Last night, WCDB played host to Disappears, Lotus Plaza and Location Ensemble in what was a relatively diverse live performance with an alternative approach to rock music being the common denominator.
Valentine’s dimly lit Music Hall was bustling with guests prior to the first guitar lick and Location Ensemble took to the stage first, starting off the evening with a heavy serving of sound. The instrumental guitar ensemble is made up of experimental Albany-area musicians, all of whom are closely tied to local music in one way or another.
Location Ensemble for me was a definite high point of the night and as their shorter-than-I’d-have-liked set continued onward, so did the growth and build of their collective sound. For utilizing six guitars, one bass and one drum, the band members made their layering and organizing of sound seem organic (not composed or forced) and relatively effortless.
Check out the rest of KC’s review and see the full gallery from Andrew beneath the jump.
On stage, it was evident that all members were enjoying themselves and in my opinion as an instrumental project they succeeded for a multitude of reasons. For one, the audience was attentive as the guitars harmonized with one another; two, adding vocals would have taken much away from their performance and the environmental affect it had throughout the room; and for three, the drummer was a necessary ingredient without taking focus away from the guitars. Each chord progression added positively to the one prior and this band definitely had the bigger picture in mind for their compositions without leaving little details out. If you see this band on a bill pop up in the near future, make sure not to sleep on it.
Lotus Plaza, featuring Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter, was up second and was comprised of two guitarists, one bassist and one drummer. In their recorded form, their album “Spooky Action at a Distance” scored a 8.4 on Pitchfork and was spotted in its vinyl form throughout the crowd last night. However, in their live form, I was thoroughly disappointed, (especially considering I enjoyed my first couple listens of their album). Lotus Plaza felt like an experimental phase for Pundt, but one that didn’t accomplish anything new, different or anything experimental for that matter.
The foursome lacked serious personality on the stage, which is fine if that’s what you’re about and it works for you, but for me it really took away from their performance. I’ll admit it: I was a bit annoyed I couldn’t make out the vocals at all and found myself uninterested. There was a bit of delay on the drums that ended up being distracting. The bass lines were a strong asset and after awhile became what I noticed to be the only thing making one song stand out from the rest. Unfortunately, the guitars, vocals and drums all sounded the same to me blurring their set. For me, Lotus Plaza is a band better suited in their recorded format or one more enjoyable live in a coffee shop environment where I can read a magazine and sit comfortably.
Disappears, a four-piece that features Steve Shelley, the longtime drummer of Sonic Youth, came up next to headline and close the night. From the first two minutes that Disappears were in the spotlight, I was instantly woken up and pleasantly reminded that I was at a rock show.
Disappears were exactly what I’d hope they’d be: gritty, a bit surf-rock-esque, not gimmicky and twangy in all the right ways. Reverb wasn’t overwhelming and no performer in their band was “going through the motions.” They balance minimalism with emotion, hitting the intensity lever at all the right moments.
It’s my gut reaction to classify them as some sort of post-punk alternative group but they weren’t limited or confined to a certain genre, which was evident through various modernizing moments behind their clear 90s influences. Additionally, they managed to take risks without veering too off outside of their natural aesthetic. In other words, they not only are versed in their technique and have vision behind their sound, but they are also comfortable in it, making for a very enjoyable live performance suited for the sultry charm that Valentine’s possesses.
Thanks again to Nicole and WCDB for bringing this bill to Albany.