No Age / High Places / Abe Vigoda

No Age / High Places / Abe Vigoda: live in Philadelphialive in Philadelphia (2008)
Sub Pop Records

Reviewer Rating: 4

Contributed by: Matt_WhelihanMatt Whelihan
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I had only been back in Philly a few days -- long enough to have some scrapple, a cheesesteak, watch a few Phillies games, drink plenty of Yuengling and hit up Wawa five or six times -- when I saw that No Age was playing at the Church. The Church was on my list of things needed to get fully back int.

I had only been back in Philly a few days -- long enough to have some scrapple, a cheesesteak, watch a few Phillies games, drink plenty of Yuengling and hit up Wawa five or six times -- when I saw that No Age was playing at the Church. The Church was on my list of things needed to get fully back into the swing of Philadelphia, but it was also the possibility of seeing how No Age, a two-piece, could duplicate their often dense and layered sound live that got me out to the show.

I arrived at the end of Abe Vigoda's set, a group who hail from the same small L.A. scene as No Age, and much like their noisy comrades, are also beloved by Pitchfork. Still, the similarities seem to end there, as the two songs I caught by the band sounded like Q and Not U gone tropically space age. Squawking, tinny and delay-rich guitars dominated the band's sound, showing a group that seemed to rely too heavily on effects and not enough on stage presence.

Mary Pearson and Robert Barber, the duo that make up High Places, set up next behind two tables full of the sort of knob-twiddling gadgets that leave the audience with a view of nothing more than a tangled mess of cables. Their music was an interesting mix of production that hit on everything from M.I.A. to Hot Chip and the Russian Futurists. What the band seemed to do best, however, was overlap rhythms. Often a tribal drum line -- courtesy of Barber's drum pad -- would bounce on top of a thudding hip-hop pulse or speedy club thump making for a criss-crossing collage of sound. Still, the band did have a few problems. The largest may have been the fact that when you are performing a set that contains predominantly pre-recorded music, you better be ready to shake some ass, and while there was the occasional move busted, for the most part it just felt like watching two producers twist and turn knobs in the studio. The other problems came via sound, as Pearson's vocals -- perhaps in an attempt to duplicate the lo-fi style of their recordings -- were often faded and lost, while some of the band's extra percussion toys weren't being picked up by the mics at all.

So what about No Age?

Within one song the duo showed that re-producing their swirling, pounding wall of sound was no problem. And, maybe it's the two members hardcore background, but live the band were not tech-nerds constantly focused on pedals and mixers, but instead embraced their scrappy, garage side. Guitarist Randy Randall was a jerky, head-bobbing vision of rock mayhem, while drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt's ferocious arm swinging led him to pause every two or three songs so he could catch his breath and down half a bottle of water. The jittery dance moves found throughout the crowd also seemed to energize the band who announced, perhaps too often, "You guys are fucking awesome!"

And while it was nice to be called awesome, and later rad, it was No Age who deserved those titles as they simply thrashed through songs like "Eraser," "Teen Creeps," "Cappo" and "Here Should Be My Home," each of which came complete with its fuzzed-out layers and echoing cries. There was no doubt the band had found their zone, or groove, or any of your other favorite terms for being dead on. Even when Randall broke a guitar string mid-song he made his switch to a new guitar so quickly that the pause almost seemed natural. I guess sometimes just getting noisy and energetic still works.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
names (July 24, 2008)

fuck your not supposed to tell me that! It owned?! fuck...yeah I left the terrible show Spoon was putting on at 9:30, and was tempted to see if Cut Copy was playing but didn't. Apparently they started right at 9:30. Damn. Just damn.

Douglas_Is_rad (July 23, 2008)

I too was at Pitchfork. I was sad that they had No Age and Animal Collective overlap, because I was excited about seeing both bands...

The Cut Copy set fucking owned. 20 minutes of pure fun. King Khan, Jay Reatard, and Bradly Cox just jamming for 30 minutes was pretty cool to watch, especial Jay Reatard rolling around like a mad man during a Bad Brains cover. heh.

names (July 23, 2008)

saw them, unfortunately, at Pitchfork last weekend. Only got to see half their set because they started late and Animal Collective was about to go on. Same thing happened with Cut Copy...fucking sucked. Good band though, hope to see them at a club sometime soon.

LocalA (July 23, 2008)

I saw them in pontiac last week, and I ended up getting there just in time for No Age. They were fun....best part was near the end of the show, they brought out Abe Vigoda and both bands went at it and covered Nervous Breakdown. It was a frenzy.

SloaneDaley (July 22, 2008)

went to the Toronto show but only caught Abe Vigoda and High Places because of circumstances beyond my control. Abe was pretty kool, High Places not as much, wish I had seen No Age. Nouns is a great record.

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