Unfortunately, due to a room crammed full of folk, my original plan to see Gang Gang Dance was curtailed, and I ended up finishing out the evening with Growing. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Creating a dense sound that utilized a combination of drones and a collage of tweaked sounds and samples, Growing not only proved to be one of the best bands on the Social Registry roster, but also one of the best in modern music. The last time I saw them, a few years ago, they were opening for Mogwai, and the set was much less inspired. Since then, they’ve learned to feed off each other, especially when improvising, rather than getting lost in their own worlds. Like their name suggests, this is a band that continues to grow.
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A cloud of fog settled over the room during the Psychic Ills’ set, and it might have been the culmination of multiple joints being lit at the same time because everyone looked stoned—whether they were or not. And while my own drug of choice this evening was gin and tonic, I was still able to close my eyes and got lost in the band’s sound. I honestly think that’s the group’s intention. If people were dancing around during their set, I’m sure they would be a bit freaked out. I saw no dancing, but I did see a room full of people all getting something different out of their set.
If you’ve ever heard a Sian Alice Group record, it’s nothing like experiencing them live. Onstage they are much louder, much more abrasive, and much more insanely psychedelic. With a heavier guitar driven sound taking precedent over piano, Alice’s chants worked more as an instrument in the mix rather then serving as a separate entity. It was quite different than what was expected, but you can’t help but admire a band that switches up the live set to be more fitting to its environment. Truly enigmatic—the psych gods would be proud.
A little too tame for CMJ, Mike Bones would have fit in better opening on a club tour for a band like Sian Alice Group rather than playing to a crowd that seemed to be hyping themselves up for Gang Gang Dance. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him before this show, but he really is an inimitable songwriter, and it’s less about the actual music and more about his clever lyricism. I’d be interested to see him take a full band out on the road and continue to make records on a bare bones level.
The Luaka Bop showcase was just what CMJ needed as the week began to wind down. Instead of taking things seriously, Christmas decorations were placed all over Santos Party House, Tropicalia jams were on the stereo, and Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt was about to commence with less of a performance, and more of a dance party. These guys were concerned with nothing but a positive message and having a good time; a massive amount of relief in a week of bands taking themselves extremely seriously. Basically chanting one-liners and dancing around the room in every costume you can possibly think of, Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt involved everyone in the audience. It was by far the most fun CMJ has seen so far, and I’m beginning to think this is the kind of set that will be remembered over all the rest.