Reviews

Mobius Band + Tigercity

Elizabeth Rhodes

Over the past few years, Brooklyn has become the proud adoptive parent of two baby boy bands originally born to Western Massachusetts, and from the looks of it, they're starting to find their legs...

Mobius Band

Mobius Band + Tigercity

City: New York, NY
Venue: Bowery Ballroom
Date: 2007-11-29

Over the past few years, Brooklyn has become the proud adoptive parent of two baby boy bands originally born to Western Massachusetts. The first is a funky disco-revivalist quartet hell-bent on transforming each venue they play into Studio 54, the other, an electro-meets-indie rock trio that tampers with toy keyboards until they release pop treats. Taking the stage around 10 pm, Tigercity urged the crowd of Big Apple hipsters to abandon all sense of irony and dance. The group trades in tight, well-written pop songs -- standouts including “Red Lips” and “Powerstripe”. Evoking equal parts Bee Gees and Prince, the band layers tunes with flying falsetto, clipped guitar, and deep, dirty bass. At times, lead singer Bill Gillim surpassed even Barry Gibb’s vocal stamina and high-note ambition, occasionally reaching a Chipmunks-level squeak (on that note, it wouldn’t hurt to bring “Let Her Go” down a few keys). Though the hetero-friendly lyrics stuck mainly to women and living it up in the cit-ay, it’s safe to bet that these guys, who released their debut EP in July 2007, would still get chased out of any red state. Bald, mustached Gillim sported a tight grey vest and slacks while bassist and Jason Schwartzman-look-alike Joel Ford channeled an ’80s inner-city high-schooler, complete with sleeveless tee and skinny jeans. Guitarist Andrew Brady arrived via the late-’60s, sporting an embroidered shirt probably made of organic cotton, and drummer Aynsley Powell’s look was dominated by his curly, blond mane. Distinct fashion indeed, but maybe someone should tell them they’re in the same band. And someone else should tell them that they're perhaps not as hardcore as they hope. Tigercity’s fun, approximately hour-long set concluded with a performance of “Solitary Man”, the group’s torch song. After throwing a single beer bottle upstage in what can only be understood as a gesture of rock-star minimalism, Gillim nearly slipped in the emerging alcohol puddle and then made a run for stage left, only to be stopped by Brady, who was standing on his mic cord recovering from a limbo-worthy backbend. Mobius Band also had its fair share of misguided showmanship, starting with the man in a bunny suit who introduced Peter Sax, Noam Schatz, and Ben Sterling. Following Postal Service’s lead, the group is bringing accessible electronic music into indie-rock circles, communities that are generally afraid of blips and bleeps, and sometimes known to spurn anything deemed “inorganic” or “inauthentic.” The group formed in Shutesbury, Massachusetts and released a pair of EPs before relocating to Brooklyn and recording the City vs Country EP and 2005’s debut LP, The Loving Sound of Static. Heaven, Mobius Band’s recent, sophomore album is the least guitar-friendly work in its catalog, yet it features the tightest songwriting the band has ever accomplished. It took 19 months to write and record, during which time a longtime girlfriend made off with an old friend, a father passed away, and Schatz began deliberately short-circuiting toy keyboards. The completed album boasts a bevy of pop hooks, sonic experimentation, and thoughtful lyrics concerning betrayal and loss (sample song title: “Leave the Keys in the Door”). Each wearing collared shirts, the college grads performed before large, wooden, cartoonish clouds that hung from the Bowery’s rafters. Sterling and Sax shared vocal duties, but Sax led the group onstage, standing front and center with his bass strapped around him. Sterling was too excited for a bench, preferring to lean over a toy keyboard, wiggling his skinny bottom to the beat. Schatz, meanwhile, kept side-stage, approaching the drums with tasteful precision. The setlist mixed selections from Heaven with back-catalog surprises, including a performance of “Epitaph” off the Two EP. “Hallie,” Heaven’s opener, was one of the highlights. The song matched bitter, resentful lyrics -- “You’re so full of yourself, there’s no room for anything else” -- with an irresistible, clever pop melody and a stack of electronic elements resembling horns, bells, strings, and beeps that created intimacy, not distance. “Alright, happy time is over, you freaks,” Sax said at the song’s end. “Who wants to brood?” Apparently no one. In true New York fashion, the weekday concert-goers kept dancing, singing, and swilling beer well past midnight, despite their alarm clocks being set for 7 am the following morning. All the while, Joel Ford and the other members of Tigercity unabashedly cheered on their friends near the front of the crowd. After all, there are better routes to success than inciting hero worship.

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