Friday, June 28, 2013

Chaos in Tejas 2013: Sunday

Screaming Females

There were these brief moments during Screaming Female sets when frontwoman _ _ would do what could be considered the equivalent of stage banter. In this incredibly small and mouse like voice she said hi to the crowd and said what the next song was. I bring this up because it was just shocking to hear her speak like this considering during every other moment of the set _ was an absolute monster, from the way she projected every lyric with the might of a jet engine to her unhinged guitar playing, which shoulder problems or not (the Steve Albini guitar waist guitar strap was the only testament to this fact) hadn’t lost an ounce of power or sheer face melting capabilities. The whole band was tight and intense as everyone before me had always said, and I could only imagine that a full set by would have knocked me back senseless.

Milk Music

You could tell to a certain degree that the members of Milk Music were a bit exhausted while playing. Which was fine really, it just meant they played a little looser than they did Thursday night. Which was ironic because they played more into the indie rock roar of their music then the Neil Young guitar burning they could have. The inclusion of more cuts from their Beyond Living EP probably contributed to this as well, which certainly got more heads in the crowd bopping. Milk Music was just as great as they were Thursday, and played with as much passion as they could muster, festival burnout or not. The fact that the guitar strap of the same guitarists fell off once again though served to this fact in a charming sort of way.


If Merchandise’s set on Saturday was bent around their emotional edge, then Sunday was all about the intensity that lurks underneath. The set was almost completely changed up, pulling both from their debut LP and more from the more risk-taking tunes on their most recent Totale Nite EP. The shifts in sound were nicely reflected thanks to whoever was in charge of lighting, who was having a field day bathing the band in dark red and blue lights, with some strobe thrown in for good measure. The damn really burst though when the band started playing _, and they had a member of the audience throw a beer bottle piñata into the crowd. At which point the stage diving started and a mini-mosh pit took hold of the front of the crowd for the rest of the show. It was nutty & chaotic, and noisy & utterly glorious in the best ways in those all too brief 30 minutes.

Puce Mary

I had no idea what to expect when I went into see Puce Mary. Being part of the Posh Isolation group (Iceage, VAR, Sexdrome), and having her material describe in the broad terms of “power electronica” I was expecting another emotional, cathartic, and dark set like the likes of Pharmakon. And while intense, Puce Mary’s music was nothing like Pharmakon’s. She leaned on ambience as much as noise, in fact make up almost half the set to slowly building up the pulse that was coming out of speakers with slight temp changes and pitch shifts. By the time she began to incorporate her vocals, in of course a twisted, purely instrumental way, her music had already enveloped the surroundings. It was a shame Puce Mary ended so briefly, the spooky intensity she had been crafting reaching its peak right when she turned it off.

Wolf Eyes

I know Wolf Eyes are noise legends, or at least a staple in modern noise music. But after four days of an absolute blistering attack on my senses, I could take nothing from the set. The moment they started playing, it just felt like an overload switch kicked in. I covered my ears, and left after the first song. I just couldn’t take it.


Lower thrived Sunday night in the dark space of Holy Mountain. Most impressive was the new material they debuted. Having only two singles to their names allows for a lot of material to appear “new”, yet you could tell how much more complex and powerful some of the material in the set was. They were even tighter than they were on Saturday, blasting through their material with this broken passion that I hadn’t noticed before. Frontman Adrian Toubro looked like he was aching at the microphone, as if the power of the songs was about to overtake him at any moment. The rest of Lower channeled all this, playing with a passive intensity that emphasized the darker parts of their intense post-punk. It was gloriously cathartic in the best possible ways.

Total Control

Take everything I said about Total Control on Saturday, and they were that, possibly even a little bit better. The set was made even better by the crowd, who was even more into Total Control then they were on Saturday, going absolutely berserk the moment they started. Not to say the crowd was in anyway static on Saturday, but here in the condensed space of Holy Mountain people were absolutely flying across the room in total disregard to anyone else. Having the frontman of Los Crudos and Carson Cox of Merchandise going jumping into the fray and going just as crazy made the show that much all that much greater. This set confirmed what I been thinking since Saturday; Total Control are without a doubt one of the best live bands I have ever seen perform.


This was the Iceage show everyone wanted and everyone deserved. In no uncertain terms, Iceage were absolutely incredible, and their festival closing set might have been the best show I saw during the entirety of Chaos in Tejas. From the moment they began and the pure distortion of the beginning of “Ecstasy” rung out, it was obviously that this set was going to be nothing like the one on Thursday. Everything about Iceage on Sunday was more intense, more visceral, as if a band was channeling some mix of carnage and catharsis into musical form. All channeled through Elias Rønnenfelt, who prowled the stage, holding a steely glare that never faded as if everything deepened on this moment. His ability to collapse into the crowd allowed this intensity to be transferred into the crowd when need be, who were already going even crazier than they were during Total Control, a mix of people trying to match the fury of the music and those wanting to get as close to the band as possible in order to experience it in the most intimate/intense way possible. Even when the new songs were performed (a feat for a band who had just released a new record last February), not a drop of momentum was lost. Truly, a better band could not be asked to have closed Chaos in Tejas.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chaos in Tejas 2013: Saturday

NASA Space University

After already been to Chaos in Tejas for two days, it seemed fitting that I finally saw an actual hardcore band at the festival. NASA Space University was that, a blast of twisted modern hardcore. At 5:00 in the afternoon, in broad daylight to an unresponsive crowd. Not in the sense that the crowd wasn’t into the music (they were), but that they simply did not want to go crazy. Which might have been worse. The band kept trying to goad the crowd, to stop being static and released themselves, to no avail. NASA Space University at least made the best of this situation, using the apathy to fuel their music and make it more intense.


Lower make this intense, heavy form of post-punk that feels like a hardcore band playing Joy Division. It’s brooding and hangs over you the longer it goes on. Live they are great; young, but like peers Iceage, knowing exactly what they are doing musically, balancing this sense of precision with the release that is contained in their songs. However, part of that was lost within this performance. Lower suffered from a semi-similar problem that NASA Space University suffered from; playing at the wrong time in the wrong setting. This is should not in any way be interpreted as saying Lower were bad in any part of their performance; they were great in their 25 minutes. It was just that something wasn’t there that should have been.

Destruction Unit

What Destruction Unit lost from performing in the day light: mystique, atmosphere, and the sense that they were swallowing you into a void of their creation. However, something unexpected was amplified during their set; the sense of evil that is contained in their songs. It was seeing the band twist around their instruments to make louder and louder noise. It was being able to see Ryan Rousseali’s eyes as they expanded to the size of coffee mugs like they saw something awful. It was the trashcan that came flying out of nowhere to crash into the band during the finale that had deformed into an ear bleeding (in a good way) of feedback. Destruction Unit might have succeeded in the light by the back drop of the burning sun that created them in Arizona them rather than the dark where they can escape into.

Total Control

Total Control are already intense on record, an incredibly precise mix of post-punk and synth-punk that is as creative as it is intense. Live, though that intensity became cracked up 100%. Total Control live was one of the most intense and tight bands I have ever seen, made all the more impressive by the fact that it was six people going at it at once. Six people who at every moment knew exactly what to do without a blink of the eye or sideways glance. Frontman DX was absolutely commanding, giving the songs this intense but contained fury that made them just that much more powerful. Even when the band played the (slightly) slower, synthier songs like “Carpet Rash”, not an ounce of energy or momentum was lost. Total Control live was like a precision steel bat to the head that released a burst post-punk fury with each impact.


Merchandise only played for about 28 minutes. Merchandise only played four songs. Merchandise also put on possible the best show of the night. For a band that had just flown in from their first and massive tour of Europe two days before, it was unnoticeable during their performance. They played with a certain amount of swagger, a confidence built around not caring what anyone thought about the music they were making, whether it was punk enough or not, whether it was or not good enough or not. Ironic enough though was the fact that the band that was so decidedly unhardcore, and so built around not meeting some sort of preconceived standard, were the act that finally got everyone to go absolutely crazy. Open with “Anxiety’s Door” got the awkward twisting to start, but the real motion started once “Time” kicked in. Actual moshing took place to these noisy, emotional ballads, it just intensified as the band went on. By the time they closed with the 10 minute epic that is “Become Who You Are”, the crowd had gone absolutely nuts, people smashing into each other, and jumping off and crowd surfing off the non-existent stage. It was pure euphoria in less than 30 minutes.

The Men

Yes, The Men went Neil Young on their new record. Yes, they are now touring with fifth member who plays acoustic guitar and piano. However, The Men live is entirely a different, monstrous beast then the one on record. Live, The Men burn with the exact same amount passion and intensity that has always driven them in the past. The five of them were unyielding ball of energy, perfectly in synch with one another, never letting falling out of step or fumbling a note. They beyond tight as a band; the interweaving vocals, guitar riffs that knew exactly when to floor it like crazy and then jump back, the manic drumming that worked as a glue to keep this altogether. Not that all these nuances were necessarily noticed under the three billion layers of distortion and noise the band was working under, but even on just that visceral level, The Men were excellent, evoking Hüsker Dü and Crazy Horse noisy sprawl going at it at the same time.

Marching Church

I don’t think anyone knew what to expect seeing Marching Church, Ellias Rønnenfelt’s solo project, would be like. There was no precedent, both in terms of material (a tape and 7” of incredible varying sound) or live show. The audience collectively knew this was more than likely their only chance ever to see Marching Church perform live. Thankfully it was good. Rønnenfelt, backed by two members of Lower on bass and drums, delivered a short but blistering set of jagged, noisy, and disjointed post-punk that felt sort of like seeing a set composed entirely of the breakdown parts of hardcore songs. It was off-putting, almost never following a straight path and feeling like the trio could collapse at any moment, but Rønnenfelt managed to keep it together and the blistering ruckus they created endured.

Los Crudos

I have a bad tendency to see living legends in regards to bands without having what should be the proper appreciation for the work. I saw Pavement on their sole Texas reunion show without having heard their entire discography. I got to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor without having heard one of their songs. And likewise, I saw Los Crudos without knowing their material at all, knowing only their reputation and that they had reunited for Chaos. And good god were they great. It was some of the best hardcore I’ve ever heard, blazing and ungodly passionate, with Martin Sorrondeguy’s banter between songs on everything from immigration to queer rights feeling just as important as the songs themselves. The literal warehouse they performed in, unventilated, massive with poor sound, made it feel like the world’s largest DIY show, the 700 people there going absolutely crazy in the best way possible.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chaos in Tejas 2013: Friday

Body of Light

There's always a risk to seeing a synth band perform live. The question as to how they will recreate their music live arises, as well as if they make it interesting. Seeing a laptop turned on while another band member karaokes over the music isn't particularly interesting, but neither is a band hunched over their equipment the whole set, never moving in order to recreate the songs note by note. Thankfully Body of Light didn't have either of these problems. The duo divided their duties, one manning the synths and electronics, while front man Alex Jarson brought the songs to live, being one of the most commanding frontmans I've seen in a long time. Despite the small and semi-disinterest of the crowd (in the sense they only seemed to watching because they were at the venue), Jarson played with a passion, twirling and throwing himself around the stage and floor, channeling the band's coldwave with much more intensity then it usually has. The band's performance reminded me of a more reduced version of Cold Cave, less concerned with the atmosphere of the genre then trying to properly express the emotions trapped within the songs. It was perfectly executed, the balance between cold calculation and heated, on the moment intensity.


Seeing Marshstepper wasn't so much a show as it was seeing one of those art school avant-garde shows you always hear about but never actually experience. Until now. The duo set up on the floor, a full table's worth of electronics laid out before them as they started making dark ambient drone as the fog machine started to fill the room. An instantly eerie mood overcame the space as the mood as the noise level rose. It seemed at first that this would just a set of experimental noise, but it became progressively more than that when a man stood before them, peeled off his close, and started smearing mud and water over himself, dragging a knife over his body, and mangling his body in anguish as the music expanded in harshness and intensity. It became obvious only until the end of the set that Marshstepper weren’t a proper band, but the sound track to the disgusting and ugly black parts of the world, which had unfolded in front of the audience’s eyes in increasingly savage ways.


I think the most surprising thing about seeing Pharmakon perform was how little there was to her set. A table setup in the crowd, with a keyboard, some effects, a Walkmen, and microphone all feed through the same machine resulted in some of the loudest and harshest noises I’ve ever heard come pouring out of a speaker. However, what made the show so intense was Pharmakon herself, Margret Chardiet, who brought out the violent essence to her songs into a physical form. Her mere presence, lurching over the electronics and howling into the mic, along with staggering backwards into the crowd heightened the uneasiness that was engulfing every sense. The only flaw was right before Pharmakon’s noise truly engulfed everything, the set ended almost abruptly, after only 20 minutes and three songs. No warning, just a flip of the switch and it was over, as if those previous brutal minutes hadn’t happened at all.

Lust for Youth

Detached. Reserved. Precise. Everything that hadn’t been present in the previous three sets was communicated by Lust for Youth in strides. As Loke Rahbek stayed bent over the electronics the entire set, Hannes Norrvide stood back, head tilted back & eyes closed, seeming lost in another place. He sang the songs with near robotic passion, never adding anything more or a hint of flare to them. However, instead of taking from Lust for Youth's set, all this helped to recreate the distilled and static electronic they create on record. It was exactly as cold and removed as it should have been, in turn allowing the duo to sound great and properly intense in a Suicide sort of way. The most interesting thing about Lust for Youth's performance was how well it synched into the showcase. Even though they were the closest the night came to synth pop, and even got the crowd to (very awkwardly) dance through the whole set, it didn't feel off or out of place. It just felt right.

Destruction Unit

I saw Destruction Unit practically a year earlier opening for the Men. It was one of the, no THEE most chaotic shows I've ever seen. Firecrackers started going off one song into the set, and the crowd started going crazy, more psychotic then mosh happy. The music didn't help, the dark, drug damaged psychedelic punk the five people on stage were creating by seemingly randomly bashing their instruments was emitting this evil and intense energy into the air. This set didn't reach does levels, but did came close. The fog machine, the staple of the night, helped to trigger flashbacks as the band launched into a brutal blend of noise and psychedelia, with bits of shoegaze and art-punk thrown in for good measure. The band's ability to communicate actual songs instead of just a barrage of pure, crazy noise has improved in the passing year, though the visceral chaos that is the core of the band was still in full effect. Destruction Unit were just as intense, scary, noisy, and awesome as I remembered them to be, just as damaged as a band crafted in the Arizona sun should be.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Chaos in Tejas 2013: Thursday

For once I finally experience Chaos in Tejas properly. After years of picking and choosing an off day or showcase to attend, I finally dived in and made it each progressively more grueling day. I don't know how, but I managed to escape without a broken nose or broken bone, though my ears were ringing for days after, and several black and blues appeared on my body that weren't there before. And it was incredible. Running around Austin, jumping between venue to venue in a desperate attempt to not miss anything or band, not to mention seeing performances by artists you never thought in a million years you would ever see, unfolding before your eyes mere minutes after another. Something in the Austin air shifts; the mix of incoming summer and a culture that is not often nurtured here taking root for a small but highly concentrated amount of time. It's right there in the title. It's chaos, and it is absolutely perfect.


Iceage’s set should have been the show that kicked Chaos in Tejas with a massive bang. They were returning Tejas champs who absolutely killed when I saw them exactly a year ago right before they opened for Moss Icon, despite playing a set mostly filled with then just recorded and unknown You’re Nothing songs. Yet here, Iceage had everything going against them. They were playing E115, a giant, un-air conditioned warehouse with poor sound which mulled the power of most of their songs rather than adding some possible DIY charm. The crowd was also insanely unresponsive toward the band, not even glaring cross armed, but just standing still, barely a most push to be had, even when “Collation” kicked in. A bad Iceage show is still better than a quality show from an indie band, and Iceage still were still awesome in that way only Iceage can be. But having to pause for 5 grueling minutes in order to mix a microphone problem sort of sealed their fate; when the band walked off stage, they were a bit defeated.

The UV Race

In a word UV Race was absolutely absurd. Five Aussies who took the stage, ragged and seemingly drunk who played the most sloppy, art-damaged post-punk imaginable, with a front man who instantly stripped down to just his underwear for the entire set, and a guitarist who switch to a saxophone for half the band’s set. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought the band was playing a massive joke on everyone. But absurd as it seemed at time, UV Race was awesome in the most unserious way possible. They knew exactly what they were doing, and blasted their music through the murky and terrible mixing at Red 7 with drunken disregard to everything but the ruckus they wanted to make.

Parquet Courts

I was not expecting Parquet Courts to be this good. Parquet Courts shouldn’t have been this good. But Parquet Courts were that good. Spending a year touring behind Light Up Gold more than likely tightened the screws on anything loose with the band because they played not with some haphazard, whatever attitude, but a genuine “fuck it, we are going to play are silly songs as passionately as possible” mindset. They were great, the intended intensity of their songs that wasn’t there on their album was blasting out of the speakers Wire twisted indie rock glory. They were also the band to finally get the crowd moving, the 1-2 build-up of “Master of My Craft” to the burst of “Borrowed Time” triggering a small but impassioned mini mosh-pit that the band retained for the rest of the set. The band closing on “Stoned and Starving” should have been a come down, but they instead warped the song into an increasingly intense and knotty post-punk loop of noisy guitar and spoken words that was something to behold.

Milk Music

Milk Music were the perfect come down from the manic energy of Parquet Courts. Druggy enough so you could get lost in it, but Dinosaur Jr noisy enough so that the music was never boring. The set defined how much Milk Music has changed since they released the Beyond Living EP. The rhythm is so much sturdier thanks to their bassist, and their new guitarist is the heart of the band, never letting up on playing, even when his strap broke right during the beginning of a song. They get lost in sections; a riff they hold steady, a solo that goes on and on. This might make it seem like they spent their 40 minutes on stage noodling, but that was so far from the case. Milk Music rocked in a way that felt deeply old-school, but wasn’t cliché or an annoying indulgence into the past. It wasn’t captivating or energetic the way mostly everything else at Chaos was, but it did leave my ears ringing in just the right way.

The Bats

It’s hard to say what was so awesome about seeing The Bats live. It was just four, fifty year olds playing tight pop after tight pop song. Technically, nothing more. However, almost exactly like when the Clean played last year, it more seeing the fact that you were seeing something you never thought you would see, a once in a lifetime performance in Austin of a band that always only existed in record form. Maybe it was just that, legends getting confirmed as legends because The Bats were so good. Just song after song from their massive discography that rang in the ears for those perfect 150 second before they went onto the next one. They must have played over twenty songs, and each one was just as catchy was the one that came before it. It was jangle pop in all its greatness and everything it can be, crystallized, and performed to a rabid audience. It was just great.

Premier: Southern Femisphere-One Alarm

Sleater-Kinney. Why did I not realize it the last time I was listening to Southern Femisphere? Listening to "One Album", it's more crystal clear then ever. And that's awesome because not enough bands are making the post Sleater-Kinney, off-kilter rukous like Southern Femisphere are. "One Alarm" is everything "Transgander (when the community went looking for the lost gayzling in the wood)" was and more. Perfectly disconnected yet constantly interlocking harmonies weave in and out through the whole song. A steady, never faltering rhythm (especially from the spring like bass) keeps the song tight, and undercuts it with just the smallest dash of tension. The always perfectly timed shouts of the lyrics instead of singing them that instantly reaffirm every ounce of intensity contained within the band. And of course the beyond glorious release that kicks in with the choruses, where all these elements collide with each other at once that is both utterly chaotic but beautifully, discordingly memorizing as well. One can imagine "One Alarm" is what "Burn, Don't Freeze" would sound like if it were made now; fractured indie rock at its finest, wonderfully shaped by two decades of post-punk and riot grrl.


Southern Femisphere's Bandcamp
Pre-order Houses here, from Fork & Spoon Records

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pony Bwoy-Dark Soccer

Listening to Pony Bwoy is a strang expeirence because you have to keep double checking that you are not listening to remixes of the songs. The solo work of Marijuana Deathsquads member Jeremy Nutzman Pony Bwoy's songs are the epitome of modern; Bwoy's vocals delivery balance right at the line between R&B singing and rapping (not unlike Chance the Rapper's flow), which melds to murky production perfectly, the audio equivalent of a dingy day-glo LA club if time had been slowed down to a crawl. Then the track...doesn't explode, but blossoms, these almost almost Inception like light filled beats burst into to the song during its chorus as a great contrast to the rest of darker elements of the song, especially Nutzman's vocals, which come close to becoming chopped and screwed for the rest of the song in a way that lets it bleed together with the rest of the track in this beautifully dark way. The production on "Dark Soccer" is absolutely gorgeous, all courtesy of producer Hunter Morley who knows just when to that final effect or knob twist that lets the song flourish.

Also, check out the nearly six-minute track "Ævum (time crawls)" from the album as well to get a picture as to how creative Pony Bwoy can be with their style and influences)


Pony Bwoy's Facebook
Pre-order the self-titled album here, from Totally Gross National Product

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cassette Review: Matt LeMay-Singles

Things don’t really change in Matt LeMay’s world. At least, that’s the impression one can get while listening to Singles. LeMay used to front a band called Get Him, Eat Him, who were around for five to six years, released a few albums and singles, and then broke up in 2009. Listening to Singles though, the unassuming cassette collection of the three digital singles LeMay has released over the past year and a half, one would be inclined to think that Get Him, Eat Him never really broke up. LeMay is still crafting the same hyper power-pop influenced indie rock gems he’s always made, just by himself, and in the slightest of reduced forms. But that is OK because the seven songs on here are seven songs of hyper power-pop influenced indie rock glory.

Like a mix between a more hi-fi version of the Capstan Shafts and later period Guided by Voices, LeMay crafts quick, infectious nugget that don’t last longer than three minutes but cram six minutes worth of music within that time span. Opener “Right Jacket Pocket” is the perfect presentation of LeMay’s sound; simple, sharp but sunny guitar strumming coupled along with LeMay’s high-pitched yet sturdy vocals. The song, after laying down this deeply addictive groove explodes into a million different hooks that it had been building to since the song had begun.

It’s truly impressive how much LeMay is able to get out of just guitar and drums to make his. True, the tracks are layered near ad infinitum, but that’s beside the point. There is a simplicity here to LeMay’s songs that should not be mistaken for a lack of trying, but should be seen as how much LeMay has streamlined his craft. He knows how to make a killer pop song, and makes them so, so well, filled with little flourishes that enhance everything. The harmonies and little jangle added to "Compare and Contrast". The way he is able to make his cover of The Game Theory's "The Only Lesson Learned" sound just like his own style with just a few dashes of synth. How just by dropping the drums in "By Half" it becomes this perfectly morose tune that after all the energy of the last six songs, ends ends the tape on just the right darker note. The program repeats on both sides of Singles for good reason; after the songs breezy by during the first listen, the desire to hear them all again is far too strong to ignore.


Matt LeMay's Website
Buy Singles here, from Mirror Universe Tapes

Thursday, June 6, 2013


There is so much humor and sarcasm attached to Superchunk calling their new album I Hate Music I don't know where to start. There is no way a band would create their tenth record is their was a hint of any animosity to the craft. There is no way that a band who runs an music empire as sprawling and magnificent as Merge Records could possibly hate music. There is also no way Superchunk could make something as catchy as "FOH" if they hated music. And let me emphasis, "FOH" (standing for 'Front of the House', which I don't why they didn't just call the song that) is catchy. A nice attack on domesticism and feeling trapped by it, which shouldn't be surprising for a band composed of now fourty-somethings. It follows the same dynamics and style that the band created on Majesty Shredding, meaning their is glossy production and the smallest tamper in the usual Superchunk speed. There's even a complete drop out of the instruments near the end that is destined to become a massive singalong at all future live shows. But at its core "FOH" has so much life and energy to it, from the on fire guitars to the noisy overdrives that kick in near the end, that whatever sense of adulthood has entered Superchunk's music, they are still making spitfire indie rock tunes without fail. If every time a new Superchunk album comes out, the only thing people talk about is how they've still got it, I'll be completely fine with that because Superchunk have still got it.


Superchunk's Website
Pre-order I Hate Music here, from Merge Records

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Live: The Music Tapes Present The Traveling Imaginary

I know time machines aren't real, that they are a science that the world has yet to create, as much as we want them to exist. However, as much as I know that to be true, when the doors opened at the Scottish Rite Theater to let the small crowd in, it was like stepping into another time. The band’s massive circus tent For anyone who has qualms with Kickstarter and what it can actually accomplish needed only see pass through the venue’s door to see how incredible the results can be.

A miniature circus tent was there to greet everyone, decorated with the Music Tapes usual sense of forgotten charm and old big band music playing in the back. Frontman Julian Koster was out in about, directing everyone like a ringleader (with megaphone in hand) to the various games in around the tent that would serve as the night’s opening entertainment. Old school bell ringing games and beanbag tossing were recreated for the crowd to play. There was a small amount of awkwardness from everyone adjusting to having to interact with one another in order to play the games, but that was quickly overcome, especially by the time the massive group games took place like “Paris with Bells” with blindfolded people chasing others who were ringing bells. It evoked this sense of childhood joy and fun that had laid dominant in a lot of the crowd for the longest of times.

And, in a larger sense that Koster and The Music Tapes were trying to do with the entire night. They eventually started to usher people into the tent with singing saws, and once everyone was seated started playing an extremely old and lovely black and white cartoon short on a projector. Then you could hear music being played, the projection sheet was pulled down, and there stood the Music Tapes, the night’s main entertainment at center stage. Now I won’t try to capture everything that happened during those 80 minutes, mainly because that would involve spoiling the magic of the event. Suffice to say that it was completely magical; band members came left throughout the night as the necessary banjos, singing saws, , trombones, horns, and 7-foot Tall Metronome were needed (mostly from Robbie Cucchiaro, the second half of the Music Tapes, who provided some the nights best silent entertainment as a human gramophone and massive circus entertainer). In between Koster who relay old stories his grandfather had told him, a skit was performed to explain the 7-foot Tall Metronome, confetti snow was dropped, and a giant snowman was erected and soon melted. At one point a guy in gorilla outfit came out to play the orchestra chimes, and it didn’t seem out of place.

The finale though was something else, as Koster got little kids in the crowd to lower a present that had been hanging over the crowd, all the while speaking this lovely spoken word piece about finding your childhood in the box. He then finished by playing “Takeshi and Elijah”, a beautifully sparse song that is almost only Koster and his banjo strumming out this nearly haunting tune about someone lost returning that builds into an explosive crescendo with all six people of the band performing. It was, along with the night itself, truly something to behold. The tour was dubbed The Traveling Imaginary, and after the show I'm sure,sure, that everyone in the audience understood why. With such irony and self-awareness attached to every action a band does these days, this concert, if it can be reduced to just that, was the furthest thing from those two things. Seeing The Music Tapes perform was one of the most earnest and completely magical things I've seen in my entire life.