacier on some PBS special.

Throughout the set, each of SVIIB's songs dovetailed together, the transitions blurred by eruptions of distortion and reverb. Sometimes only the changing beat from the drum machines signaled the start of the next song. (Though SVIIB are often compared to My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins, with all of the bells, whistles and drum machines firing last night the band sounded more akin to Gang Gang Dance or Fever Ray.)

The audience was still trickling in for the first few songs, but by the time SVIIB launched into crowd-favorite "Iamundernodisguise" and crowd and the band seemed to be settling in and down.

Other than how great Hailey's sound was last night, the most memorable thing about the show was the touring acts' video screen backdrop, which has been written about extensively here and here.

After SVIIB's set, Curtis told DC9 a little bit about the backdrop video, which was created for the band by Tim Saccenti (the guy who did the "Atlas" video for Battles and that crazy "Peacebone" video for Animal Collective).

"We're really proud of the video," Curtis said. "We've been so DIY for so long, and it's nice to finally tour how we've been wanting to tour."

Black Moth Super Rainbow used the video backdrop as well, but for much more bizarre purposes, showing everything from scary dancing clowns to stop-motions shots of decaying fruit. BMSR also played shots from its music video for "Sun Lips," which is equally as bizarre.

And, where SVIIB played its set with twin-sister vocalists Claudia and Alejandra Deheza hugging the front of the stage, the members of Black Moth Super Rainbow lurked in the shadows near the back of the stage. The drummer was dressed up as a ninja, but, as far as I could tell no one else in the band wore such a costume.

Twice I managed to press close enough to the stage to catch frontman Tobacco alternately fidgeting with and then singing into his vocodor contraption.

Overall, a great bill resulted in a great show. And one last thing for the locals: "Before the show, we were a little disappointed by the low presales," Curtis said of coming back to his old stomping grounds. "Everyone told me that people had burned down the Tomato, and that Denton had changed for the worse, but it ended up being an amazing show. It's definitely my favorite show of the tour so far."

Critic's Notebook:
Personal Bias:
Black Moth Super Rainbow's fourth album Eating Us was released just last week, in a limited edition fuzzy package, so I haven't had time to digest it yet. But that was OK, 'cause the band played plenty of its more familiar material.

By The Way: Only a third of the crowd was able to make it inside before Darktown Strutters played its set.

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