Saturday, May 3, 2008

Photos: Anna Kramer / Tenement Halls / Jeffrey Butzer (The Earl 5/2/08)

Some nights, the weird just comes out of the woodwork. Last night was one of those nights. It wasn't the full moon, though it was close; no odd astrological forces were at work of which I was aware. Maybe everyone started celebrating Cinco de Mayo just a little early. Either way, East Atlanta and the Earl gave us a night of good music peppered with a healthy dose of the bizarre.

It began before we even got inside. On our way up the street into the venue, we passed Bradford Cox giggling ecstatically on the sidewalk with a friend. Weird thing #1.

We met Jeffrey, who is very nice, before his set began. He started with his solo material, then was joined by his live band, Midwives. The stuff he plays alone or with one other person by way of accompaniment is played on multiple key instruments at the same time. He's like a one-man band with help. A percussionist assists on xylophone while he mans the keyboard, toy piano, melodica, high hat w/ tambourine and kick drum all by himself. It has a creepy film noir circus waltz quality to it, like a stripped down Dresden Dolls, really compelling in a sort of old abandoned porcelain doll kind of way. Nostalgic, like. And totally instrumental. When Midwives joined him, the tone changed completely, morphing into a maybe more straightforward rockabilly idea, stand-up bass and all. Jeffrey switched to guitar. Both incarnations impressed me a lot.

Jeffrey Butzer with Midwives:

The diminutive Jeffrey stood on his stool so he could be eye-to eye with his bassist.

Tenement Halls is the new-ish project of Chris Lopez from the now-defunct Rock*A*Teens. The band plays smart, bouncy pop rock with a penchant for a wall-of-sound aesthetic and adorned with generous helpings of distortion and reverb. I liked them too.

Tenement Halls:

At this point there were a few individual, unrelated and inappropriately drunk people dancing feverishly in the audience. One of them, a short, boundary-less girl kept on violating our personal bubbles, offering my roommate drinks and taking the cigarette out of her friend's hand to smoke it without his permission. Weird thing #2. It wasn't even that late. This one guy toward the front was jerking around to the music with so much determination it seemed his limbs might detach themselves from his body.

Before Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause hit the stage, they entertained us during set change by projecting an old Loony Toons episode on the screen. It was the one where Daffy was "Super Duck," and the Earl had it turned up excruciatingly loud. Weird thing #3. The night was starting to get overwhelming.

I am endlessly impressed with Anna Kramer. Each member of this band effing wails. They play like their very lives depend on it, hopelessly tight, energetic and brilliant. Two thumbs up.

Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause:

Adam Renshaw kills me when he plays drums. His mouth almost never closes, but he doesn't look ridiculous so much as....fucking ecstatic. It's incredible to watch. Shannon Mulvaney kicks around as he plays his bass lines, the ones that never stop moving, his fingers blurring in front of my eyes. (On the band's MySpace page, Shannon's job description is "bass, theatrics, flawless tap dancing." Yes.)

And then there's Anna, who is one of the hardest-rocking female musicians I've ever seen. Endless respect for her.

During this set, however, the weirdness kept right on going. Two or three newcomers to the crowd had obviously been elsewhere "having fun," and one of them proceeded to walk right to the front of the stage and vomit all over the floor and in her own hair, which she kept flinging around. It was disgusting. Weird thing #4. She wouldn't even consent to leave the crowd when her friend tried to pull her out. We relocated. Then, apparently there was a fistfight at the back of the crowd. More alcohol, I imagine. Weird thing #5. We decided to quit while we were ahead and vacated the premises. You woulda done the same.

Outside, some people were getting arrested. Maybe the ones in the fight. Weird thing #6. We pretty much ran away.

[MP3] Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause - "Da Da Rock"


Rich said...

Good grief. At least you got to see Anna. Love, love that band.

By the way, Tenement Halls isn't so new anymore. Their record came out on Merge back in 2005. Hard to believe it's been that long!

Juliar said...

Yeah, I was sorry we had to leave before their set was over, but uh, it was time.... haha