Saturday, September 22, 2012
Matt Jordan: A review of the Thursday and Friday performances from Boomslang 2012
The Music Tapes + Jeff Mangum @ the Kentucky Theater
Boomslang’s first show was about as magical and mythical as a show can be in 2012. Neutral Milk Hotel’s long-reclusive frontman Jeff Mangum brought an intimate and emotional show to the Kentucky Theater on Thursday that included an opening set from his onetime bandmate’s solo project the Music Tapes. It was an incredible show that brought something truly special to Lexington.
With the Music Tapes’ opening set, they offered the audience a show that they’re not likely to find anywhere else. Lead singer Julian Koster primarily played a banjo with a violin bow, but he occasionally used the same on a handsaw to produce a hi-pitched warble that sounded close to a theremin.
Jeff Mangum’s show started Boomslang with a big impact, but it may have left the rest of the weekend’s acts in his considerable shadow. Jeff performed most of the songs from Neutral Milk Hotel’s critically acclaimed second album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. The vivid, emotional lyrics were on full display with each song stripped bare to a solo acoustic performance. He was twice joined by Julian on “singing saw:” once for a performance of “Engine” (which brought a large portion of the crowd to the front of the theater to be closer to their hero), and again for the encore-ending performance of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.”
Many fans quickly rushed from the theater to catch Das Racist at Cosmic Charlie’s, but I noticed that a few of the ones who had rushed up front lingered longer in the area, possibly unwilling to walk out the venue for fear of breaking the evening’s spell.
Das Racist @ Cosmic Charlies
Das Racist (Photo by Matt Jordan.)
Das Racist don’t put on a show like most hip hop groups. In a weird way, they might be remembered as the pioneers as this new breed of laid back hip hop performance. Their show was more likely to make you laugh than make you get overly filled with adrenaline. Sure, they had stage divers and people dancing through their whole set, but it was always to such such tongue-in-cheek, self-aware rap lyrics as “It’s a brand new dance / Give us all your money.” They’re some talented guys, but it’s always good to see a band who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Das Racist are like the class clowns everyone is rooting for.
Apache Relay @ Cosmic Charlie’s
Apache Relay (Phot by Matt Jordan.)
Apache Relay had everything you could ask from an opener: quality songs, an energetic show and a lot of diversity in their material. At times they sounded like they were pulling from the vocal-rich indie rock of Walkmen, then the next song would be some bluesy pop like the Alabama Shakes. I came to the show for Deerhoof, but I’d gladly go see Apache Relay’s next show even without a touring headliner to entice me.
Halfway through Deerhoof’s set, drummer Greg Saunier took the microphone and told us that he’d arrived at the venue that afternoon with a sense of dread. He was worried that this, their first time playing Lexington, would have terribly poor attendance. In response to that, the packed house let out a huge cheer to affirm that they were welcome back any time.
Deerhoof. (Photo by Matt Jordan.)
Deerhoof are touring in support of their recently released album Breakup Song and their set at Cosmic was stacked with great tracks from that record. Their twin-guitar assault and thunderous drumming an are incredible live assault that is a great backing for lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s childlike vocals. Seeing this tiny asian woman singing about pandas, flowers and basketball while there are some Led Zeppelin-worthy riffs being thrown around sounds like it should be a gimmick, but it’s not at all; it’s the basis one of the best live bands touring today.
Five Knives. (Photo by Matt Jordan.)
I knew nothing about Five Knives going into Friday’s show, but I figured I might as well stick around to see what they had to offer. Cosmic Charlies started to fill with smoke as they took the stage. By the time I made it down to the front row it was so thick that it was tough to see even an arm’s length away. As the smoke slowly settled down, I realized this was going to be quite a show. Five Knives sound like Metric, Sleigh Bells and a random smattering of 90s and 00s pop — a great recipe for a live show.
Matt Jordan of Lexington is a the creator of Youaintnopicasso.com, a music blog he started in 2004 as a freshman at the University of Kentucky. His regular updates about music and musicians, interviews, concert reviews and industry news have gained him a wide national audience and helped make him an opinion leader in the music industry.