Fiery Furnaces, Deadboy And The Elephantmen, Sybris | 2.24.06

There’s no question about the relationship between the headlining Fiery Furnaces Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger. Yes, the semi-notorious duo are in fact siblings, producing music that is as intriguing as it is inventive, with their recent work bordering on the “weird.”

See photos from the show in PHOTO GALLERY 

 

Mississippi Night, St. Louis

Although chatter and cheers were stirring early on at the Fiery Furnace concert, the subtly powerful performance of openers Sybris demanded everyone’s attention. Hailing from Chicago, the ambient art rock quartet’s frontwoman Angela Mullenhour looked somewhat like a Muppet/Cousin It hybrid, with hair in face and guitar in hand. Yet, what escaped from those hidden lips proved nothing short of captivating. Sybris performed tracks from their self-titled 2005 album—including the Edie Brickell–like “Blame It on the Baseball”—with Mullenhour’s voice hanging on to every syllable. Their sound evoked Blond Redhead with facets of Björk, accompanied by a Nirvana apathetic-but-not-really diction and presence.

As the night progressed, each band would bring a heightened energy to the stage, as if slowly turning up a knob. Tonight, “this one goes to eleven.”

A rather quick set turnover brought on deadboy and the Elephantmen, performing tracks from the recently released We Are Night Sky and drawing the biggest crowd response of the evening. Many a White Stripes fan would surely be drawn to this two-member configuration, with Dax Riggs on guitar and vocals and Tessie Brunet on drums and the occasional harmony (in fact, if you’ve ever seen the White Stripes perform, the duo mirrors the stage setup exactly, even down to the interactive back and forth smirks). I could only wonder if they’re fucking or maybe brother and sister, both? Whatever. However similar to the Stripes, Riggs sang with a causality rarely seen by Jack White—a lot less forced and yet equally as engaging. At times, the anti-smoke and mirrors effect left me wondering how such a deliciously rich texture could derive from a chick on drums and dude on guitar. This thought climaxed during the New Pornographers–esque set closer “Blood Music” and the gentle, string-plucked “Walking Stick.”

There’s no question about the relationship between the headlining Fiery Furnaces Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger. Yes, the semi-notorious duo are in fact siblings, producing music that is as intriguing as it is inventive, with their recent work bordering on the “weird.” The Furnaces’ set included songs from both 2004’s Blueberry Boat and 2005’s Rehearsing My Choir—the latter being a 59-minute account of the duo’s grandmother Olga’s life, beginning in the 1920s, and featuring Olga herself on vocals. (Does anyone else walk around with Olga’s demanding decree for “faster hammers” in their head or is it just me?) Live, the Friedbergers subbed Eleanor for Grandma, making for a more energetic take on the material. Olga would be pleased—indeed, these hammers were faster. The entire set was infused with a Red Bull–like tempo, with tracks such as “I Lost My Dog” and “ Straight Street” finishing first in the musical marathon. The night was devoid of the sing-songy “Tropical Iceland” but managed to tap our diversified Furnace cravings with surprisingly rocked-out versions of “Blueberry Boat” and “Single Again.” The only thing missing on this night was a mosh pit—I would have loved watching the Furnaces’ audience of art students and emo boys repeatedly, albeit gently, pushing at one another.

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