Autolux, Golden Panda
September 10, 2010
Better than: waiting six years between albums.
The distinctive, spectacular drumming of Autolux's Carla Azur is enough to draw a crowd. Consider, too, though, the elegant mystery of this credit for her work with Joe Henry on the album Fuse:
"Carla Azur appears like the miracle of television, seemingly out of nowhere, in a pair of gray felt shoes and beyond all earthly understanding."
All the more reason, it seemed, to see Autolux make their first appearance at Trees years ago.
Dressed in all black, Azur and her two fellow Los Angeles-based bandmates took the stage on Friday night at The Loft a bit after 10:30 and began their set with the mellow closing song of the new release Transit Transit, a tune called "The Science of Imaginary Solutions." It was an interesting choice of songs to start, getting to the heart of the evolution of the band's music that has occurred since the release of debut album Future Perfect in 2004.
But the enthusiastic audience of about 130 people were drawn in. And the band never let up, balancing the shoegazing indie rock that characterized the band's sound on Future Perfect with the more psychedelic Beatlesque moments of Transit Transit. Their music is a unique balance of the best of the '90s shoegazing sound with their own futurist spin. And while the volume did not quite compete with My Bloody Valentine, it was plenty loud. Guitarist Greg Edwards also played keyboards, bassist Eugene Goresheter added occasional synth, and all the took lead vocals duties with voices that seemed largely interchangeable.
It wasn't without flaws, though: Halfway into the set the band was charging through "Supertoys," when an equipment glitch caused the band to stop the performance.
A few interesting things happened in the aftermath. First, it was apparent that more than a few audience members had been singing along with the band--I really didn't expect that. Second, the disruption of five minutes it took to sort out the problem seemed to change the atmosphere from a concert to a house show. The band was non-plussed, and the audience by and large waited patiently while things got sorted out. Problem solved, the band climbed back on stage with beers in hand, restarted "Supertoys," and everyone got right back into it, finishing the set strongly.
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While things didn't go smoothly (with Eugene attributing the problems to "being maybe twister-related?"), it seemed that everyone had a great time. Afterward, the boys of the band more or less disappeared. But Azur lingered, signing some autographs and talking technique with her fans.
Opening the evening was Golden Panda, an electronica musician from England that combined loops and heavy sampling in a way that inspired nothing more than a little head bobbing. But the decibel level did calibrate the audience for what was to come.
Personal Bias: While the whole band is extremely talented, I don't think I was alone in not being able to take my eyes of Azur, playing barefooted with eyes closed, with a style that blends equal parts Jon Bonham and Buddy Rich.
Random Note: I'm a bit lazy (and maybe too ADD to remember) and can't rely on myself to log the set list. As a result I try to at least get a photo of the set list from the sound guy. Last night's list came with annotations from the lighting guy that are kind of hilarious. Check it out below.