Despite the swirling slow-motion journey through Salem’s King Night LP, that should have informed audiences of what one might expect from the live Salem experience, the word of Salem’s lethargic stage presence preceded their homecoming show last week at The Empty Bottle. Regardless of the criticism, the group delivered on expectations only slightly weighed down by tepid critical commentary.
Salem sucks up influences like Miami bass, Houston Screw, shogaze, and Chicago juke like a club kid slupring Robotussin up a silly straw. The sound creates a live output that is a moody, darkly sexy trudge through an opium den with an industrial fog machine. Trance-inducing neon bursts set the mood as haunting stage silhouettes tinkered above unidentifiable instruments. The ghostly vocals of Heather Marlatt carried over a wash of synths and samples as the measured stage show proceeded with macabre flair and an undeniable prurient swagger — out-smoldering an ethereal Portishead performance.
What trumps all, despite their undynamic presence, is Salem’s mood-setting atmospherics and impressive ear for melody. Exemplified in their closer, a delicious trudge through Alice Dee-Jay’s “Better Off Alone”, is that warped beneath their witchy ways is a highly melodic, slinky bounce that, while not ready-made for club banging, is a powerfully emotive and entrancing aural trip.
Check out Matt’s original review of Salem’s King Night LP here
The Tonic Room is known for its Open Mic’s as well as its reasonably priced draft imports. So when word spread that Tim Kasher would be playing his upcoming solo album in a 99-capacity bar, the curiosity filled the Lincoln Park bar with 20 somethings eager to hear what Kasher has been up to since Cursive’s “Mama I’m Swollen.” Why the Tonic Room? Who would be his backup band? Is that Winona Ryder? Holy fuck, that’s Winona Ryder! Why the hell is she here?!
Kasher’s band backed by fellow Cursive keyboardist Patrick Newbury and Chicago resident Geoff Dulce (Opener,) packed the makeshift stage that barely stands a foot off the ground. As Kasher began ripping into new material, the hushed crowd gathered listened intently, seemingly hanging on every note, lyric, or joke Kasher would make. Kasher repaid the loyal crowd by playing The Good Life’s “Night and Day” and Tom Waits’ “I Want You” which he claimed he had just sang at his sister’s wedding. While the covers seemed to delight everyone in the crowded bar along Halsted, it was Kasher’s new tunes that had everyone calling for more as the curious but anxious crowd would ask Kasher about the album’s release date between songs.”I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here” and “Bad, Bad Dreams” seemed to get the most response as Kasher thanked everyone repeatedly for attending. The set ended with “Monogamy” as he descended to the back of the bar with high fives and sweat.
“The Game of Monogamy” is due October 5th on Saddle Creek Records.
Energetic, shambling, playful, endearingly sloppy; these are things that immediately hit you when listening to Philly’s Drink Up Buttercup. Their live show embodies these very same qualities, and seeing them (at eye level no-less) at the stageless Ronny’s was just grand.
A fuzzy fracas of keyboards, ghostly harmony, tempo-shifts, and Brit-invasion guitar immediately called to mind your typical archetypes of these qualities — namely Clinic, Grizzly Bear, Fiery Furnaces, some Liverpool mercybeat band, yada yada yada.
But unlike all the bands mentioned above, there are no self-serious tendencies to be found; they’re just too giddy to be so heavy (much less wear surgical masks). Even when they get their stompin’ march on it sounds closer to the clumsy grandeur of a K Records Modest Mouse than the doom & gloom of a Kurt Weill.
It was a stellar, loose, pop-inflected, bedraggled, harmonious cacophony of a show. If there was ever a band that exemplified the need for universal health care, it’s D.U.B.. They’re erratic, they’re thrashing, they self-affectedly fall all over each other, they dispose of their instruments by dropping them on the floor, and the quartet (who all quit their jobs to tour) will almost certainly injure each other eventually. Obama! We need a public option.
That said, listing possible influences is only fun for the one writing them, so it’s best to check them out live… ya know…