September began auspiciously, with an epic night (the 4th) of indie rock and minimal techno. It was, in some ways, a reminder of summer, with two artists that had performed free outdoor shows a month or so before, and a DJ set that was relocated after Studio B's closing. The first stop, however, was NYU's Kimmel Center, for the annual mystery concert.
Pattern is Movement
I always thought that Philly's Pattern is Movement was a full band, based on some peripheral listens of their new one, All Together. Turns out it's just two guys, both with serious beards, who make percussive, off-kilter indie rock. Singer Andrew Thiboldeaux's mournful timbre surrounded the jerky, almost mechanical drumming of Chris Ward. It was solid, and perhaps the only misstep was trying to get the crowd to sing along with the almost operatic "Right Away." It didn't really work out, but the duo lived up to their dynamic name.
Official Site: Pattern is Movement
You may remember that I left a French Kick's show back in August a bit early. Perhaps the new venue did them some good - the crowd spent these two opening sets seated - and being further back gave me more appreciation for the band's big-venue aspirations. The multi-part vocals managed to fill out the room nicely, and while the band still doesn't stick out in the crowded indie rockosphere, my opinion of them definitely improved over the course of the performance.
MP3: French Kicks - Abandon
MySpace: French Kicks
Official Site: French Kicks
Broken Social Scene
It's feast and famine with these guys. The set started off stupendously, with the brilliant "Stars and Sons" and a massive "7/4 (Shoreline)" that featured Elizabeth Powell of Land of Talk on female vox, and the rolicking "Fire Eye'd Boy." Then came the obligatory solo stuff, which is fine and all, but not nearly as engrossing as the classics. The silver lining was "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl," stripping down the cacophony for simple guitar lines (Jimmy Shaw of Metric was on one of these), and that aching refrain: "Stop that car/drop that phone/sleep on the floor/dream about me." Amazing stuff, but then things stalled again, with Kevin Drew inviting a random NYU student to jam of the band. There was a raucous finale, with the crowd ambling on-stage and freaking, but that was it. Looking at the setlist and what they skipped ("Ibi Dreams!" "Lover's Spit!") makes me sad, but I'm tough to please when it comes to bands I adore. They'll be back for CMJ, not sure if I'll be there yet.
MP3: Brendan Canning - Hit The Wall
MySpace: Broken Social Scene
Official Site: Broken Social Scene
And then, for something completely different. Ellen Allien will always hold a special place in my musical heart for the sublime electronic and pop-crossover album Orchestra of Bubbles, with Appart. Her new one, SOOL, unfortunately sheds much of the vibrancy for a minimal, cold sound, and her DJ set at Highline Ballroom was more along those lines. But when it comes to creating atmosphere, Ellen's peerless, and her selections were impeccable. They were also totally over my head, aside from the timely opener "Sleepless," which features her own eerie vocals. It wasn't a dance banger, but it was cerebral, melodic and enveloping. Absolutely check out her Fabric mix and the rest of her discography; it's incredible.
MP3: Ellen Allien & Apparat - Do Not Break
MySpace: Ellen Allien
Official Site: Ellen Allien
It's kind of weird that Modeselektor "headlined," as they're actually on Ellen's own BPitch Control imprint, but in terms of aesthetics, it made sense. The amount of bass in the room shot up hugely, as did the energy. It was now past 2 am, and I was slowly passing out on the dance floor - through no fault of the guys onstage - but I stuck around for as long as I could, and by all respects it looked like a banger. Alas, with class the next day, I had to head out prematurely, but I could hear the boom from blocks away.