El Ten Eleven + Controlled Storms

18.Nov.09 - Philadelphia

by Sachyn Mital

20 November 2009

El Ten Eleven + Controlled Storms: 18 November 2009 - The Khyber, Philadelphia
 

The question of the night for El Ten Eleven was “Why aren’t you playing bigger venues?”  The groovy electro-funk duo made their first ever Philadelphia tour stop at the Khyber Bar in front of a very appreciative but small crowd.  The bar itself was cozy and, as hinted, a small place—making it a great place to see bands up close while downing dollar PBR’s.
  
Philadelphia natives, Controlled Storms, were on before El Ten Eleven, and put on an enjoyable post-rock, trance-fusion set reminiscent of Tortoise or, particularly on the songs with samples, Sound Tribe Sector Nine.  The trio started just past ten and treated the audience to some tracks from their album, Abandoned Amusement Parks, as well as some new songs like “Dust Devils” that began with a Rod Serling quote.  Their set built up slowly, starting with a shoegaze pace early on with the song “Airborne.”  By the end the crowd’s attention was away from the floor as they grooved to more uptempo and danceable music, like aforementioned “Dust Devils”—a final song whose clapping effect transferred into the crowd.

Like Controlled Storms’ guitarist, El Ten Eleven’s Kristian Dunn made use of several effects pedals to sample, loop, and transform the sounds from his double-necked guitar/bass, demonstrating his astounding prowess by playing both simultaneously.  The other half of the band, equally impressive percussionist Tim Fogarty, played on the bass with his sticks as Dunn worked the frets.  Comparisons can be made to The New Deal, another jam band favorite, or Explosions in the Sky or, again, Tortoise, all of whom flow progressive music together into an extended set.  Perhaps the similarity to the former might answer the mind-boggling question posed in the beginning:  El Ten Eleven could succeed in the late night tents at Bonnaroo or other jam band festivals.

As their music eschews lyrics, and Dunn hardly paused to talk lest he break the hypnotic spell on the audience, I needed to identify tunes later so I jotted quick notes about the vibe of each song.  Labeled the “first song I knew”, “Frenchmen” built up a pulsating warble over the kick drum beat, finally descending into a raucous fit.  The “downtempo opener” turned out to be a misnomer for “Van Halen,” but I did score a point for the song I scribbled down as “starting with an 80’s synth beat vibe.”  It turned out to be a cover of Joy Division’s “Disorder” and the final song of the main set.

After thanking the audience for coming out on a weeknight, El Ten Eleven chose not to waste time leaving the stage and instead packed three songs into the encore.  Of the three, “My Only Swerving” and “Connie” came off their eponymous album and the other, “Marriage is the New Going Steady,” was a new song which evolved around a dirty funk beat.  Rarely was there a song that seemed tedious or repetitive as Dunn and Fogarty melded all sorts of genres into cohesive songs.

When I looked around after the show I saw a sparser crowd than I had guessed considering the liveliness of the people in front of and around me. Maybe because it was a weeknight.  If you are not fans of any of the bands mentioned, you may ignore this next part.  I implore anyone to stream any and all songs and live videos of El Ten Eleven.  They are a band who ought to be appreciated by far more people than have already and one whose music is fully realized live.

Setlist (provided graciously by the band after the show):
Ian Mackaye Was Right (new song)
Hot Cakes
3 plus 4
Lorge
Jumping Frenchmen of Maine
Adam and Nathan Totally Kick Ass
I Like Van Halen cause my Sister says They are Cool
Falling (new song)
Exit Strategy (new song)
Indian Winter (new song)
Disorder (Joy Division cover)
Encore
Marriage Is the New Going Steady (new song)
My Only Swerving
Connie

Controlled Storms

Controlled Storms

Controlled Storms

Controlled Storms

Controlled Storms

Controlled Storms

Controlled Storms

Controlled Storms

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

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