Windmills of Your Mind
Russian Circles/Young Widows/Helms Alee at the Echoplex
A dreamy symphony scope of bearded hipsters, thick rimmed glasses, and skinny jeans permeated the Echoplex Saturday November 14. “I’m over music that just screams in the mic” wanes my friend Vicky, “I’m not 15 anymore.” But who was? Certainly not the troubadourian talent that had coagulated from Pasadena basements and studio apartments to see the Russian Circles. On the whole, the concert going experience touched on the jarring side, the flat beer seediness of a rock concert venue meshed imperviously with the self-determined smudgyness of openers Helms Alee and Young Widows- bands sawing away at the acoustical threshold of the house speakers. Patience is a virtue, especially for those dye-in-the-wool audiophiles too old to know that hip does not mean marinating in a stew of blown out noises until the wee hours of the morning. Still, the raw energy displayed at the Echoplex that night, improving sonorously as we neared the headliner, was a hedonistic intoxication. It’s hard to screw up live electronic music; so, on the whole, all three bands managed to captivate their audiences despite certain electronic improvisations easily forgiven. The Young Widows, with chant-like incantations and sounds bleeding metal over blues and jazz, much to the chagrin of the band I’m sure, were an all too loud precursor, and thus perfect opener for subdued Circles. The Circles, whose sounds ranged from pulsating to bleak, orchestral to animalistic, was certainly the most crowd-friendly, let alone musically and beautifully unconventional. Still their display was a fashion show of lights, glitter, and effects prompting the question: without their festooned glamour, what would these bands be? Though they are forward moving, I wonder if live performance was an apt turn for the band (just because you can, doesn’t mean you should); and not a gimmick sold cheaply to their furry audience following for increased revenue.