Posted in music on December 13, 2010

words by Rachel Kowal, photo by Cienna Wills

Atlas Sound

Ornate blue and white paper snowflakes dangled from the ceiling of the Bell House on Saturday night (12/11), announcing the unofficial onset of winter and appropriately setting the stage for the sparse, introspective music of Atlas Sound. Following Lyonnais' early performance (which I inadvertently missed), Bradford Cox walked on stage alone and began with a bit of an awkward intro. "How you doing? Can you guys hear this?" He took a seat on the stool. "Oh, it's soft," he admitted with surprise. He hadn't even begun to play, but he already held the audience's full attention. With a harmonica strapped around his neck and a guitar in his lap, Cox kicked off his show with a string of newer songs, beginning with the excellent "Terrarium."

After a few songs, Cox addressed the crowd, his voice comically laden with reverb. "It's great to be here," he began. "I figure [he reached to turn off the effect] I figure I came here in the winter last time and played and had such a good time. Why not repeat the experience? I really like this place a lot. The people are awesome, and I really like the sound. And I think I'm going to come here every year. In the wintertime.... like a Christmas tradition... or Hanukkah tradition...or Kwanzaa - whatever it is you choose. A holiday tradition. What do you think?" The crowd cheered enthusiastically in response.

Though Cox played a few songs from his studio recordings (like "Shelia" and a toned down version of "Walkabout"), much of his set contained songs he self-released on his website in recent weeks. "I hope some of you have heard these," Cox announced mid set. "I got off tour with Deerhunter, and I went home and didn't have anything to do. I started feeling pretty wild. Like cabin fever, you know? I watched two seasons of Law and Order: Criminal Intent in like 52 hours, and I wasn't returning phone calls. It was dark. So I got out my little recording machine and made some recordings and then I decided to play them."

As per usual, the lyrics in Cox's new repertoire were often on the bleak side, making them well-suited for the winter show format. But to counteract the foreboding sense of gloom that pervaded his lyrics, Cox warmly interacted with the cordial, sold-out audience throughout the evening.

After capping off his set with a few longer, more meandering songs, Cox thanked the crowd and announced that there was another event scheduled, so he had to wrap up his set. As he walked off stage, the lights to the venue came back on, but it wasn't enough to deter the crowd from cheering for an encore. Cox soon returned with a big grin plastered on his face.

"I'll remember this. That was a nice feeling. I really didn't think I'd have time, then they told me to come back." He fumbled around for a moment, trying to figure out what to play. "Would anyone be mad if I played 'The Screens'? You guys are actually making me nervous. You're so nice." "You're nicer!" came a gruff male voice in response. Cox began to play the harmonica, then stopped abruptly to shake the spit from it. "Let's see if I can't fuck this up."

Despite his low estimation of his talent (or perhaps because of it?), his brief encore was the perfect end to the evening, and I eagerly await next year's winter show, as promised.

Atlas Sound also played Maxwell's in Hoboken one night earlier. The approximate setlist from The Bell House and a video from the show, below...


Atlas Sound @ the Bell House

Approximate Atlas Sound Setlist (* denote songs from the Bedroom Databank collection)
*Border Agents
*Afternoon Drive
*Mona Lisa
*I Can't Take It
Te Amo
Attic Lights



Comments (27)

link to the bootleg the author has transcribed banter from?

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 11:53 AM

this show was amazing.
everyone was silent, you could hear a pin drop.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 12:02 PM

anyone a bit uncomfortable by just how many tracks he was using though? He used to loop stuff on the fly a bit more when he played solo, but many times Saturday night, he was only playing a duplicate guitar part (both chords AND guitar solos) that were clearly already in the track underneath...

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 12:13 PM

also - pretty sure that was Quick Canal he played - not Walkabout.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 12:16 PM

he most definitely played walkabout.
holla 12:02

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 12:20 PM

Nope. It was obviously not pre-recorded sample even if he looped the hell out of what he played.
definitely walkabout.

What a great show.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 12:22 PM

there were tons of pre-recorded samples bud. he was NOT looping that shit on the fly. There were entire guitar solos that he was simply playing a duplicate on what was being played on a pre-recorded track.

I was right up close. i think i saw what he was doing and not doing...

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 12:25 PM

how many burlesque samples did he use?

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 12:30 PM


Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 12:32 PM

they weren't samples dumbass. I was right up front too and he clearly kept looping and looping.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 1:06 PM

Sure there were some prerecorded samples but he did loop a lot of stuff and it was awesome no matter what.

In the past when he tried to do everything it led to too many false starts and technical problems. He was in complete command Saturday night. The guy's on fire.

Posted by anonymous2 | December 13, 2010 1:09 PM

Mmmm Bradford Cocks. I wish I could loop my ass all over his face.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 1:21 PM


Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 1:25 PM

i heard cher owns bell house

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 1:42 PM

sure he looped some stuff saturday - but jesus folks, those were fucking samples of himself that he was soloing over...even simple guitar chords were samples.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 1:50 PM

who cares if they were samples or not... jesus every hip hop show is literally just karaoke

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 1:53 PM

wasn't expecting much but that was a great great show

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 2:14 PM

Go listen to Yacht if you like karaoke so much then...

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 2:31 PM

NY was lucky to get this show

Posted by Bucky | December 13, 2010 2:33 PM

stanley tucci gave this show two hummus wraps up.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 2:37 PM

@1:21 I hope you get hit by a bus.

Thanks for reminding me why I shouldn't read these ridiculous comments (not excluding my own). I'm only typing this because I really want you to know that you're a miserable waste of life.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 3:04 PM

You are all loopy and these comments are definitely pre recorded.

Posted by Burg | December 13, 2010 3:08 PM

what a touching review. just so warm and perfect for the holidays.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 3:21 PM

he's lucky xtina wasn't waitressing that night she has a tendency to force her way on stage

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 3:25 PM

@3:04 + @1:21 = <3

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 3:58 PM

Thanks for reposting every work he said. That was riveting.

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 11:09 PM

Everytime you speak it's like a turd falling into my drink

Posted by Anonymous | December 15, 2010 12:15 PM

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