4 Oct 2000: Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
I went with my friend Shannon, who almost didn’t get in. We were both lax in terms of buying our tickets, and it seemed that as soon as they went on sale, they were sold out. So we got there at 6.30, thinking it would be easy enough to score something from one of the early goers. Instead, the clock ticked toward 8 o’clock, and every damn person who arrived seemed to be looking to buy, not sell. By the time she actually found someone with an extra to peddle, it felt more like she’d been crowned Archduchess of a small country.
Music is an interesting fetish—a rabid one, that feasts on both mind and body. The drive to get into a show can turn a into a complacent fan into a rabid junkie, fiending for a fix. Concerts, then, are a most peculiar high: a situated, yet organic exchange between listener and performer, art and apprecitator. As concertgoers, we come to understand ourselves differently, see ourselves reflected in a crowd of our peers, we both posture enthusiam and react reflexively to the familar.
If Elastica does anything well—and they do a lot of things well—it’s perpetuating an environment that’s buzzing with electricity and spirit, that makes any oddity associated with the concert vanish into pure, unadulterated revelry . Every strum, bass line, drum beat, and keyboard cadence spirals through the band, into the audience and back, in a chain reaction. They are a band that seems to dematerialize the divide suggested by the stage, that play not like rockstars but like friends who rock. And this, their first US tour since their self titled album came out in 1995, was unbelievably welcomed.
Opening up for Elastica in this round were the Canadian duo Peaches and Gonzales, whose sexy, scary digitized rap was all about celebrating the body. (Every time they had a problem rousing the crowd, one of them took something off.) I can’t say that the crowd was really that into them, but their songs were arousing and amusing, and most people seemed at least entertained (or perhaps disturbed). I sometimes feel like opening bands main job is to make everyone, including themselves, really grateful for the main act.
Grateful, though, might be an understatement. By the time Elastica took the stage, the crowd were prepared for worship, and deliverance. And deliver they did—they played nearly every song off both Elastica and The Menace, as well as a few new tunes and covers (like “Psycho Killer.”) The best number by far was “Stutter,” which actually seemed like a staged scene out of a video. The girl next to me was so tossed around by the audience frenzy that her thumb ended up in my mouth!
PLEASE see this show if it comes to your area. For many of us, music is religion, and we pay homage like disciples. Elastica, that night, had their church of converts. They preached the gospel, and oh, how we believed.
// Notes from the Road
"Rhiannon Giddens, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, brought her Freedom Highway tour to New York for a powerful show. The tour resumes next week and hits Newport Folk later this summer.READ the article