Thursday, July 1, 2010

Future Islands / Lonnie Walker / Lower Dens / Whatever Brains at the Berkeley Cafe - 5/4/2010


Future Islands
with Lonnie Walker, Lower Dens and Whatever Brains
Berkeley Cafe
5/4/2010

I couldn't tell you the last time I lasted through a four band night...probably Mergefest. And like those nights, you withstood the discomfort of being fat, old and uncomfortable because the bands were so goddamn awesome.

Right when I walked in Whatever Brains started playing. I wasn't sure if they were going to be there, as they were listed on the bill, and then they were removed, but luckily that information was incorrect. As I've stated before, they remind me a lot of the Fall, if the Fall had a fairly normal singer and not crazy-ass Mark E. Smith. I was watching them with my man Ivan and he seems to think they have a Gang Green thing going on, but I don't really see it. But he's actually a musician so maybe you should take his word for it over mine. It was a short set, but good. They manage to sound tight and unhinged at the same time, a great trait in a band.

I was kinda freaked out the entire time Baltimore's Lower Dens played - the singer was the spitting image of the cute nerdy girl from "Real Genius" and I couldn't concentrate on the music as much as I should have. Val Kilmer was nowhere to be seen though, so at least we had that going for us. My best approximation of their sound is "what if Siouxsie & the Banshees became a krautrock band?" And then there was that one song that sounded exactly like Love & Rockets. They were definitely one of those bands that I was really neither here nor there about for the first few songs, but they really grew on me and I was loving it by the end of their set.

The non-organ version of Lonnie Walker was next on the slate. It was great as always, but I'm really missing how that organ softened out their sound in all the right places. The set was very Lonnie Walker-y, catchy and excitable and the crowd ate it up. I see them so often it would be really easy to take them for granted, but they are still one of the best bands going in the Triangle.

Finally, the headliners Future Islands came on. Have I mentioned that their newest record "In Evening Air" is easily the best record of 2010? Well, it is, and I love it so much I don't see that changing before the end of the year. It is brilliant from start to finish, and my only gripe is the run time is way too short. then again, you always want to leave them wanting more I guess.

Despite the fact that Future Islands play here all the time, I'd somehow never managed to see them perform...as great as their record is the live show is even better. Shut off the house lights, place a few spots on the ground shining up at the band, and let the party commence. It was easily the most dancing I've ever seen at a show, and the best time I've had the Berkeley Cafe since watching SCW wrestling there in the mid-nineties. People were throwing glow sticks all around the crowd, the band released some balloons, and it turned into a rave for the indie rock set. If Joy Division were reincarnated as a dance band, this would be it, only they sound like they got Al Johnson from U.S. Maple to do the singing and maybe have some inclinations to sound like Erasure from time to time. In other words, completely awesome through and through.

I left covered in sweat from dancing too much, ears ringing from a lack of earplugs, and a huge smile on my face that didn't leave for days. Upon exit saw a dude sprawled out on the sidewalk - not sure if he was attacked by another person or a gravity/booze combo. I'm going to pretend he was floored by the amazing show that just happened to his face, and his legs couldn't take any more.

(photo ganked online from somewhere other than my camera)

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