Seeing NYC Alt-gazers Blonde Redhead on a cold Sunday night just feels right. The haunting, ambient sounds created by the trio of Kazu Makino and twin brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace is the perfect soundtrack for the waning hours of weekend. Intimate and honest, yet thinly veiled in mystery, Blonde Redhead brought nearly two decades of material to the Magic Stick.
Singer/songwriter Luke Temple (Here We Go Magic) slowly brought the crowd into the fold with an intimate and honest pseudo-solo set, accompanied by his percussionist. His latest solo material from Good Mood Fool, is a bit of a departure from his sunny, electro-folk tunes with Magic. Playing just a classical guitar, Temple was able to interpret and reimagine his chilled out experimental soul tracks, ramping up the buzz in the room in the span of just 30 minutes. Set closer "Florida," was the best jam of the night.
After a little bit of pedal fiddling, the Pace twins began with the title track to the their latest offering, "Barragan" before easing into heavier, more dynamic material like "Falling Man." Lead vocalist Kazu Makino traded songs with Amadeo Pace, who handled the guitar work for most of the set. Using a litany of effects pedals and loops, the trio filled the old hall with a textured layers of sound that belied their diminutive stage presence. BR played note-perfect renditions their deeply moody songs with the kind of emotion and conviction that is rarely seen.
Though heavy on Barragan and somewhat light on older material, highlights included 2004's dance-y "Spring and By Summer Fall," and the slow burn of "Hated Because of Great Qualities." Pace and Makino swapped vocals and instruments through a wide array of sounds and dynamics, building to a crescendo with the current single and set-closer, "Dripping." As unabashed disciples of Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead can veer dangerously close to self-indulgent noise, though songs like "Dripping" have tremendous crossover appeal with a soaring chorus and danceable groove.
By the end of the set, the crowd had swelled considerably and anxiously coaxed the trio back for an encore. While "The One I Love" (another Barragan gem) is a beautiful song, I don't know that it belongs in an encore set and it threw the audience for a bit of a loop. Though all was redeemed with a smashing version of their biggest hit, "23."
"23 seconds, all things we love will die. 23 magic, if you can change your life." I don't really know what that means, but it's a hauntingly beautiful song that also jams with about as hard as anything. The swirling guitars and breakbeat drums elicited the most visceral reaction of the night as the crowd swayed back and forth with just enough energy to break a sweat.
Check out more Blonde Redhead right here.