Young Windows, Buildings bring the big guns to the Turf Club

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Andrew Flanagan
Anyone in these cities claiming to like The Loud Stuff that hasn't seen Buildings is a poser. Drummer Travis Kuhlman is like a million octopi playing Boom Ball©, lobbing density while Nate Smith's bass is all serration and chest, giving you those ear itchies. Singer and guitarist Brian Lake has a wicked caterwaul and writes headpunch hooks (as in marlin fishing), and the band's earnest...and how. You get a sense that even if they weren't as good as they are, they'd still be at it. Which would suck. But they are as good as they are, and play shows all the time, and your excuses run out.

Vibes cooled after Buildings, the next two bands reeling in the significant slack on the aggro line between the opener and Young Widows. The five-piece Phantom Family Halo took down the house lights for a projector glow, hiding in the black or stark white with a synth-heavy setup (side note: the guitarist kept his tulip glass of beer on top of his amp and I thought "be careful!" -- but soon realized these guys were chill, not gonna knock over a beer). Taking the stage in the dark as a church bell box-drone strobe light psych freakness began, they opened with a fade-in chant, and oscillated between hippie-with-a-knife and palms-up rock, their sound amalgamated from Clinic and/or Suicide and/or the "lovely" lo-fi four-tracked trend sweeping the nation and/or psych bands with modern gear...all or none of this, except filled out and postured pitch-perfect. The dancing girl in the nice black dress was feeling it, all up and down and free as if Jefferson Airplane was whispering on her shoulder. They faded out as they faded in, quiet "thank you" and broke down, and people walked outside for cigarettes.

I had spent the last week listening to these bands because I was looking forward to this show, My Disco in particular, and I had liked what I heard: a steady near-monotone bass and dense percussion and guitar screech, all driving like an asphalt roller. At the first strum, loud doesn't really begin to cover it: I've never been one for the earplugs, but even with overly fancy dampeners jammed in I could feel my tinnitus near tears. The opening song was maybe five minutes of one to three notes in a loop, African pop drum kit rolling along in an attempt at hypnosis -- their bio calls them "stentorian" live and that's 100% accurate -- but the hypnosis didn't connect for me. Notes taken during the clockwork:

  • This music would be perfect for a breakup conducted on the internet
  • A friend suggests: "you should just write the same word over and over again...that would be an accurate description of their set."
And after: people yawned and long-blinked. It's weird for a whole show's worth of people to need coffee; I see where they were going and if I had had some Nyquil I would probably have a very different opinion of their live show.

Photo by Andrew Flanagan
Young Widows
Photo by Andrew Flanagan
Young Widows
And so, slowly but surely, Young Widows brought out the big guns (after at least two cancellations here last year, frustrating people as they spread the word), getting early birds in front of the stage and people's heart rates re-established. Guitarist and hollerer Evan Patterson's pedal set up looked like it could launch a rocket, and I'll admit to having no idea what was going on there except the generation of that particular chunk-behind-a-spiderweb sound. The effect of their amps lighting up at the first note like a goddamn Star Destroyer is not to be understated.

The Turf went from black to eclipse, the audience blooming in smiles and head thrash. Everyone in Young Widows oozes professional, cool-as-cukes; meanwhile the music makes you want to stare at the ground and shake all frantic like in those clips of African ritual dance. The vocals could've been louder, guitar clearer, and no one cared. This is a capital-b Band, they're good and they're forward and they know exactly what they're doing -- a no-brainer. I bought a t-shirt.

Download: A recording Friday night's show by omnipresent showgoer and bootlegger John Empty of Empty's Tapes.

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