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by Rachel Kowal
Gobble Gobble @ the renovated Glasslands - 4/8/11 (by Eric Rex)
I don't know if it's just solid booking (a la PopGun), or if it's just that SXSW has me recognizing more bands - whatever the case may be, Glasslands is on top of their game lately. (Craft Spells, Surf City, Timber Timbre, Grouper, Eternal Summers/Dream Diary, Free Energy, and Hunx/Grass Widow are just a few of the artists stopping by in April.) And after some renovations earlier this week, the venue is looking pretty good too. The stage occupies the same corner but now faces the door, so there's actually room to stand in front of the stage without having to worry about people constantly walking in front of you. The stage is also bigger and, according to the venue, the capacity of the club has increased. You can sort of see the difference in the picture from Friday night's Gobble Gobble show in the picture above.
I arrived to the show at Glasslands on Thursday, 4/7, just as the second opener, Young Magic, was wrapping up, but I managed to catch Oupa, the side project of Yuck guitarist/vocalist Daniel Blumberg (who also opened for Sebadoh and Richard Buckner at Bowery Ballroom Saturday night). It may have been the Porcelain Raft song "Dragonfly" (video below) that initially convinced me to head over to Glasslands, but it was Oupa's performance that I found to be the most compelling.
Long before he sheepishly confessed to being nervous, Blumberg's mannerisms and posture gave him away. He walked out without a word and carefully arranged a collection of hand-illustrated cassette tapes along the front of the stage. As curious onlookers filtered up to check out the goods, Blumberg began to play, his sound check sneakily morphing into his performance.
Though quite tall, Blumberg occupied minimal space on stage. He hunched down low over his keyboard, his unruly curly hair and loose-fitting denim button-up shirt doing much to obscure him from view, as if decreasing his surface area would also minimize his exposure to the crowd and keep him safe. Even the heavy reverb on his vocals seemed to be more than just an aesthetic choice. It provided yet another wall to hide behind.
But despite his obvious unease with being the only one in the spotlight, Blumberg played with a quiet confidence, and his beautiful, forlorn music perfectly matched his unassuming body language and enigmatic demeanor.
Though brief, I could have left satisfied after hearing just Oupa's set, but I was curious to see how Mauro Remiddi would craft his lush, multi-layered music in a live setting.
Porcelain Raft's music may not be particularly lively, but it did feature some pre-fab drum beats and bass, which was all the encouragement some needed to start dancing. (Compared to the set that preceded it, the music was downright festive after all.) Though the additional musical components succeeded in perking up the crowd and sound decent recorded, on stage, Remiddi seemed to be at his best when he peeled back the effects to reveal the more organic elements: the guitar, keyboard, and vocals.
Remiddi concluded his equally brief set with what is perhaps his most popular and immediately catchy song, "Tip of Your Tongue." You can watch the video for that song, and a whole bunch of videos from the Thursday show, below...
Porcelain Raft - 'Tip of Your Tongue'
Porcelain Raft 'Dragonfly'
Young Magic @ The Glasslands Gallery
Daniel Blumberg (Yuck) aka Oupa plays Glasslands
Porcelain Raft Plays Dragonfly @ The Glasslands Gallery
Porcelain Raft Plays Talk to Me @ The Glasslands Gallery
Porcelain Raft Plays Despite Everything and I Found a Way @ The Glasslands Gallery
Porcelain Raft Plays Tip of Your Tongue @ The Glasslands Gallery