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Blonde Redhead
With Opening Acts
Coydogs @I'm From Barcelona
August 5, 2007
McCarren Pool

Written by Eric Atienza
Photographed by Amy Davidson

Opposite Photo:
Amedeo Pace of Blonde Redhead

One of the big stories of the summer in live indie music was Sonic Youth’s performance at the McCarren Park Pool in which they played their seminal album Daydream Nation in full, front to back. Getting less press – though by the signs of the absolutely packed show equal word of mouth – was a trip to the pool from the band’s pseudo-stepchild Blonde Redhead.

Before they took the stage, however, openers the Coydogs let loose with a stream of occasionally inspired but generally formulaic alt. country. The trio was not unpleasant to listen to and were competent players, but their songwriting and performing could only be engaging to pre-existing fans of the genre. The entire first set was standard fare played with a decent delivery but was mostly unable to grab the attention of anyone who wasn’t already watching.

I'm From Barcelona

I'm From Barcelona I'm From Barcelona

While the first band was barely a distraction, the second act I’m From Barcelona – don’t be fooled by the name, they are actually from Sweden – threatened to steal the show. Introduced by a shriner, a space pirate and a foil-wrapped space potato the 29-member group was bursting with energy. Fun in the purest sense of the word, their romp through the eardrums of those in attendance was anchored by the standard guitar/keyboards/drums/vocals and fully accompanied by several types of winds (including kazoos), accordions, banjos, several costumed backup singers, a large bag of beach balls that was unleashed onto the crowd and a lead singer who fulfilled a long time dream by crowdsurfing on an inflatable swimming pool raft. They were Mates of State times 14 whose smiles and erratic, childlike dancing were incredibly contagious and they soon enough drew the eyes, ears and feet of almost all in attendance.

Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead

As I’m From Barcelona played the role of the spunky, irrepressible youngster playing sheerly for the joy of it, Blonde Redhead took the stage as the serious older sibling carefully crafting works of art and showing what professional, lasting music should really sound like. From their earlier, bare, heavily distorted work through bits that recall 90s emo icons Sunny Day Real Estate up to songs that channel some more thoughtful, introspective version of Muse or Sparta the set was a lesson in the versatility of gigantic, cavernous music. With just three members as building blocks they effortlessly constructed towering juggernauts of sound and then just as easily lead singer Kazu Makino demolished the beasts, with a piercing scream scattering the leftover pieces into the afternoon air. She was a whirlwind on stage, her hair swirling about with its frantic movements mirroring her own. For his part guitarist Amedeo Pace, along with his twin brother drummer Simone Pace, launched perfect shards of jagged dissonance which fractured and then somehow multiplied making the air thick with fragments of sound. They were volatile and incendiary, but beneath it all able to exert complete control. Each member could dive into a moment of complete reckless abandon sewing chaos into whatever their instrument touched and in the next instant pull a tight 180 into a melodic, brooding bridge only to build momentum and light up the stage once again.

Amedeo Pace of Blonde Redhead

By the time the Chuck Taylor All-Stars began to shuffle towards the exit the last notes had begun to settle into the concrete. An excitement, however, remained; a vivid memory. While Sonic Youth’s show may have gotten the lion’s share of the buzz leading into June, Blonde Redhead certainly secured a place for themselves in the list of great shows of the summer of 2007.

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