Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Bears Came (Late of the Pier live at Congress)
As I swam through the sea of glowsticks, Affliction shirts, Heinekens, and Go-Go dancers, I couldn't tell if I was in a New York rave club or Congress Theater in Chicago. April 11th was a Saturday night unlike any other. The spirit of Passover lingered in the air and Easter Sunday was on the horizon. So excited was I for the bill that I absent-mindedly broke the first rule of the holiday of Matzos as soon as I stepped onto the dance floor and guzzled several Guinnesses, realizing my folly only after the third or eighth. And a dance floor it was-- the bill was packed with back to back hard electro artists and DJs... Deadmau5, Crookers, the Whip, Zebo, Willy Joy, Brad Owen, Loyal Divide, Local Hero. And then there was Late of the Pier. But before I talk about my friends Late of the Pier from Castle Donington, dare I say that I enjoyed Willy Joy's DJ set more than Crookers? Yay. As talented as Crookers are, Willy Joy showed me that it doesn't take three men to drop a hot beat. The man brought it and practically stole the show with his song selection, smooth transitions, and turntable acrobatics. Not to mention it looked like he was having a damn fun time on stage. After Willy Joy and Late of the Pier, the audience had already long warmed up... and I hate to say it, but watching Crookers wank the microphone while playing "Il Bruto" was not overly entertaining. 'Cause you know what happens when you wank your beats too hard (incoherent flow yo!) They're no rock stars on the decks, but hey, I do like some of their remixes.
Late of the Pier, on the other hand, was a ray of summer festival sunlight through the muck of hard, serious electro noise. Perhaps the acoustics of the venue were not the friendliest to artists like the Whip (Manchester), who were great when I saw them at Webster Hall in NY, but just sounded muddy and reverby when they played at Congress. The vocals were on pitch, but otherwise, the rest was all bass. Congress' stage was even less friendly to Late of the Pier, which was truly a shame, because the dudes were troopers throughout the set. Late of the Pier was too hot for Congress the moment they kicked off their show with Space and the Woods. But the monitors weren't having it and produced a ton of feedback (all eyes to the sound guy). Still, the audience didn't care, and the dedicated fans sang along and danced like they were at Warped Tour. When "The Bears are Coming" came on, it was like a jungle party-- the type you'd see in an MGMT music video, where jungle people with conches fish down the moon, slice it open, and dance in its moon juices (sounds kind of nasty... but watch the Electric Feel music video if you haven't). But maybe the feedback wasn't all that detrimental to the set. I mean, in the music video for "Focker," the machines come out and defeat the human band members by the end of the video. Fits with the theme, no? The shot towards the beginning where Potter's glasses fly off his face is priceless... every time. Regardless of technical difficulties, Late of the Pier made it through their set in one piece and didn't miss a beat. Don't sweat it guys. This show just made me look forward even more to catching them next time they play outdoors or at a sweaty indie show where everyone's down for having fun. Forget all that fat, noisy, european electro house-- it rarely sounds good in a big venue or works for the dance floor. That shit gets old and predictable fast. Not very cool. The cool thing to do instead is to grab a case of PBRs, pick up Fantasy Black Channel by Late of the Pier, and have yourself a grand jungle party!