As the Red River entrance to Emo’s was graced with girl-pants-wearing, makeup-sporting Devil Wears Prada fans, a diverse group of hipsters shuffled into the venue from its Sixth Street entrance. The show outside boasted something of an “indie band of the moment” dream lineup, with Here We Go Magic (above) and Beach Fossils.
My first interaction with Beach Fossils came at the beginning of this summer. By some stroke of luck, my band had been tapped to support Fang Island on a few shows, including their homecoming show in Manhattan. Heavenly Beat, the Fossil dudes’ side project, opened the show and succeeded at making every single person in the room scratch their head and mutter under their breath, “This is the Beach Fossils side project?”
|Beach Fossils at Emo’s|
It was similar to the Fossils sound. Bouncy bass lines following washed out surf pop guitars backed by a minimal rhythm section (the drums for both bands generally consist of two toms and a snare). The music was not entirely unenjoyable. That is, when the band could remember the songs. At no fewer than three points during the set, the guys had to stop mid-song, regroup and then finish the tune. The bass lines were fumbled, the lyrics were mumbled and the guitars were… jumbled?
After that kind of experience, it’s easy to see why expectations were low for the Fossils. So I was pleasantly surprised that the band remembered how their songs went. They pulled off their atmospheric surfy dream pop well enough. The vocals wallowed in reverb while the guitars and bass carried the melodies. Dustin Payseur’s droney vocals recalled a pre-pubescent Ian Curtis, which was cool, especially if you like music that packs the sleep-inducing power of a handful of Ambien. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
|Aug. 4, 2010|
Sometimes I need an album I can put on when I need to just lay in bed and drift in and out of sleep. Beach House’ latest, Teen Dream, has been filling that slot lately but I could easily see Beach Fossils self-titled filling in nicely. The lack of a real drum set was kind of charming for the first few songs but when the band reached “Vacation” they were in bad need of a cymbal hit. The song flat-lined and could have used the shot in the arm that comes from the occasional hit of a Zyldjian. Nap time music is great, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into a real exciting live show. Some sort of “this is the climax of the song” cue would have been nice.
Here We Go Magic, presumably what David Blaine utters to the world as he levitates out of bed each morning, released Pigeons on June 8 and I have to say, as much as I would love the street cred, I just can’t get into that album. There doesn’t seem to be any urgency to it. It just sounds like something that is. It just exists, like a joke with no punch-line.
The band began as Luke Temple’s one-man project, which released a debut album for Western Vinyl in February 2009, and while it was hard to take my eyes off keyboardist Kristina Lieberson and bassist Jen Turner, there’s no question about who the star of the show is. Temple’s guitar lines took on a crunch that I think is lacking on their first album and the moments when the band broke into ambient noise-rock was like a continuous slap in the face that I hoped would never end. The crescendo of feedback at the end of “Tunnelvision” was one of the most painful and epic parts of the night and contained a level of chaos the band never really gets close to on their recorded material.
The band’s crowning achievement came at the end of “Collector,” the catchiest tune off Pigeons. As the song’s final climax came and Temple was barking “I’ve got a mild fascination for collectors,” and the band was hammering away at their instruments, an honest-to-goodness indie kid mosh-pit broke out right in front of me. Thick rimmed glasses were bouncy off kid’s faces and Lone Star tall boys were raised in the air for protection from the madness. These moments of chaos, sometimes controlled, sometimes not, marked the high points of the show and provided a much-needed jolt to an otherwise ho-hum night.
Here We Go Magic and Beach Fossils performed at Emo’s in Austin on Aug. 4, 2010.