April 6, 2009

Fanclub's Fantastic Five

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Buenos dias, Cornell peeps! Well. It has been a rather epic weekend for the arts on our campus far above Cayuga’s waters. Cornell designers wowed audiences at Once Upon a Runway, and Girl Talk presided over a massive dance party in Barton Hall (I, unfortunately, could not attend, but I hope ya’ll got to shake your groove things). However, there was another show this weekend that maybe many of you were not aware of — which is your loss, because the Fanclub Collective made a little bit of history Saturday night. I’m talking five bands for five bucks kind of history. What now, brown cow?
Fanclub fiends filled the Big Red Barn following the CDL show Saturday night, and music kicked off around ten with one-woman act US Girls (she apparently thinks of herself in the plural). I had a bit of a tough time with US Girls’ live set, as it was a lot of (loud) ambient noise. She sat on the floor with some effects boards and a mic, and played 20 straight minutes of noise, sometimes with a discernible beat underneath, sometimes not. It was, for me, not particularly pleasant to listen to (though, I know that’s not really the point), but the Fanclub peeps were into it. Maybe I’m just not deep enough. That said though, she did do some really cool things, mixing conventional sounds in unconventional ways. I just wish the live set was a little softer — my ears hurt by the end.
The second performance was Ducktails, another solo act, whom Fanclub describes as an ‘excessively talented one-man poet of the loop, featuring guitar and drum beats.’ Ducktails is another experiment in psychedelic sounds, but a more easily palatable version for the ambient noise layperson, like myself. Ducktails’ set featured pre-recorded drum beats, chill ocean-sounds, himself on guitar and occasionally vocals. His guitar melodies were catchy, and his vocals reminiscent of folk music, but with a modern, psychedelic twist.
Third up was three-person band Gary War, with guitar, drums and keyboard. The set was thoroughly rockin’, the music loud and in-your-face, but the beats oddly catchy. Gary War’s range of sounds was impressive and innovative, with looped melodies that were constantly changing. Again, the music was LOUD, with capital letters, and the vocals more than a little drowned out by the tenor of the guitar and drums (especially the drums). As far as I could tell, the vocals were on the shout-y side, and the range limited. They were, though, I think supposed to be secondary to the music itself, which mixed funky sound techniques with more traditional rock-and-roll. Cool.
The venue really filled up when the next band, the aptly-named Teengirl Fantasy started their set. The renewed energy in the place was palpable. Being lame, my friend and I were exhausted, but it was absolutely impossible to stay tired listening to Teengirl. The music was dance heaven. Teen girls everywhere couldn’t ask for more. Teengirl Fantasy is the brainchild of Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss, and the two of them, with their effects boards and mini korg, could get even the crankiest of grandpas to his feet. The music itself is just layers on layers of dance music, the beats sliding flawlessly one into the other. (Did that sound dirty?) On their Myspace, Teengirl Fantasy describes their music as “It was like magic, and it sounded like rainbow ice cream with cherries on it and mint chocolate chip, and it looked like baby animals and cute boys with nice cars and dreamy eyez, and it tasted like skittles, but better, like a REAL rainbow…” (it’s supposed to be a teenage girl, get it?). I highly recommend Teengirl for whenever you feel the need to dance your troubles away.
The last act of the night was Kurt Vile, two men with long luscious locks playing an acoustic and an electric guitar, making chill lullabies for you to close your eyes and sway to. I think the best way to describe Kurt Vile’s music is pretty. It really does make you want to close your eyes and listen to it for a looong time. The melodies are simultaneously catchy and beautiful, and the vocals perfectly laid-back. On their myspace, Kurt Vile describe their music as sounding like “when u wake from a long and glorious slumber, then u realize u don’t have to go to work, then u fall back into long and glorious slumber…” Fanclub says “This band could become your life,” and I thoroughly believe them. The music is more addicting than goldfish crackers. The whole room sat down and swayed for Vile’s set and it felt like the perfect ending to a night of wicked musical diversity.