In concert: Baths and Braids at Rock & Roll Hotel
Youth was served onstage Friday night at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Now if someone could just serve those youths some hot tea. Baths and Braids, two plainly named, on-the-rise acts, fought through sicknesses to successfully show why they are both quickly ascending the indie circuit.
Montreal quartet Braids played first and was most handicapped by malady. Singer-guitarist Raphaelle Standell-Preston's voice had largely abandoned her by the time the band hit the stage, turning an elastic, emotive weapon into a meek croak. Early in the set she strained and failed to hit notes normally well within her range and, at one point, simply stopped singing to apologize mid-song.
Her bandmates soldiered on, playing dramatic and surging songs with interwoven melodies and shifting tempos. They are slowly unfolding, cinematic creations that consistently simmer, if rarely explode. Many of them swell and subside over the course of six or seven minutes, like tornado funnels that never wreak complete havoc by touching down.
Their debut album, "Native Speaker," displays a strong sense of dynamics that was even more apparent onstage. Drummer Austin Tufts gave his entire kit a workout but never pounded it into submission. All four members teamed for enchanting harmonies that often served to refocus songs that occasionally drifted a little haphazardly. By the end of the performance, Standell-Preston's voice rallied. The band managed without her at full strength but clearly works best when she's steering the ship.
Baths, the one-man project of baby-faced 21-year-old Los Angeles resident Will Wiesenfeld, opened his headlining set by telling the crowd he was getting over a cold and asked listeners not to hold it against him if he had to pause at some point to blow his nose. No handkerchiefs were necessary, though. Standing behind an array of samplers, keyboards and other electronic gizmos, he played glitchy dance songs with more immediately satisfying payoffs than anything in the preceding set.
It was hard to tell exactly what he was doing onstage, but it involved plenty of twisting, turning, twiddling and tapping various knobs and buttons, and every motion was delivered with plenty of aplomb. The beats were big and bouncy, and his vocals added even more energy, the songs landing somewhere in between the spastic stylings of Dan Deacon and the simple electro-pop of Passion Pit.
Even at 21, Wiesenfeld was clearly older than many of the fans who came out to see him, as hands covered with big Xs thrust skyward when the bass was at its heaviest. About halfway through his hour-long set a bit of stasis began to set in. It shouldn't be a problem as he heads down to Austin for next month's SXSW festival, where 30-minute sets are the norm, and his buzz should only increase.
| February 14, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Baths, Braids
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