March 18, 2010
We Are Country Mice, Dragon Turtle, ARMS, Tall Firs @ Glasslands | 3.6.10
JezebelMusic.com @ Glasslands
March 6, 2010 | We Are Country Mice, Dragon Turtle, ARMS, Tall Firs
I had never seen a show at Glasslands prior to this Saturday, and have to say, despite its somewhat abandoned location, I was enchanted. As I sipped my beer, waiting for the show to start, I took the time to appreciate the excellently haphazard and whimsical space, hoping the music would follow suit. Supported by an energetic coterie of glow necklace adorned fans, openers We Are Country Mice were by far the highlight of the evening. Brooklyn-based, but mid-country reared, their sound is honest and refreshing. Sometimes twangy, sometimes vaguely surf, they’re just plain fun. They won me over with “The Ballad of John,” a gorgeous, harmonious country-esque rambler that breaks out into a crashing, cathartic rock song. “A Good Old-Fashioned Barn Raising” is a lot less creepy live, and come on, who doesn’t love to see a megaphone appear onstage? Drummer Kurt Kuehn looks like he’s having an absolute blast, as they all do. Between a xylophone cameo and some inherent scrappiness —lead singer Jason Rueger smilingly manned their merch table all night — We Are Country Mice, are for sure at the top of my small-indie-bands-I’m-rooting-for list.
It was on the tails of that charm that the show then came to a whiplash-inducing halt. What would seem like the perfect ethereal, candle-lit, setting for Dragon Turtle’s mellowed out sound, proved to be a set that was, in a word, awkward. With lots of layers and dreaminess, their music is simultaneously dense and dainty. It is clear they are meticulous with their craft — there was an elaborate tuning fiasco in the middle of their two track set — but whilst it might be that fussiness that makes their music lush and trippy, it makes their live act seem a bit amateur. There was a really snuggly couple front row center, however, swaying sleepily along.
By that point I was really looking forward to ARMS, hoping they’d pick the show back up again, and they did, sort of. Their songs are polite indie rock, enjoyable, but not truly unique. Lead singer Todd appears to be the driving force behind the group and the only one that was present Saturday night. The trio lacked cohesion and communicated minimally. I spent half their set being distracted by drummer Tlacael Esparza, who – maybe he was hung-over, I have no idea – seemed less than excited to be there. A note scribbled mid-set: “drummer = aloof/dying”. ARMS are, ultimately, non-offensive and “Kids Aflame” begs toe-tapping, conjuring some incarnation of a sunshine and coconut infused Michael Stipe song. Maybe a little less of guitarist/keyboardist Matty Fasano’s falsetto, a little more energy and I’d have liked ARMS a whole lot more.
Always willing to give a band a second chance, Brooklyn’s Tall Firs had originally been the draw for me. Having not loved 2008′s Too Old to Die Young, I was curious to check them out live. I wondered, perhaps, if hearing them live would fill in what I had felt was missing from a dreary album or if they would wake me up with a dynamic stage presence. It didn’t and they didn’t. Still sounding rain-soaked and morose, their live show sort of felt like an inside-joke I wasn’t getting. Their in-between-songs banter was stiff and awkward, and as the crowd had thinned out by that point, it felt all the more flat. It was a pretty sobering end to a night of music that had started off with such promise.
by Erin Gallagher