I went to this show with the plan to specifically watch and review the Brooklyn-based dream pop outfit Field Mouse, but they went on earlier than I anticipated, and for some reason Glasslands was unusually slow to get people in the door, so I ended up only catching the last half of their set while waiting right outside. A very frustrating feeling that is, to be separated from the band you want to see by a wall and a doorman, and only able to hear their poppy shoegaze through these two solid bodies that won’t let you through. Of course, I was only able to break through to the other side at the last note, just in time to see them perform their rendition of loading equipment off the stage. A very anticlimactic start to the night indeed, but I will say that what I heard through the wall sounded so well produced that it could have been mistaken for a recording. Or maybe it’s a well-kept secret that Glasslands' best acoustics are literally (in) front of house. Anyway, in an effort to make up for what I couldn’t see, here’s a recent BreakThru Radio live studio performance Field Mouse did, interspersed with an amusing interview. (Photo by Shervin Lainez)
On the bright side, Doldrums was next. The project of Montreal via Toronto musician and artist Eric Woodhead began like a spaceship taking off. Their appearance reminded me of what kids wore in middle school, but also suggested a sort of clusterfuck of modern trends in youth culture, mixing hip hop bling with vintage DIY and artificial bohemian, like a time capsule of internet cache. Woodhead said something about traveling to the “year two thousand and a million,” and the band blasted off into electronic space, with futuristic tribal beats and Woodhead’s own vocal squalls. There were some lulls with some of the songs feeling a little too similar to one another, and moments of disorganization with the guys shuffling around stage and tangling mic cords, but the sloppiness was also part of the charm, and for the most part Doldrums were the opposite of their name; inciting an unapologetically exaggerated dance party for internet culture kids.
Finishing out the lineup was Portland via New Zealand psych pop buzz band Unknown Mortal Orchestra, who our own Katrina Nattress caught a few months earlier. This night they began with epic scuzz into their playing through of the songs off their self-titled album, with a brand new song thrown in. It’s great to know the band is beginning work on new tracks, as Katrina pointed out, they’ve been touring so much fans only have a limited amount of material that barely runs for 30 minutes in total. Not that anyone is really complaining about the existing material – UMO’s '60s-inspired psych tunes could be on loop all day for all we care. There’s something solid in the way lead songwriter Ruban Nielson has paired his updated take on '60s psych nostalgia with similar lo-fi production and made some of the most catchy songs in current underground circulation. The disorienting fuzz really sells the recordings, but what sold this live show was the way Nielson and their drummer for the night looked absolutely possessed by the music coming out of them. Almost equally as impressive, bassist Jake Portrait looked like he barely broke a sweat, even though his bass lines pulsed through with energy. It got petty steamy in the venue through the haze and the reverb, but UMO played all the jams that had their fans whooping and dancing in glad approval, and ended on the song that catapulted their music presence to the world, “Ffunny Ffrends.”
Unknown Mortal Orchestra has several more dates, including Pitchfork Festival in July. Doldrums have a few more tour dates with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, all of which you can find more info on their Facebook. Field Mouse will be playing Northside Festival this week, and also Mercury Lounge in July.