If there's one thing I love, my friends, it's hitting the road for an out of town show. It feels like a teensy vacation, venturing outside state lines to go see some music at a club outside your usual circle of venues. And Durham's Motorco might just be my favorite non-local spot within driving distance. So give me the chance to go see two amazing live bands at such a great venue and odds are good I'll make the trip. Even with all that hideous DC metro Friday evening traffic. But damned if Hooray for Earth and A Place to Bury Strangers weren't worth the trip and then some. I don't really know what else could be better on a Friday night.
Hooray for Earth, some of my new favorite New Yorkers, are definitely a special live band. They have this certain feel to them, a rush of breathless, frenetic yet totally chill energy. It's the sound of the promise of beautiful warm weather, and to my winter coat-wearing ears they sounded simply delightful. To me, they're at their best when bouncing all over the place sonically, buoyed by lively drums and an inescapable feeling of excitement. At times, the room lacked a little intensity, but I think a big part of that was the drunken, basketball-glutted Duke and UNC fans in attendance. Taking cues from their lovely noise, the accompanying background images were a collection of swirling, dizzying colors and shapes. Big, clunky riffs and an uneven, awesome drum beat hallmarked a lot of the songs from their upcoming LP. "The barbecue truck is fuckin' rad," they opined between killer songs that went by much too quickly. Initially, I wasn't quite sold on this tour pairing, but having seen Hooray for Earth again, and heard more of their great, great songs, I think it totally made sense. In a way, they're like the sunshine to the stormcloud of animalistic aggression that is A Place to Bury Strangers. They didn't even throw my jam ("Surrounded by Your Friends") into the set, and they were still daggum fantastic.
So too was A Place to Bury Strangers. They've been just about flawless each and every time I've seen them, and are without a doubt one of my favorite live bands. And I made damn sure to have myself some earplugs for this one. The crowd was still on the lackluster side for their set, but the band played like they didn't notice. One song in, Oliver was already going gangbusters with his guitar-playing contortions and herky jerky moves, a precursor of the awesomeness to come. They weren't, as usual, big on banter, but early on we were informed that drummer Jay Space had a broken collarbone. After their set, I'd have said I didn't believe it. He, and the rest of the band, carried out their industrialized shoegaze with gusto. "Deadbeat," one of my most-loved APTBS songs, sounded about as good as I've ever heard, with that growling bassline and Oliver's onslaught of vicious guitar noise. The guitar bore the brunt, too, ending up tossed across the stage before the song was over. My most favorite song came right after, an extra feedbacked and extra slinky rendition of "Ego Death." It was nothing short of ferocious. The trio gritted and grimed and fuzzed and tore their way through their set with much savage force. And I ate up every last minute. Also notable was "I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart," which might have been my favorite song of the night. The black and white ballerina projections were the perfect juxtaposition to the sheer brutality of the merciless fuzz. The instrumentation in this song in particular was nigh on epic. This is a band that taps into some amazing energy when they get together on a stage, and if you haven't yet seen them live, well, you'll want to amend that as soon as possible.
Despite the blase attitude of the basketball-hungover crowd, both of these bands killed it at Motorco. It was a great tour pairing, and both of these bands should be seen live whenever possible. Trust.
mp3: Comfortable, Comparable (Hooray for Earth from the Momo EP)
mp3: In Your Heart (A Place to Bury Strangers from Exploding Head)
[photo by Megan Petty - Philly, 2010]