The Tanukis, Ukelele Loki and Chairlift at the Larimer Lounge 7/5/07

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Slide Show

The Tanukis, Ukulele Loki and Chairlift July 7, 2007 The Larimer Lounge Better Than: Eating dinner. Seriously, I skipped dinner to see this show.

Sometimes the best shows are the ones that you go to on a whim, where you’ve never heard any of the bands before and end up stumbling on some unexpected gems. That’s an apt description of how things worked out last night at the Larimer Lounge.

I strolled in sort of late and was immediately awed by Era S, the Tanukis’s vocalist, a deep-throated vixen who pounded the piano furiously and belted across the lounge like she was wrangling cattle. Her practiced voice, half Tori Amos and half Cabaret, could have captivated an opera house as she let it trounce up and down the scales as easily as her hands slid the length of the piano. The Tanukis’s last songs, sung in Era’s native Russian, straddled the line of gypsy folk and all-out rock, and left me with my jaw on the floor, where it would remain for the rest of the evening.

Ukulele Loki took the stage next with his Gadabout Orchestra and showed the Lounge exactly how amazing a circus sideshow act can be. Straight out of the ´30s, Loki and his boys played a clean, crisp set of folk/ragtime/swing that can’t be heard anywhere else in Denver. It was like a soundtrack to a silent movie, or the kind of music you’d hear if you took a gondola ride with a beautiful girl you were smitten by. But Loki and company only set the stage for what was to come from Chairlift.

Originally, the members of Chairlift were just another couple of CU kids with a few instruments playing songs. But Boulder was obviously not the incubator for Chairlift and its soft, emotionally mechanical pop. So off to Brooklyn it was for the group. Now a year later, the act -- who recently signed with Kanine Records, also home to Grizzly Bear -- finds itself in the midst of a coast-to-coast tour, which included this homecoming stop in Colorado. The subtleness of Chairlift’s songs left nothing to the imagination and the perfect harmonies of guitarist Aaron Pfenning and keyboard queen Caroline Polachek in turn left listeners gasping for breath. The unfortunately sparse crowd was just begging to dance all night and Chairlift finally cracked the shell, picturesquely getting the girls spinning and the guys bouncing, singing about frozen strawberries with the last song, “Bruises.” -- Taylor Sullivan

Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: None, I had never seen or really explored any of these bands before tonight. Random Detail: The Tanukis’ PR guy should refrain from doing so many shots at the bar before attempting to represent them.

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