Chad VanGaalen and Gang Gang Dance
October 9, 2011
Chad VanGaalen review
Better than: Bad Van Halen
Outside of noted post-punk artist Radio Raheem (or maybe he was into hip-hop, I keep forgetting), there likely isn't an indie rock musician more closely associated with the boombox than Chad VanGaalen.
Throughout his career, he's recorded most of his no-budget, bittersweet rock songs straight to a JVC ghettoblaster or something just as rudimentary, and then overdubbed the living shit out of them with literal bells and whistles. Recently signed to Sub Pop, he's cleaned up his act a bit. It's kind of a bold move, dropping pretty much the only gimmick he had.
But if there was ever a sign that Culture Collide was more about just trying to get solid bands booked than expanding our horizons, well...I would say that Avi Buffalo is the biggest proof of that, if not Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I guess it just comes down to whether you think being Jewish from Philadelphia or Canadian is more exotic.
But anyways, VanGaalen went heavy on the moody arrangements of gnarled, detuned guitar from his most recent LP Diaper Island. Yes, his most accessible album is called Diaper Island, but "Peace On The Rise" and "Sara" stand out as some of the best straight-up indie rock of 2011. And it's a good thing dude's got tunes, because otherwise, you're looking at four Canucks who hardly move at all on stage. Notably, VanGaalen's band includes a former member of the band WOMEN (he produced their last record Public Strain) that looks exactly like Matt Schaub and is every bit as mobile.
I guess it speaks to the low profile of VanGaalen that no one said, "LOLZ, it's WOMEN against MEN," when JD Samson's band (subpar, in my opinion) took the Main Stage immediately afterwards.
Gang Gang Dance review below.