Back in March of Aught
Six, Tracers and i wandered into a bar in Austin and
caught a synthpop trio from Brooklyn make some fine, silly
keyboard tunes. They were called Au Revoir Simone, and i
eventually tracked down their debut EP. Their appearance
at The Drunken Unicorn on Labor Day Monday was enough to
drag me out, even if it was a Work Night....
I arrived just after 10 PM, and barely had to wait before
first act Numbers took the stage. This is a three-piece from
San Francisco that consists of a guitarist, a guy playing two
synthesizers, and a very tall woman who beats the drums and
sings. No, really -- she stood near me in the crowd for part
of one of the other acts, and she was a good 6 inches taller,
and i'm of average height! What the heck are they doing out
there in The Bay Area? Breeding an army of Amazon Drummer Women
to beat us into submission?
Drumming and singing in Numbers.
All joking aside, she was actually pretty talented. Singing while drumming always looks awkward to begin with, but add in that Numbers do a sort of jerky, start-stop Devo-esque type of rhythm on many of their tunes, and it really seemed like she had to work hard to drum and sing. But she pulled it off. In fact, Numbers were pretty interesting. Aside from the Devo in their rhythms, there was a hint of Wire in the guitar. In general, they made catchy music that treads the border between Electroclash and Synthpop. Not bad at all.
Numbers guitarist alternated between singing and channeling
The next band set up as a four-piece with a ton of gear: lots of pedals, multiple guitars, lots of keyboards, other percussion things, etc. They introduced themselves as Oh No! Oh My!, from Austin, TX, and apparently they were the big draw this evening. They had the largest crowd, and lots of people were dancing and singing along. Not bad for a band on their first time through town. I am guessing they must get radio play on WRAS. Or maybe they just have lots of MySpace Friends in Atlanta. Who can tell these days?
Oh No! Oh My! have 13,678 "friends" on MySpace.
Their music was catchy pop that sounded like local synthpop heroes Slushco with a dash of Austin's Palaxy
Tracks thrown in.
Acoustic guitar = country / folk.
There was an acoustic guitar used to provide an almost country
feel to songs made up of mechanical drumming (i wonder what
factory made that drummer of theirs!) and strange waves of
keyboards and effected guitar. An odd juxtaposition, to be
sure, but it worked really well.
The new 2007 Drummers come complete with factory-installed
I was surprised at how sparse
they sounded, despite the excess of instrumentation. They
did not overplay their songs -- sure there was a lot going
on, but it never seemed busy.
Oh No! Oh My! Oh Moog!
I admit that i was pretty impressed with these people. I will look for them to come back through Atlanta again.
Finally, at Midnight, a mere 6.5 hours before i had to get up to get ready
to go to work, Au Revoir Simone took the stage. They are three tall, thin women
with long straight hair who stand behind banks of keyboards and play and sing.
They came out and played a fun song with bouncing rhythms passed back and worth
between the various keyboards.
Au Revoir Simone, with only 1/3 the singing...
And then they bitched that they couldn't hear everything correctly for 10 minutes. I was so frustrated, i could scream! Don't these people know that their audiences can't just stand around forever waiting for them to get it right? Why didn't they sound check earlier???? It's just plain rude on their part, is what it is.
But i was curious to hear more, so i stood there silently annoyed and sipped my beer. When they got it all sorted out they continued to play for 30 more minutes, and it was a good set overall. Their music can sometimes be ballady, stripped down to piano and voice. Or it can be classic synthpop a la O.M.D., with 80s style drum machines, bouncing keyboard riffs, and happy harmonies. Or they can do electroclash-ish stuff, with crunchy computer mangled beats, waves of synths, and all three singing in harmony. I liked the diversity, and i found each of their songs interesting in its own way.
Au Revoir Simone in triple keyboard action.
So i did enjoy their set, but boy was i tired the next day at work... I have to remind music people who might be reading this: the lateness is the reason so few people attend weekday shows (and, indeed, ARS played to about 30 people, including the other bands). If they had started at a reasonable hour, they might have drawn a bigger audience. Maybe someday people will listen to me when i say this....