Live Review: Ringo Deathstarr @ Golden West, 7/4/2011

While many people chose to celebrate the birth of the United States this past Fourth of July by engaging in your typical outdoor drinking and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the same boring fireworks that go off every year, I decided to wish America a big Happy Birthday by seeing some pretty fucking amazing live music. It's always a treat to see those little rays of Austinian shoegaze sunshine, Ringo Deathstarr, and they were just the kinda firecrackers I had in mind for a steamy Monday night in Bal'mer, hon.

After great sets from Dead Leaf Echo and The Vandelles, it was time for Elliott and Alex and Daniel to get to it. Since I've been listening to the new Ringo Deathstarr record Colour Trip and not much else lately, I was really excited to hear how the new songs went over live. I must say, it stands as a testament to certain venues (such as the Black Cat) that they can contain and enhance the impossibly loud sounds these three can make, because I'm not quite sure the soundsystem at Golden West was up to the task. Of course, this is one heck of a loud band. Most systems probably can't handle them.

The trip began their assault on Baltimore with "Tambourine Girl," one of many a Colour Trip offering that was a part of the set. The sledgehammer of noise was evident immediately, as was the fact that the soundsystem was sadly over-matched. The loud(er), gritty bits had even more bite, and the slightly menacing air to the song was more perceptible. The breathy, Alex-siren sung dance jam "Imagine Hearts" was next, overrun by feedback but overall the song sounded great. I was delighted beyond delight at the inclusion of several old favorites, such as the fantastic "Down On You." The crushing weight of the song and Elliott's husky vocals always shine live.

The fizzy bubbles of the kaleidoscopic "So High" filled the room with a sunny reverie, Elliott and Alex playing off one another with those great boy-girl vocals of theirs. I about fell over when the band dove headfirst into the sexy, sexy jaggedness of "Some Kind of Sad." It's a definite favorite, and can probably contend for song of the set in my opinion. During "You Don't Listen" I realized that the floor was shaking and the booth in which I was perched was vibrating along with the rhythm of the song, jangle tangled up in sweet, sweet fuzz. "I don't like you anymore," sang Elliott, "you will never understand what I need." Some folks were getting down up front, and they had good reason. It's hard to resist such a tasty stomping little number.

"Chloe" almost burned the dang house down with all that impossible sonic heft and magnificent aural seduction by way of beehive guitar and cooing (Alex) and come hithering (Elliott). A cover of EMF's "Unbelievable" (yes way) made it into the set, as did a glorious version of "Sweet Girl." Daniel's drumming was positively militant in its tautness. A medley of covers closed out the night, and included some Minor Threat, Smashing Pumpkins, Tom was a fun, silly moment to be sure, in an otherwise pretty dang seriously spectacular set. Even with those sound problems, can't nobody do this nouveau gaze thing quite like Ringo Deathstarr. It had been way, way too long since I saw these three, but after the Baltimore show and my subsequent drive down to Richmond for their show the next night at Sprout, I think I'm pretty well sated for at least another year. Well, maybe.

mp3: Imagine Hearts (Ringo Deathstarr from Colour Trip)

[photo by Megan Petty]


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