Saturday, April 7, 2007

Live Review: The Ponys w/ Deerhunter

April 6th, 2007

The Record Bar

Kansas City, MO

Lately I've been on a no drinking or smoking kick.

Normally that first sentence would have absolutely nothing to do with a concert review, but this is an exception. I needed to put it out in the open because now I can competently explain why I was a little worried that I might not enjoy this show. Not because I thought the bands would suck, though to be honest I was a little concerned that Deerhunter's sound might not translate as well in the live setting. No, the reason why I was worried is because I feel that if past experiences have taught me anything, it is that Deerhunter is a band that best listened to while stoned, and that the Ponys are a band best seen while drunk. Being neither of the two (unless you count drunk on POWER! MWUHHAHAHAHAHAH!!!) I was a little concerned how the night would go. My fears went unfounded though as both bands provided sets with faithful renditions of songs off albums that have proved to be highlights in the first few months of 2007.

Deerhunter took the stage and opened with one of my favorite tracks from the critically acclaimed (and Midwest Music and More favorite) "Lake Somerset". One thing I had forgotten about Deerhunter is how danceable they could be, but this song, as well as a few others in the set, provided a swift reminder. The band quickly went into the album intro and the title track before playing a set that thankfully focused mainly on the albums actual songs, which are, in this humble writer's opinion, rather tasty. The closed the night with the stoner friendly jam "Octet", its hopping bass making even the most stoic of listeners nod their heads. The song, and the set, ended with a Sonic Youth style wall of noise that seemingly every band ends their set with these days, which really isn't a complaint even if it sounds like one.

The Ponys came on next after a tricky soundcheck where most microphones sounded "okay" (as opposed to "great" or even "good") and one barely even worked. Despite these potential sound disasters, the band seemed to be in a good mood this time, which is something I can't say about the last performance of theirs I attended in Lawrence back in 2005. Singer Jared Gummere wore a flannel shirt, prompting Girlfriend to comment, "he looks like he just stepped out of the 90s". But really, so does the bands music. The best thing I can say about seeing the Ponys live is that it is like taking all the best parts of Alternative Nation and 120 Minutes and rolling them into one. The band opened with the Pixies-esque "Harakiri", then went into the Sonic Youth-esque "Poser Psychotic". Even if you have never heard the band before, you probably know where this is going. The band front loaded their set with a smattering of songs from their latest album turn the Lights Out before playing a few choice cuts off Celebration Castle. The band ended the night with a blistering rendition of "Pickpocket Song", extending the already lengthy outro into a raucous coda.

In all, the night was great. Both bands were fantastic despite sounding a little dated. It is possible that while seeing Deerhunter or the Ponys you'll have a flashback to another show that occurred 10 to 20 years prior on the exact same stage. Perhaps that is exactly what both bands are trying to invoke. Regardless of their musical leanings, this is a double bill that should not be missed.

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