100 Shows of 2010 - #43: The Capstan Shafts/Twins Of A Gazelle @ Black Cat, 7/15/10

To put it mildly, the evening of The Capstan Shafts and Twins Of A Gazelle show was yet another in a seemingly endless stretch of horrid, humid, stolidly stultifying days. My general crankitude was off the charts, but thankfully, as so often seems to be the case, music soothed the savage beast that my temperament had become. I felt like I was alternately seeing the Arcade Fire and reliving the glorious early 90s. And that, friends, was an interesting and fairly pleasing place to be.

MINI RECAP: The Capstan Shafts = Fuzzily Fab! Twins Of A Gazelle = Not-So-Secretly Canadian! Overall score: B.

Twins Of A Gazelle got going just a few minutes after I arrived at the Black Cat. I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen so many people crammed onto that stage before, and somehow, the masses of musicians made it work. Right off the bat, something inside me said, ”I’ve heard this one before.” The brain was racked, and landed upon those cheerfully dour Canadians of the beloved Arcade Fire. Something about the vocals and the lush landscapery of all those instruments together was very much in the vein of the AF. It must be noted that violins seem to be the new black, and quite a few bands I’ve seen lately have been utilizing them to great success. While certainly less gloomy than our Northerly neighbors, locals Twins Of A Gazelle didn’t veer all that much from their sound. “We sound a little bit like this band,” they said, as a cover of “Wake Up” was thrown into the set. Truth be told, I’m not sure how I feel about a cover that sounds kinda sorta like the original version. I really dug their new single, “Constellations,” which sounded the least like the Arcade Fire of any song in their set. It was jaunty and poppy and exuberant, and hopefully that’s the direction in which the bountiful band will move.

And then, it was time for something completely different. Dean Wells, otherwise known as The Capstan Shafts, creates pretty neato lo-fi nuggets that suggest those denizens of fuzz Guided By Voices, among others. Wells, adorable as he is, showed himself to be a true frontman, eschewing instruments to direct all his energy to the task of vocalizing his lyrics. Backed by his interesting assortment of friends, Wells and his voice endeared himself to me at once. Taking his songs out of the bedroom, Wells was charmingly affable and guardedly self-deprecating, saying “We’re open to criticism. Not terribly open to criticism, but open…” The songs benefited from the expanded instrumentation, particularly that drummer, who won serious points for his take-no-prisoners approach to hitting the skins on quite a few songs. Mixing it up sonically, at times the band shredded with rock and fury, while other times the songs took a gentler, quieter tone. The lo-fi approach wasn’t the vibe of the night, for sure. There was a slight air of discomfort onstage, which kept things feeling slightly off-kilter to me during the set. Whether or not Wells would rather be back in the bedroom studio he didn’t say, but somehow the awkwardness worked, for the most part. I was rather happy to have been around for the band’s “first second show somewhere.”

It was an unusual pairing, I think, but I was still rather entertained by the musical endeavors of the two. I’d reckon both bands would be worth seeing again, and you might just want to check ‘em out, dearies.

mp3: Middles Of June (The Capstan Shafts from Fixation Protocols)


  1. free download for "constellations" can be found at


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