ML review by Rachel Kowal
DOWNLOAD: Brad Laner - Crawl Back In (Baths Remix) (MP3)
Baths @ Mercury Lounge on August 3rd (more by David Andrako)
It's kind of odd to go to an indoor show that starts when the sun is still up, but the Mercury Lounge's back room makes you lose your sense of time. The opener of the early show back in August was the one-man electro-pop act Baths, which is the project of 21-year-old Will Wiesenfeld. "Hi. Whoa! Sorry to scare you!" Wiesenfeld said as his voice suddenly broke through the soft chatter. "Hi New York. It's very sweaty here. I'm not used to it, but it's cool... I'm going to start playing music."
Baths consists of a laptop, a mixer, and vocals. Wiesenfeld projects the kind of lovable (but somewhat awkward) intensity you might expect from the 'hero' of a Judd Apatow movie. Though his work required him to be at arms length from the mass of knobs, dials, and buttons, he didn't let that stop him from some serious upper body dancing, and his energy was contagious.
After playing a handful of songs, Wiesenfeld began to talk over the concluding notes of a song. "This is going..." He stopped, and switched off the reverb. "This is going to be my last song. Stay tuned. Fol Chen is next... Oh!" he exclaimed, momentarily switching off his music. "And I'm Baths. B-A-T-H-S," he said excitedly, almost as an after thought.
When Fol Chen singer/guitarist Samuel Bing walked on stage in his bright red shirt and pants combo, the crowd snickered a little. But when the remaining four members of Fol Chen joined him - each wearing the same outfit (save Sinosa Loa, the sole female member who wore black tights to match the shiny black buttons of her red shirt), the reaction changed to something akin to amusement. "Matching outfits? Yes!" said one audience member toward the front of the room. Maybe I was just influenced by the White Stripes-like aesthetics, but the instrumental interludes seemed reminiscent of a tasteful soundtrack to an old sci-fi movie - playful, but definitely eerie as well.
In the studio, a significant portion of Fol Chen's music consists of samples, but their music translates well to a live setting. Their sheer weirdness mixes irresistibly with their alluring vocals, irrepressible beats, and 80s-tinged keyboard riffs. The frenzied drumming propelled the music and threatened to transform Fol Chen into a hypnotic martian marching band of sorts. (The brief addition of a trumpet for one of their songs only reinforced the image.) Everyone but the drummer - who was working up a real sweat - contributed backing vocals, but even he approached the mic for one song near the end of the set. Fol Chen was also joined on stage by Kárin Tatoyan whose cover of "In Ruins" appears on the band's "In Ruins" EP (as does a remix by Baths).
During the song "The Idiot," back-up singer (and recent New York-transplant) Patrick-Ian sang, "Everyone here thinks it's a joke," which seemed to be an interesting tag line for the evening given the borderline cult-like and somewhat ridiculous matching outfits, but joke or no joke, their music is worth a listen.
We already posted pictures from that show (the above review got lost in my email) (until now). Baths, if you hadn't noticed or figured it out, are/is in fact playing NYC as part of his tour with Dosh and headliner El Ten Eleven. That takes place at Knitting Factory on Thursday, September 16th (tickets still on sale).
For an MP3, grab the free EP Baths appears on over at Heart Music Group's Bandcamp.
All dates below...
Baths - 2010 Tour Dates
Sep 15 - The Middle East w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Cambridge, MA
Sep 16 - Knitting Factory - Brooklyn w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Brooklyn, NY
Sep 17 - Kung Fu Necktie w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Philadelphia, PA
Sep 18 - Mercury Lounge w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh New York, NY
Sep 19 - Bug Jar w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Rochester, NY
Sep 20 - Brillobox w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Pittsburgh, PA
Sep 21 - Northside Tavern w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Cincinnati, OH
Sep 22 - Grog Shop w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Cleveland, OH
Sep 23 - Founders Brewery, Co. w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Grand Rapids, MI
Sep 24 - The Terrace w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Madison, WI
Sep 25 - Lincoln Hall w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Chicago, IL
Sep 27 - Rock Island Brewing w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Rock Island, IL
Sep 28 - The Cactus Club w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Milwaukee, WI
Sep 29 - Firebird w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh St. Louis, MO
Sep 30 - Slowdown w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Omaha, NE
Oct 1 - Jackpot Saloon w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Lawrence, KS
Oct 2 - Bluebird Theatre w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Denver, CO
Oct 4 - Urban Lounge w/ El Ten Eleven + Dosh Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 5 - Neurolux w/ El Ten Eleven Boise, ID
Oct 6 - The Top Hat w/ El Ten Eleven Missoula, MT
Oct 7 - The Seaside w/ El Ten Eleven Spokane, WA
Oct 12 - Bottom of the Hill w/ El Ten Eleven San Francisco, CA
Oct 13 - Bootleg Theater w/ El Ten Eleven Los Angeles, CA
Nov 7 - Forum (UK) Tunbridge Wells, ????, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 8 - Prince Albert (UK) Brighton, ????, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 9 - Hare & Hounds (UK) Birmingham, ????, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 10 - Forum (UK) Sheffield, ????, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 11 - The Little Rooms (UK) Sunderland, ????, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 12 - The Brickyard (UK) Carlisle, ????, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 13 - Start the Bus (UK) Bristol, ????, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 15 - Camp London, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 17 - Cavern Club (UK) Exeter, ????, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 19 - Deaf Institute (UK) Manchester, ????, UNITED KINGDOM
Nov 20 - Vooruit Gent, BELGIUM
Nov 21 - Conne Island Leipzig, ????, GERMANY
Nov 22 - Lovelite Berlin, ????, GERMANY
Nov 23 - Pret a Ecouter Festival @ Karlstorbahnhof Heidelberg, ????, GERMANY
Nov 24 - Bitterzoet Amsterdam, ????, NETHERLANDS
Nov 26 - Autumn Falls Festivals @ Beursschouwburg Brussels, ????, BELGIUM
Nov 27 - Le Guess Who? Utrecht, ????, NETHERLANDS