Tuesday, October 11th, 2005
Can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t really like The Fiery Furnaces. I have a couple of their records and find them perplexing and fascinating and artistically audacious, but enjoyable? I dunno about that. Some of it I like, some of it I don’t. Their new album, Rehearsing My Choir, I couldn’t take. That’s great that they’re bonding with grandma and creating something undeniably unique, but I found it damn near unlistenable.
So what, praytell, was I doing at Lee’s Palace last night seeing The Fiery Furnaces live? Well, as I understood it, no matter what you thought of the Furnaces on record, you had to see them live, if just for the spectacle. And I’m all about spectacle. Unfortunately, spectacle was in short order last night. Splitting the set between older material and the new stuff probably prevented them from doing the non-stop medley thing I’d heard so much about – or maybe they’re just over that. The energy onstage was also lessened by the fact that Eleanor Friedberger was nursing a bad cold – as it was, I give her full marks for making it through the hour and a half-long set, she was looking rough up there.
I have to say, I like the Fiery Furnaces quite a bit more live than I do on album. What can come across as overly artsy and precious on record gets a good dose of frantic energy in the live setting, making their rather unique carnival-punk a lot easier to get into. Even the Rehearsing My Choir material was a lot more enjoyable without their grandmother singing the material. The crowd seemed to dig the new stuff but then they were hearing Eleanor sing it… we’ll see how they like the actual album when it comes out later this month. I know some people who have heard the album and love Gramma Sanatos, but I suspect Fiery Furnaces fans are probably a little more inherently eccentric in what they do and don’t dig. But I digress. The Choir stuff was sandwiched between big chunks of Blueberry Boat and Gallowsbird Bark material, which naturally were the crowd pleasers, even when they were musically inverted in their live incarnations. Despite Eleanor’s sorry physical state – you felt sorry watching her struggle through the set – they still came out and performed an encore nearly half as long as the main one. So maybe not the spectacle I was hoping for, but still definitely a good show.
I showed up late and missed the ubiquitous Apostle Of Hustle, who opened things up. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen Mr Whiteman’s outfit live without ever actually making an effort, so I’m sure I’ll catch him another time. Another consequence of being fashionably late was getting stuck fairly far back from the stage – thus the photos are nothing to write home about. Oh well, can’t win ’em all.
Pitchfork reviews the second series of the Directors Label DVDs. Though I’m not the biggest fan of many of the artists these directors have done work for, you don’t necessarily have to like the music to appreciate the films. Check out the trailer for the new DVDs here.
A recent study on national personalities shakes a fundamental pillar of the Canadian identity to its very core – Canadians aren’t nicer than Americans.
np – Trespassers William / Different Stars