Gang Gang Dance | 11.28.08

live_gang-gang_sm.jpgI was eager to see how their everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sounds would translate in a live setting.







Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn


As my indefinite New York residency continues, so too does my endless desire to revel in the cultural spoils of my surroundings. Said predilection lead me to the artistic ballyhoo of Billyburg where I was invited to take in a performance from Brooklyn’s own Gang Gang Dance. I was eager to see how the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sounds found on their latest effort, Saint Dymphnia, would translate in a live setting, so I hopped on the L train at 14th Street and headed for my favorite borough.

I arrived in Williamsburg a couple hours before the show was to start with a plan of hitting up a few record shops around the neighborhood but after briefly meandering the bins at Sound Fix I thought to myself, "Oh hey, I’m totally broke and I should prioritize my spending accordingly. Next stop, beer." With my budgetary concerns now in order, I headed to the lovely Greenpoint Tavern where they serve almost the equivalent of a 40-ounce of Budweiser in Big Gulp style Styrofoam cups for a mere $3.50. Rapture amidst recession.  

Fast-forward to the near bone-dry, white bottom of my third cup, at which point I figured it was time to head towards the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Upon my arrival I was greeted by the spastic saxophone squall of Z’s who were finishing their opening set. Up next was Marnie Stern with a piercing plethora of hammer-ons and pull-offs the likes of dueling Dave Knudson’s on a simultaneous speed rush. Her latest album, This is it… received Best New Music honors over at Pitchfork, where she has since been referenced as a virtuoso on guitar. While I’m not quite ready to put her up there with the likes of Esteban, I will say that her ability to shred is utterly impressive and obvious on "Shea Stadium," my personal highlight of her most recent acclaimed effort.

The nights’ main attraction, Gang Gang Dance took to the stage next. After being drowned in jagged riffs by the opening bands, GGD swimmingly welcomed listeners with hazy electric guitar and synthesizer volume swells accented by rolling percussive clatter. These elements and more work together to create the ever-alluring house-trance dance vibe of Saint Dymphnia. Personal highlights from the performance include the dizzying ooh’s and ahh’s of "House Jam" and the bent and chopped synth work of "Vacuum." While the bands live set may not have been enough to induce an epileptic episode (evoking the Saint for whom their album is named) at the very least, they know how to provide the soundtrack to a seriously tripped-out dance party.

While the members of Gang Gang Dance deserve ample praise for the nights’ performance- Lizzie Bougatsos is a strong, engaging frontwoman who definitely knows how to rock a set of rototoms- I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. The music of Gang Gang Dance practically begs for some sort of visual accompaniment, a characteristic of their sound that was unexploited on this night. All of that aside, their set was still wonderfully entertaining. Perhaps next time I see them I’ll be sure to bring my own visuals. | Carl Hines

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