Eleanor Friedberger live at Brooklyn Vegan Holiday Party

Eleanor Friedberger live at Brooklyn Vegan Holiday Party

Photos by Alyssa Kazew

Steve Garofano live at Brooklyn Vegan Holiday Party

Steve Garofano (New Moods)

I don’t want to hear any more ghost-echo-peddle-on-banshee-vox tracks, and I definitely don’t want them sung by people who refuse to attempt to look like corpses. This is what I walked into somewhere in the beginning of the first set (by New Moods) at yesterday’s Brooklyn Vegan Holiday Party at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Patience was repaid generously, however, by the time their last two songs were played. Their vibe lightened, bringing a little sense to their doubly-appropriated Depression-era aesthetic (first appropriated in the 1960’s)—and their speed nearly tripled, highlighting the talent of their drummer (Steve Garofano of Vic Thrill) and producer (Sean Maffucci of Gang Gang Dance). Incidentally, these two were the first members of the band and clearly have an instinct about where its soul lies, but perhaps not the assuredness to deter all on-trend tendencies.

Before the irrationally-curated headliner took stage, the multitude of mild manners was momentarily gutted by Eleanor Friedberger’s highly anticipated performance. Needless to say, the blinding sea of frail Brooklyn whiteness—on and off stage—could not make proper kinesthetic sense of Friedberger’s off-tempo art-rock. On stage, she seamlessly coupled the warmth of Patti Smith with the outlandish glamour of Kate Bush, while playing songs that she must have discovered somewhere in Bowie’s k-hole—she unfortunately subtracted the funk.

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Her recent, perfectly-mastered release sounded like it was recorded in a custom-order cave built to respond to certain notes in her range, however the techs at MHOW weren’t able to reproduce this quality. Nor was I disappointed, as their limited abilities (combined with her aged Fiery Furnaces equipment) made for a much more accessible live show, fulfilling the more populist promises made to concertgoers.

Anna Calvi live at Brooklyn Vegan Holiday Party

Anna Calvi

An unexpected deep bass blow announced Anna Calvi, who also seemed to be mainlining some of 1976’s leftover heroin. Perhaps a premature judgment, but something seemed insincere (or at best, mediocre) about Calvi’s use of history. She aspired to fluctuate, like Klaus Nomi once did, between the dramatics and tones of Opera and story-telling Western—but for every range-changing dipthong she sung, she distracted me with the lack of confidence in her approach and execution. Like a poor man’s Lady Gaga (if there were such a thing…), I’m sure Calvi will garner a lot of attention with her attempts at outlandish styling and recycled sounds that have been mostly relegated to the grave. While I can’t say much for her except that she probably has an encyclopedic knowledge of contemporary music history, I’m sure I will give her another live listen, and hopefully better review in the future.

 


 
  1. I love that you mentioned Klaus Nomi and his reign of Opera pop dramatics. Golden!

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