August 28, 2007

LIVE REVIEW: Tussle, Elbo Room, 8/25/07

Tussle should put on an overpowering live show: a two-drum attack has always been he backbone of the group. Almost inconceivably, then, this San Francisco group put on an ineffectual concert at Elbo Room--that's home turf! Let's take a step back and go over why Tussle, on record at least, have been one of the most exciting bands of the 2000s.

Tussle's sound begins with drum and bass; a full three quarters of this band's humanpower is spent laying down steady grooves that can just as easily claim dub as disco for an influence. Spaced-out keyboard flourishes usually complement this sound, but sometimes spur it on. On the band's most recent release, Telescope Mind, there was a clear dialog between these "halves" of the band. This was true of the album as a whole: the keyboardist/effects guy was given room to experiment on a number of short interludes, which effectively balanced out the most percussive sound the band had produced yet.

This character was allowed to dominate Tussle's show--much to its detriment. He wore a morose look as he futzed around with an entire card table's worth of equipment splayed out before him. Among other assorted gizmos was a Korg KP2 Kaoss Pad and a Monome sequencer. Those are two very serious pieces of equipment, yet for someone with so much he managed to produce so little. Rare was the welcome musical contribution from this man, but his amp was usually turned up so loud that the drummers could barely be heard, even when they were wailing away at their kits! The band hardly played a recognizable song, as each one quickly devolved into keyboard wankery. Much in contrast to their recorded efforts, the two parts of the band seemed to be on very different wavelengths.

When I saw Tussle about a year and a half ago, the same thing happened, i.e. somber keyboard player turned up too loud. That time, the smirking bassist motioned for the sound man turn the dude down. (This request was granted.) Anyway, Tussle's got a new bass player now. Mope on, guys.

Tussle - Don't Stop [Don't Stop EP]

Tussle - Warning [Telescope Mind]


julie said...

everyone has a bad night every once and while.

mcvmcv said...

of course. but this was the second time