On a humid Saturday night, three bands captured the gloomy mood just right
By Mia Pearson, Music editor. Online Exclusive to The Concordian.
The crisp layer of snow longtime melted, summertime blues and anxieties are in full swing. A mixture of lethargic loafing and worrying about accomplishments in the thick summer heat. Uneasy souls flocked to the Palehound, Alex G, and Speedy Ortiz show at Bar le Ritz on June 6, possibly drawn to Alex G’s cast down lyrics and/or Speedy’s swift switching from loud to soft, like your mood jumping from happy to sad for no reason.
Palehound opened the show with their mix of rough and gentler-sounding songs. Frontwoman Ellen Kempner had achieved the perfect ratio of raspiness and clarity in her guitar distortion, which paired nicely with her soft vocals. Kempner sang about cold beds and other problems twenty-somethings often face, appropriate for the Saturday night crowd looking for an angsty fix.
If you hadn’t previously discovered Alex G’s impressive backlog of full-lengths and shorter releases for this 21-year-old or explored his Facebook page under SANDY Alex G, then you wouldn’t know which Philadelphia-native gangly boy he was on stage. The most unassuming of the four band members is Alex G: slouched over and dressed in baggy jeans and a plain brown t-shirt to match his shoulder-length brown hair. Audience members mouthed the lyrics off his newest album, DSU, while heads were swung back and forth almost violently, but definitely excitedly, because the guy behind this musical pot of gold they’d found on the Internet had now manifested himself in front of them and was coyly singing. “It’s all part of the act,” the musician said as he fumbled with pedals and tunings between songs. “You’re all really nice,” he told the crowd as they eagerly waited to hear which hooky bedroom-born recording he’d play next.
Speedy Ortiz, tapping-in louder than both previous bands, jolted the crowd out of their post-Alex G funk. Speedy played well with hot and cold—loud and soft—skipping beats with the occasional odd time signature. Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis, who writes lyrics like poems, has a virtuosic ability to sing all while playing complicated riffs on guitar. Their new album, Foil Deer, is wilder than their previous albums and is piled with incredibly creative choruses. The songs they played off Foil Deer kept the math rock-ish melodies, but, compared to their previous shows, Speedy created more of a loud indecipherable wall of sound. Clear or clustered, Speedy’s sound and songwriting have only continued to improve throughout their extensive tour schedule, opening for bands like Yuck and Thurston Moore’s Chelsea Light Moving. “I want to try an experiment,” Dupuis told the crowd. Her experiment was to have shorter crowd members to switch places with anyone who was taller than themselves, and to exchange a smile with that person; it was mildly successful.
Montreal being the last stop of the three bands’ tours, Speedy’s last song had all members of the tour up on stage, jointly playing whatever instruments available. Commandery on stage, the three bands weren’t an antidote for summer gloom, but affirmed that songs about gloomy things can be the best thing happening on a summer Saturday night.