Why? at Andrew’s Lane Theatre. Where have I heard that one before? Oh yeah, here. But lack of imagination notwithstanding, it was great to get a second visit off Joni and crew on what is essentially the same tour. Bands (Of Montreal, Deerhoof, Animal Collective) seem to have started skipping us over again this winter. Even if we’ve started to bleep on the radar of bands like this, the second sweep through Europe generally heads straight to the UK without so much as a cursory glance at “the best crowd in the world”.
On the evidence of this redux, however, it appears that good behaviour (i.e. loud cheering) has indeed yielded us the proverbial “nice things”. Hurray.
The set was essentially the same as last time, possibly in a different order. It’s amazing how good it was, given that fact. These songs in their live format don’t seem like they could ever be old. The arrangements are tense, much closer than the occasionally too-clean productions on the album, and needle-point tight. The clacking snare-rim beat of Crushed Bones (opening track on Elephant Eyelash), strewn with daydreamy arpeggios, provides the perfect tensile canvas for Joni to sing over. Or rap over? Speak over? Sing-rap-recite.
It’s hard to tell exactly what Joni is. There is definitely a literary character to what he does, almost like a novel full of fictionalised diary entries but with no clear conclusion. Musically, indie rock cannot fully claim him, because of the clear hip-hop influences, for example on the drums. But hip-hop doesn’t want him, as I found out on a rap forum I was lurking on while trying to find Pharaohe Monch’s album*. “Pussy-ass Jew boy bullshit”, or something to that effect.
It obviously doesn’t matter where he’s categorised. That’s a job for people like me on the midnight oil, and has no actual importance. The gig was (almost) as packed as last time, and the people there were (almost) as zealous as last time. And what was last time? I believe I concluded by literarily calling it “deadly” at the time. This was deadly too. Real atmosphere, real chemistry. But above all, great songs.
I’ll be right back with more Why?
*the secondhand CD rack at ground level right in front of the counter in the new Freebird facing onto the Central Bank is THE source for every decent rap album since 1980.
**the picture is of Josiah Wolf, whose skill at playing glockenspiel and drums at the same time is beyond impressive***
***those two asterisks don’t refer back to anything specific in the text.