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.
Gang Gang Dance Review
Better than: Being one of those coked out dudes at some Black Dice junkyard show in Brooklyn during 2004, talking about how “you haven't really heard Revival Of The Shittest if you haven't heard it on vinyl.”
Is it some sort of statement where the band that best epitomizes “culture collide” just so happens to be from…ugh, Brooklyn? Such is the case with Gang Gang Dance, as much of a band as a vortex from which almost no genre can escape. Except for maybe “intimate crunk.” Eh, maybe their next record will take more cues from David Banner's “Play.”
For the time being, they have every right to coast a bit off this year's phenomenal Eye Contact, a record that's somehow their most overtly hippy-dippy and their most intensely physical. But to say they leaned on Eye Contact's material last night would be something of a misconception: yes, there was “Adult Goth” (at least a top-20 song title of the year) and “Glass Jar” and “Sacer,” but these already lengthy jams were distended to near infinity, morphing and segueing into each other in GGD's typical DJ-like format. Make no mistake: these are high-functioning mystics, a menagerie of samplers, effects ranks, keyboards and drums looking like an entire Sam Ash wing, or at the very least a soundman's worst nightmare on the festival circuit.
Of course, there's an underlying discomfort GGD tend to cause among listeners with more straightlaced tastes in indie rock; even moreso than their peers and friends in Animal Collective, you could plunk these guys down on a H.O.R.D.E. Tour stage circa 1996 and while they'd easily be the most kickass band on the bill, they'd still look like they belonged. I mean, there's a older-looking Japanese dude named Tonka (if I believe the claims of the dude standing in front of me) who was in the photo pit and then popped up on stage to…I dunno, wear a backpack and wave a giant palm leaf around. It's such an integral part of the act that he doesn't even hit a floor tom every ten minutes.
The crowd: Totally gonna talk about how Culture Collide changed their life in homeroom tomorrow.
Notebook dump: To the dude with the fu manchu and Zappa Lumpy Gravy t-shirt at the Gang Gang Dance show: for fuck's sake, you're killing us both. But mostly you. Also, to the cute girl talking about the new Neon Indian album: of course you're talking about the new Neon Indian album. But it's “ex-tranYA.” Oh, and you somehow mispronounced “Polish Girl” too.