Skronking Somewhat Pleasantly with the Notwist
Regaling Boston the night before. CREDIT.
The Notwist/Dosh Webster Hall Monday, October 13
The Notwist are a pretty splendid German art-rock band impersonating a pretty bad American mope-rock band, and too much of the time they're a little too good at it. This is one of those shows that starts with more pieces of gear onstage than people in the audience, a gleaming, beeping junkyard of drum machines and vintage keyboards and shit, though this equipment mostly belongs to the opener, Dosh, an affable dude crafting intricate ADD beat collages, never playing anything (drums and keys, mostly) for more than 30 seconds before he loops it and goes on to something else while his buddy plays saxophone. That was fun; the Notwist, less so.
They're an initially beguiling mixture of organic and synthetic, these guys, their slippery electronic hiccups embellished live by a frantic, almost avant-jazz drummer, busy busy busy busy busy. But too many tunes tonight end with improbably loud skronk-out codas, random and violent and not terribly pleasant; "This Room," off 2002's sworn-by Neon Golden, devolves into wayward faux-Pixies thrash. As moody, maudlin headphone music these guys have their moments (13 & God, their navel-gazing 2005 collaboration with Bay Area avant hip-hoppers Themselves, is the best thing they ever did), but onstage their nuances are deadened, just a string of melodically inert college-radio jams that can't quite distinguish themselves. Frontman Markus Acher's flat, dreary voice transcends itself occasionally: He opens the band's new The Devil, You + Me with the killer refrain "Let's just imitate the real/'Til we find a better one," but it's a drag standing around for a couple hours waiting for them to find it.
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