Interpol, Boom Bip, Antony and the Johnsons, CocoRosie

Interpol, Boom Bip at the Greek, September 20 Cincinnati’s Boom Bip (a.k.a. Bryan Hollon) is one of underground music’s most arresting auteurs, a visionary who gives breath to the kinds of detailed soundscapes that, could they be illuminated with a black light, would glow with radioactive bits, fallout from Boom Bip’s blast on the sometimes restrictive idea of genre. A true mash-up artist, Boom Bip melds epic rock, experimental indie, hip-hop and electronica into a waxy, pliable substance shaped by his intelligence and rogue sense of structure. At first, Boom seemed like any other reasonably hip band guy with a necktie and charcoal pants straight from the coolly detached department of his local thrift store. But a few telltale signs of Boom’s penchant for technology — namely, a laptop and battery of knobs and levers — gave the act a surprisingly distinct and soft feel. With lush drafts sounding like the white noise of your home’s ventilation, Boom’s technology isn’t about coldness but familiarity, warmth. Forget Radiohead; this is the real OK Computer. And then came the cold snap. Interpol, dressed black as kettles, played one of the tightest, yet most bloodless concerts to puncture the Greek in ages. Starting off slow with “Next Exit,” Interpol baited and switched to a particularly rambunctious version of “Slow Hands,” assaulting the crowd with sodium-white lights before settling into the noxious braintease of “NARC,” a home base of sorts. With “Antics,” the band’s true colors were revealed: Not black so much as several shades of grey, and live, Interpol valiantly hunted to describe the full spectrum of their songs. Sometimes it just seemed like a fool’s errand. As “Take You On a Cruise” stretched into a violable skin, finally rupturing into something like a goth version of the old Grateful Dead chestnuts “Space” and “Drums,” clouds of marijuana smoke hovered above us in the night air. But no tinkling anklets here, just silence.

—Margaret Wappler

Antony and the Johnsons, CocoRosie At the Vista, September 22 In an interesting turn, Silver Lake’s beautiful Vista Theater opened its doors for two unique musical artists. Opening sister act CocoRosie (Sierra and Bianca Casady) presented a provocative performance-art blend of audiovisuals, unconventional instrumentation, strange costumes and quasi-rap/opera. Philosophically intriguing; musically tedious. In stark contrast was the bare-bones setup for Antony Hegarty’s set. No visuals — just a grand piano and four-piece string section. The audience was eager to see if Hegarty would live up to the hype: Internationally acclaimed and recently given the Mercury Prize, Antony has been compared vocally to Nina Simone, stylistically to Klaus Nomi, and aesthetically to Leigh Bowery — all tragic legends. In his earnest performance, Hegarty did indeed fulfill the hype, and could perhaps draw comparison to one more tragic legend, Jeff Buckley. Like Buckley, Hegarty’s live performance wasn’t tempered by pretensions of greatness — it was an unadulterated artistic exchange with the audience. After bashfully uttering, “Oh, thank you guys...” no more than a few times between songs, Antony stopped mid-set and began thumbing through his notebooks, finally deciding to improvise. First, he led the audience in a clap-along, hoping to sing to its rhythm. When that didn’t work, he chuckled mischievously and began his own rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” successfully turning the pop hit into a sullen torch song. Throughout the show, some audience members wiped tears from their eyes as he played, contorting his large body and swaying in a circular motion as he sang. As the night ended, the audience rewarded him with a standing ovation, shouts of “Bravo!” and thunderous stomping. Returning for the first encore, Hegarty demurely smiled and asked permission to play “Candy Says.” After the second ovation, he coyly shooed the audience offstage: “Go home, guys! Go home!” So many were visibly moved by the performance that, not surprisingly, the gentle giant stood outside the venue perched against a wall and spoke to those who weren’t quite ready to go home.

—Tatiana Simonian


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