Monday, April 14, 2008

Tapes 'n Tapes w/ White Denim @ Metro

It’s official. The new Tapes ‘n Tapes album sucks. It’s great, but it sucks. Their other album kinda sucks, too. It’s also great. I’ll explain.

Arriving just in time for the start of White Denim’s set, I was surprised to see so few fans in attendance. The room filled as they played, but those who showed up late missed something special. The Austin, TX trio poured on the pace, wailing, riffing and generally pushing their instruments to the breaking point. With an energy reminiscent of an in-his-prime James Brown (if only the Night Train were careening off its tracks), their songs were comprised of frenzied riffs. Even drummer Josh Block thumped more riffs then rhythms. The display of frenetic dexterity all fit together perfectly. By the end of their set, they had the (now substantially larger) crowd with them. If you’re not smiling and bopping along to White Denim, you’re not alive. They gave all you could ask of an opener. Many bands go on tour and make sure to get an opening act that has no chance of showing them up. It’s clear that Tapes ‘n Tapes has no such fears.

Tapes ‘n Tapes is still not big enough to have roadies doing their grunt work. The band did all their own equipment setup. After ten minutes, they returned to the stage, and with a threatening rumble, opened their set with “Jakov’s Theme.” The song had been their closer over recent tours, and worked quite well in that capacity. It’s an even better opener. From there, they ran through seven straight songs off their new release. Played live, the songs have a throbbing intensity that simply doesn’t show up on the recordings. They are great songs, but their performance indicated that the album was not recorded correctly. Perhaps it may not help with radio play, but somehow capturing the potency on display at Metro would have been a good thing.

But the songs themselves are excellent. “Le Ruse” had every head in the packed house bobbing to the beat. “Blunt” kept people moving. By the time we got to “Hang Them All”, it was clear that everyone was digging the new stuff. Wearing a shirt emblazoned with, “Ski Germany,” frontman Josh Grier is perhaps more than ever the band’s centerpiece. Aside from a few sparse comments back and forth (and one fool in the audience who kept yelling “The Twins suck!”), there was little crowd/band interaction. However, that didn’t matter. Everyone in the band was so busy rocking hard, you didn’t need faux eye contact anyway.

With the older (i.e. more familiar) tunes in the second half of the set, the crowd participation and energy picked up. For “Omaha”, even the bouncer sang along. The set closed with “Insistor” and “Demon Apple,” the best songs on each of their albums. Seriously, as long as they're a band, they're never going to play a show that doesn't include "Insistor". It would be a crime. Pulling a Costanza, they went out on top, leaving the crowd wanting more. I wondered, “What’s left? They’ve played nearly everything.” Sure enough, there was no encore. Thankfully, nobody booed this time. In four shows over the last two years, Tapes ‘n Tapes has pretty much kicked ass every time. I’m starting to believe that they’re not capable of a flat performance. For a band with few gimmicks, that says a lot. Definitely the best show I’ve seen in a while, if these two acts come to your town (tour info here), don’t miss out.

NOTE: Metro is apparently cracking down on the taking of photos. A very large bouncer was going out into the crowd to stop any picture-taking. Since he was standing right in front of me, I didn’t want to risk getting the boot. However, Noah Levine of URB magazine was in the house and took some good ones. Check ‘em out here.

Tapes ‘n Tapes Setlist:
Jakov’s Theme
George Michael
Headshock
Le Ruse
Time Of Songs
Conquest
Blunt
Ten Gallon Ascot
Just Drums
Cowbell
Sing Back Something
In Houston
Omaha
Hang Them All
The Dirty Dirty
Insistor
Demon Apple

1 comment:

Noah Levine said...

Thanks for the shout. I finally got all my photos from the night up on my flickr page. Check them here: http://fightingtheyouth.blogspot.com/2008/04/tapes-n-tapes-w-white-denim-metro.html