Concert review: A steamy spring night with the Raveonettes and Tamaryn at the Firebird, Friday, April 8
It’s only the beginning of April but St. Louis saw the hottest show of the year last night at the Firebird. This was due not only to the solid performances by Tamaryn and the Raveonettes, but mostly due to the sauna-like conditions at the venue (which is without the modern invention of air conditioning). Despite the conditions, the crowd pressed on and a “sold out” notice was posted on the door by the time the bands hit the stage.
Up first was the atmospheric shoe gazing of New Zealand artist Tamaryn (the singer and band name). Tamaryn’s sound resides firmly within the vein of previous shoegaze and dream pop artists, blending elements similar to those of Cocteau Twins, the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. And the band does it well, creating a swell of mood and atmosphere within the delayed-echoes of the ambient guitar work and the lush vocals.
It was a warm half-hour wait while the stage was prepped for the Raveonettes. Much of the crowd took to the street outside the venue for a fresh air reprieve. Crowd back in tow, the Danish duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo — who collectively form the now New York City-based Raveonettes — took the stage. They had two additional musicians with them, one a standing drummer playing an electronic drum kit (as well as guitar on the opening number) and another guitarist who also played drums at times and triggered electronic samples depending on the song.
The Raveonettes have recently put out a new record Raven in the Grave and they performed a wealth of new material over the 75-minute set. The band was close to breaking up before making the album, searching for a new muse and inspiration, which they surely found. The new songs came across nicely with the combination of electronic sequences and live instruments forming a congruent blend. There seemed to be some issues with the on-stage mix as the band requested adjustments at the board throughout the night, but the house mix sounded just fine.
“Recharge & Revolt,” the album-opener for Raven in the Grave got the night started. The beat to the song has the simplicity of a child rhythmically pounding on trash cans; much of the Raveonettes music relies on this motif of simplicity but broad sonic depth in the arrangements. They played to an abundance of backing tracks over the course of the night — the new material relying particularly heavy on them — but never did the music feel sterile or inorganic.
The crowd seemed unfamiliar with the new songs, reacting much more positively to the older songs. The set list was interesting as they played about a 50/50 mix of new material and older songs that covered the course of their catalog.
“Dead Sound,” off of 2007′s Lust Lust Lust was played early, as was “The Love Gang” from their 2003 debut LP Chain Gang of Love. They worked in some very early material as well, which pleased the crowd, notably “Attack of the Ghost Riders” from the debut EP Whip it On (2002).
Overall, a lot of great Raveonettes songs were missing from the set; that made it kind of an up-and-down evening in terms of crowd response. The audience was particularly chatty throughout the night and seemed at times distracted. I think a lot of the inconsistent response was due in large part to the oppressive heat index inside the venue.
Regardless, the Raveonettes pressed on and played an enthusiastic set full of loud fuzz-and-reverb guitar licks that channeled Dick Dale meets the Jesus and Mary Chain, and plenty of fog and strobe lights bathed the stage, setting the atmosphere for the music.
Front man Sune Wagoner thanked the crowd several times for coming out and seemed genuine and gracious in doing so. “We haven’t been here in forever,” he said, referencing the city of St. Louis.
The show ended with the moody psychedelic-noise of “Aly, Walk with Me” off of Lust Lust Lust which was a fantastic show closer. It was loud and chaotic and really hit the peak that the night has been missing. Ultimately, it was truly a fine performance by the Raveonettes — hopefully they will make another appearance in St. Louis, perhaps next winter.