Tapis Bleu, Alice Austin & the Stark Raving Mad, Lendway Sat June 13, 2009 At The Monkey House
Words by Tim Lewis.
A Scottish poet once spoke of all the collisions that must have occurred to bring us to where we are now. This thought weighed on me as I contemplated this show. When Jen Karson left Zola Turn, Sean Altrui came on the scene. When the Cush made Burlington their home, Caroline O’Connor and Michael Clifford lit up my radar. Zola Turn and the Red Telephone took parallel tracks to Boston eventually to split to the core duos and then move on to other projects. Saturday’s show at the Monkey House saw these forces realign in new and familiar ways in order to form some beautiful music.
With stage lit in blue, the show began with Sean Altrui and Caroline O’Connor’s psychedelic duo Tapis Bleu. Caroline played single notes on the sax and Sean recorded them and mixed them into a drone. Sean pounded out a beat on the djembe and Caroline took the lead with the sax. The evening had begun. The sound flows around like a river with the drumbeat providing security and the sax guiding the journey. The effect is enchantingly intoxicating and their constant innovation keeps it sounding better and better.
For the second to last song, they brought out Matt from Lendway to add some atmospheric guitar to the mix. Balancing Frippesque soundscaping with rock god flair, Matt added beautiful new tones to the shimmering drone. The effect balanced the sax and guitar and really let Sean’s drumming come to the forefront. It was a great surprise and another step in their upward evolution. Next up was Day before the Art Hop, then they called it a night.
With stage lit in red Alice Austin and the Stark Raving Mad took the stage. The set of Alice’s new songs began with a smoldering slow grind as her electric guitar fused with Julia’s Rickenbacker and Franklin’s drumming, leaving Sean Toohey to add atmospherics with the pedal steel. The second song stayed in a similar vein but picked up the energy a bit. The next song saw Alice switch to Acoustic and Sean to 12 string electric, and again the pace and power picked up. They stayed with that format for a few more until Alice switched back to electric again. The songs became more urgent and insistent.
As the set wound it’s way through Sean switched back to pedal, and brought the energy back down for a bit. For the final song he went back to the electric and the whole band reached back for a little something extra and unleashed a fantastically powerhouse song. It soared to great heights of sound and fury and left me bleary eyed and blissful.
With stage lit in red, Lendway started to play with a slow melodic song. We were on our way again. They followed Alice’s lead with each song picking up just a bit more than the one before. They balanced a few songs from their album, The Low Red End, with some new ones that will be on an upcoming ep, and new ones that will be on the second album later this year. I kind of like the first album but it seems every time I see Lendway, I like their newer songs better.
Kevin and Todd kept each song solidly anchored while Michael’s guitar added nuance and his smooth voice kept it sounding elegant and graceful. Matt’s guitar was free to add nuance or to really rock the song, and as the set headed for the finish, he let it out more and more. Much like the Stark Raving Mad, by the time they hit the last song, they were just ripping it up, and my sense of bliss was immaculate.
When done I said goodbye to Alice who was the only one I had not chatted with at some point in the evening. My roommates, and ride, had left so I said goodnight, grabbed my raincoat and walked through the foggy light drizzle, content and very very happy. Whatever events took place for all of these cool people to collide into each other in such a way that last night’s show could happen, would be cool to be able to retrace, but in the end, it’s not how you got there as much as what you are able to do when you are. Everyone on that stage Saturday night did it extremely well.
This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog, https://timstriangletribune.wordpress.com.