Mind Over Mirrors - A one-man electrical band starts things off. He's on the floor in the center of the large crowd between stage and soundboard, so there is not much to see. Although I am not fond of this approach, it is perfectly ok when you have one guy in front of his equipment. At least this time there appears to be a lot more analog working than computer screens and this old fashioned approach carries through to the music. There are great synthesizer melodies, sequencer moves, and a mix of ambient and rhythmic thrusts that thoughtfully meander over time. All in all, I liked the music, and although this is something that I normally prefer at home rather than in a club, there was something livelier about it than others in this field.
Tortoise - Here is another band that I prefer at home more than on stage, although a really large crowd tonight clearly disagrees with me (or just wants it all). I was not particularly moved the last time they were in town, despite the obvious talent and originality on display. But I enjoyed the latest album and wanted to try again. I am glad I did, for although they still seem more intellectually moving than emotionally connective, it was fun to watch these five guys jump around a variety of percussive instruments with the guitar and bass holding the structure of the songs down. There are vibes, two drum kits, different synth banks, and plenty of movement among the members. It was not that important to try to figure out the sound, but more fun trying to dig into the complex rhythms and see how even the guitar and bass work with these variations. I did find a bit more emotional connection this time around where the intellect does not dominate as much. That may be more me spending more time with their sound, as opposed to anything they are doing--I'll let the long term fans explain that more eloquently. So if you like a challenge that won't frustrate you and may even connect with you in a big way, Tortoise still has a lot to offer. I am close to becoming a fan, and will forever be intrigued by them.
Facebook Grab of the Day: From Aesthetic Magazine, an upcoming festival for your consideration: