Now that I work in Philly, I’m slowly being sucked into the local music scene. No longer is it necessary to drive all the way out here just for a show or take the train into the city. There are so many great venues in this town! One of the best in the area is Johnny Brenda’s. Although it’s in a rough neighborhood, they host some of the greatest bands you’ve never heard of. Best of all, they serve the best local microbrews around. In my winter/spring splurge of Philly concerts (Enon, Holy Fuck, Saul Williams, and Battles), this one had some high expectations. The band is a lo-fi electronica band from Canada. Instead of computers, they make music with toy keyboards, film sequencers, distortion pedals, etc. It’s all in real-time and very improvisational. The decision to use live drums (Matt Schulz from Enon) and bass adds an authentic feel to the sound.
What a great show! The two albums are very good, but the music works best live. If you didn’t see the band on stage, you would have thought that Schulz was replaced by a high-tech drum machine. He was relentless and full of energy. Graham and Brian stood over two huge platforms that contained all their sources for tinkering. The best part was the use of a 35mm film sequencer. I don’t really know how they achieved the sound they did, but it involved pulling 35mm film through the sequencer and the use of a turntable needle. It sounds pretentious (something that Johnny Greenwood would do with Radiohead on Amnesiac), but the result fits perfectly with the backbeat and distortion. The crowd loved it all, as they yelled for an encore at the end of the show. Standouts of the night were Casio Bossa Nova and Tone Bank Jungle. – Mark