motion picture soundtrack
when i found out that tonic, one of my favorite venues in nyc, was having financial troubles and benefit shows, the first thing i did was look at their calendar to see if there was anything coming up i wanted to see. one name i recognized was the winter pageant, who i've seen a few times, including new year's eve. this time was a marked improvement over their previous outings, chiefly due to a brand new bassist and drummer. i thought the latter looked familiar and i confirmed with him after the show that he was indeed the recent beatkeeper for on air library. i was a huge fan of this band's early live shows and first EP, and i was pleased they seemed to be following in the footsteps of their friends from calla and interpol in terms of recognition. however the sad news he told me is that that band is no more. and so their loss is the winter pageant's gain, with greater percussive restraint shown in order to allow the floating ethereal atmospheres more space. they also had their best visuals yet (see above), although as has often been the case live, the singer's voice got lost in the sea of instruments. those desiring to hear it more clearly can check out the clips on their website or just buy their new CD.
what really clinched my decision to go to tonic that night was what i read and heard online about the headlining band, dirty projectors. as intriguing as i found those scraps of information and sound, i wasn't prepared for what i was confronted with at the show. the backing band consisted of a double bass, two cellos, and two female vocalists. driving the songs forward was one man (shown above at a previous show), awkwardly cradling his strapless, left-handed classical guitar as he strummed disjointed jazz chords and plucked odd melodies. the songs never seemed to settle on a tempo for longer than a few bars, or rather paused frequently for breaths, melisma, and feeling the moment. his vocal delivery is from some completely internal space as well, indulging in swoops, yelps and polyphonic throat-singing. however at the heart of it, he has a really great soft tenor voice which holds it all together. it was intensely beautiful and strange at the same time. the closest musical comparison i can make is that i felt i was watching a band perform a score for an old disney animated movie such as dumbo or bambi, but in some weird alternate reality.
tonic is one of the few places in this town you can go to see and hear music like this, especially in a decent space with a good sound system. if you're in new york city, please go there this month and spend as much money as you can, or just donate through their website (they take credit cards and paypal).
the title of this post comes from the song of the same name by radiohead.