On their homonymous debut, which was produced by TV on the Radio mastermind David Sitek, the Baltimore trio Celebration create a multi-layered din that’s more memorable for its creepy effect, Katrina Ford’s husky-to-shrill-on-a-dime vocals, and David Bergander’s fidgety-but-dancy drumming than for its songs. So it wasn’t much of a surprise that the band translated better live January 5 at Great Scott.
Ford, striking in head-to-toe black and Karen O–ish with bangs in her face, shimmied, shook, shuddered, and shrieked both on and off stage, alternately waving a tambourine high over her head and bashing it on her leg while her voice jumped from delicate breathiness to soulful depth to all-out squeal. But despite her crazed-siren act, it was husband and long-time collaborator Sean Antanaitis who stole the show even as he sat with his back to the crowd for the entire set. Apart from drums and percussion, Antanaitis played all the instruments: bass, guitar, organ, and electric piano, often simultaneously. With a guitar balanced on his lap, his left hand fingering chords and his right hand playing melodies on a keyboard, he ran both feet up and down a Moog pedal-synth bass in perfect synch with drummer David Bergander’s off-kilter rhythms.One of the standout tracks on Celebration (4AD) is the opening "War." At Great Scott, Ford introduced it by saying, "We’ve been doing this song for a while, since the war started. Sad, isn’t it? We’d like to take it out of our set, but we won’t until the war is over." But if you overlooked the topical lyrics ("I say worry, hurry, scurry/Got more guns than anybody"), Antanaitis’s mesmerizing multi-instrumental feats and Bergander’s twitchy pounding were riveting enough to make you shimmy right along with Ford and forget all about war — just as any good rock performance should.
: Live Reviews
, TV on the Radio, Dave Sitek, David Bergander, More