Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: Chairlift and Nite Jewel

Tuesday nights are great nights for going to see shows in Austin. You can park downtown with relative ease, there are fewer drunk bros in Ed Hardy clothes clogging up the sidewalks and it's Tuezgayz at Barbarella so the people downtown tend to be mirthful gays and gay-allies. All of these things are pluses in my book so, the fact that there was a great show at the Mohawk was icing on the cake as it were. Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Bell, Nite Jewel and Chairlift on the Mohawk's outside stage. I must say, as I did after SWSW this year, that 2012 is the year of women in indie-rock. There are so many fantastic female-fronted bands on the scene right now and I couldn't be happier about it.

First up was Bell with whom I am not very familiar but her quirky energy really won me over by the end of the set. Dressed in a shirt that reminded me of Punky Brewster's mis-matched Chucks with an overall dress atop, she used a sampler, keyboards and key-tar to create funky, minimalist electro-pop music. Her voice was beautiful and her lyrics was very clever. The audience was thin at 7:30 when she took to the stage but Bell seemed genuinely appreciative of the audience's attention. My favorite song was called Sweater Man which was about, "...a cold, cold man."

This next thought may seem heretical but I was most excited to see Nite Jewel last night. They played the middle set starting at 8:30. I'm really a big fan of their album One Second of Love and was looking forward to seeing how it translates live. I am pleased to report that not only do they pull it off live, they bring a brand-new energy to the songs. When you hear recorded vocals that are sultry and haunting often times it's just done with studio-trickery. This is, most certainly, not the case with Nite Jewel. From the moment Nite Jewel's Ramona Gonzalez opened her mouth to sing I knew she was legit. She hit every note beautifully and made a nice headphone album truly engaging. She sang with passion, she moved but she was authentic about it. I feel like if Nite Jewel can release another album that is at least as good as their latest then they will certainly become a headlining act within the next couple of years. For now, they were the perfect meat in a Chairlift, Bell sandwich.

Chairlift took to the stage at 9:30, using an incredibly loud rendition of Mr. Sandman, which deconstructed into a chaotic din, as their entrance music. According to all of their press materials they are a 2-piece band and I'm sure that is true in the studio as well but if you've listened to their latest record, Something then you know they couldn't play those songs as a 2-piece. Their live band consisted of 5 people, including Bell on keys. The audience was completely enthralled, screaming, singing, jumping and dancing throughout the set. Chairlift was a ball of energy bathed in the glow of purple, black lighting. Chairlift's singer, Caroline Polachek lifted herself on the balls of her feet, threw her arms up and twirled like a ballerina marionette while the band propelled the music forward. They played a blend of new and old material with the newest stuff sounding the most fun. They opened with Sidewalk Safari, which really set the tone of the set and they kept they energy moving for a full hour.

The Chairlift tour still has a few more dates left before the band eventually winds up at Lollapalooza so, if you want to catch the in your metro-region check here for tickets and info.