Electric Tickle Machine, Zoos of Berlin, North Highlands, Dream Diary and Werewolves all played at the Market Hotel this past Saturday. We made the seven lefts and eight rights along the tourist-friendly streets to ascend the staircase behind a deli.

Electric Tickle Machine

Dilapidated, majestic and ghostly, the Market Hotel is a possible set for Breakin III: Electrified Boogaloo: a zombie flick, in which the zombies have to make enough money to remake a decrepit building into a cultural institution by donating blood. In the process, they become humans who do not consume enough makeup to render Twilight useless, and instead they pair-triple-whatever up and do it a lot (with dancing). For those of you still unfamiliar with this venue, find a show you like and visit.

Although this missive is primarily focused on the culmination of the headliner act, Electric Tickle Machine, it’s very worth mentioning the curatorial job, (like a mom job, but but wisely, not gross), that led the evening.

The band that brought us in from the rumbling of the overhead train is Dream Diary who carry the hearts baton that Morrissey and Weezer have thrown around. They bass us along and with the exception of a few flat notes, do a charming set to inspire a bit of swaying and loud sighs. They remain just short of making the audience mouth the words, though in due time, this too may change.

The sound engineer and DJ played doo-wop while the North Highlands set-up. This put a new spin on the venue, as did the murals by Nicholas Kuszyk (a handsome robot creature), and one of a ghost vs. a tadpole boxing fight cheered on by pumpkins faded away, and the old sense of the space as a dance hall with twirling lollipop-shouldered girls and tougher-than-hair-gel-guys appeared. The Electric Tickle members were sharking around the dance floor, something out of Rumble Fish, but made with the Saturday Night Fever script, assessing the audience creating photo ops in the back and entertaining their friends, while North Highlands’ Molly Ringwald was setting up the keyboard on stage.

Wait, what Molly Ringwald?

I’m not the one to harp on likeness but there is something in the open face of Brenda Malvin that recalls the important safety of pushing boundaries over breakfast. The issues were not of school children murdering each other, but yet still struggling to find the reasons for conflict.

The North Highlands set was energetic and musical, yet could have used more training on the vocals, (especially toward the later songs which used the duet as the fifth instrument on stage), or just put less emphasis on them. They made up for it with tight drums that included the first of two drum duets of the night.

Next DJ set brought along the first Anti-Pop Consortium release, Tragic Epilogue, timely on the release of the newest regrouping.

“Shark infested water
message in a bottle
No man is an island
Individual visual MC
Me I love life.” – Antipop Consortium

Zoos of Berlin did not maul anyone, instead they zig-zagged through their post-mod songs with clear-headed mastery, the audience swelled over the rapid fire drumming of Collin Dupuis and the just slightly throaty singing from Trevor Naud. They reminded me a bit of Squirrel Nut Zippers but without the annoying cache of being a redux. At first I thought that they would be more imposing if they wore simple black t-shirts or somehow otherwise employed the mark of fashion, other than the guy in the grey turtleneck, grey trousers mod combo. The band’s name is excellent and the audience reacted by dancing (the night’s first real dancing?), so they are well on their way to engaging their subtleties with larger crowds.

At the outset the guys in Electric Tickle Machine provided the focused psychedelia-pop that makes the rapid ascendancy to pleasure possible, and without any psychotropics. (There are New Wave scents as re-imagined through instrumentals of Libertines under the guidance of Mick Jones). The set had enough serious material to bite into that it was easy to miss the fact that those on the stage are already in a full performance. The guitar flew around the lead singer Thomas Olivier’s vocals, supported by the drive of Adam Kautz on drums. At the nimble hands of Clark P (who dashed off the stage and into the crowd a few times), the tambourine became a snake that you, too, had a hand in charming. Keyboardist Ryan Renn added the bass-heavy camera shots in which you saw the concrete abstractions you made together with them.

Electric Tickle Machine

They lack the unnecessary self-indulgence of Brian Jonestown Massacre [link to BJM coverage], that band of modern psychedelics that lose their way at times by being anti-audience, always a turn off to me. The lyrics of the Tickles are party-wise, the sound is of a simpler moment when it’s wise to dance and sweat (such as tonight in this venue), but on a recording, can prove to be well-mulled wine.

The moment Clark P descended into the audience a small female mosh pit starts to twirl around, and if this was not a rainy mercurial night, I would expect the venue would have been jumping more, as if the infection of being on the stage spreads faster if you’re lead by by a talented hand.

One of our friends decided it prudent to strip off his shirt and join the fray. Later he had his back signed by the band, immodest but heartfelt as is our blessing to participate in debauchery when a moment occurs.

Much later we ran into Tom, the lead singer, by our apartment, for no reason other than the soon to be washed streets of New York, and promptly decided that some absinthe and beer will round off our night with the rest of the band as they prepare for their “most of US” tour in support of their new release, Blew It Again.

It is this evidence that I submit to support the claim that very dangerous tunes are going to come from this group within the next year, so don’t let them pass you by.

– Zabatay, Live photos by Ken Volk

Electric Tickle Machine tour dates

7-Oct – Danger Danger Gallery – Philadelphia, PA
8-Oct – Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD (w/ Bad Liquor Pond)
9-Oct – The Triple – Richmond, VA
10-Oct – The Boot – Norfolk, VA
11-Oct – The Milestone – Charlotte, NC
12-Oct – Go Bar – Athens, GA
14-Oct – Highland Ballroom – Atlanta, GA
15-Oct – Springwater – Nashville, TN
21-Oct – ABC News Amplified CMJ @ Public Assembly – Brooklyn, NY (w/  We Have Band, Sleigh Bells, Phantogram)
24-Oct – CMJ @ Shea Stadium – Brooklyn, NY (w/ Taos, JACK,  Werewolves, Rumanian Buck)
27-Oct – Now That’s Class – Cleveland, OH
28-Oct – The Elbow Room – Ypsilanti, MI
29-Oct – The Majestic – Detroit, MI (w/ Lovvers)
30-Oct – TBA – Chicago, IL
1-Nov -Vaudeville Mews – Des Moines, IA
2-Nov – Replay Lounge – Lawrence, KS
3-Nov – The D-Note – Arvada, CO
4-Nov – Benders Tavern – Denver, CO
5-Nov – Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT (w/ Art Brut)
6-Nov – Flying M Coffee – Boise, ID
8-Nov – The Comet – Seattle, WA
9-Nov – Dantes – Portland, OR
11-Nov – TBA – San Francisco, CA
12-Nov – The Lounge Underground – Monterey, CA
13-Nov – Redwood Bar – Los Angeles, CA
14-Nov – Bar Pink – San Diego, CA
15-Nov – Hotel Monte Vista – Flagstaff, AZ
16-Nov – Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Albuquerque, NM
17-Nov – Bash Riprocks – Lubbock, TX (w/ Little Teeth)
19-Nov – The Lounge on Elm Street – Dallas, TX
20-Nov – Beerland – Austin, TX
21-Nov – The Conservatory – Oklahoma City, OK
22-Nov – Hi Tone Café – Memphis, TN

  1. [...] a big fan of both Electric Tickle Machines and Zoos Of Berlin after having met them at this very venue, Market Hotel the show has been moved to Shea Stadium [...]