All photos by Laura Musselman. Click the photo to view a slideshow of Gang Gang Dance's set. Click here for a slideshow of openers Ariel
All photos by Laura Musselman. Click the photo to view a slideshow of Gang Gang Dance's set. Click here for a slideshow of openers Ariel Pink and Mick Barr.
Gang Gang Dance
June 14, 2007
Better Than: Dr. Gene Scott and his Monkey Band
Gang Gang Dance has never been so easy to classify. Over time, from album to album, it has manifested into something else and it’s always become something that we’ve never really heard before. Between 2005’s God’s Money – easily the most accessible of the lot – and the spliced audio collage on their recently released CD/DVD Retina Riddim, the group has had time to hone musical techniques, and become acutely aware of how to reformat or reconfigure their past work into something entirely new. And it ain’t your typical bread-n-butter remix, mind you.
For forty-five minutes, the New York-based quartet stunned the captive audience with mostly seamless set, segueing one song into another, like a DJ who used keyboards, drums (lots of 'em), and guitar instead of mixers and slabs of wax. Most times it was flawless. But there were a few times when that cohesive mix just fell off, when the mostly banter-less, ghostly lead singer Lizzie Bougatsos would chime in, “we’re still working out.” It didn’t matter. A little break from the onslaught of the band’s tribal trance groove, delayed phantom vocals, and spacey synth noise couldn’t hurt - unless your intention was to dance non-stop, which only a handful actually did. Most of the crowd just swayed to the beats and noise hitting them full-force on the chest.
Although most of songs throughout the set felt like entirely new and invigorating tribal-dance manifested creations filled with UK grime and straight up techno beats (including one that I noted was “the darkest, wickedest song I’ve heard in years”), the band retained their familiar formula towards the end of the set with “Ego War” and “Before My Voice Fails,” both of which garnered the night’s loudest applause.
L.A.’s lo-fi rock pixie Ariel Pink came with a full band in tow, including a drummer playing on a programmable electronic kit, two guitarists, and a bassist. In the beginning, he impishly carried his small frame through the front of the crowd, and near the soundboard, before returning onstage in front of his miniscule keyboard (and lyric sheets to a few songs he hadn’t quite memorized). He and his band stormed through a very short, but entirely charming set of mid ‘80s-inspired lo-fi pop weirdness. Mick Barr’s virtuoso solo axe-shredding, quite simply, made my fingers hurt.
Personal Bias: I once made of maximum bid of $40 on eBay for their extremely limited, CDR-released debut, Revival of the Shittest (sadly, I wasn’t the highest bidder).
Random Detail: The white-haired elder gentleman near the exit, swaying his hips and tapping his toes to GGD’s transcendentally hypnotic grooves.
By the way: Pro-Mark should endorse this band.