Posted on Donewaiting.com (April 2, 2003)
Here’s how the donewaiting community works – David (Houston Calling) mentions to me about two months ago that he picked up a promo advance of the new Aereogramme CD at a CD place in Houston for $1. The only thing he says is that it’s louder than he expected it to be. I didn’t really know what that meant but it intrigued me. Days later, the Aereogramme CD lands in my mailbox, courtesy of Matador Records. I pop the thing in and … wham … not even 10 seconds into the first song and I’m hooked. That song (“Indiscretion #243”) starts off with this wickedly heavy Weezer-style chunky guitar riff before slowing down (thus beginning the pattern of loud to soft, soft to loud that continues throughout the rest of the album). The second song, “Black Path” has this hugely majestic opening with the sounds of bells ringing, and a wave of guitars that reminds me of the little of Sigur Ros and Mogwai that I’ve heard. Then, the music just cuts out and you’ve got the singer singing atop a violin (with a bit of piano and guitar thrown in). It’s perhaps one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard this year (and, for that matter, ever). Without going into detail about the rest of the songs on the album, each one is equally amazing and while none really sound the same, they each follow a similar pattern. The band can go from the gentle experimentalism of Radiohead in one song to the thundering post-prog rock sound of Tool in the next. And there are those moments, usually unexpected, where lead singer Craig B. just starts screaming like the singer from a nu metal band (ala the Deftones).
So, with Aereogramme’s CD firmly planted on my “Best of 2003” list I get a call from Steve at the Alive (who, by the way, didn’t yet know of my love of this CD) who tells me that he just got a press release from The Factory announcing an Aereogramme show on April 1. Mind you, this is about 3 days after my initial listen to the CD and I’m basking in the music, listening to the CD in full about 3 times a day. I thought for sure that Steve was playing some sort of April Fool’s Day joke on me but, sure enough, when I hit The Factory’s website, I see the date listed. And not only is Aereogramme playing, but Kopaz has also been asked to be on the bill. For those who don’t know, Kopaz is part of the 2Kidd PR family that I’ve assembled. I didn’t even have to beg and plead to get them on the bill.
April 1. Duffy and Charlie Tokyo come over to Atomic Ned headquarters (see, this is how I’m tying together the Donewaiting community) for dinner before the show. Like a scene out of High Fidelity, we sit around and talk music for a few hours before heading out to see the show.
When we hit The Factory, Go Evol Shiki has already started playing. I’ve been meaning to check them out for year as I kind of know GES member Tom Butler (who also co-hosts “The Independent Playground” on CD101, a show that I’ve been a guest on a few times). Truth be told, Go Evol Shiki are really good at what they do but I think I’m a little too old and too mainstream to understand it. It’s punk rock with keyboards, that’s all I can really say. Not bad, but not really my thing.
Kopaz follows up and opens the show with a lengthy instrumental that seems to wow the crowd, as well it should. The band has been on temporary hiatus due to the birth of lead singer Brian Hake’s son last month. Although after the show Kopaz will admit to being a bit rusty, it was hard to tell from a fan perspective. Everything sounded tight and I think they may have altered their set a bit to fit more comfortably alongside Aereogramme (for God’s sake, they didn’t even play the “hit” single, “32”). All in all, they impressed quite a few people, including Aereogramme (more on that later).
Aereogramme hits the stage with a bang. The Scotsmen are all sporting facial hair and don’t really look like rock stars (but then again, neither do the members of Sigur Ros, Mogwai, etc.). Craig B, with a full red beard, is both intense and humorous throughout the set. During the songs, he sings with his eyes squeezed shut, veins protruding from his neck. He gently embraces the microphone like a lover, careful not to be too rough with it even when screaming to the point of turning bright red in the face. Throughout the set, Craig interacts with the crowd between songs, telling us how being called a “good cunt” in Scotland is a compliment. That leads someone in the crowd to yell out, “You guys are good cunts” to which Craig graciously thanks him. He later makes fun of Dave Matthews and proceeds to introduce an Aereogramme song as a Dave Matthews cover called something like “Happy Happy Happy. Everybody is Happy. We’re all Happy, You’re All Happy. Isn’t Everything Great?”
Meanwhile, bassist Campbell McNeill is a big fella who wildly swings his bass around, looking like a drunken lumbering giant. He’s very entertaining to watch as he puts 100% into his performance. The guitarist, whose name I unfortunately don’t know, keeps to himself, every once in a while jumping around a bit (like Sean from Kopaz) but never really unleashing the beast. He seems content to work his magic without much fanfare but almost always with a cigarette in his mouth. And the drummer, Martin Scott (sporting the least amount of facial hair, just a moustache) abuses his drum kit throughout the evening with a wild passion.
Through word of mouth, I think the band has generated a small buzz in Columbus. Attendance was good for a Tuesday night, about 50 people showed up and nearly all of them stayed until the last note was played which says quite a bit in my opinion. I will say that this is the best show I’ve seen in 2003, hands down (though some upcoming shows – Idlewild later this month and Skeleton Key next month – might compete for that title).
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to compliment after the show – I don’t know if they ran back to their dressing room or what, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t get to say hi because I probably would have stumbled for words when trying to praise them without coming off as sounding too much like a geek. I also didn’t have a chance to pick up a t-shirt, something I will definitely do next time I see them.
After the show I’m talking to Brian of Kopaz when Aereogramme’s sound guy (who has previously toured as the sound guy for Shiner and Frogpond) approaches and asks Brian for a Kopaz CD. He tells Brian that Kopaz is the best band that has opened for Aereogramme in a long time and that he thinks they have a really promising future. After Brian hands him a 4-song demo, the guy says, “I’ll give it a listen, burn myself a copy, and pass it along to somebody who might be able to do something for you guys.” How cool is that? That’s the power that Kopaz has and good things will happen to those guys, guaranteed.
At 1:15am I arrive home, still euphoric about the show (and ears still ringing … Aereogramme was LOUD). My only wish is that Aereogramme was from Columbus and played out every week.
People … if you live in a town where Aereogramme is coming to, don’t hesitate, don’t stop to think about it, just go. I can’t write enough words of praise for this band from Scotland, you just have to witness it for yourself (at least go out and buy the CD, okay?)
Aereogramme, come back soon. Please.