Photo by Tom Murphy.
Broken Spindles, Red Orange Yellow and We Are! We Are! Saturday, June 21, 2008 Larimer Lounge Better Than: Anything else going on in town this night.
I got to the show a little late, and was relieved to find that We Are! We Are! hadn't played yet. Instead, a “DJ” was playing songs out of his laptop. A three-piece instrumental outfit whose music falls in with the angular post-punk that started to become popular again about seven or eight years ago, We Are!'s clipped rhythms, torrents of riffs and quiet introspective moments, mixed with the jazzy structures, recalled the Minutemen gone post-punk. The disparate elements added some welcome diversity to a field of music where there sure isn’t enough of it. The act moved about the stage like a great hardcore band, with its bass player nearly dancing down on his knees in particularly funky sections of songs, and played incredibly intricate sections of music with an impressive economy of motion -- and made the whole thing look easy.
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Red Orange Yellow took the stage next with little fanfare and proceeded to get right down to business. One thing I appreciate about the band’s aesthetic is how it’s beautifully textured and three-dimensional, rather than being showy. There are honest-to-goodness compositional elements that make each song compelling rather than merely interesting. The band's third song began with a slow crawl of sounds like a primeval cave from which all creation would begin to emerge. Holland Rock-Garden’s sweeping guitar, which he twisted and subtly tweaked with delay, formed a bright center with the synth tones that trickled out from the pool of Moog low end. Overall, the band put in another impressive performance and played with a refreshing level of energy and inventiveness.
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Joel Petersen, who is probably best known for his role as the Faint’s bass player, closed the night out playing by himself with just a Fender Jazzmaster, twin Deluxe Reverb amps, a drum machine, synths and a small bank of guitar pedals. The show began with what sounded like a lo-fi, Kraftwerkian radio transmission drone, only a bit more musical. After that, the music was relatively more conventional with Petersen employing tastefully minimal drum machine sounds to accompany his resonantly ghostly vocals and minimal, atmospheric guitar riffs.
While most of the songs were beautifully spare, some also seemed a bit underdeveloped. Nonetheless, Petersen put on a good performance and ended his set strongly at seven songs instead of dragging things out like some musicians do.
-- Tom Murphy
Personal Bias: We Are! We Are! came highly recommended by a fellow critic. Random Detail: Sam Cat’s Telecaster had interesting semi-oval, colored images on the first five frets of his guitar spanning the middle four strings. By the Way: We Are! We Are!'s CD release show is slated for Friday, July 25, at the Larimer Lounge.