Windish Agency Highlights: We Barbarians, Purity Ring, Small Black

Written by  Published in Festivals Saturday, 22 October 2011 18:57

Last night the Windish Agency held a showcase for some of their bands at Mercury Lounge. It was a somewhat eclectic lineup, and included BestNewBands.com favorites like Cuckoo Chaos and Gauntlet Hair, but also some new standouts. Highlights below.

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We Barbarians exploded onto the stage with so much energy and force that they made the last couple bands before look like they were sleep performing. Singer/guitarist David Quon and bassist Derek Vanheule jumped all over the stage and screamed their lyrics in their mics, while drummer Nathan Warkentin hit the kick drum so hard it kept pushing forward despite the cinder block with additional weights placed in front. “Strange Overtones” was an especially standout song, along with another inspired by David Byrne and Brian Eno. Here’s another:

And now for something completely different: the future-pop of Purity Ring. This is more of an electronic performance art duo who set the scene with a curtain behind them, a kick drum on a stand that vocalist Megan James plays like a gong, and a table with electronic pipes. Pipes like what you would find under your sink, but with what seemed to be mini drum pads on the end that Corin Roddick hit with sticks and got different tones out of. They also had synchronized lighting that created shadows of their silhouettes, forcing the crowd to listen and feel more than watch.

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Next up, in a somewhat more similar vein was Small Black. If Purity Ring was more about ambiance and mystery, Small Black was about the dance party. The band is made up of four guys who are influenced by 80s synth pop, and throw in some funk and hip hop elements that really work the crowd.  The lights were bright, and beats were pumping hard, There was one more band slated to go on after them, but Small Black’s set really felt like the zenith of the night.

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All Photos (c) Kelly Knapp

Last modified on Saturday, 22 October 2011 20:01
Kelly Knapp

I grew up listening to the music my parents listened to. My mom gave me some of her “Golden Oldies” cassette tapes, and I could sit in my room for hours harmonizing with The Ronettes, and staring at Del Shannon, who I thought was a total stud in his tiny black and white photo on the glossy fold-out insert. I listened to Willie Nelson because my Dad admired him so much, and I wanted to understand what was so great about him too. My first concert wasn’t a huge life changer; I saw Inner Circle at a local Jambalaya festival in Central Florida. Their biggest hit was “Bad Boys,” the theme song to COPS. If anything, that concert should have traumatized me. But, at the time I had no comprehension of any crassness. I just remember the guitarist making eye contact with me and smiling, and feeling excitement over having a brief connection with someone who was making me dance.

It’s the same thing with listening to music with words in another language. It’s not necessary to understand words or literal meanings. It’s the way the melodies and rhythms evoke feeling. It’s like that saying about art, how you may not be able to explain it, but you know it when you see it. I can’t always describe music (although obviously, I sure as hell try to), but I know what I like when I feel it, and I think those who can evoke that feeling deserve to be acknowledged for it. That’s what I want to describe. That’s what I want to share.

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