Friday, December 9
From the gleeful pop songs strummed by local openers Witch Gardens to the rolling movements>"/>
Baths, Teen Daze, Witch Gardens
Friday, December 9
From the gleeful pop songs strummed by local openers Witch Gardens to the rolling movements of Canadian middle act Teen Daze to the warm little cocoon California's Baths creates for you, a rather bubbly current connected the audience to the musicians--and the musicians to one another--at the Neptune on Friday. The night's emotional cohesion can be seen as a testament to the venue's talent-booking vision.
On record, Witch Gardens' playground melodies and muffled sound plays off the innocence of a homemade recording, and in concert, their frank, smiley banter (and hanging, school gymnasium-esque "I Wanna Get Sick" pennant-banner) take(s) their playfulness to the next level. Their subject matter (and album covers) might not always reflect sunshine, but their sound is frolicking-in-the-park gaiety. Side-note: the purposely low-fi quality of their debut album, Alice, Agatha, Branch, & Christ made the cleanliness of their live-sound all the more refreshing; a positive byproduct for the band.
Teen Daze is one man from the Fraser Valley, B.C., who crafts hazy, electro-build-ups, and took the crowd to the next level of their enjoyment. For the most part, he went light on his chip-tune ditties and heavy on the ambient swells that made it feel like you were partying at a New Year's fucking Eve rave by the climax. It was a great set, and he mainly let his music do the talking, which is a quality I value in most concert settings. The absence of most stage-vocals along with the gradual nature of the buildups also presented the opportunity for conversation, so my friend Travis and I had one. It went something like this:
Me: "It's like riding the wave of time."
Travis: "I'm not convinced time exists."
"There is no spoon."
"I wish I was on drugs right now."
"It's all-inclusive; everybody would like this."
"If I was rich, I would have a barge party in the middle of Puget Sound so everybody could see us, but nobody could touch us. I'd have [Teen Daze] be the DJ."
"He's getting better at dancing as the set goes on."
"I've been into it the whole time. It's his music. It's up to him if he does it right."
Travis was right. Everybody danced how they felt they should, including this wild hippy woman next to us who stepped on my foot.
The brilliant complexity of Baths' (A.K.A. SoCal's Will Wiesenfield) beat-making required far more active listening. Wearing black-rimmed glasses and big-time mutton chops, Wiesenfield flicked spiny bits of data into the electro-soup until they were a busy melody.
Falsetto moaning, knob-twisting and touch-padding, the brand of happiness that his music conveys live--as well as on record--is a very nurturing kind that envelops the listener and kind of carries you away. It's all very euphoric and supple, and the syncopation of the heartbeat kick (that's defined so much by the quick cross-fade cut-out that accompanies it), replaces the mathematical quantization of much electronic music with a more believable sincerity. The problem with fostering emotions like this in your music is that it's fragile, and the mood can easily be derailed by a bit too much talking for example. Wiesenfield sounds like an extremely nice guy, and a great conversationalist, but he walked us through his set too much ("Seattle, let's feel really, really good;" "it's about to get really sloppy and really weird;" "just so you know, it's going to go fast-slow-fast."). A more fluid, mood-sustaining set--as Teen Daze played--would have served him a bit better. The night was hardly tarnished though, and the jovial mood followed us all out of the theater.
One of the funnier moments of the night came when Witch Gardens guitarist Casey Catherwood--with the lights in his eyes--directed the crowd to go pick up their new record from the merch table where Wiesenfeld was holding it up in the air. "Is that a man or a woman?" he said. "I can't tell, it's dark over there."