02.26.10 | Bluebird Theater
I missed Le Divorce's opening set, unfortunately, but was able to catch a set from the classic line-up of Sympathy F. Despite not having playing live very often in the more than ten years since the band has been an active unit, it was obvious that the out still has plenty of fire. The combination of rocking intensity and expansive atmospheres in each song was surprising, Elizabeth Rose's immediately engaging presence left a strong impression on everyone who got to see the set. After the final song, a woman near the front kept shouting, "No way!" probably because she hadn't seen the group in years and couldn't believe how the act seems to have lost nothing of its power during the intervening years.
People throw around the term "super group" a little too loosely, but to the extent that it applies to a local band, the label definitely fits Dust on the Breakers, the core lineup of which consists of Jeff Linsenmaier (Czars, Space Team Electra) on bass, Patrick and Nathan Meese on drums and keys, respectively, Jeff Davenport (d.biddle, Meese) and Tim Husmann (augmented periodically by an assorted other players including, Anna Slade, Jimmy Stofer, Ben Wysocki, Elin Palmer, Shawn King, Chris Barone, Steve Glenn and Joseph Pope III, who weren't on hand for this particular show).
Before its set, Linsenmaier teased a bit of "Mars" by Space Team Electra on bass -- a song he used to play as a member of that band. Some of Breakers' material sounded like an inspired update of early New Order with ethereal shades of the Cure in the guitar work. However, this band had a thicker low end sound like Gang of Four with moodier undertones. The band closed its set with Linsenmaier and his bandmates pounding out rhythms on their own drums for a song that built into a heady climax.
Before The Swayback took the stage, the movie screen of the Bluebird was lowered, and we got to see the video for "Die Finks." Filmed in M Inc's newly acquired and currently vacant hotel on Broadway, featured very well edited shots put together in still motion fashion with the guys performing, walking, leaping and otherwise moving about. In the most memorable scene of the video, the guys appeared to be walking a full foot or two off the floor toward the camera.
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After the video played, the Swayback took the stage and played in front of artful screen projections that truly augmented the experience of the music. The band started off with one of its excellent, atmospheric instrumental pieces. It wasn't the wildest set the band has ever performed, but the guys made up for that by being flawlessly solid and performing with freedom and grace -- which better suits them anyway.
The slower tempo beginning of "What a Pity" made the ramped up later part of the song that much more effective because you could hear how well woven together each instrument was in the song. During its set, the Swayback played some of the hits including, "Long Gone Lads" and "Forewarned," and ended its set with an electrifying version of "Concrete Blocks" followed by "Distinguished Guest at the Downtrodden Ball." Overall, the Swayback has never sounded better.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Getting to finally see Sympathy F live was a rare treat. Random Detail: Xandy Whitesel did the sound for this show. By the Way: The "Die Finks" 7-inch not only has good songs but it has beautiful packaging.