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Monday, September 8, 2014

LouFest ReviewFest: Pretty Little Empire, Glass Animals, Lettuce

Posted By on Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

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  • Press photo

Glass Animals

Everything about this situation should have made me incredibly crabby. Three very tall girls stepped on me to get to the front of the stage, the guy next to me was ceaselessly smoking and exhaling directly into my left eye while the afternoon sun fried the one patch of my face that I'd apparently missed with the SPF50. To complicate matters there was the fact that it was 1:30, set time...then 1:35...and nothing was happening. At 1:39 there were about six notes from a keyboard, a short, limp bit of applause, and then silence again. At 1:41 there was a quick "chun chun chun" from a guitar that sparked a small Woo Girl chorus, but then nothing.

It wasn't until 1:45 that Glass Animals finally took the stage. Suddenly these four guys seemingly popped up out of nowhere, quickly settled in with their respective instruments, and dropped the bass. All done with the sincerest smiles on their faces. You would have to have been a total jackass to be the guy in the crowd with the frowny face. Whatever was going on before didn't matter. These four guys from Oxford, England, are here on the first date of their American tour, which zig-zags across the country until they hit Seattle on October 5th. They were most likely rarin' to go.

Given the structure and sound of the band's June 2014 release, Zaba, I expected a far more complicated setup in order to maintain its ambient character for a live show. Instead there were a couple of guitars, a keyboard, a bass and a fairly simple, only slightly electronic drum kit. Of course there will always be the devil in those details. In this case there were several: like Edwin Irwin's ghostly reverb version of Joey Santiago's signature Pixies tone, or the mixture of Joe Seaward's use of drum pads in the verse of "Gooey" leading into a full-on acoustic drum explosion for the song's chorus.

The simple, well-planned drums combined with tasty spaces leave enough room for the gently crisp vocals to shine. The bass never got too busy to allow everything to breath and develop character independently. Oddly, the band's cover of Kanye West's "Love Lockdown" showcased its style possibly more than anything else in the set. The contrast between the original and this take drew the attention to Irwin's phrasing choices as well as the band's overall accompaniment well beyond what a concentration of originals might have done. It didn't hurt that everyone knew it well enough to sing along either.

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