A music blog, established 2010. My name is Chris Cappello and I'm a Yale student from New Haven, Connecticut.

"Connecticut"
Sunday, April 13, 2014
LONER CHIC, Milkshakes, Margene Without Borders at Cafe 9 | Facebook

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My new pop band LONER CHIC is playing our first Connecticut show at Cafe Nine in New Haven THIS WEDNESDAY, 4/16. Margene Without Borders and our great friends in MILKSHAKES are playing as well! Show starts at 9 PM. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
"Ethics" by My Heart To Joy.

cityorchards:

I watched as the heavens fell to the dirt

Never 4get

VERDIGRLS - “Feeling Nervous”

sadgrrrlgang:

Hey if you guys could reblog my new Verdigrls single that would be great because internet is great because if you share something it spreads like a disease so let’s make this the black plague (it will probs only be a weak stomach virus).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

MannersPale Blue Light (2014)

New Full Length “Pale Blue Light” Now Streaming

mannersct:

We were going to wait but here’s to getting snowed in tonight:

mannersct.bandcamp.com

If you like what you hear you can download our new album here.

Monday, July 1, 2013
prtls:

We reflect on Ovlov’s new full-length, Am.

As of today, I am officially a member of the Portals team. I’ll be writing album reflections for them on a regular basis. Here’s my first piece, a reflection on Ovlov's latest record Am. I was glad to be able to write about a band from my own state whom I’ve followed for some time as my first piece for the website.

prtls:

We reflect on Ovlov’s new full-length, Am.

As of today, I am officially a member of the Portals team. I’ll be writing album reflections for them on a regular basis. Here’s my first piece, a reflection on Ovlov's latest record Am. I was glad to be able to write about a band from my own state whom I’ve followed for some time as my first piece for the website.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Youth Lagoon - “Mute” (Music Video)

CT folks — Catch Youth Lagoon next Friday (5/8) at The Space in Hamden. Here’s the video for “Mute,” one of the better tracks on their dense new LP Wondrous Bughouse. More info below via Manic Productions:

manic-productions:

The Youth Lagoon concert at The Space is only a week away and we’re really excited!!! 

Due to popular demand, the show is now ALL AGES, so be sure to get your tickets if you haven’t already!

Facebook event

Tickets & Info

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Now that I’m back from Bulldog Days, it’s time to get down to business. Here’s a flier I made for my band’s next show, which might be my most anticipated show I’ve ever had the opportunity to be a part of. If you’re in the Connecticut area, please come out. The Space might be the most intimate venue that Titus Andronicus and the So So Glos are playing on this tour, and neither band will disappoint live. Also, you get to see my full band play, which may or may not be a plus.
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RSVP HERE
TICKETS HERE
MORE INFO HERE
REBLOG!

Now that I’m back from Bulldog Days, it’s time to get down to business. Here’s a flier I made for my band’s next show, which might be my most anticipated show I’ve ever had the opportunity to be a part of. If you’re in the Connecticut area, please come out. The Space might be the most intimate venue that Titus Andronicus and the So So Glos are playing on this tour, and neither band will disappoint live. Also, you get to see my full band play, which may or may not be a plus.

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RSVP HERE

TICKETS HERE

MORE INFO HERE

REBLOG!

Friday, April 12, 2013
Left of the Dial Radio Show: 6-8 PM on WNHU

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On tonight’s live broadcast of Left of the Dial, we’re going to have a guest DJ playlist from the New Haven-based group Monster Eats Pilot, followed by a live-in-studio performance and interview. I’m very excited to have this band on my show tonight and I look forward to hearing their new material. Tune in now to listen and check them out on soundcloud

Thursday, March 21, 2013
"Distant" by Milkshakes.

PREMIERE: Milkshakes - “Distant”

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I’m happy to announce the exclusive premiere of a new track from the Connecticut punk band Milkshakes, one of my favorite local acts and a group whom I consider very close friends of mine. This song, entitled “Distant,” will appear on their imminently forthcoming 4-song EP Exactly Where I Need To Be. Some readers may recall that I had this group perform an acoustic set and interview on my radio show last August. Admittedly, when one has friends in the music scene, it’s often hard to think critically and be impartial when appreciating their music. Make no mistake, however; my love for this band’s music has little to do with my love for them as people.

Many times I have seen this group play in basements and DIY spaces across the state, always conveying an unassuming self-effacement that stands in marked contrast with the quality and intensity of their performance. With mature grit and experiential vigor, this mostly-teenaged band sells their brand of emo-stained pop punk terrifically in their live shows, and on “Distant,” they come closer than ever to capturing that unfiltered angst in a studio setting. 

In its 3-minute running time, “Distant” oscillates between the crunchy power chord punk of their excellent 2012 split with Wisdom Teeth, and a new, previously unexplored solemnity. It’s as catchy as anything on that split, but there’s an element of maturity present on this recording that wasn’t there in the scrappiness of those three tracks. When frontman Tim Diltz sings “I’m not waiting around for you” towards the end of the track, there is a knowing acceptance in his unexpectedly fragile voice, like a pat on the back from a best friend. His lyrics may be simple, but the sentiment that they express is profound and universal. As the rest of the band lurches behind him, guitars blazing, the listener can feel an overwhelming internal conflict expressed outwardly. This kind of translation is what punk has always been the best at accomplishing in comparison to other genres, and Milkshakes validate that notion with this track.

Exactly Where I Need To Be Tracklist:

  • 1. Distant
  • 2. Snow
  • 3. Bleed Out
  • 4. The Boy With the Wagon Tattoo

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Stream “Distant” above exclusively via Lewis and his Blog, and keep up with Milkshakes on facebook and tumblr for more info about the new EP. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

StreamGiles Corey Live In The Middle Of Nowhere (2013)

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Here’s a nice surprise— it turns out that Giles Corey recorded his set at the Enemies List Home Recordings warehouse in Meriden, Connecticut on 2/25, which I got to witness firsthand. This was the last show on his recent mini-tour, and in his own words, “probably the best of the three dates.” The recording is unedited and uncut— one continuous 54 minute recording featuring eight terrific songs along with Barrett’s commentary.

I wrote a glowing review of the show the night after, and listening to the recording now, I am reminded of just how special it was. Dan Barrett’s music is truly some powerful stuff. Read my full review HERE and stream/download Giles Corey’s new live album above via bandcamp

I’m also happy to announce that I’m going to be working with Dan in the near future to have him on my radio show Left of the Dial on WNHU for an acoustic Giles Corey performance and interview. I’m very excited at the prospect of having him on my show, as I’m sure some of my followers are.

Live In The Middle Of Nowhere tracklist:

  • 1. “Blackest Bile”
  • 2. “Grave Filled With Books”
  • 3. “Guilt Is My Boyfriend”
  • 4. “The Icon And the Axe” (Have A Nice Life)
  • 5. “Deep, Deep” (Have A Nice Life
  • 6. “Earthmover” (Have A Nice Life)
  • 7. “Wounded Wolf”
  • 8. “Spectral Bride”
Monday, February 25, 2013

GILES COREY live at Enemies List Home Recordings Warehouse. Meriden CT. 2/25/13

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In press photos for his solo project Giles Corey, Connecticut singer/songwriter Dan Barrett can be seen wearing a Voor’s Head Device, a mysterious burlap hood with ties to the conceptual roots of his ghostly folk music. Similarly, earlier photos of his renowned shoegaze band Have A Nice Life often feature him covering his face or obscuring himself with foliage. Based on the way that he presents himself, both on the internet and in the mysterious writings that accompany a number of his musical releases, it would appear that there is a disconnect between Dan Barrett the mysterious, ostensibly suicidal genius, and Dan Barrett the regular human being from Connecticut. This disconnect made itself almost shockingly evident last night, when Giles Corey put on a show at a certain warehouse space in Meriden, out of which Dan and his friends run their modest, cult-followed record label Enemies List Home Recordings. 

On the facebook event page, the performance was billed less as a show than as a “house party where some guys play depressing music,” establishing a relatively lighthearted tone for Barrett and Co., who have run Enemies List since 2005. When I arrived, the twenty or so people present were sitting on couches, speaking in hushed tones as ambient folk played over the PA. Enemies List veteran Planning For Burial opened the show with a fittingly harrowing solo performance, incorporating a hearty helping of drone and shoegaze into his act. I didn’t manage to catch the entirety of his performance, but the small amount that I did witness was intriguing to say the least. 

Tucked away on the second floor of a massive industrial warehouse, the small room in which the show took place seemed to be the only one not whitewashed by garish industrial lights. Throughout the night, Barrett lurked in the ample shadows of the eerily isolated room, trading words with fans and friends and occasionally selling one of his winkingly self-aware “No Fun. Not Ever.” t-shirts. I wasn’t sure what to make of him or whether I should approach him before his set, but as the night wore on, Barrett’s human side quickly revealed itself. As recent ELHR-signee I Do Not Love worked his way through a shaky and frustratingly amateurish set, Barrett was there by his side the whole time, offering words of encouragement and resounding applause after every song. It was heartwarming to see someone so invested in his work and so trusting in those with whom he associates; I couldn’t help but feel inspired to start my own independent label after witnessing Barrett adopt this remarkable paternal role.

When he took the stage afterwards, Barrett displayed humility and candor that belied his remarkable abilities as a musician. He spoke about how privileged he felt to work with such talented musicians at ELHR and how happy he was that people cared enough about his music to come out to a show of his, especially since he plays live so infrequently. Frankly, his onstage demeanor stood in stark contrast to that of another certain singer/songwriter whom I saw recently, and given that they both performed solo, acoustically, and in a relatively relaxed setting, I could not help but make the comparison as I listened to Barrett perform last night. One thing is certain; both he and Mangum are consummately brilliant musicians capable of creating profound beauty from relatively humble means.

In contrast to Planning For Burial’s pedalboard, a shoegazer’s wet dream, Giles Corey’s setup was considerably less grand but no less effective. Barrett performed with a simple footswitch that activated the reverb and overdrive on his amplifier, through which he ran a black Takamine acoustic guitar. As soon as he began each song, all of which seemed nearly equal in their ability to rend hearts and procure tears, the unexpectedly jovial and easygoing side of Barrett that he displayed offstage faded away abuptly. When he entered his mysterious, dark, performing mode, the results were nothing short of bone-chilling. Setlist opener “Blackest Bile” hummed along in desperate resignation, while “Grave Filled With Books” — apparently adapted at the request of Barrett’s wife Thao — took on the 6:8 pulse of a mournful 1950’s slow jam. On the heels of the release of his new EP Hinterkaifeck, Giles Corey performed two tracks from that album, including the surprisingly heavy, overdriven “Guilt Is My Boyfriend,” which could have easily been a Have A Nice Life song 5 years ago.

Although rumors of a new HANL album have been circulating for the past year, I have yet to hear anything concrete; that said, when Barrett performed a handful of tracks by his old band last night, I could definitely feel that his spirit was still present in them. Unfortunately, without the post-punk backbeat of the Deathconsciousness version, “Deep, Deep” lacked persistence. Similarly, his performance of Deathconsciousness closer “Earthmover” could not come close to capturing the truly earth-shaking heft of the original. That said, his version of HANL’s “The Icon and The Axe” — a studio recording of which he released on Enemies List’s 2011 Christmas album — had just the right mix of tempered grit and emotive folk gentleness. That performance was a  particular highlight, along with his closing play-through of “Spectral Bride” (my 11th favorite song of 2011). Before introducing his final song, Barrett took a moment to humorously gripe about bands that leave the stage at the end of a show, knowing that in a few minutes they will come back out and play an encore. Barrett did not give in to this conceit, even though his performance was more deserving of an encore than almost any such bands that I’ve seen. Perhaps this is where the two sides of Dan Barrett find common ground; neither his personality nor his music (aside, perhaps, from his Deconstructionist EP…) display any unnecessary pretense. As unflinchingly honest as his music is breathtaking, I hope to see Dan Barrett continuing with this for a very long time.

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Giles Corey Setlist - 2/24/13

  • 1. “Blackest Bile”
  • 2. “Grave Filled With Books”
  • 3. “Guilt Is My Boyfriend”
  • 4. “The Icon and the Axe”
  • 5. “Deep, Deep”
  • 6. “Earthmover”
  • 7. “Wounded Wolf”
  • 8. “Spectral Bride”
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

JEFF MANGUM live at the Great Hall at Union Station. Hartford CT. 2/19/13.

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(photo by Will Deitz at ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror, 2011)

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"No photography or video recording allowed at any time during the show"

Thus read a bold-font note taped to the door of Hartford’s Great Hall at Union Station, where former Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum played a highly anticipated concert last night with Tall Firs and The Music Tapes. The universal photography ban has been in place for nearly all dates on each of Mangum’s three solo tours since his highly publicized return to the stage in December 2010.

I had seen Mangum perform twice before last night, first in Boston in September 2011 and again in New Haven in January of last year, and at both of those shows, the rule made sense. Boston’s Jordan Hall and New Haven’s Shubert Theater were both ornate, seated venues; within these storied theaters, which had in the past hosted philharmonics and operas, Mangum’s music felt almost saintly. Attending each felt like witnessing a musical performance as religious experience — to defoul such a private, holy moment with camera flashes and cell-phone video recording would be like photographing the Pope during Easter Mass in the Vatican City. I’ve never experienced that, but I imagine that such activity is frowned upon there. 

Last night, however, was different. For the occasion, the central hall of Hartford’s primary train station was transformed into a massive, standing room venue, complete with a four foot high stage, lighting fixtures, and a large and perpetually crowded bar serving alcoholic drinks. It was a radically different setting from the two shows I had seen Mangum perform previously, and at first I was excited at the prospect of seeing him in a relatively more traditional ‘rock concert’ setting. As I soon discovered, though, the more ‘traditional’ setting of the Union Station Great Hall provided more than I had bargained for. 

The night began, after doors were postponed from 7 to 7:30, with a frantic rush to the front of the stage. Along with a handful of others, I staked my claim to the very front and center, nervously eager at the prospect of the show that was to come. Tall Firs began the opening set as a solo act, having temporarily lost a member due to a family obligation. David Miles’ moody, blues-inflected folk would have likely caused some tears in a more intimate setting, but the nuances of his restrained voice and skeletal guitar work were lost on much of the audience, who frustratingly talked throughout the entirety of his set. The Music Tapes fared considerably better, amplifying the tinny twee-folk of their records to a dizzyingly high, full-bodied level. Although not as whimsically majestic as their October 2012 performance in Hamden, The Music Tapes’ set was certainly the most sonically engaging performance that I’ve seen them play. Along with his band of horn blowers, key-ticklers, and pipe-pounders (and, of course, the Seven Foot Tall Metronome) Julian Koster looked and sounded like the last thing I would have pinned him as: a rock star. 

Thirty minutes after the Tapes closed with a rousing, evocative performance of “Takeshi and Elijah” from last year’s Mary’s Voice, Jeff Mangum took the stage. Heavily bearded and wearing his distinctive flannel, Mangum looked hermetic and rustic, as if he had wandered out of the Connecticut woods and stumbled into Union Station just minutes prior. Exhibiting a cluster of grey at its center, Mangum’s beard was aesthetically questionable, but effective in making him appear older that he is. I don’t blame him — if I, at Mangum’s age of 42, were known exclusively for work that I did in my 20s, I would try to distance myself from appearing young as well. He sat down and, with a brief, mumbled introduction, launched into a seamless performance of “Two-Headed Boy” and its companion piece, “Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2.” As with the two previous performances that I’ve seen, Mangum’s setlist yielded few surprises. The vast majority of songs were gleaned from Neutral Milk Hotel’s two full lengths On Avery Island and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, both of which are terrific records, and both of which hold unique nostalgic significance for me and countless other fans, many of whom were present in Hartford last night. In the opening set, Tall Firs’ David Miles positively noted how many young fans had been present at all the shows on this current tour, and although the extent to which Neutral Milk Hotel’s legacy has been preserved in the 15 years since Aeroplane's release is certainly admirable, the presence of so many young fans at the show last night was not without its detriments. 

I don’t mean to sound curmudgeonly (as I, at seventeen, am quite a young guy myself), but it was frankly difficult not to be annoyed by the level of immaturity that certain crowd members set during Mangum’s performance. A friend described it as “a bunch of six year olds trying to impress their dad,” and I’m inclined to agree with his assessment — it was cringeworthy. I don’t know if half the crowd had just spent their first afternoon on /mu/ earlier that day, but the number of “Jesus Christ” jokes and inane, pointless interjections that the crowd shouted at Jeff in between songs approached an insufferable level. He handled it well enough, but there was a look of weariness on his face by the end of the show that even his thick beard could not cover up. 

Mangum encouraged singing, and the crowd unhesitatingly obliged, matching nearly every word and strained vocalization. During the more heavily orchestrated songs, such as “Song Against Sex” and set closer “Ghost,” the audience filled in vocalized versions of horn parts and harmonies atop Mangum’s sparse guitar strums. It was occasionally moving; if the previous shows had been akin to a solemn service at the Vatican City, last night’s show was more like a Baptist spiritual. Still, even as I passionately sang along, I could not shake the impression that something sacred was missing from this strange, communal celebration. For my own peace of mind, I’ll place the blame on the audience rather than on Mangum himself — for one thing, some of the crowd members really could not sing, and the warbled bleats of the immediately post-pubescent boy near me grew increasingly grating as the night wore on. But more importantly, I think the issue was one of familiarity. We all knew the songs so perfectly that there was no potential for surprise or spontaneity at any moment during the show. Even Mangum’s alternate/live version of “A Baby For Pree,” which usually throws some fans off at his shows, failed to startle anybody present last night. Similarly, when former Neutral Milk Hotel member Julian Koster came back on stage to play singing saw on “Engine” and “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea,” it felt trad and predictable, though still entirely welcome. 

In a word, the concert experience felt cheap — worth the $30 that most fans paid for their tickets, certainly, but perhaps not entirely worth the hastily-arranged flight that I booked back from Washington, D.C. when I learned that the show had been postponed from its original date due to snow. From a certain perspective, it was a perfect show, featuring two especially great performances and a smattering of some of the best folk songs I’ve ever heard, and yet, it was also painfully hollow and lacking in the urgent, vital essence that made all those Neutral Milk Hotel songs so great in their original incarnations. To put it plainly, I was conflicted in a way that I have never really felt before. After the full hall sang along to “Aeroplane,” with Koster conducting the crowd to match Scott Spillane’s absent horn solo, saw-bow in hand, the two former bandmates bowed and calmly exited the stage.

In my pocket I held a Kodak disposable film camera, which I kept there, primed and full of film, for the entire duration of the show. I considered saving it until the very end, allowing myself minimal possibility of punishment, and justified its potential use by virtue of the archaic quality innate within a disposable camera. Surely there were kids wielding Kodaks at Neutral Milk Hotel’s shows in the ’90s, right? Ultimately, I decided against using it at all. After nearly three hours of terrific, powerfully familiar songs, overwhelming waves of nostalgia, and some fundamentally cringe-inducing crowd involvement, I considered it my obligation to preserve whatever dignity remained in Union Station that night. After meeting up with the Music Tapes once more and thanking them for their particularly stellar performance, I walked out into the rainy Hartford night, left with a frustratingly mixed, thoroughly exhausted impression. 

Setlist - 2/19/13

  • 1. Two-Headed Boy
  • 2. Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2
  • 3. Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone
  • 4. Song Against Sex
  • 5. King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1
  • 6. King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2-3
  • 7. Oh Comely
  • 8. A Baby For Pree/Glow Into You
  • 9. Oh Sister
  • 10. Holland, 1945
  • 11. Naomi
  • 12. Ghost
  • 13. Engine (with Julian Koster) (encore)
  • 14. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (with Julian Koster) (encore)

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WatchJeff Mangum & Julian Koster play “Engine” in Ithaca, NY - 2/13/13 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stream: The Guru - Go Easy (2012)

There is a moment on Go Easy, the new LP from The Guru, in which the precocious Connecticut four-piece seems to transcend their particularly infectious brand of Modest Mouse-indebted psych-pop, simply by lampooning it. It arrives within the first minute of the title track, as an agonizingly smooth saxophone line introduces itself and proceeds to bleed out all over the sunny array of guitars and Eddie Golden III’s surprisingly detached vocals. As the sax plays on throughout the track, the mood changes from comedic to self-fulfilled. It adopts a kind of self-aware attitude not unlike Destroyer's last LP, through which disco tropes and smooth jazz aesthetics aren't inherently detrimental to the 'seriousness' or quality of a band's music.

Unfortunately, that moment fades, and the rest of the album fails to pick up the slack as it continues on. True to its name, Go Easy is a gentle, relaxed album, free from the manic energy and forceful, consummate positivity of Native Sun, the band’s excellent LP from last year. Although the record benefits from the change in style, its apparent motivational deficiency is often stifling. If Native Sun could be described as positively forceful, like a good friend who drags you to a show on a night when you’re feeling down, Go Easy feels forcefully positive. After the stellar opening track, the band plods along without much urgency or direction, twinkling through the country-ish twang of the previously released single “Indian Day” and the stuttering noodles of “Tony Waves.” In between, “Foreign Moon” drags on slowly and without purpose, as does the lo-fi, experimental dirge “Pyramids.” Many of the faster cuts feel like lesser-quality holdovers from Native Sun, while the slow jams strain to hold the listener’s attention.

It’s not all bad of course — “Guacamole” features some really interesting distorted guitar, for instance, and “Cow” has one of those earworm choruses that so many of the songs on Native Sun could also lay claim to. The title track, too, is among the better songs I’ve heard this year. And yet, Go Easy is a frustratingly limited album that suffers most from feeling under-developed. Native Sun was the result of years of songwriting, touring, and recording. Those songs were birthed, developed, and honed over a lengthy period of time and finally released in their best possible form. By contrast, Go Easy feels rushed and lacking focus. It’s clear that there are some truly great new ideas in the mix, but that’s all they are — ideas in dire need of full realization and development. If you listen closely, you can hear that development happening, but it’s incomplete. In other words, this is the sound of a young band growing up, shaking its wings, and losing some of its charm in the process. Thankfully, though, they’ve always had plenty to spare.

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Stream Go Easy above and buy it now on bandcamp for $3 or more. If you’re in the Connecticut area, you can catch The Guru live tonight at their record release show at The Space, with Tigers Jaw, Brian Stankus, and Disco Teen ‘66. More information about that show can be found HERE.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

THE MUSIC TAPES live at The Blank Canvas. Hamden CT. 11/3/12

It’s hard for me to put into words what the past 24 hours have been like for me, but I will do my best. It was, to put it briefly, an utterly surreal experience. As soon as I walked into The Blank Canvas (a temporary warehouse space owned and operated by The Space), it was as if I had transcended this drab, material plane of existence and entered something entirely transmundane. On record, The Music Tapes are at best capable of merely alluding to this exo-world, giving fuzzy and brief glimpses into it through the nostalgic hiss of old magnetic tape and the gentle bleat of a bowed banjo. Although their recorded music has come to occupy a very special space in my heart, their live show — especially on this tour — is completely incomparable.

I first saw The Music Tapes nearly a full year ago, when they opened for Jeff Mangum at the Shubert Theater in New Haven. It was an appropriate pairing, given that Mangum and The Music Tapes’ frontman Julian Koster were once both members of Neutral Milk Hotel, and the Tapes certainly brought that Elephant 6 Collective whimsy and pyschedelia to the show last night as well. The difference between the New Haven show and this one was as much a matter of intimacy as it was of scope. Along with the previous night’s show in Massachusetts, this show was a preview of the band’s boldest live vision yet. It’s called the “Travelling Imaginary” tour, and it involves the Music Tapes bringing a giant rectangular circus tent to every show and allowing the attendees to come in and sit inside it, inviting them into a dreamlike, musical world for the duration of the night. 

Although the band was still working out some logistical kinks (it was, after all, a preview show), the Travelling Imaginary experience was delightfully playful and, at times, soberingly beautiful. It was also surprisingly interactive, featuring film projections, a carnival-style beanbag toss, and a silly Romanian ball game (played with red balloons) that Julian Koster curated and played with the raptly attentive audience of approximately 75 people. When the band was actually playing, they sounded better than I’ve ever heard them, on record or otherwise. Koster was joined by longtime collaborator Robbie Cucchiaro, who played various horn instruments, along with a keyboard player and a multi-instrumentalist who occasionally found himself playing three instruments at once. The four piece was supplemented by an accoutrement of Music Tapes members of the inanimate variety, including a “mechanical organ tower” and a 7-foot tall metronome that stood ominously and obelisk-like behind the group. Koster himself frequently switched instruments from orchestral banjo (which he played with a violin bow) to singing saw, and even to heavily distorted bass guitar, which he used on “S’ Alive to Be Known (May We Starve),” much to the audience’s delight. No matter what instrument he was playing, a wide-eyed smile never left Koster’s perpetually youthful face, which filled the iridescent tent with enough warm energy to staunch the cold air from outside.

Much of the setlist was culled from the band’s newest and best album, Mary’s Voice, which is out now on Merge Records. Album opener “The Dark Is Singing Songs (Sleepy Time Down South)” made for a wonderful highlight in the middle of the show, with Cucchiaro’s muted trouble accenting Koster’s pining vocals, while “Spare The Dark Streets” found Koster’s banjo waltzing in time with Cucchiaro’s valve trombone. The setlist also included standout tracks from the band’s other two LPs, including the metronone-assisted “The Minister of Longitude” from 2008’s Music Tapes For Clouds and Tornadoes. Although the show was filled with evocative instances of beauty both great and small, there was one moment in particular that stood out as truly moving and memorable. When Julian Koster solemnly stood in the center of the tent for the last time to play “Takeshi and Elijah,” surrounded by his bandmates and their various eccentric instruments, it was akin to when I saw Jeff Mangum close with “Ferris Wheel on Fire” in Boston last September. As “Takeshi’s” forlorn banjo chords rang out amidst the hushed, cross-legged crowd, the room assumed the kind of indescribable energy that many of Julian’s endearingly imagined folk stories are about. It’s as if there was an abstract understanding reached amongst everyone packed into the tent last night — some profundity so immaterial that it could only be conveyed through music, specifically that of Julian Koster The song’s last, lone banjo note seemed to last forever, as if in an eternal solipsism, as a testament to the timelessness of Koster’s legacy. By the time the full band came crashing in at the very end, keyboards and horns blaring, it seemed more like a celebration than a requiem. The Travelling Imaginary may have ended for us that night in an objective sense, but it nevertheless left an indelible mark on everybody who was there.

Of course, if you’ve been paying attention to what I’ve been posting in the past day, you know that my experience with The Music Tapes didn’t actually end at The Blank Canvas that night. When I drove home with Julian Koster in my car, ate veggie burgers a diner on Dixwell Avenue with seven of the loveliest people I now know, and eventually made breakfast and drank coffee with them this morning, I saw a human side to a group of people who just last night had made a pretty good case for idolization. It made me realize a truth about modern music culture, specifically with regards to The Music Tapes, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Elephant 6. There are no rock stars anymore — just people who are creative and/or crazy enough to survive this kind of musical existence. Julian Koster and the Music Tapes do that and more; they thrive in their lifestyle and inspire others to do the same. When Julian signed my copy of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea before we all headed back to Hamden to take down the tent today, it felt oddly anti-climactic, but the truth is, he had already left his mark on me. That mark — the mark of influence, respect, and hope for the future — was more permanent than any autograph could ever be.

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