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Tearist at Vacation Vinyl on Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Can you still be called underground when you make the cover of the LAWeekly and draw such an unusual large crowd at Vacation Vinyl? The electronic duo Tearist was playing an in-store on Saturday night and they were late. I guess most of the people who were there knew about the intensity of their live performance as they were waiting quietly and patiently. When the band arrived, apologizing for being late, they asked to turn off the lights, and started their performance surrounded by darkness.

Even though both women have something in common in the way they perform throwing their body right in your face, Sleigh Bells’ Alexis Krauss is a cheerleader, whereas Tearist’s Yasmine Kittles is the harbinger of gloom and despair.

Dressed only with a black tee-shirt and small black boots, she said to her partner she was ready after setting up many pedals in front of her. Right away the dark room became another world, a different place. With her PJ Harvey physique, she had no boundaries, screaming, twisting her body in every direction, dancing, kneeling to beat up nervously some metallic instrument, looking like a wounded animal during an intense theatrical performance, mixing weirdness with fear.

With her echoing voice, which I would say was sometimes reminiscent of Marianne Faithful’s, Yasmine seemed to be in perpetual crisis, responding to the dark beats of the synthesizer played by William Strangeland-Menchaca, who was producing a dense music sounding like a cross between an 80s left-over electronica dance and a strange concoction of layered distorted sounds.

I found the whole thing rather strange and unexpected, hard to swallow at the first listening, not always pleasant but very fascinating. It was difficult to stay indifferent, feeling almost uncomfortable when watching her furious and pain loaded performance, but my neighbor was happy, moving, dancing, not missing a beat as if it was the 80s again. I must admit, I was way more captivated by the scene created, the dark atmosphere and her rioting performance suddenly filling the room, than the music itself.

An inspiring actress, Yasmine Kittles is half Iranian and has said to have been influenced by The KLF, Antonin Artaud’s Theatre Of Cruelty, Dadaism, Laurie Anderson, the German band Einstürzende Neubauten among many others,… I don’t know why, I thought I was living inside some kind of Lars von Trier’s movie,…

Tearist were playing for the release of their debut album, ‘Living: 2009-Present’ via Thin Wrist Recordings, a compilation of nine tracks recorded live at various Los Angeles locations, from house shows to a gig at the El Rey Theatre.

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