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photos by Dominick Mastrangelo, words by Bill Pearis
Blouse @ 285 Kent
Captured Tracks took over 285 Kent Tuesday night, featuring three bands from their roster, as well as one that they merely liked a whole lot. I'm not sure if it sold out, but it was a full house by the end of the evening and a pretty fun night all-around.
Last time Blouse were in town, the band were a five-piece with a lead guitarist who really had that early U2/Chameleons sound down, which took the band into more "rock" territory than what you hear on their synth-heavy debut. Last night, Blouse were a quartet with the keyboards back in the forefront. Charline Hilton is charismatic front person who is no slouch, on guitar and the whole band are pretty tight in general. Blouse are best when they break out of the dreamy midtempo sound that makes up so much of their album: the driving "Time Travel" is probably their best song, but it's the cinematic "They Always Fly Away," that really impresses. In 285's airplane hangar acoustics, the song goes widescreen.
Cosmetics probably were the most successful group of the night at least as far as marriage of sound to space. The Montreal duo's icy, desolate beat -- made by vintage synths and sequencers cranked really loud -- sounded great bouncing off the metal ceiling and concrete walls, and fit the overall bombed-out Berlin warehouse vibe of the place. (The duo, all popped collar leather jackets and model-pretty, looked the part too.) From the bathroom they sounded like a munitions factory...in a good way.
Not that successful were The New Lines, the one non-Captured Tracks band on the bill, who haven't quite figured it out live. Their album, one of my 2012 favorites, is chilly baroque pop densely layered with harpsichord and all manner of analogue synths. It would be hard to pull off even under the best of conditions, something 285 Kent doesn't exactly afford, but even harder when you're only three members strong and your very good drummer can't hear the backing tracks. While they don't necessarily need the sonic precision their studio recordings have, a live bassist laying down the record's grooves would help immeasurably towards filling things out sonically. They did, however, have really cool psychedelic projections.
I got to 285 just a hair late to catch opener Heavenly Beat, the solo project of Beach Fossils bassist John Pena whose second single "Faithless" is like a lost 7" from some early-00's Swedish indiepop band. I think both sides are terrific. From what I was told, Heavenly Beat live is currently just Pena onstage with a laptop/ipod backing and not doing a whole lot, so maybe I didn't miss much. He plays this Saturday (2/4) at Cake Shop with fellow C/T band DIVE, plus Caged Animals and Fabric which is a pretty good bill overall.
More pictures from all the bands, including a shot of Blouse's setlist, below.