Xiu Xiu/Talk Normal/tUnE yArDs @Gabes 3-31 – Mission Creek

I rolled in about 1:30AM after yesterday’s show, and woke to my dog yakking up a tidy packet of dead grass. That’s neither here nor there, but sleep deprivation made the whole day seem floaty. Work was a blur. My Mission Creek phase began in the afternoon, participating in two interviews live on KRUI.

The first was with Xiu Xiu and Talk Normal, which combined the two bands acting as DJs and responding to my addle-pated questions (and the more reasonable ones from Paul & Matt). When I meet musicians I admire, I never know what to expect. Jamie Stewart seemed a little shy, but quite a sweet man. Angela, who is represented in publicity photos and videos doing things like spitting wine on Jamie and forcing herself to throw up (for the “Dear God I Hate Myself”) was very open and friendly.

What meeting and talking to them brought me around to is that for being so polarizing as artists, they are not, as their detractors say, writing about cruelty, abuse, despair, and degradation for shock value. Not everyone has the privilege of meeting them to get their vibe, but I’d invite the doubters to listen again to their music to hear the real empathy for the victims of life’s tragedies and their own perverse natures. As for the forced vomiting in the music video — which has caused something of a stir — Angela spoke eloquently about how she felt that bulemia is self-hatred, which is quite germane to the song.

Talk Normal (Andrya Ambro, and Sarah Register) didn’t get as much attention in the interview but contributed an interesting mix of songs to the DJ set. I’m hoping that Paul was able to get a good capture of the interview so that we can put it up for all to hear.

Slightly later I spent a 1/2 hour talking with Liberty Leg, about their new album, Flat Black Studios, and other sundry topics. Josh brought a CDR in and we played a couple of live recordings and a track or two from Ginger Lee. Josh also dropped an F-Bomb accidentally but the FCC’s black helicopters full of jackbooted thugs have yet to land and detain him…

The show was… well I’m about ready to drop dead of exhaustion so maybe I’ll mostly let the audio speak mostly for itself.

Talk Normal [audio:]
tUnE yArDs [audio:]
Xiu Xiu [audio:]

I’m sorry I missed Coyote Slingshot — they must have started promptly at 9, and I was still walking my dogs.

Talk Normal were fierce and tribal, silhouetted against red spotlights. They’ve been compared with Sonic Youth, and I can hear that, but they really have tapped the rich vein of stripped down tribal trance music. When I hear them I think of others riding that same train, like Gang Gang Dance, Liquid Liquid, and ESG.

tUnE yArDs (Merrill Garbus, with Nate Brenner on bass) picked up on that tribal theme, but with a brighter tone. Merrill is a looper, building up her own rhythm backing live with a sampler. She has a big voice and a great ear for melody, with some of her songs reminding me of African Hi-life music and Pygmy Chants.

Xiu Xiu were immense. If you listen to the albums, there is a lot going on in the songs — abrupt transitions, crazy percussive business, and intricate chord structures. Angela and Jamie pull it off — not reproducing the recorded versions rote, but rendering them in rawer, louder terms live. Jamie isn’t one to gladhand the audience, but aside from his reticent nature, he was really too busy singing and playing to gladhand the audience. His go-for-broke intensity, and Angela’s abililty to keep up with him and play difficult parts with real flair, made me a real believer.

The drunk guys who were talking louder than the PA through the whole fucking show? Not so much. I guess I don’t understand going to a Xiu Xiu show and spending your time on drunk blah blah blah. They’re sweating blood up there and you’re swaying there with your single-serving pitcher, talking complete bollocks. There’s a special circle of Hell for people like that. They spend eternity in a bar, being ignored by waitresses while everyone else around them drinks the sweetest nectar.

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