Morning Teleportation & Nicos Gun @ Brooklyn Bowl (pics)
words & photos by Ben Lozovsky
Without insider knowledge, it would be hard to discern where Morning Teleportation was based. Below the surface of flippant freak and awe, the band's boisterous concoction of aggressive Manhattan new wave, longhorn state roadhouse blues, crisp Appalachian finger picking and bittersweet Northwestern sentiments could be from anywhere in the lower 48. At Brooklyn Bowl on Friday (4/08), the second of two nights in New York, the group presented it's bicoastal Indie atlas, stopping briefly for souvenirs and snapshots just about everywhere in between. Woody Guthrie would have been proud.
Guthrie spent time in Oregon, where the members of Morning Teleportation currently reside. Although his stay was brief, the place he called "a paradise" was highly inspirational to his work. During his short month traveling along the Columbia River, Guthrie wrote 26 songs, including some of his most recognized works like "Roll On, Columbia, Roll on." Commissioned by the government, many of those numbers were written essentially as propaganda pieces to promote the region.
Morning Teleportation's own music might as well be used as state-approved examples of Portland's much needed musical expansion. Maybe it's the 10% unemployment or the 80% racial homogeneity there, but either way PDX folk have no choice but to diversify. The band still maintains many of the local trademarks: the plaintive, at times melancholy vocals, the earnest emotion, the springy jangle that could turn dark and weighty with little foreshadowing. It's not surprising that Modest Mouse front man Isaac Brock produced their debut album. That's where the comparisons cease though; instead of a steady barrage of rain-soaked Pacific gloom, there's a recurring sentiment of rejuvenation, a picturesque scene from after the storm.
To add to their geographical survey, most of the band hails from Kentucky. The state's rolling hills even emerge in Morning Teleportation's work, especially live. The fluidity between and connectivity of the band's far-reaching ideas were clear, much more so than on their rambunctious record Expanding Anyway. Even as single songs that seemed like medleys, like album closer "Treble Chair," skirted back and forth from different genres Friday, the constant movement didn't seem indecisive or impetuous - the surprisingly complex emotions of what some might call certifiably crazy music moved in step with the changing structure and beat. The members of the band exhibited a mature sense of calm despite the pounding dance beat they often settled into. Guitarist/lead singer Tiger Merritt was especially at ease, even when jumping into the crowd for a jittery tremolo heavy guitar solo or finger tapping up his guitar's fret board. Despite their well-traveled musical influences, the band managed to evoke a unique, even otherworldly identity. Like their name implies, after hearing the band perform, you might just feel like you made it through a wasted, blurry night before mysteriously ending up in front of a coolly rising sun. On Mars.
Openers Nicos Gun got the crowd energized with their own bounce and raucousness. More streamlined then their tour mates, the Philadelphia based band seesawed between electro-tinged dance floor anthems and Velvet-Underground inspired hazy rockers. Despite treading in such well-worn territory, Nicos Gun distinguished it by blurring its duality - the polish of the dance numbers were dirtied up with a surprisingly non plagiarized rock attitude and the guitar freak outs of lead singer/guitarist Barney Cortez, just as the more traditional rock numbers were expanded with rowdy disco and hip hop fills by drummer Harry Louis Zelnick. The band threw both mud and earnestness onto its cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass," helping thaw out Debbie Harry's ice queen lament just enough to make it temporarily its own.
Morning Teleporation is now on tour. More pictures from the Brooklyn Bowl show are below...