Sunday, June 11, 2006
I stumbled on the music of Danielson back in Berkeley, when I was a college radio DJ. My boyfriend requested the first song off of the Danielson Family's "Fetch the Compass Kids." In the booth, Daniel Smith's shrill voice rocked out on the speakers, along with a deviant mix of lyrics on proper etiquette and a militant beat on the drums and guitar. "We Don't Say Shut Up" kept me giggling for the rest of the morning. I wondered how Danielson and his family would sound on stage - given their roots in indie rock and Christian pop sentimentality. I found out on Saturday night in Lawrence.
Daytrippers from Wakarusa found their way to the 'Neck. Evan Saatoff kicked off the night. The Lawrence-based artist had an energetic set - intricate guitar work, tight compositions and earnest vocals. He has this sweet and intense lyrical release on "Crisis." He kept his head bent low as he ripped out tense acoustic riffs and it sounded like his voice cracked at the climax. His music had a catchy vibe, but it sounded like there was also an appeal beyond radio-friendly tunes and to something more sophisticated.
On stage, Saatoff said he's a huge fan of Danielson - especially of Daniel Smith's song writing skills.
namelessnumberheadman followed Saatoff's set. This three-man band from Kansas City, MO had pretty piano chords, catchy drum beats and sweet guitar work. Their melodic tunes invoked the intersection of snyth and strings...like a lo-fi version of Postal Service.
Then Danielson took the stage, dolled up in matching boy/girl scout-like uniforms. According to the band's website, the costumes were inspired by the album artwork of their new CD "Ships." What a fun set! They hail from southern New Jersey and they had everyone on the floor bopping heads to their infectious vibe - wholesome lyrics, crazy high-pitched vocals and pounding beats. Their music sounded like the nicest way for a child to throw a tantrum. And you can't ignore Daniel Smith's shrilly voice - intense and loud. I was also tickled by the girls' arm choreography, lyrical and literal. It looked like something straight out of a Mickey Mouse Club episode.
Smith kept the show interactive. The hand clapping parts for the audience almost got complicated - especially when trying to time hand claps with a down beat and an up beat. He was a gracious host on stage and handed out advice on what to do when you offend someone (Smith: "Politely say, "I'm sorry, did I step on your trumpet?") I'll probably try that out some day.
And the encore was a trip...Smith took on a request for a sing along. After teaching everyone the lyrics, he asked for some disco ball action at the end of the song. Apparently, that wasn't possible and it looked like the night would have evolved into what Smith's would describe as the "saddest night ever without flashing lights." The sound crew figured out how to deliver flashing lights for the grand finale. The hip kids on the floor sang along while Daniel Smith and Danielson kept it light on the love, heavy on the beats. The evening ended on a fuzzy note.
I left the Bottleneck giggling...just like my first encounter with Danielson.