Tuesday, June 30, 2009

sunset rubdown @ the echoplex

Twenty-Third Law of Nerd:The geekiest thing you can possibly do when you're in love with a band is travelling thousands of miles to see them live on the release date of their latest album, telling them, and then blogging about it.

Corollary: I don't care.

The show that Sunset Rubdown bestowed upon LA last Tuesday (one of the brittlest California nights I've experienced) was far more than I ever anticipated. Amid all the hipster sweat and the pungent smell of weed, a charge began to build from the moment I clung to the wall at centre stage. Of course, I didn't know how familiar I was going to be with that wall by the end of the night (read: it proposed; I rejected it), but that's a different story entirely.

First, I'm wary of opening bands. My experiences haven't been of the best, each typically leading to a tiny, logarithmic growth in wariness with each show I attend. (Note: The opening bands for Xiu Xiu in 2008 created a spike on my wary-o-meter akin to how a modern Italian seismologist might have perceived Vesuvius' eruption in 79 AD.) However, openers have been exponentially redeemed in my eyes forever (or, at least, until my next show) by the talented Witchies and the otherworldly Elfin Saddle, both of which boasted a mischievous crackle of energy in their music and a prodigious penchant for multitasking. Of the aforementioned, the latter was my favourite; not only was the array of instrumentation they presented conducive to this orchestra geek's state of near-comatose glee, but the way Elfin Saddle utilised all of their neat toys was beyond impressive. It reminded me of an inside-out Polyphonic Spree: few players, sparse but soaring orchestration, and a kajillion instruments - all of which, amazingly, find purpose. Granted, about half of the songs were in Japanese, but we were assured that if we had questions about the meaning of the lyrics, we could ask after the show. Translation: Even though Emi Honda is absolutely adorable, I couldn't quite muster the courage to do so. I do, however, fully recommend buying their new album, Ringing for the Begin Again. It's pretty fantastic.

This next part will illustrate what I've been struggling with for the past few days. In my mind, there is still no adequate way to portray this show coherently. So, if you don't mind inadequate and incoherent (which you have no obvious issue with if you've read anything else I've written), I'll start from the point at which Sunset Rubdown claimed the stage.

I was pleasantly surprised by the trip back in time to Shut Up I Am Dreaming with "The Empty Threats of Little Lord," followed by a flash-mix of Dragonslayer and Random Spirit Lover. ("Mending of the Gown"? Yes please. Actually, more like "Mending of the Shirt," as the moshing - oh yes, there was moshing, and apparently I shouldn't be surprised by this - grew to an incomprehensible level, leaving me with bruises in the most inconvenient places.) The encore, which consisted of "Us Ones in Between" and the beautifully insane "Nightingale/December Song," sealed the deal: I am irreversibly in love with this band and we should get married.

Space Jungle (the sexy thirty-second "side project" of Sunset Rubdown's Michael Doerksen and Jordan Robson-Cramer) also made an interesting debut, though I refuse to promote them further until they inevitably take over the world.

Also, Spencer Krug seems to have developed his stage persona a bit more since the last time I saw this band live. Not that he has a theatrical alter ego (unless he has a moustache; then, we just call him Pedro), but he looks like he's getting more comfortable with himself on stage. Granted, it might be the addition of Krug's fan to Sunset Rubdown's minimalist prop list ("I want to be forever known as the boy with floofy hair," he jokes), or it could be strength gleaned from the teasing on-stage rivalry with Camilla Wynne Ingr ("He won't let the rest of us have fans on stage"), or it could be that more people are noticing that Mark Nicol plays bass upside down (thank you, m.a.b.). It's hard to tell.

It might simply be the emergence of an era in this band's growth wherein they've learned to deftly snatch up the concept of "just rock" and vow to never let go.

Alas, it was so close to being the perfect concert. It would have been ideal if they would have simply taken the WBH-approved path and played everything Krug has ever written. Twice.

"We'd be here for like, four hours," Krug admonishes the crowd, which elicits the temporal response: "So?" (Or, in more worldly fans: "Only four?")

But it wasn't to be. However, I did enjoy the time I had with them. Apparently, they felt the same way. "Shows are typically seventy- to eighty-percent fun," Krug says. "This show was about ninety percent fun."

WBH caught up with Sunset Rubdown after the show, mostly to gawk and find out whether they glowed in real life. They don't glow, per se, but they will be back in Los Angeles sometime in October (according to Jordan), where an extra dowsing in smog and "marine layer" will definitely aid the glowing process. The fact that they're a group of incredibly cool people can't hurt.

Further illustrating his amusing entrapment in numbers, Krug remarks, "I hear we're about an eight?"

Oh, Spencer. You guys'll always be a ten in my book.

mp3: "The Procession" by Elfin Saddle
mp3: "Silver Moons (live)" by Sunset Rubdown

1 comment:

Scott Ja Melendez said...

I was at this show too! A great show! Although I wish they had switched out Paperlace for Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Oh!
http://swallowedbythecity.blogspot.com/