Atlas Sound in a church
Northside Festival got off to a sweaty start yesterday, but luckily, the weather held out. I don't think I'm alone in saying that last night may have been the most stacked. Forget a slow build-up. It was 8:00, and there were already at least three places I really wanted to be, but I decided to go with Atlas Sound. I mean it was at St. Cecilia's, so it got extra points.
"I think this is the first time I've been in a church," one guy said tentatively to his friend before the show started. With its stained glass windows, carefully carved decorations, shiny chandeliers, and beautiful pews, it was a sight to behold.
The setting couldn't have been more fitting for the opening act, Lichens. The set got off to a slow start - seven solid minutes of a monotone buzz, but it soon started to build with every passing minute as Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe added more to the mix, including some otherworldly vocals. The natural reverb of the space further complimented his sound.
After about playing for about thirty minutes straight, he stopped as suddenly as he had begun, and another one-man act, Adam Forkner (aka White Rainbow), took his place behind a folding table and began to fiddle with a series of knobs and pedals. Forkner, too, carefully looped his music together, but for him, the music was more to entertain - not to bring about a religious experience. With the addition of some bass in the mix, it was just enough to get two people near the front to stand up in their pews and start dancing. (I smell a Craigslist missed connection in the making.)
Up next was yet another one-man act, Atlas Sound. In his red button up shirt and high-wasted khaki pants, Bradford Cox was dressed for the occasion. The majority of his set comprised brand new songs (for which he apologized, saying he had forgotten how the other ones go), but he did at least slip in a few older ones, including "Shelia." It's only a matter of time before Cox starts to make up songs on the spot for each show (as he joked he was doing at the Brooklyn show).
Unfortunately, though the atmosphere was ornate, I didn't love the sound quality. (Or maybe I'm just spoiled from hearing him play at the Bell House.) At times, the guitar took on this jarring quality as it pierced through the otherwise dreamy mix, but the crowd didn't seem to mind too much (Andrew liked it). A number of people left their seats in the back and filled in the space in between the pews as the show went on.
After a brief encore, Bradford Cox delivered something of a benediction to the crowd, and turned everyone loose to dash to the next show - for me, it was off to a sticky hot Bruar Falls (as per Bill's recommendation) for a bit of jangly pop, courtesy of Reading Rainbow and Eternal Summers. It was still early after all.
Atlas Sound @ St. Cecilia's Church 6.16.2011