It takes sheer talent to create music that beautifully meshes together shoegaze and pop sensibilities with spiraling pedal effects. Even more impressive is front man and creator of these songs, Jack Tatem’s, extraordinary ability to pull his sound off live. Thursday night at Chicago’s Vic Theater found him filling all of the deep cavernous places of the large venue with a cascading lushness.
In some ways, it’s almost like Tatem is able to pull streams of chord progressions from the collective consciousness of the music listening public at large. The result is that every song off of what is easily one of the best albums of this year, 2010’s Gemini sounds instantly recognizable. Though the compositions are unique, they conjure up feelings of a rich nostalgia like the best Cocteau Twins track or a happier mid-period Cure song. It almost seems strange that Tatem would hail from Virginia given his sound, which feels like it might more likely hail from the UK. Regardless, the music is something infinitely cherishable and a treat to witness flooding around fans in a live setting. Gemini tracks are also perfect for blasting on your stereo at home, providing the enriching soundtrack to your daily life.
Additionally, there is a huge versatility in terms of moods the songs powerfully conjure up in fans. Some songs are for pure unadulterated longing as in “Pessimist”. Others just feel right when you’re dancing to them such as “Summer Holiday” or “Our Composition Book”. Further still, songs like “O, Lilac” might be the perfect track to make out to for hours. Similar to the flawless creation of Gemini as an album, there wasn’t a song that dragged live as Tatem provided fans with around 50 minutes of songs that are equally as catchy as they are memorable. Tatem’s voice was remarkably on par with the recorded tracks as it went into a glorious falsetto for “Drifter” and “Confirmation”. He showed at times a greater sense of urgency while playing but this only helped make the chord progressions increasingly engaging in a live setting.
One couldn’t help but wonder about Tatem’s personality as he did not banter much. Still, there were some clues about his subtle and modest nature in the way he thanked the crowd and often smiled to himself, showing a sweet temperament. It should also be mentioned that he brought a full band with him including a drummer, bassist, and second guitarist who sometimes played keyboards to help bring his songs to full fruition. Even though the other live members may not have worked on originating the songs to the same degree Tatem did, they demonstrated a tremendous sense of timing and balance with their playing so that all components of the arrangements were realized rather blissfully. Tatem’s moniker suits the songs in that it hints at the way one can’t help feeling genuinely lost in reverie upon hearing them. At the same time, they are indeed Something and are quite unforgettable.