Greetings once more cyberspace! How lovely you all look today and, may I say, how fine your fingers feel caressing my smooth keyboard. Last week I set out to address some of the big questions in life – Does God Exist? Are Hawkwind Actually Any Good? Does God Like Hawkwind? What’s For Dinner Anyway? Is This Chicken Thing Still Good? Well, I’m delighted to say that this week I obtained further proof that we are not alone in this small section of the multi-verse.
It was a long hard weekend for the Moist Graffiti krew. We sent the Mother of Dragons to entertain Cut Copy at the Warehouse Live with her delightful knowledge of synth-pop and continent-exploring expense account. We sent Sir Francis Drako to cast an eye over the latest Washed Out rumble at Fitzgerald’s. Sadly he did not make it back from that violent, seething mass of humanity – a loss that has greatly saddened the Moist Graffiti community. Please send donations in lieu of flowers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your humble correspondent would have loved to have attended either show, unfortunately as I was driving down to Fitzgerald’s I was accosted by a group of crazed, fun-loving Eastern Europeans. They simply would not take no for an answer, and so I spent Saturday night hooked up to an IV of bootleg šljivovica discussing the intricacies of each of the leading European soccer leagues. By 5pm on Sunday, having finally laid to rest the question of whether Alexandre Mesa Roncero still has the pace to anchor the flat back three favored by Atletic Club Escaldes these days, or whether his recent disciplinary problems indicate that he just doesn’t have the legs to play that position anymore, and that young Ruben Box Chacon, who excelled at right back during an injury-enforced spell earlier in the season, should be given the space to claim the role for himself, I was finally ready to call it a day. Then, as I was drifting off into a plum-flavored sleep I had a visit from my spirit animal, which changed my perception of the world completely…
She hovered in front of me in the form of an Afghan, her long blond coat shimmering in the twilight as her elegant nose awoke me from my slumber with a wet nuzzle. “Hey, would you like to see an LSU fan humiliate himself?” she said. “I live in Houston,” I replied “All I need to do is drive down along I-10 to see LSU fans humiliate themselves with their inability to pay due care and attention to all other road users, maintain the proper speed and travel in any vehicle smaller than a jacked up Ford F-750“. “No silly”, she pixie dusted, “I’m talking about this…”
I was speechless. It was so obvious. My spirit animal had revealed the truth to me! Dinosaurs… LSU… humiliation – Dinosaurs die, turn into oil, which turns into gas, which comes from Houston, and is found using maps, which are made by cartographers in Austin, who come in useful after natural disasters, like Mardi Gras, which is in New Orleans, like LSU – she was guiding me to go to the Geographer concert at Fitzgerald’s on their tour that would take them from Austin to New Orleans!!! “Yes”, I said, “Yes, I will, yes!!”. I leapt out of the bathtub and retrieved Dr Socktopus from the medicine cabinet the Europeans had rudely locked him in. The Doctor has recently fallen under the sway of a faith healer demi-god called Minus El Iam and has taken to scavenging alternative medicines from other people’s bathrooms to use in ritualistic cleansing ceremonies. I keep telling them that off-label uses for common medication is not what is commonly meant by the term “alternative medicine”, but they keep up their investigations regardless. The three of us climbed into El Iam’s chariot, along with a random stranger whose life the healers were trying to enlighten. Doors were at 7pm. If we hurried, we might just make it…
All signs were promising. Doors at 7pm, first band at 8pm, headliner at 9pm, early night before work on Monday filing the Moist Graffiti updates for the week, excellent. A few Corpse Revivers helped pass the time before a few more got us into the mood to party, and a few more had me back to the level of seeing my Afghan again. “Call me Generic Flower,” she said “and prepare for the night of your life”. “Why are you making out with the wall?” asked Yahweh. It had been a long weekend, and an even longer hour.
Eventually, the opening act, Royal Bangs, took the stage at ~9pm. “Man, it’s like watching a Danny Brown concert” old-manned Dr Socks. The MG research department had excelled itself prepping for this concert. First they produced 300 pages printed off the internet on Local Bangs. These were filed for future use, and the interns sent back to the googles. Finally they came up with the following from Spotify – “Sounds Like FIDLAR, TuNe-YaRds, Girls, Real Estate, Hospitality, Waaves, St Vincent and David Byrne”. From this helpful list we can discern that they are probably white and make music. Thanks Spotify.
Royal Bands were pretty good. I’d say more of a Dismemberment Plan meets Local Natives for a knife fight in a Sur La Table. They had a fun IKEA-inspired light show, excellent beards and just the right amounts of guitar and synth interaction. Definitely one of the more enjoyable openers I’ve seen this year, slotting in below Foxygen, but above Lord Huron. I’ll definitely check them out before the MG Spotify free account trial period resets in another 25 days. Even more impressively for those of us with demanding day jobs <ahem>, they played for a brisk 40 mins or so and broke the equipment down quickly, allowing the headliner to get set up and onstage by 10.15 or so. “G_d bless America,” whispered Generic Flower.
Geographer are an amazing live band, and this show was the best I’ve ever seen them. Amusingly, they’ve all been at Fitzgerald’s. I saw them support Stars 3 years ago, all crowded into one tiny corner of the main stage, sonically brilliant, but somewhat cramped and constrained in their stage presence. Last year, they played Fitz downstairs opening for Freelance Whales and blew them offstage with a much improved stage presence and bigger sound. This year, headlining upstairs at Fitz, they really took it to the next level (pun intended), both musically and stage commandeering-wise. Geographer are a three-piece band that sound like an indie electro pop orchestra. If I were a wikipedia contributor I’d be rewriting the page on 3 piece band line ups to describe their uniqueness.
They consist of a drummer with a kit, a sampler and a laptop; an electric cellist with another synth or two; and the lead singer/ chief Geographer Mike Deni on synth, sampler, guitar, cow bell, cymbals and crowd surfing. They make beautiful, bowel shaking synth pop with a huge dynamic range, soaring melodies and seamless instrument switching. It blows my mind how they create this experience live, but somehow they manage. Yes, they trigger a bunch of pre-recorded samples to link pieces together, but they also create and loop live samples on the fly while dancing their way through intricate, poly-rhythmic songs that ebb and flow organically, despite the weight of all the electronics. These are not your average Two Door Cinema Club, use some backing tracks to link together songs Johnny-come-latelys. They are simply one of the most technically proficient bands out there today. The plate-spinning act is made even more delightful by frontman Mike’s newfound penchant for wandering around the stage with the mic or a cowbell, grinning gleefully at the audience and slapping hi-fives with the front row before sprinting back to the keys just in the nick of time to cue the next sample… You should already be listening to this band, and if you get a chance, do yourself a favor and go see them live. You can even borrow Generic Flower to take along if you’d like. It’s a mentally, emotionally and colonically draining experience, but if you don’t leave there grinning like a loon with a newly rekindled love of music and humanity and a faith in the future then you might already be so dead that not even Minus El Iam can cure you.
It seems churlish to say anything negative about the experience, but as I have my own blog I’m going to go for it anyway. Some of my favorite Geographer songs come from the first album, Innocent Ghosts, and feature a female lead vocal track and strong harmonies – “Caught A Fire” and particularly “Wonderful”. It seems that this stretches the limits of what the band can recreate live, and so they don’t play them anymore, but damn! What amazing songs to have in your back pocket. My final complaint is even nerdier – last time I saw them Mike busted out the melodica for “Rushing In Rushing Out”(?). This time – no melodica!! So sad!!!
Anyway, I have no idea of how long they played, or what songs, or why I didn’t end up buying a t-shirt, just that I touched the lead singer when he crowd surfed, that I didn’t realize a cello could make your duodenum shake so awesomely and that after Generic Flower led me home and I finally collapsed into an exhausted sleep-like trance that it took 48 hrs for the smile to fade from my face.
Moist Graffiti Rating
Venue: Upstairs, Fitzgerald’s Houston. Starting an hour late on a Sunday = not cool: 79.46
Audience: Mixed blend or kids and spirit animals, with an enthusiastic fist-pumping section: 91.35
Songs: Dynamically soaring beasts of awesomeness: 97.82
Band: Incredibly technically proficient, but with a real human touch beneath the gadgetry: 95.44
Lack of melodica: -1
Existence of ethereal realm proved by spirit animal: +2
MG Rating: 92.018
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