Pictureplane, Josephine and the Mousepeople and Yukon
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Better Than: A fun, sweaty show when the heat was a lot more oppressive earlier this summer.
The first time I saw Josephine and the Mousepeople, it was briefly at Louis Vuitton Night in June, and I didn’t feel like I got to see enough to form a real opinion. When the group opened this show, I have to admit that I didn’t like what it was doing right away. Avi sounded to me a little like Tiny Tim with an acoustic guitar. But this is the kind of band that grows on you quickly as the set goes on, and by the end of the second song, I was a fan.
Turns out Avi is one of the very few people who can pull off falsetto and make it one of the most emotionally powerful, heartbreaking things you’ve ever heard. Danberry’s guitar work at first sounded off key to me but it really worked in the context of the band’s songwriting just as the strong smell in a perfume formula would — alone it can be off putting but with everything else, it becomes memorable.
This duo uses samples of a full range of instruments but also plays a wide range of live instruments, including electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and drums. A lot of bands who try this kind of thing don’t bother with drums, especially when there’s good sampled drums available or an adequate drum machine. Apparently, however, nobody alerted Avi and Danberry to the fact that if you have the one, you don’t need the other.
Avi didn’t have a conventionally good voice but he had that unique quality that so many people strive for but few actually possess and he delivered each line with the confidence of someone who is nearly too shy to pull it off but also too driven by their need for self-expression not to. The result was truly unique pop music that was as exhilaratingly danceable as it was infused a spirit to kindle the imagination. Inevitable comparisons to Bright Eyes will occur but this band is in a class of its own.
A three-piece from Baltimore, Yukon consists of a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer who did most of the vocals. The act struck me as sort of proggy, but that impression could come from the fact that at times I thought the music was a little busy. Overall, Yukon reminded me of some guys who were inspired by Fugazi, the Locust and Pinback. The muscular yet trebly bass lines and streaming, slashing guitar sounds periodically created a compelling tension in the music. The outfit’s finest moment was its final song and the dark, menacing mood it carried. When the elaborate sonic textures kicked in, it added to the overall atmosphere of the song rather than pulled away from any vibe the band attempted.
Pictureplane closed out the night with a short but energetic set that began with one of Travis Egedy’s best songs, “Day Glowwed,” which got the room moving like it actually wasn’t past midnight on a Tuesday. Egedy seemed to be in an exceptionally good mood, and that translated to the mood of the audience and the overall ambiance throughout all four songs he performed.
More than ever, this show made me realize how well Egedy weaves together the various sounds in his palette. Effervescent tones swim within dreamy passages, bumping along to expertly executed beats and low end. In Egedy’s hands, music that could be merely excellent trance seems to dance energetically with itself, carrying everyone along with it. He really knows how to add and remove sounds to great artistic effect and get the audience going, let them rest and then push them further than they think they can go with the music. All of the shows I’ve seen him perform have been celebratory in character and for this one, he reached a new peak and left everyone who stayed feeling good.
-- Tom Murphy
Personal Bias: Pictureplane has written some of my favorite music of all time.
Random Detail: Ran into artists Kristy Fenton and Mario Zoots at the show.
By the Way: Two or three other bands cancelled but that made everything seem to breathe a little easier.
This is the 32 in a series of what was supposed to be thirty consecutive shows that Tom Murphy (overachiever) is planning on attending. His whole idea is to prove that there's cool stuff going on any night of the week in Denver, if you bother to make any effort whatsoever to find it. He suggested naming this series, "This Band Could Be Your Life," a fitting designation to be sure. Since there's already a similarly titled book, however, we opted to file these entries under Last Night's Show -- you know, to avoid being sued an all. (Sorry, Tom.)