Indie Pop Chick
Tapes 'n Tapes & Oberhofer rock the Houston night, prove SXSW worthy
Remember when Tapes ‘n Tapes debut album Loon set the indie-Internet ablaze with buzz?
No? Well, it's OK— no one else does either.
But Thursday night the beneficiary (or victim?) of short-lived blogger love played Fitzgerald’s with such swagger that we ought to kick ourselves for forgetting them. After what critics and fans alike deemed a sophomore slump, the Minneapolis indie rockers came back with a packed show.
Often "opening act" is synonymous with "smoking break." Local band Tax the Wolf proved an exception.
I admit that Tax the Wolf got my vote from its moniker alone. I mean, we should definitely tax the wolf. Let's tax all the wolves. There are simply too many of them, and I'm getting scared — Wolf Parade, Wolf Mother, Beta Wolf. They need to start paying into the system. Or at the very least they should death battle the bear bands (i.e. Grizzly Bear, Minus the Bear, Bear in Heaven, Seabear) to see who qualifies for health care. I also think the deer/dear bands have overpopulated the scene but I digress.
Initially I balked at "prog rock." The term spooks us indie pop chicks, almost as daunting as “math rock.” (The last time I tried to understand math rock I passed out alone on a dirty futon as the Dillinger Escape Plan’s documentary played on repeat. What's with the elevator doors in that? Couldn't they just do the interviews in the studio I mean...)
Tax the Wolf is at once progressive and unpretentious, cascading into songs with the raw rumbling of a much older band. However, their sheepish stage presence betrays them. It's endearing in that shoegaze sweaty palms sort of way but, ultimately, just distracting.
Brooklyn-via-Tacoma Oberhofer followed Tax the Wolf. Formally trained in music, front man Oberhofer had no problem climbing on the kick drum while picking pretty guitar lines. Band mates (guitar/ glockenspiel) and Dylan Treleven (bass) flanked Oberhofer for a trifecta of skinny jean hip that would've been laughable in that Urban Outfitters ad sort of way had it not worked so beautifully. The three leaned into their instruments with the confidence of guys who know they can sleep with your girlfriend but won't try because they're just that into the song.
Back to our headliners Tapes 'n Tapes — even if you dismiss today's indie rock a nauseating derivative of Pavement, you'd still admit that these guys are technically good. (And I don't mean that like how tomatoes are technically a fruit or how when you swipe someone's side-view mirror you should technically leave a note.)
Josh Grierson took the stage in a powder blue T-shirt and shaggy facial hair that he ought to shave. (Maybe he got tired of being pretty? I'd heard it's tough)
The highlight of the show came mid-set with (surprise!) "In Houston." Erie xylophone and guitar echoed behind Grierson's whisper-vocals. Although I'd always considered it a sadder tune— the lyrics "no sex and no sleep" can't recall anything too cheery— the song became a celebration with the crowd singing along.
The set ended with high-energy "Insistor" but demands for an encore morphed to a frenzied cry, "Ole, ole ole ole!" The band then emerged to play "Jakov's Suite," another oldie but goodie from their debut album. Grierson paused to comment on the turnout, "Houston people must like to drink on Thursdays."
Nah, we just like you. And we drink every night here.