Doomsday Student, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Dan Friel, Bananas on Strings, Pardalince Bird at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012
I caught this awesome, slightly mixed-bill show last Thursday. Doomsday Student, the sorta-resurrected Arab on Radar was the main draw for me and I’ll jump straight to the main takeaway: They’re amazing. But everyone else was great too, so let me start from the beginning.
The first act was billed as Ramble Tamble, which is Turner of Guardian Alien’s project with a drummer, but apparently it expanded to include a whole list of guest stars and became a new band called Bananas on Strings. They went straight for a deep and heavy psychedelic rock, like Acid Mothers Temple minus the rock riffs and any of the quiet parts. The lynchpin here was drummer Adam Autry (of Olneyville Sound System fame) who was able to punch through the thick sound and keep things driving ahead with rolling, off-kilter beats.
Then Dan Friel did his thing, which is maximally loud and distorted, but also very melodic and tuneful keyboard music. The rhythms are generally huge, crunching sounds but the lead keyboard lines are usually the type of tunes you could easily whistle while you work. There’s headbanging. 285 Kent’s sound system is booming, but not always really clear, which worked perfectly for Dan Friel.
And then Doomsday Student was up. This band is most of Arab on Radar and a member of the post-Arab on Radar band Chinese Stars. Now, I don’t know the whole back story, nor is it fair to dwell on it, but Arab on Radar reunited, broke up again, and then this band was formed minus one original member. There’s a new name and all-new material, but it’s impossible to ignore that this is essentially the new Arab on Radar. So for those of us who fondly remember that band and their cathartic live performances, the main question is how does Doomsday Student measure up? I am happy to report that they are every bit as great. None of the energy is missing. Here’s some video I took of them. The sound is terrible but the video is good.
The anti-melodic guitars, the looping dance-unfriendly beats, the nasally shrieked vocals (all imitated by almost every No Wavey band since AoR). I want to compliment them on the unified look, something I like in a band. Doomsday Student all wore black t-shirts and pants and matching orange sneakers. A band in uniform says that they’re here to do a job, or perhaps go into battle. I also appreciate the stark light show, all the house lights down and 2 very bright industrial lights on the floor. It makes for great photos. (to see more of the photos I took, go to the Flickr account, starting here.)
After Doomsday Student was Ed Schrader’s Music Beat. I’d heard this band mentioned, but hadn’t seen them play before this.
I was really impressed by these guys. They had very minimal instrumentation, just a single floor tom and a bass, but they managed to be totally captivating just by having really great, simple songs and a strong performance. Maybe this is what the Violent Femmes would sound like if they formed in Baltimore in the year 2012? Well, these guys seem way more punk, but I’m trying to get you in the ballpark.
Dan Deacon’s Pardalince Bird project went on last, despite originally being scheduled to go first. There were some lengthy technical difficulties getting all the 4 channels of sound working too. Then as Dan explained, this would have made a lot more sense if it had happened first since it’s really background stuff, steady synth drones with occasional moany vocals. Lots of digital notes floating up and down scales. So scheduling and circumstances conspired to make this a sort of anticlimactic finish, but I’m not going to complain when this many good acts can be put together on one bill.