Twin Sister/Blair/John K.
Friday, December 17
Live With Animals Gallery
Better Than: Taking Back Sunday’s Extremely Emo Hanukkah
Join us as ethereal indie-rock crew Twin Sister hosts the best really awesome holiday party thrown by the coolest company you never worked for, at a Brooklyn gallery just small and out-of-the way enough to fly under the dreaded Hipster Radar. It’s an intimate, wonderfully familial vibe, with art on the walls, decorations all around, and even people dressed in Christmas costumes. Dub-reggae versions of holiday standards are backed up against Darlene Love and John Lennon standards as the bands change over (which for some reason seems to take unreasonably long), with the band’s personal friends outnumbering their fans, and people who appreciate Wham’s “Last Christmas” outnumbering those who do not.
John K. hops onstage around 10 p.m. and spins a beautiful set of mellow AM gold; he churns out CD-R albums regularly and gives them away for free on his MySpace page. A one-man bedroom Bee Gees, K sings in a falsetto over skittery drum lines and washed-out synths, with some help from friends on bass and keyboards; you haven’t really heard Janet Jackson’s “Nasty Boys” until you see it performed by what looks like three Vermont stoners in ski-lodge garb.
Blair are faced with the tough task of starting their set immediately after a too-quick fade-out of Wham’s classic “Last Christmas,” much to the chagrin of the crowd. (No worries, though: We will hear that song at least three more times before the night is through.) Recalling the halcyon days of drone-y indie rock, these guys are a welcome throwback: With echoes of Quick Space, Seely, and the mellower moments of Stereolab, they wouldn’t be out of place on 4AD or Darla Records, their honest, confessional lyrics backed by mellow atmospherics and small psychedelic flourishes. When they sing “My heart hides in a cassette tape . . . can’t rewind and I can’t press play,” you know they mean it, at least. While they may not shoe-gaze, exactly, they don’t make much eye contact, either, but you know they come by that shyness honestly, too.
By the time holiday overlords Twin Sister take over, the place has reached its small capacity; leader Andrea Estella’s ethereal voice is matched tonight by her white-haired Winter Nymph costume. The band has the uncanny ability of creating almost physical, three-dimensional space: Using tape loops, overdubbed vocals, and copious effects pedals, they form a surprisingly cohesive unit that tears through all the “hits” you might expect to hear from their two EPs and countless demos and oddities. The link to bands like Cocteau Twins and Blonde Redhead is undeniable, so its no surprise to see one of the Pace twins from the latter in attendance tonight. The link between whatever you’d call this and plain old Christmas music is undeniable — both create a relaxing air of sweet togetherness, and that’s clearly in the air tonight.
Critical Bias: I have nothing against Christmas sweaters.
Overheard: “Shit man, I haven’t listened to this much Wham! since . . . well, ever.”
Random Notebook Dump: Fellow Brooklynites Teen Daze have turn TS’s “All Around and Away We Go” into the dreamiest track of the year.