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Live Review: These Are Powers, The Chap, Lyonnais, Balkans @ Eyedrum, March 24

[ 0 ] March 31, 2009 |

By Julia Reidy

“One of these things is not like the others” seemed to be
the theme at Eyedrum last Tuesday night, as a four-band show sent the audience
bouncing between acts from serious to kidding, ambient/noise to pop, hipster to
humor.

All Sesame Street lessons
aside, the two local openers, Balkans and Lyonnais, approached their sets with
an intensity and seriousness that only did them credit because their songs were
so well-executed. Balkans, a very young-looking, mop-headed Atlanta
four-piece, play in a hybrid style made up of garage rock, math rock and surf
rock, complete with fuzzy vocals and guitar neck flailing (watch those mid-room
uprights, kid!). The guys switched instruments per song in almost total
darkness, the lead singer taking a turn on drum kit as they produced their
sheets of sound. The band favors clear melodies and harmonies wrapped up inside
grainy, harsh distortion, and having seen them three times it’s remarkable how
they’re visibly evolving. This is doubtless one of the city’s most promising
fledgling groups.

Lyonnais, made up in part of former DJs at WRAS
88.5, take taste-making to a new level with their own original musical act. Off
further to the right in front of the stage, they set up their network of
inside-facing microphones, laptops, pedals, knobs and other electronic devises
(like a Korg Kaoss Pad … very cool). Echoing, ambient vocals punctuated the
space rock set that may have consisted of only two songs — it’s hard to tell,
considering there was never a real break in the sound. Moments of drone
alternated with driving, two-guitar-and-drum-heavy rock, big on distortion and
effects. Though the songs sound complicated and laden with layers, the real
appeal of Lyonnais
comes from the fact that the chordal root of their compositions is based in
western scalar patterns. All the songs’ facets are borne from the ultimate
musical simplicity.

The night’s statistical outlier arrived next in the form of UK import The
Chap
. Part ‘80s throwback post pop, part comedy troupe (they introduced every
song saying, “This is a song about the environment”), the group performed
punchy, B-52s-reminiscent songs with quirky lyrics, complete with synchronized
hand gestures. It was entertaining, but seemed an unusual choice considering
the type of music produced by the other acts on the bill.

Finally, Brooklyn’s These
Are Powers
set up at the back of the
room, a projection screen displaying colorful fabric tangles like the ones they
draped on all their mic stands and instruments. The three-piece exuded
confidence with their ecstatic dark dance punk (self-dubbed “ghost punk”). Lead
singer Anna Barie danced and howled so hard she had to take off her big jewelry
after the first song, saying something to the effect of “You know it’s serious
when a bitch takes off her earrings.” (She also ended one song with her microphone
three inches from my face!) All the members were equally committed to the act —
bassist Pat Noecker (formely of Liars) spent as much time on one knee adjusting
pedals and switches as he did playing, and percussionist Bill Salas alternated
between playing a suitcase full of electronic devices behind him and pulling a
pair of drumsticks out of his back pocket to turn toward the audience and play
the kit in front. Though performing in an entirely different style, These Are
Powers seemed to meet the example of intensity set by Balkans and Lyonnais — they fit
right in.

Catch Balkans May 1 at
529 with Carnivores (tickets available here), and Lyonnais
May 2 at 529 with Windy & Carl, Benoit Pioulard and Lambs Laughter (tickets available here).

Category: Live Reviews

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