Sunday, November 20, 2005
I expected a good time. I didn't expect to get the wind knocked out of me.
Before the show, I waited for my drink orders at the bar, with my back to the stage. I heard the typical sounds of a band setting up, cymbals stirring, chairs rustling and guitar plucking. Without warning, Caribou launched its aural attack on the senses. The first wave of drums from Caribou's "Yeti" slammed into my back.
Caribou's rollercoaster set sounded like carousel and music box music with gnashing teeth.
On stage, Caribou founder Dan Snaith manned two sets of drums with Peter Mitton. The dual drumming amplified the calculated laptop tunes from Caribou's latest album, "Milk of Human Kindness." Guitarist Ryan Smith ripped out riffs to challenge and complement the mad drumming. For the concert, Snaith made his pounding music more accessible with breathy vocals and sweet synthetic bleeps and drones like in "Brahminy Kite," and the instrumental-only "Pelican Narrows."
Crude animations danced behind the band. The visuals featured a bird wearing judge robes, a man climbing and falling down stairs, a pig staring the audience down, a man wearing a pig mask and a toy animal band lip-syncing to Caribou's tunes.
During the concert, Snaith and crew played a wild and brilliant game of musical chairs with their instruments. Smith moved his guitar to the side and plunked out chords on the keyboard. Mitton jumped up from his drums and fired up more riffs on the guitar. Snaith played everything. He had his hands on the keyboards, a guitar, a recorder, even a melodian (a keyboard with a tube to blow into).
Caribou left the crowd exhausted and breathless.
Super Furry Animals' set was just as adventurous. The Welsh band took the crowd on a psychedelic trip through Brit pop, funk rhythms and a universe of characters from their warped imagination.
It was a little difficult to settle into the band's mellow vibe after being wrecked by Caribou's intense set. However, the majority of the crowd was loyal SFA fans. Their enthusiasm infected everyone else and the theater was transformed into a hip-bobbing, head-nodding mob.
For the first half, the Welsh band ran through most of the songs from their new album, "Love Kraft." In a BBC interview, lead singer and guitarist Gruff Rhys described the band's new album as a "silver cigar-shape space craft." The music video with "Lazer Beam" was a groovy treat for the eyes. "Ohio Heat" and its guitar and vocal twangs slid into a more indie pop vibe with Midwestern sensibilities.
The bands' catchy guitar riffs and dance-able beats kept the crowd entertained. Rhys wasn't afraid to slip in some gimmicks - from sporting a red Power Rangers helmet to chomping on celery at the mic and spitting the pieces on audience. Vegetables are good for you after all.
Plus Rhys and company (Dafydd Ieuan on the drums, Huw Bunford on the guitar, Cian CiÃ¡rÃ¡n on the keyboard and Gut Pryce on bass) kept the crowd happy by digging into their library of gems like "Receptacle For The Respectable."
Their encore set ran long but it crammed in plenty of old favorites. The Furries ended the show on a political note - video cutting up images including President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. The visuals were set to their closing number, "The Man Don't Give a Fuck."
Overall, a satisfying show. As I walked out into the post-midnight drizzle, I floated on a fuzzy feeling in my stomach.