Monday, November 10, 2008

Women | The Fifth Element | Oct 18

One of my favorite albums this year has been Women's debut self-titled album. Imagine The Kinks recording in a garage into a boombox and you get an idea of what Women sound like. Lo-fi pop gems.

Well, they are starting to get some attention as shown by their recent swing through CMJ where they seemed to have played about nine shows in five days or something ridiculous like that. Fortunately, the VT is blessed with the killer instincts of the Tick Tick crew who got Women to make a stop in Burlington on their way to NY from their homes in Canada.

Besides have great ears for talent, the Tick Tick folks are great about pairing artists with cool and appropriate locations. Whether it's the solitude of a remote church for an acoustic show by an artist looking for confidence or, in this case, an industrial basement packed with local hipsters for a hot lo-fi band, Tick Tick gets the right venue for the right artist.

I had never been to The Fifth Element but was told to make a left onto Battery St. and go until it ends. The show will be downstairs. What could go wrong with such directions? I suspiciously followed the directions and found myself in some sort of industrial quarry/cement site. However, sure as shit, when I got out of the car I heard music. I found a door at one end of the building that was less then a typical entrance to a show and more like a door you'd see in a indistrial garage door at an auto repait shop. Then it was a concrete ramp into what looked like a pre-war storage basement for the neighboring business. A low celing with lots of exposed wooden beams and electrical conduits surrounded by random boxes, old windows and other stored items. However, it was actually somebody's apartment that Tick Tick uses occasionally for shows. Perfect atmosphere for a stripped down rock show. Minimalist for minimalists.

I missed Ryan Power's set but got there in time to catch The Vacant Lots. I had heard them briefly one night while walking past Red Square with my wife. Not knowing who they were, we stopped for a few minutes to listen. After about one song, I decided I wanted to know who they were. So, I asked a waiter and later dug up their myspace page.

This show was my first time to take in a full set of theirs. They are two people. Jared Artaud sports the Joey Ramone look as he knocks out deep fuzzy VU-sounding licks on his hollow-body guitar. Brian McFadyen is a teenager schooled in classical music but who hammers away at a stand-up drum set Mo Tucker style; someone needs to get him an upside down metal garbage can to complete the sound. Regardless, the kid does a great job of driving the droning beat until you find your head knocking up and down; similar to what happens to me during a Yo La Tengo show. Sucked in by the drone but floating on the melody. Good stuff.

After The Vacant Lots, Women were up. I wasn't sure what they thought odd playing such a unique venue but I later heard that they loved the place and were very excited to play there. Between their enthusiasm for playing an intimate show for about 40 people in a basement and my joy of seeing a band with only a debut album that I knew inside and out, I felt it would be a good show.

Here's the funny thing about Women. The production of their album is so rough that they sounded much cleaner live; even playing in such an industrial setting. They played everything I could think of off the album and everyone was into the show as they danced along. There was about a ten minute break while they restrung a broken string and they didn't play an encore. However, those were minor issues. Overall, it was a fun show.

At the end of the show, someone yelled "DANCE PARTY!" and immediately dance tunes came over the PA system. I was on the way out but for the rest of the folks, the night was just heating up. Well done, Tick Tick.

Women | Black Rice | Buy

Women | Shaking Hands | Buy

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