Danielson, Ben and Vesper & Ortolan played Knitting Factory Brooklyn (pics) & SXSW
photos by Ben Lozovsky
It doesn't' really matter who Daniel Smith plays with; whether its with his real family or indie all-stars (and protégés) like Sufjan Stevens and Yoni Wolf, the Danielson directive comes across loudly.
On Monday (3/8) at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, Smith's band was largely comprised of members from fellow tour-mates Ben & Vesper and Ortolan (Stevens was there, but only as a supporter). That reflected in the crisp and jazz-tinged renditions of standout tracks from Ships, which made up the majority of the Danielson set. There was still an endearingly petulant attitude to the music, especially during "Rubbernecker," an older punk-friendly number that saw Smith's ascending screech turn into a growl. Under Smith's helm, happiness grows a bite.
Slightly more tame were openers Ben & Vesper. They played an elegant, if not restrained, set filled with accordions and trumpet passages. Ortolan were fresh off their album release party the night before in Philadelphia, and used that enthusiasm to fend off any jitters during their performance. With soulful inklings and Motown girl-group aspirations, they performed tracks from their new Daniel Smith produced record, Time On A String, with titles too long they couldn't quite remember the full names. But it shows they have deeper thoughts that rise up throughout their youthful plaintiveness.
After this tour, Smith plans to finish up the near completed new Danielson album, recorded with members of his current band as well as some "special guests," as Smith promised after the show. Regardless of who shows up, it will most likely be the same beautiful tune.
Since the NYC show, the three bands toured to Texas and played SXSW.
"Daniel Smith's newest protege's are a four girl group called Ortolan. These are four fresh faced, small town hipsters who performed a set of quirky indie pop songs. Great harmonies with atonal elements and constantly shifting rhythms make this group compelling to hear. Though they claim a lead vocalist many of their songs feature dual lead vocals between the guitarist and keyboard player. At times they seemed surprised the SXSW crowed genuinely liked their music." [One21]
Danielson played Beauty Bar on Wednesday night (3/17) at 11:15pm and then Daniel Smith came over to watch his friends Serena Maneesh play their (extra late) set at the official BrooklynVegan SXSW showcase at Club DeVille (they were supposed to go on at 1, but went on at 2). Daniel contributed backing vocals to their 2005 album self-titled album. Serena Maneesh contributed to the 2006 Danielson album Ships. Sufjan contributed to both of those.
No pics from Texas, but more pictures from Knitting Factory are below...
Ben and Vesper