Last Night's Show: Broken Spindles, Born in the Flood, Iuengliss at hi-dive

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Broken Spindles, Born in the Flood, Iuengliss
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Better than:
Eating chips and looking at a borrowed book of David Byrne's weird photography of furniture, which is what I would have been doing

Here's what was weird about this show: Broken Spindles stole all the press. The band features one of the members of the Faint, and that got played up. Promotional materials for the show consisted of Broken Spindles flyers -- featuring Joel of The Faint! -- with the other bands' names written on them in pen. But the real headliner last night -- both in spirit and in lineup placement -- was, and by God was it ever, Born in the Flood.

The show got off to an odd start with Iuengliss, which is actually a guy named Tom Metz with a laptop. Sounding kind of like Roxy Music updated by way of Ben Gibbard with a little help from Björk, Metz laid down some fine electronica, the kind of music I would listen to in my car. But there's something awkwardly karaoke-ish about watching a guy onstage with a microphone and a laptop, and Metz didn't make that any better by appearing to feel completely awkward about it as well, bending his knees stiffly to the beats and avoiding eye contact with the crowd.

Broken Spindles probably deserved a warmer response than they got, but then again, they didn't really seem to be all that into it, either. The set definitely had its moments -- the drummer did some really cool stuff, tapping an über-danceable Morse-code beat on the hi-hat stand at one point not least among it -- but it was inconsistent. One song sounded like "My Sharona" as interpreted by a disinterested Transformer-era Lou Reed, another like Syd Barrett free-form jamming on a synthesizer with the drummer of Rush. Mostly, though, the sound was just underdeveloped. The band laid down some really nice grooves, but just as it was getting the groove hot, it seemed to lose interest, serving it up crunchy and undercooked. And it's sad not to do a good hook the justice it deserves.

For a band that got its name Sharpied onto another band's flyer, Born in the Flood absolutely stole the fucking show. After a recording hiatus of a couple of months, the band was back and in top form, and it couldn't have been clearer that it was this band that the sweaty crowd came to see. And the sweaty crowd, though sweaty, was not disappointed.

There wasn't a dead moment in the set. The band was polished, focused and rehearsed. Lead singer and songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff has the weird tics and magnetic stage charisma of a telecaster-wielding Philip Seymour Hoffman, dazed, high on glue and pissed. There is a palpable tension to his presence in the spotlight -- he looks as if he may either vomit or be reborn -- and whether crooning sweetly or roaring as if he's still in the argument he's singing about, Rateliff stays as on-key as autotune. In fact, last night, he didn't miss a single note.

Critic's notebook
Random detail:
Tom Metz, sole member of Iuengliss, looks like he could've stepped directly out of The Wonder Years
By the way: Born in the Flood's set actually served as a showcase for label execs from a pretty prominent major-indie imprint.

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