As a pre-Thanksgiving appetizer, the Echo had a night of darkwave bands, and four of them played the intimate venue on Tuesday night, bringing a few variations on the theme.
Dancing Tongues certainly brought the dance element in their filled-with-action post-punk genre. The trio, fronted by Alex Lavayen on vocals and guitar, had dark melodies and a very dynamic style fueled by an anxious urgency. Lavayen’s raucous baritone, combined with Kevin Modry’s restless and rhythmic drumming and Josh Gonzales’ energetic bass lines, built a somber and almost mysterious atmosphere, going to some epic dimension during a few songs. They were loud and tough and their set was all about dark shadows constantly whipped by rays of bright white light. If they have released an EP, ‘Positions’ on Bandcamp, they also played many songs that will be featured on an upcoming release, and during the last songs, ‘Shine’ and especially ‘Faith’, they injected a large dose of furious garage rock into their obscure post-punk dancefloors.
Foie Gras seemed to be the perfect name for a Thanksgiving dish, although the moniker would probably trigger a food nightmare to a vegetarian like myself. Singer Iphigenia Rose Lee had one of these dark and powerful croons she was using full force over an energetic drone-like dark soundscape. Buzzing guitar and tape were backing up her authoritarian tone, which barely softened up during one or two more tender songs,… the rest of the set was bathing in a curious and dramatic atmosphere which seemed to mix sacred and sacrilegious with ease.
The third band, Numb. er, fully embraced the darkwave idea with a energetic set fully layered with synth. Fronted by Jeff Fribourg, the music had mean bass/punk synth attacks, dominated by a very morose tone that could have made you forget you were living in sunny California. There was a real rewarding violence in this unapologetic delivery, a tone building a tragic and anxious atmosphere, determined to end it all with a climatic ending. Fribourg was singing like a man both scared and fearless, opening a bigger veil of darkness song after song, with a Joy Division-esque vibe and deathrock aesthetics. It was a deeply submerging music, hypnotic at certain point despite the dark fire burning inside, and becoming more alive when Fribourg moved for one song, from behind his keyboard to the front of the stage. Numb.er have been touring with A Place to Bury Strangers, and interestingly, their label (Electrowertz) mates are this other young upcoming band named Sextile.
Highland Park-based Cold Showers were headlining the evening bringing a nice blend of shoegaze, no wave, post-punk, synth-pop and dark dancefloors habited by Jonathon Weinburg’s ghostly vocals. If they have frequently drawn comparisons with Joy Division, Interpol, Echo And The Bunnymen and even Depeche Mode, they have developed their own brand of gothic techno with slow beats and a rare sunshine creeping out of the darkness. A few songs had even a Smiths/new wave tone, but all these classic comparisons should not fool anyone, as they genuinely built an industrial-pop nightclub with the maximum effect and a jump in the middle of the crowd carried with the same deadpan delivery. It was surely a set with an indulgence in the past but they certainly stayed interesting the entire time and announced they were playing new songs from an upcoming album that they have been working on for two years. The night at this point had the taste of an addictive throb crawling in reverb under the neon light of a very dark bar, where everyone keeps his sunglasses on.
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