By David Courtright
I was surprised at first to see Beach Fossils and Here We Go Magic on the same bill: stylistically, they are very far apart. When Beach Fossils’ front man Dustin Payseur introduced them as Brooklyners, the geographical connection made sense. Ah Brooklyn, the slim-panted, neon-imitation-Wayfarer-wearing cradle of Indie civilization!
Beach Fossils’ sound is a very simple one, very tightly arranged and ordered. Two guitars intertwine lead parts to a subtle but affecting bass, and a standing drummer with a snare-tom duo hops around barefoot, keeping time. The songs don’t delve much into to the emotional sphere: with names like “Lazy Day,” “Vacation” and “Daydream,” one can imagine what the band is trying to do. They craft lo-fi but concise songs that, while very catchy, leave little to the imagination as to the meaning behind it all. “Vacation” is about a vacation. And that is the point. What makes the songs work is their economy, their functionality.
I saw Here We Go Magic last year at The EARL, and was underwhelmed. It felt like more of a jam-session for them, and though it looked incredibly enjoyable for them, it got a little tired. For this reason, it was incredibly pleasing and surprising to see what growth they’ve undergone since that time. Their music has become incredibly tight and focused, while still remaining bursting with energy. What impressed me most is how they took songs that are heavily loop-based compositionally, and recreated that in a live setting. Bassist Jen Turner and keyboardist Kristina Lieberson have arranged their vocal parts to not only compliment Mr. Temple’s, but as certain songs progressed, their parts would begin to loop as if the record was skipping, gaining in intensity as the length of the vocal loop shortened. Almost every song would build in this way slowly towards a greater degree of complexity and chaos, but, expertly, never collapse.
With this new band, frontman Luke Temple has found an exciting new sound, one that can bring an energy and intensity to songs that, even on their latest record Pigeons, kind of slowly unfold rather than burst. To have such a deft control over that energy, to be able to build it without bringing it to a climax, is perhaps the most interesting aspect of their music.
Check out more pictures of the show at our Picture Book.