Over the weekend: Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story) at the Bluebird

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Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story), The Knew, Jim McTurnan and the Kids That Killed the Man
October 24, 2009
Bluebird Theater
Just Like:

This was the final moment of Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story), the last song in a too-short set that was just long enough for the band to play every song they know. And we were down to something like one guitar and one keyboard and eight voices singing their souls ragged, and if you closed your eyes you could feel it. There is something in this world that connects us all. You're welcome to call it God or fate or goodness or whatever you want, but it's there and it's the reason we slog through our days. And finding that thing and holding it for a few seconds or minutes, that was why Everything Absent or Distorted existed in the first place. They got there, to transcendence, more often than most bands but especially right then during their last song ever. If you closed your eyes you could actually feel it in your spine: This is why pop music matters.

Not that the final show was perfect. The wheels started threatening to fall off immediately, when Andy Maher started spraying beer all over everything. From there, equipment broke down and people missed entrances and the beleaguered mikes started crackling. All of which didn't much matter, partly because there was always someone there to pick up the slack in this band but more because that was all part of the experience. In their lyrics and at their shows, Everything Absent was a band that was perpetually throwing all the logs on the fire at once and letting that motherfucker burn.

In a black-and-white sense, Everything Absent or Distorted was an exceptionally good band that nevertheless could be mistaken for less talented or polished version of the Arcade Fire or Broken Social Scene or any number of apocalyptic pop collectives. At a casual listen, those comparisons make a lot of sense. But they are missing the point. Everything Absent was never trying to make it big or make great art or important music or anything. No, all they were interested in was trying to make sense of life, for themselves and the people they love. Granted, that's true of most bands or artists of any kind on some level, but this band was remarkable in that it never once seemed to be interested in anything else. Will I lose you completely if I say that they were pure?

Jim McTurnan and the Kids That Killed the Man opened. They're still looking for a permanent second guitarist, but the three of them kicked ass anyway. Think Mudhoney without the emotional baggage. The Knew followed with some long-hair garage rock 'n roll. Not that either set wasn't good, but it seems wrong to say much about them. This was Everything Absent or Distorted's night, from the time the doors opened until the house lights came up at 12:45 and Maher, shirtless, lingered on stage holding his banjo and a pedal as though unsure what he should do now.

Personal Bias:
The most ridiculous thing about how much I love this band is that if you broke the music into descriptive bullet points I would find nothing to like. What I'm saying is it's not about taste.
Random Detail: Props to Man-killing bassist Josh Wambke on his HEALTH t-shirt.
By The Way: EAOD released its final record, The Lucky One at the show. They gave out a hundred free copies, and it will be available online shortly. You should get it as soon as you humanely can because it's really freaking good.

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