Stacked by Age

Art-punks past, present, and future secure empire

Some people, who knows why, are cursed with photographic memory and encyclopedic knowledge of baroque sculpture. So don't begrudge this writer his observation, made deep in the Bowery's first mosh of 2005, that this art-punk bill played out like Lorenzo Bernini's Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius (marble, 1618–1620).

Stacked by age, each younger band resembled its immediate elder's former self. Cool-jerk openers Rahim forced their disjointed rhythm (not riddim) "Gasoline" (not "Gasolina") until people realized they are what the DNA-Mars side of the old No New York no wave compilation should have been. Yes, that's the exact same thing rock augur Frank Kogan said about Thunderbirds Are Now! a year and a half ago.

Ah, Detroit's Thunderbirds, such devotees of Les Savy Fav that you gave up your sound to prolong theirs—why did you play so goddamn sloppy? Like an MC5 jam taken too far, total-energy thing "Eat This City" nearly combusted by the third time guitarist-vocalist Ryan Allen missed his vocal cues, the baby-faced frontman buckling under the pressure of Fav's big shoes. Or blame the monitors; gradually the Birds picked themselves up, and by the end they played all business, nearly prim. "Do the splits!" some Dido yelled at Scott Allen, the band's gymnast who doubles as the keyboardist. "I can't do the splits."

His career one of absurd rock theater, of speaker towers climbed and chandeliers hung from, LSF's Tim Harrington felt no urge to shock tonight, possibly his band's last U.S. date forever. To wit, a team of videographers, grim reapers of indie rock, captured the hits-only set, all played with unusually high concentration. The militant stomp "Adopduction" and its "kidnapped!" chorus couldn't have been more scarifying; "The Sweat Descends," with guitar reverb that actualizes the song title, matched its on-record reputation as the band's best jam.

"Would you trade it all in for one night of bliss?" asked Harrington at one point. The crowd screamed immediately and affirmatively, and his face went cold. As Les Savy Fav bail, their job done and legacy secured, one thing's clear: They certainly wouldn't.

 
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