A bit belatedly (and because I can't think of anything terribly interesting to report about the Mono show I saw at Bowery the night before this one), here's my take on the Tapes 'n Tapes show I saw at Irving Plaza a coupla weeks ago. Yes, despite no substantial changes, the venue is now officially known as The Fillmore at Irving Plaza (as I noticed prior to the disappointing Type O show I saw there a couple of weeks ago). This time I finally noticed one difference between "old" and "new": a bunch of framed photos/posters from assorted shows at various Fillmores across the country, including at least one big one of Bill Graham. Whoop-de-fuckin'-doo!
My first reaction after getting towards the front of the stage was one of the "holy shit, I'm the oldest schmuck in this room by at least a decade." This was the worst I'd found myself to be out of my age class since that terrible Minus the Bear show I'd walked out of after 20 minutes at the same venue (when it was still called Irving Plaza) less than a year ago. The major difference was at that concert, I only wanted to see the opening band, the mighty Russian Circles, so I was able to leave in plenty of time to catch Matlock.
Tonight's opening band, The Virgins, was super fun, although I should probably lower my voice while announcing this. Guilty pleasure to-the-max uber-simple-yet-fun-fun-fun bouncy pop punk played by a quartet of drunk-off-their-asses teenagers. Apparently, they had been drafted in to fill this opening slot at the last moment due to a member of the band that was originally supposed to play suffering from a bout of appendicitis. Although I was able to stifle the urge to pogo, lots of head-bobbing was induced. Set's highlight was the band's tiny teenage bassist ascending to the top of the bass drum then doing the Nestea plunge in a true display of rock n' roll set-closing enthusiasm-- except it was only three songs into the set. Brief delay to reassemble the slightly askew drumkit, but the momentum wasn't lost.
Second band... don't really remember the name. "Ladyhawk?" I think so. Anyhow, these guys were plagued by *horrendous* concert sound, and I really couldn't tell what the fuck was going on musically. Prior to their set, when they were tuning their drums, I noticed that whoever was in charge of running the soundboard totally blew it: the floor tom, for example, instead of producing a good, deep THUD, had unnecessary noise accompanying each beat. You know when you're listening to a tape walkman and the batteries are running low but you've still got the bass boost on, all distortion-farty? That's what it sounded like; just really unpleasant, with a lot of unwelcome background noise. Again, due to the simply horrendous drum sound, strangely muted guitars, and muffled vocals, I could barely tell what style of music these guys were playing. Grade: incomplete, although the lead singer vowing to singlehandedly de-virginize The Virgins produced a hearty guffaw room wide.
Tapes 'n Tapes took the stage a bit after 11. I'd been really looking forward to seeing these guys live for quite some time (The Loon was my fourth favorite new record of '06) but sadly the sound guy still hadn't figured out that the sound was shitty. So, yeah, the guitar and keyboards were barely audible, thanks to the unnecessary BOOMing drum sound. If this were the first time I'd heard the music of Tapes 'n Tapes, it's pretty safe to assume that I would not be a fan, because the horrendous mis-mixing really didn't suit Tapes 'n Tapes' spare style.
After opening with "Just Drums" and "The Iliad," I wondered how these guys would fill a whole set, what with only about 40 minutes of music to their name on their debut record, which they did by playing several new songs. Again, I hate to blame the poor concert sound but as a result I really don't have much to report other than that the new songs don't really seem to depart too greatly from Tapes 'n Tapes' established style (read: I dug 'em). Throughout, they mixed in a couple of changeups, notably "In Houston" being played with dramatically accelerated sections, and with many other songs having more energetically-delivered vocals than their album counterparts. Finally, they ended the show with "Insistor" and "Jakov's Suite," which both really rocked. Just as on The Loon, these guys proved that you don't have to play chunky power chords at an ear-splitting volume to really, really rock out.
So, yeah, I wish the sound had been better, and I'm really looking forward to hearing these guys' new record, whenever that's supposed to come out. I imagine when Tapes 'n Tapes next come around I'll be seeing them supporting that new record at Webster Hall, where, hopefully they'll be mixed by a sound guy who knows what the fuck he's doing and the instruments will have some separation instead of being buried amongst a sloppy sonic shitshow. Next up: maybe I'll get off my fat ass and see Cheeseburger later this week.