November 16, 2010 | 8:34am
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November 15, 2010
The Glass House
A dimly lit stage with flickering light bulbs perfectly set the stage for Blonde Redhead. Supporting their new album Penny Sparkle, the subtle surge of synthesizers were sonically interjected by Amedeo Pace's weaving guitar parts during "Black Guitar." Kazu Makino was wearing a white mask with extensions of hair coming from the sides of the mask for a unique look for the first song.
Simone Pace was a wizard behind his drum kit triggering samples as well as adding a flurry of live drums to "Here Sometimes" as the synthesizers sounded extra buzzy and much more prominent in the mix. After spending a lot of time with the album, it was impressive to see that Blonde Redhead were adding extra layers of sound to the live versions of their new songs giving them an extra kick.
Makino would switch to guitar for the faster paced "Dr. Strangelove" which immediately grabbed everyone's attention. "Spring and by Summer Fall" was another jolt of noise as Amedeo added violent sheets of noise to the outro of the song which garnered a batch of cheers from the crowd at the conclusion of the song. Another song with an extra layer of synthesizers and musical tweaks was "Will There Be Stars" with its slithering snake like bass groove that packed a punch.
Wire like guitar squalls of "In Particular" meshed perfectly the heavy bass drum beat as I spotted some dancing in the crowd. Makino showed off her keyboard skills for "SW" while the propulsive beat lured in the listener. "Spain" had several additional sonic layers compared to the recorded version as the inclusion of tiny snippets of guitars and a swell of synthesized strings that perked up my ears.
My favorite song on the new album "My Plants Are Dead" was even sparser compared to the recorded version with Amedeo playing a slight variation of the guitar riff. Makino was whipping her hair around swaying like she was lost in the music for "Not Getting There" as Simone expertly recreated the tribal drum beat. Continuing their hypnosis of the crowd, "23" had me swaying with Amedeo engaging his whammy pedal for some quick sonic bends.
Reemerging for an encore, "Equus" got stuck in my head with some of Makino's sample delayed vocals repeating through the song. The hard charging "Melody of A Certain Three" had Makino playing a baritone bass to add an extra layer of weight to the song. Fittingly closing the evening with "Penny Sparkle," Makino's vocals seemed to float over the crowd as if you were dreaming.
Olof Arnalds played a crowd pleasing acoustic based set interjecting small stories behind each of her songs. Arnalds used a charango on one of her songs which is made from the shell of an armadillo. The crowd was rapt with attention during her set and she even managed to get the crowd to sing along to one of her songs which is impressive for an opening act.
Personal Bias: While the overall reviews of Penny Sparkle have been mixed, I still haven't stopped listening to it since it came out.
Crowd: A typical hipster Glass House crowd.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I Love You!" was shouted from the audience in between songs during Blonde Redhead. This happens at every show I seem to go to.
Random Notebook Dump: The fire alarms were set off before the show due to the smoke machines pumping out excessive smoke.
"Spring and by Summer Fall"
"Will There Be Stars"
"My Plants Are Dead"
"Not Getting There"
"Melody of A Certain Three"