Wednesday 23 February 2011

Blonde Redhead, Deerhunter, Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti

by liza

Better late than never for a review I suppose -- Contrarede's 4AD evening was Jan. 24 at O-East in Shibuya.

Ariel Pink was the opener at this sold-out show. I arrived a little late, perhaps slowed down by the weight of my expectations. I was a little underwhelmed by Mr. Pink, unfortunately. I loved the sparkly outfits, but I felt like the true heft of their psychedelia was not translating to the audience. Was the venue too big? The sound not up loud enough? The mix a bit mushy? Still, mediocre Ariel Pink is better than most, so it was great to see them.

Deerhunter was like a never-ending sonic boom following Ariel Pink. Most of the set was off their most recent and in my opinion their best, "Halcyon Digest." The lighting was gorgeous and made the whole experience enthralling. I love their albums but didn't expect much of the live show; I am always happy to be proven wrong though. I also saw one of the Deerhunter guys at that ramen shop with the veggie gyoza down the street from the Shibuya O's after the show and he was very nice!

Finally. Finally! Blonde Redhead! 1997's "Fake Can Be Just as Good" was probably my favorite album to play on my college radio show, and Kazu and the twins have provided the backdrop to more angsty evenings than I care to admit to.

Live, they're absolutely gorgeous: Kazu's voice is fragile, feminine and tough all at once, and watching them onstage is visually intoxicating. Again, the lighting really added to this sensation. The set started out with simulated candlelight and moved into bold, changing colors.

The set was mostly newer songs, which is to be expected I know, but the geezer in me was really cheering for older stuff. I think it was around 10 songs which strikes me as a short set for artists with such an amazing catalog. At the end of it, I could see from my up-front vantage point that they were reluctant to do an encore; perhaps Kazu's throat hurt? They obliged with one song anyway. I know Kazu still feels nervous about performing so we should be happy they go on at all. Kazu spoke some Japanese in between songs which seemed to surprise the crowd.

All in all, it would have taken a lot for me not to enjoy this show with the likes of these artists, but there were definitely things I would've liked to see done differently. What did everyone else think? Did anyone go to the solo shows?

(Blonde Redhead, in iPhone vision)

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