Holograms w/Herzog Rising, ERAAS, Heavenly Beat, The Dreebs
Saturday, September 8
Better than: Fashion Week.
Holograms haven’t had the easiest time. They’re unemployed. They’re broke. They’ve struggled to acquire work visas. They are in need of new equipment. Only one of the members has a driver’s license, making touring that much more arduous. They don’t like their native Sweden and yet, it’s very much home.
The band made their US debut last Tuesday at Mercury Lounge; the venue was fairly (and surprisingly) empty when the band took the stage. Worse, their signature synth, a vintage Korg MS-10, malfunctioned, so keyboardist Filip Spetze was forced to watch his band play in America for the first time without him.
Fast forward to Saturday at 285 Kent. The room was crowded, the smell of bodies and whiskey polluting the air. The band was excited to play a space more in line with the type of music they produce—dirty, urgent post-punk shot through with youth.
A slew of local acts opened the show. Experimental punks The Dreebs set the stage for an evening of arty aggression with their opening set. They were followed by John Pena of Beach Fossils side project (and Holograms labelmates) Heavenly Beat. Live, Heavenly Beat consists of little more than backing tracks and some highly impressive dance moves, but the set was far from disappointing as it seemed to marry well with the music itself: soft, sweet, danceable in a slow way. Next up was ERAAS, who had shared the stage with Holograms the previous Tuesday. The Brooklyn quartet is much better live than recorded, the live setting energizing the band’s haunting art rock. Finally, Herzog Rising, who craft sludgy punk that brings to mind the aggressive sexuality of a band like Unsane or Pop. 1280, played a set that contorted their anthemic dirges, creating heavy, physical music that still managed to kickstart the room’s level.
Historically, music from places of economic turmoil breeds immense creativity. Little security brings innovation—perhaps in the form of escapism, but more often than not, necessity. Within struggle beauty is formed. Holograms seem to grasp that on the most intimate level, exuding genuinity in a manner they might not fully recognize.
Within moments of the lead single, “ABC City,” front man Andreas Lagerström had the majority of the room chanting “Desolation! Isolation!” in a way that made loneliness communicative. Holograms are often spoken of in the same breath as Copenhagen noise punks Iceage, and with good reason. Lagerström and Anton Spetze make gutteral sounds, singing with a haunting depth formed from within the throat. The band’s guitar riffs are tight and calculated in an urgent fashion. Bass controls the movement of each song, which explains why each track on their debut album feels cadence-like, and the vintage-synth imperfections give each song a sense of history, of being slightly out of time.
Holograms are young, but they refuse to use their age as a crutch; instead, they channel that energy into a commanding presence that’s nothing short of monolithic—a fact only underscored by their song with that word as its title.
Critical bias: Holograms’ Captured Tracks debut sits comfortably in the “Top 25 Most Played” section of my iTunes.
Overheard: “They have a song called ‘Sweden’s Pride’? So, like, are they going to play the Swedish national anthem?”
Random notebook dump: Someone should choreograph an experimental dance routine to the massive “Monolith”—or has the couple next to me accomplished that?