Mazzy Star at Mill City Nights, 11/12/13
|via Mazzy Star's Facebook|
|This is not a photograph from last night. There was no photography allowed.|
with Psychic Ills
Mill City Nights, Minneapolis
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
A video that could have been anything from found footage to a clip from a Dario Argento film was projected on the back wall at Mill City Nights on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, Mazzy Star, the leading purveyors of psychedelia-dusted dream pop in the 1990s, assembled themselves on stage for 80 minutes that was at turns both powerful and puzzling. While the band has lost nothing in the way of direction or songcraft -- the latter of which is, and always has been, fairly fantastic -- the song choices and their placement made things a bit clunky at times.
With a 17-year gap in recorded material -- this year's Seasons of Your Day was the first since 1996's Among My Swan -- it could stand to reason that the band would have some significant rust. They got things going without even so much as a tiny hiccup with "Look on Down from the Bridge" and "Cry, Cry," which served to quiet the fairly noisy room. The band commanded attention with singer Hope Sandoval's languid, hypnotizing voice and guitarist David Roback's spare, ethereal guitar work. "In the Kingdom" from the new release shushed anyone oblivious enough to still be conversing and with that, the crowd was in rapt attention. Sadly, it couldn't last for the entire night.
The transitions from song to song began to undermine the show's potential for greatness as the middle of the set approached. If you were to put a show on a graph (and to be fair, you probably shouldn't) it should resemble a bell curve with regard to intensity and overall energy level. However, Tuesday's show would have had a jagged, wildly fluctuating path. The transitions started to make less and less sense -- the switch from a soul-melting version "She Hangs Brightly" to what shook out to be a just an ok version of "Fade Into You" the night's foremost example -- and the waters started to muddy a bit.
The night's main set wrapped up with a phenomenal version of "Blue Flower" and "Disappear," though once again the pairing highlighted the transition problem that plagued the set's second half. Though the first half was stronger than expected -- which is to say it was essentially note-perfect -- the band lost the plot a bit as the show progressed. The encore did nothing to repair it, it only managed to further confuse things.
The band had taken a several-minute break and came back out to much cheering as they offered "California" in all of it's hazy, sunny glory. They chose "So Tonight That I Might See," the title track to their 1993 breakthrough, as the closer, however, and it proved to be a large misstep.