Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Strange Geometry

The Clientele with Annie Hayden @ The Knitting Factory 11/23/05
Annie Hayden, formerly of the '90s Jersey City band Spent, opened the show with a 30-minute set of delicately strummed and played indie-pop that I imagine isn't too far from the sound of her old band (though I'm unfamiliar with their music, so I can't vouch for that statement). The between song banter was funny and during one break, Alisdair from The Clientele brought her flowers to culminate the end of their almost 2-month long tour together, which was a really sweet gesture.

I'd never seen The Clientele before, but I'd heard that they were similar live to what their records sound like. It turns out that this is only somewhat true. The first thing you notice is the sparseness of their sound. They're a 3-piece led by the aforementioned singer/guitarist/songwriter Alisdair MacLean and another thing I noticed since I was standing close to the front was the amount of effects pedals that he used. This created a mesmerizing sea of reverb that fortunately didn't overwhelm the vocals or the rhythm section but on the plus side added to the beauty of his playing. And beautiful it was! A revelation to me was how absolutely amazing of a guitar playing Alasdair is, which is something that I don't usually see mentioned when I read reviews of their albums or live shows. Instead of strumming rhythmic chords, he picks at the guitar in a manner almost similar to what a bluegrass guitarist would do. I don't know if he would appreciate the comparison, but though they sound totally different, it actually reminded me in some ways of Lindsey Buckingham's playing style. Overall, though, the sound is more akin to indie legends like Galaxie 500 (seeing them live, the similarities are even more apparent since The Clientele is a 3-piece and because of the reverb and the hazy, droning nature of their sound), The Church, The Go-Betweens and even occasionally Robyn Hitchcock. In other words, it was a slow, dream-pop haze that was enrapturing and even trance-inducing. Although they stand still and don't really put on a "show", I still recommend seeing them highly.

A couple of really funny things happened during their set. Someone requested the song "Losing Haringey" (a spoken word monologue where the band just plays an instrumental track over it), so Alisdair invited said person to come up on stage and recite the lyrics (luckily they had a print-out of the lyrics perhaps with this in mind), so he did to rapturous applause. Also, their final song was an acoustic-guitar led version of Television Personalities' "A Picture of Dorian Gray", a song which I also saw The Futureheads cover last year at Maxwells. Anyone someone yelled out "who's Dorian Gray" when Alisdair introduced the song, but then someone else said "he's a fag" after his explanation (I can only hope the heckler in question was being ironic; douchebag).

I bought their tour-only CD of their early recordings (It's Art Dad) after the gig and I got a chance to speak briefly with Alisdair and have him sign my copy. Unfortunately no one seemed to have a permanent marker so he used a pen and the ink is a bit runny, but I can't really complain. Once I set up my new printer/scanner/copier that came with the new computer I bought last week, maybe I'll be able to scan the image for all of you to see.


Anonymous That Pain in Yr Ass is Me said...

Yeah, you think a night of dreamy pop music is fun? I had a night of 21 Jump Street with dreamy Tom Hanson! Actually, the Clientele is quite excellent, and I'm sure Alisdair was happy to meet you.

8:58 AM

Blogger japanesegodjesusrobot said...

He was in fact happy to meet me. Alisdair seems like a really nice guy. I asked him about the last song they played (their cover of Television Personalities' "A Picture of Dorian Gray") to make sure that it was the same song that I heard the Futureheads cover last year at Maxwells since I was unfamiliar with the original, but
I knew the title.

Plus, he gave Annie Hayden flowers. He's a real gentleman, that one.

3:21 PM

Anonymous that pain in yr ass is me said...

Ah, Dorian Gray. I haven't seen him in ages!

8:51 PM

Blogger japanesegodjesusrobot said...

Me neither. He makes an appearance every now and then, the last time being when I saw The Futureheads at Maxwells last year and they played that song. :-)

9:11 PM

Anonymous that pain in yr ass is me said...

I'm talking about the man! The real Dorian Gray! I mean, aside from the fact that he's a fictional character, it's nice to think that somewhere out there, there's some dandy guy that lives forever in a handsome ageless sort of way.

8:31 AM

Blogger japanesegodjesusrobot said...

Yes I know Booberger. I was just kidding!

1:21 PM

Anonymous that pain in yr ass is me said...

Hey, who you callin' Booberger?

2:56 PM


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