American Analog Set / Headphones - live in Philadelphia (Cover Artwork)

American Analog Set / Headphones

live in Philadelphia (2005)

live show

I arrived at the Kyhber a little late for the show, but the first opener hadn't even started their set. As people filled into the cramped and graffiti-laden room where the stage was, I headed to the bar for a couple of beers.

Bottom of the Hudson took the stage and proceeded to go through the typical setup routine (random guitar lick, chord with distortion, chord without, random bass notes) before rocking through a decent set.

What was the band like? The easy answer is an indie band not doing much to bump them up from that opening slot to headliner. The music snob answer is that they mixed elements of `90s Chapel Hill indie acts like Archers of Loaf with the contemporary retro pop of a band like the Shout Out Louds.

It wasn't a bad set, but the band's actions just seemed a bit too contrived. The room was hot, but the bass player stayed in full winter gala, including a knit hat, vest, and hood while he performed with his back to the audience, as if trying to build some sort of mystique. Then after the singer had announced it was the band's last song, the guitarist lit up a cigarette and let it dangle from his mouth in his best "too cool for school" pose, acting nonchalant as he let the tip burn down and come dangerously close to falling on his guitar.

Alright, so let's get to the picture. If you are not already aware, that devil horn-throwing gent is Horatio Sanz of "SNL" fame. So why do I have a picture of him? Well, towards the end of Bottom of the Hudson's set he entered the room and walked by me. I turned to my friend and said jokingly, "Look it's Horatio Sanz," to which he responded, "No, it really is Horatio Sanz."

So you may still be asking, "Why the fucking picture?" Am I trying to say his presence in the crowd was the most exciting thing about the show? Did he get up on stage and entertain us concertgoers? Or maybe there is a twist coming up later in my review that will reveal the importance of his attendance? Well, no, no and sadly, no. I just thought the picture was funny.

So Bottom of the Hudson finished up, I cut out for a couple more beers in the upstairs bar and then Headphones took the stage. I don't know what the Headphones setup is usually like, but in Philly it was merely David Bazan of Pedro the Lion on keyboard and Nick Peterson on drums. Bazan had the same haunting command of the audience I had seen him display at a Pedro show and the two-instrument approach sounded surprisingly full on most of the songs. Between numbers Bazan talked much less than he does at gigs for his other band, but did stop to answer someone's inquiry concerning the whereabouts of Pedro partner in crime T.W., saying that "He is at home probably tucking in his two little boys." Aw, shucks.

After a relatively short set, Bazan and Peterson left the stage, and yes, I had another beer. Then American Analog Set broke out their instruments.

Confession time. Besides the occasional track I'd hear a roommate rocking, my only knowledge of American Analog Set's music was front-man Andrew Kenny's contributions to The Home Split Series Vol. 5. So, I wasn't quite sure what I was in for, but was pretty happy with the results.

Besides a buzzing coming from one of the amps, the sound was great. The band played hushed grooves full of echoey guitar lines, warm keys, nicely complimentary vibraphone, and some amazing rhythm. At points they gave off a Low Level Owl vibe, but mostly it was a whispery pop affair. So I ended up liking their sound, but their awkward white boy dancing and Kenney's back and forth head motion weren't very captivating. I was left feeling like I needed to pick up one of their albums, but maybe pass the next time they came through Philly.

Before leaving I took the photo of Horatio Sanz, telling him my plan to have it run with my review. He wanted his newly purchased Headphones tee in the shot and then proceeded to awe me with his genius pose. I thanked him and he told me to make sure I gave Headphones a positive review.

Hope the above will do buddy.