If he weren’t an ethereal dream-pop vocalist, Cigarettes After Intercourse singer/songwriter Greg Gonzalez may have made an ideal stage hypnotist. His potential to envelop a crowd in a woozy trance is one among his band’s signature parts, as evidenced by his trio’s debut Miami efficiency final night time.
Absent rock-star swagger and providing the naked minimal of stage banter between songs, Gonzalez lacks the charisma of the normal pandering frontman. His attraction, and by extension Cigarettes After Intercourse’s doggedly constant sound, is simple and pure, as if the wallflower on the dance have been invited to carry out, solely to win over the favored youngsters with voice and sonic texture alone.
The band’s mysterious magic manifested earlier than the present began, within the sticky, gnat-laden environs of Bayfront Park. Thirty-five minutes previous to showtime, hordes of principally younger followers, invariably wearing black (just like the band), bolted from their seats to the entrance of the stage following an unstated cue, all to be just some inches nearer to the motion. Lots of them shrieked with anticipation every time a crew member appeared from backstage, or a sound man examined an instrument. The vibe was very Beatles-in-1963, one thing I’m not accustomed to experiencing at indie rock exhibits.
This crowd was hungry for what Cigarettes After Intercourse was promoting, in different phrases, and Gonzalez, bassist Randall Miller and drummer Jacob Tomsky have been blissful to satiate them. Drawing from the group’s two LPs and varied singles, the band carried out in its trademark smoky haze, with obtuse triangles of sunshine from above and beneath strategically emblazoning the choruses. Movie noir has usually been invoked to explain the group’s cinematic sound, and it’s much more apt in dwell efficiency, the place the one colours are black and white, from the vacant stage décor to the movies often projected behind the band: Photographs of moonlight on water, a flurry of snow, a greyscale rose caught aflame, a close-up of the French actress Anna Karina crying in a theatre from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Vivre Se Vie.”
Such moody accompaniment was at all times welcome, as a result of it helped deliver some distinction to a night of fabric that in any other case flowed like a serene river, typically to a fault. As a lot as I take pleasure in Cigarettes After Intercourse’s sound, it’s starting, after some seven years, to really feel a bit rote: three musicians, Quaalude tempos from a easy rhythm part, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-chorus formulae. I hoped for a bit extra experimentation in a dwell setting, however the songs have been hermetic replicas of their recordings, seemingly all the way down to the second. A bit extra instrumental colour in Cigarettes After Intercourse’s palette may go a good distance, ought to the band want to evolve past its current paradigm. I couldn’t assist however speculate how a piano would sound right here, or a saxophone solo would sound there. Actually the band’s influences, from Julee Cruise to Cocteau Twins, embraced a extra dynamic aesthetic.
However what do I do know? It’s a day later, and I can’t get their songs out of my head. And there have been moments of transcendence that added distinction to the sameness of the instrumentation: the followers’ infectious swaying of mobile phone lights throughout “John Wayne”; the blanket of blissful heat that appeared to accompany each be aware of the appropriately titled “Candy”; the boundless euphoria of “Heavenly,” illustrated with a dawn cresting over an ocean; gentle cascading off the disco ball from the ceiling of the stage throughout “Apocalypse.”
And on “Dreaming of You,” accompanied by imagery of a lightning storm silently crackling over a cloudy sky, we obtained its equivalence in a jolt of instrumental variation: a welcome eruption of noisy, Jesus & Mary Chain-esque distorted guitar—as if the hypnotist out of the blue snapped his fingers, bringing us out of the dream. I for one was blissful to be roused from the reverie.
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