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Fucking in the Streets

The Horrors at Neumos

Fucking in the Streets

Kristen Blush

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The Horrors are a Neil Gaiman dream of a rock band: all tailored black trench coats and blazers and toothpick-skinny slacks and improbably giant black hair, like human Q-tips had been used to clean all of London's sootiest chimneys. They're a sharp-looking bunch—one of their T-shirts is just a picture of a stylish-looking low-cut boot; and sure enough, the band members whose shoes I could spy were all wearing gleaming black leather boots or dress shoes. Last Tuesday at Neumos, lead singer Faris Badwan alternately brooded and paced around the stage, hung from the microphone like a coat on a rack, or shook like the mic had suddenly started shocking him—often, at climactic moments, he would throw his arms out toward the crowd like he was casting a spell.

Who-/whatever funds their shoe shopping has also laid out for some pretty nice, you know, musical gear—all the usual, plus an impressive array of synthesizers and a pedal board roughly the size of my apartment. It all gets put to good use crafting the band's shadowy shoegaze sound, which in concert tended to be slightly more raucous and less restrained than on record, some subtleties sacrificed in favor of a more overpowering sonic assault.

The echoing carnival organ riff and buzz-saw guitars of "Who Can Say" sounded great, as irresistible as on record, whereas "New Ice Age" just sounded overbearing and blunt. "Mirror's Image" was good and haunted, especially Badwan's vocals, but some of the engrossing interplay between the upper-fret bass lines, the smeared guitars, and the insistent keyboards got lost in the live translation. I can't recall if I heard them play "Three Decades," but if they did, it was with something less than the awesome My Bloody Valentine–echoing guitar sheen of the recorded version. Overall, I prefer the band on record; the live show was leaving me cold enough that I split at the first sign of a slow song. (I understand I missed a cover of Suicide's "Ghost Rider"—damn—and presumably also their set-/album-closing motorik epic "Sea Within a Sea"; I'm listening to the latter on headphones while writing this, and it sounds just great.)

A word about the crowd: I can't remember the last time I've seen so many goths intermingling with odd, colorful club kids. All these NME readers coming out of the woodwork/bat caves! Well done, Seattle.

As for opening act Japanese Motors, the Vice Records–signed band's T-shirts advertise them as "sun-bleached garage pop from California." Eh, okay. Plenty of thatstuff around these days, but Japanese Motors do it in a manner that's entirely unconvincing. Like if washed-out surf garage weren't happening right now, they'd switch to the next thing without skipping a beat—no crime, but you didn't get much of a sense of investment. Add to that the fact that they were such bright, sunny daylight to the Horrors' night, and it made for a rather blah opening act. Best thing I saw them do was a cover of Wire's "Outdoor Miner," complete with Blur-ry British accent. recommended

 

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