So Head of Femur is a terrible band name, right, but don't let the awkward moniker fool you into keeping your distance; there's really something quite amazing behind the nonsense. Hailing from Chicago, the band is an all-star outfit of musicians featuring Matt Focht of Bright Eyes, Mike Elsener of Solar Wind, and Ben Armstrong of Commander Venus. The boys founded the group in 2001, but eventually filled out their sound by adding a variety of other musicians (who've done time in impressive bands of their own like Hella and Sea & Cake), bringing the current and official roster to its sturdy eight members.
Though the band apparently travel and perform as an octet, nearly 20 folks are listed as having a hand in HoF's latest record, Hysterical Stars. Contributions include everything from drums and trumpet to flute, gong, and "tomfoolery." Tomfoolery indeed! HoF present a huge orchestra of noise that playfully combines bouncy guitar, happy zips of atmospheric electronics, childlike xylophone chirps, clean horns, and lush, beautiful strings. Focht's optimistic yet worn vocals are only 1/10th of the equation, but they're impressive and comfortable, boasting a youthful energy while still sounding aged enough to surpass his infamous Bright Eyes bandmate by about 10 years.
Last year HoF signed to SpinART Records, making them labelmates with acts like Clem Snide and Frank Black, and they've recently been seen touring with the likes of Bright Eyes and Wilco. Obviously they're on the verge of greatness, and they're gracing our very intimate Paradox for what will no doubt be a fantastic performance. The show is at 8:00 pm on Saturday, August 13. After our city's own Dear Darling open with their beautifully sad whiskey-soaked indie rock, you'll probably need the cheering up Head of Femurs' horn section can supply. Who doesn't love a trumpet?
Also on the bill are Spinto Band from Delaware, who spice up clean pop melodies with electronic flourishes. And numbering six members strong, Spinto Band is quite a sizeable act in itself. I wonder... if there were a duel—Spinto Band vs. Head of Femur—who would win? HoF have two more members, sure, but judging by their press photos, Spinto Band look like a gang of cleaned up scalawags while HoF would be too busy prancing around in wigs to actually fight. But maybe there's some rough-and-tumble throw-down ability beneath the flutes? Oh who am I kidding, indie rock boys don't fight—and there's no brawling allowed at the Paradox anyways.