BDRMPPL and Pictureplane w/Josephine and the Mousepeople, Gangi and Rainbow Arabia Thursday, October 9th, 2008 Rhinoceropolis, Globeville Better Than: A show where everyone’s from the same demographic.
Pictureplane seems to bring in people from a broad spectrum of society in a way that few other musical acts seem able to. This certainly was the crowd I found when I got to the Rhino near the beginning of Josephine and the Mousepeople’s set.
I was used to the band being raw, and that rawness has always being one of its virtues. But the act I saw was much more refined than on previous occasions. Avi’s singing still cracked in the right places, but it was more confident and assured. Danny and Avi both played their instruments with a fluidity that frankly surprised me, a fan. For the uninitiated, the band’s music is a seamless blending of electronic music and hip-hop, with elements of indie rock/pop and folk. A bit like early Modest Mouse but with greater potential.
Gangi is a two-piece band from Los Angeles. It played music that incorporated elements of tribal rhythms but had clearly moved on to the next stage of its creative development. The sound produced by the duo was surprisingly rich and lush, and with Matt Gangi’s near-falsetto vocals the band reminded me of Bob Dylan, Mercury Rev and later-era Flaming Lips. Layered samples of organic sounds and human voices provided texture, and the guitar drove the melodies in widening circles. Indian and African music samples rounded out Gangi’s sound in unexpected ways.
Fellow Los Angelenos Rainbow Arabia is also a two-piece outfit, and its music was unlike anything I’ve quite heard. Each song seemingly opened with samples of children or adults from an undeveloped country singing. The low end was often used in much the same way as it is in dub reggae, and Tiffany Preston played not only percussion and guitar but she sang like Siouxsie Sioux on the first few Banshees records, but with a touch of Lydia Lunch in there. A lot of the music sounded like electronically inflected post-punk. I was reminded of The Vanishing, but more sonically rich, or Gang Gang Dance but pushing the middle-eastern aesthetic to a greater degree. Much of the music was laden with thick, dense atmospheres and rhythms. I’m not sure who the band usually plays for, but Tiffany complimented the audience regularly throughout the show for being nice and enthusiastic.
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BDRMPPL then took the stage, and wasted no time in getting its set going. But it was all prefaced with a group of what looked like acolytes in robes bringing in bubbling censers and goblets of a glowing green fluid, carrying their goods into the Rhino. to the back area and back up front and virtually offering it all as a sacrifice to the band. Both Nick and Ryan were dressed in robes and looking mighty wizardly themselves. But they immediately launched into a version of “Cyberpunk” that flowed effortlessly into subsequent tracks that bounced back and forth playfully. There were projections on the wall that looked to be comprised of splices from TV shows, manipulated and hashed back together and recontextualized for new meaning, not unlike the act’s songs taking sounds and altering them, giving them a new character. It was a short but furious set at the end of which Ryan remarked about the robes they chose to wear in the hot warehouse: “It’s the best dumb idea.”
It was well into the night before Pictureplane came on, but it was worth the wait. He executed the loop that opens all his shows with a repeat of a man saying “A new reality” and then went straight into “Day Glowwed.” Travis performed a mix of newer and older songs and got the die-hard crowd to dance with a renewed frenzy from earlier in the night — no mean feat considering the hour. Travis stopped once, but when begged for an encore he played a track from Turquoise Trail to the end the evening on an even keel.
Bias: Warehouse and DIY venue shows are pretty much my favorite. Random Detail: Rainbow Arabia had an incredibly cool t-shirt design that was part ultra-modern and part Native American art. By the Way: Bocumast released a BDRMPPL EP. -- Tom Murphy