The Born Ruffians and Caribou Larimer Lounge October 23, 2007 Better than: An acid flashback
The cold, fall air wafting in through the open doors on either end of the Larimer Lounge had just about numbed my feet and I was beginning to consider either starting a fire in the corner or insulating myself with booze when the Born Ruffians finally started. Luckily their groovy set of hyper, nearly spastic indie rock got my feet tapping enough to warm them up in no time. Their sound – especially the guitars and vocals -- was heavily influenced by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, but simpler, happier, more streamlined and open. Imagine the same Talking Heads meets Modest Mouse blend that Clap Your Hands is built around, but replace the New York City elitism and intellectual edginess with earnest teenaged enthusiasm. The strong drumming – intense, driving patterns on the floor tom and snare, occasionally mixing in some more intricate machine gun rolls – also helped differentiate them from the obvious influences. The whole band has a likable goofball quality, the songs were catchy, the energy was good, and they were fun.
Caribou shifted things into a whole other space. The sound took the lighter, song-oriented, radio-friendly side of early psychedelia and pumped it full of steroids via a ferocious onslaught of krautrock/motorik beats powered by dual drummers. A hypnotic display of stark, simple patterns in bold colors literally overlaid the whole thing via a video projector, providing an appropriate visual accompaniment to the band’s acid-test sound.
Caribou main man Dan Snaith switched between drums, guitar and keyboard. A second, dedicated drummer, a bassist/backup vocalist, and a guitarist/keyboard player rounded out the group. With two drummers and less than pristine sound, the low end had a tendency to drown out the rest of the band. The vocals, guitars and supporting sounds sort of drifted on top of the barrage of drums and bass, kicked about like flotsam on a stormy sea. Surprisingly the music didn’t suffer all that much for it. The essence of the songs generally shone through and the sound was never less than an intense, suitably mesmeric wall of psychedelic mindfuck – enough so to make me wish I still got high. It wasn’t nearly as pretty or melodic as what’s found on albums, but the intensity was orders of magnitude higher, an easily acceptable trade-off that made for a pretty stellar show. -- Cory Casciato
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Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: Early psychedelia? Krautrock? It’s like the peanut butter and chocolate of my musical taste. Random Detail: I don’t really get high anymore, but plenty of other people there did – the patio reeked of cannabis. By the Way: Here's Caribou in The Pink Room: