Music seen, at SPACE Gallery, March 26, 2007
An eight-member band playing ten instruments including two keyboards and two full drum kits, Do Make Say Think packed SPACE’s tiny stage like I’d never seen it before. This being an indie rock show, though, the band’s mean weight was probably 130 pounds, so there wasn’t much in the way of bumping and stumbling.
Watching the Montreal collective is kind of like seeing a classical music performance; a crescendo doesn’t necessarily constitute a climax. Things get quiet and no one’s sure if the song’s over, and you wonder if you’re supposed to wait until the end of the whole set to applaud. To be honest, though, and at risk of sounding like the bored hipster-cynic I always deride, after about a half-hour of this huge post-rock instrumentalism, I didn’t feel much like cheering.
DMST have been at their game for about ten years now, and they are among the pioneers of their triumphalist sound. Their aesthetic set the tone for cluttered, virtuoso acts like Broken Social Scene and the Arcade Fire, who imbued this band’s cluttered but precise interplay with something new: pop hooks. This development raised the bar for suddenly-slighter instrumental acts like DMST, and it feels like they’ve responded with an excess of excess. In the words of my roommate on the way out: “It’s like they just ejaculated all over the place for an hour.”
That ought to have been a good thing, but something was missing: the arousal. The band’s set was an endless succession of crescendos. Even the quieter moments, when the violin or one of the two horns or three guitars or two drums would take a break, felt like the sappy aftermath of a sappy catharsis, a series of releases with no tension to give it any foundation. It all sounded nice, but there was no reason to care.
On the plus side though: SPACE installed a new sound system last week, and it’s got some massive potential. Instead of shouting at an open room, the noticeably enhanced sonics threaten to engulf it. They’ll make a killing on earplugs.
: New England Music News
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