The Cave Singers, Espers, Woods
The Shred Your Face tour gathering the indie consignetti together like moths to a hipster flame. Cave Singers, Espers, and Woods all play variants on a loosely termed 'psyche-folk' sound, the kind of which one can imagine being very popular in late sixties Cambridge, but each band puts their own spin on it, adding something fresh to the brew.
Woods open the night with a freaky, psychedelic jam, man. And it's to their credit that they do so without a trace of irony. All manner of interstellar bodies collide with each other as they plough on with their journey through time and space, doing their best to aurally recreate the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Brooklyn band then abruptly change track, and start playing actual songs, heavy on drone and atmosphere, but distinctly lacking in hooks. If there's any problem with Woods, it lies in their embrace of an almost 'surf-rock' sound, which is so all encompassing that it's as if they're just an ocean washing over you, leaving nothing behind.
Following this is Espers, whose 'Middle Earth' folk music sounds are frequently swallowed up by the indifference of the crowd. The Philadelphia six-piece cut a strange figure, sitting on stools, and seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are playing in front of an audience, bar a few mumbled comments. The music is wonderfully intricate, like a hand-woven quilt, full of intertwined melodies and spiralling dynamics. It might not be the most visually captivating performance of all time, but they just concentrate hard and get on with it.
Thanks goodness, then, for the Cave Singers, who make a more confident noise than either of the pervious two bands put together. In the three years since their formation in Seattle, the band have gathered a solid fanbase based on their appropriating of a laidback, rustic, yet textured sound. As soon as they hit the stage, the Cave Singers exude a presence largely missing from the other performers, causing the audience to sit up and take note. It's an arresting performance, perhaps only hindered by a lack of any real standout moments, and an overall similarity of sound, one wishing that they would break out of their self-imposed mould and attempt something new.
It's a strange experience, with the bands playing perfectly well, but refusing to reach out and connect with the audience. Maybe we're just not used to this kind of thing. In essence, it seems that the ideal situation to take in this music is on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, whilst the various musicians grab all their influences, and mix them together into a massive genre-defying broth. Whether it would be tasty or not, is anyone's guess, though.