I walked in right before the final Harlem Shakes song, hearing a couple “these guys are really good” from people I passed, disappointed that I missed the set. I might have been the only person there who has heard of the Shakes, thanks to Impose, no less.
Harlem Shakes closed with “Old Flames,” also closer to its Burning Birthdays EP. The song was loud and pleasing as it escalated from a foot stomping jingle, into a choir of downcast angels trying to compete with the crash of symbols and screaming guitars. The drummer was reckless and creative; I particularly enjoyed the tambourine resting on one of the drums, multitasking the song away.
My friend and I retreated to a couch while Lady Hawk played, only to meet a 35 year old who brought his 16 year old son to the show. Upon hearing this tid bit, I realized why I felt so old when I first walked in the venue. These kids were not holding beers because they could not purchase them, they could not even leave between sets to legally smoke cigarettes. Tapes n Tapes is the band it is hip for high school kids to know about. I may never really associate with its music, like I had with Modest Mouse, but I know that feeling. With this thought in mind, I was surprised at the outcome of this show
First off, Tapes n Tapes is on the Hit-n-Run Tour. Promoting the trek is 2K Sports MLB 2K7. That is a baseball game for Xbox360, available to play at an indie-rock show. I have to say, I was not surprised that no one was playing it, but at least the band got a bitching tour bus out of the deal. Check TnT’s myspace page for a blog on their thoughts on the bus and put away your elitist opinions on sponsorship.
Last year Tapes n Tapes received some favorable press, personally I thought it was hyperbolic. I was humbled last night though. The album The Loon is a nice little record, with some creative and exciting moments. Tapes n Tapes the band standing in front of you with guitars, drums and keyboards, strumming like they’ve got bugs crawling all over their guitars is another story.
My favorite live bands have always been the ones that know its songs, know them so well it never just plays its songs, but digs into grooves finding niches to toy with and moments to get lost within. These bands have usually been doing it for ten or more years. Bands like The Wrens have always impressed me with their knowledge of their own music. Tapes n Tapes not only look very young, they are young. Yet they play their songs as though the tunes have been practiced since adolescence.
The drummer was resilient towards his drums, his fervor-filled abuse on the skins unwavering for an hour set, though he sometimes pulled back and soften the mood. The guitarists played as though they were playing through blistered fingers. The band dragged songs out, adding noisy crescendos to excite its more somber tunes. The last two songs ran into each other, as “Insistor” woke the kids past their bedtime, then reverberated into the jammy “Jakov’s Suite.”
It was a case for expecting the standard cookie, then receiving extra sprinkles. Never underestimate the kids. They might look dull and lost, but they have the energy to snap to life in a riff’s time and knock you on your heels. It was a damn good Wednesday.