If you’ve come across my column before, you’ve likely
realized that my articles on live music tend to fall into the two possible
categories—reviews or previews. But not this time! Due to the impossibly
large amount of great music on campus this week, we’ve got a double double
whammy (mad props if you get the reference): two pairs of beautiful artists! A
review and a preview at the same time!
First, the (rather brief) preview: Los Angeles grunge-pop goddess Colleen Green will be delivering her
snotty, brash tunes at the Motley Oct. 11. If last year’s album Sock It to Me is any indicator, she should absolutely tear the roof
off the place.
Along with her will be sadsack icon S, otherwise known as
the inimitable Jenn Ghetto. If you have even the most passing interest in
emotionally searing tunes, you owe it to yourself to check out her solo work
and her former band, Carissa’s Wierd. Go put Songs About Leaving in your ears right now. Seriously. Next week this column will be devoted to an interview with Jenn, so stay tuned.
If you’re of a more electronic
disposition, L.A. beatsmith Daedelus will be performing at the opening of Pomona College’s new
Studio Art Hall, so you have no excuse for not catching any on-campus tunes on Saturday.
Now, the review: This Wednesday saw the Margaret Fowler
Memorial Garden at Scripps host yet another wonderfully low-key show, this time
featuring New York acts Porches and Frankie Cosmos, courtesy of Scripps Live
Arts and Harvey Mudd’s Noise Floor (shout out to Sakshi Shah HM ’17 and Madi
Pignetti HM ’17 for managing to even book these guys).
After the obligatory hour of waiting around, first up was
Frankie Cosmos, the stage name for 20 year-old NYU student Greta Kline. She’s
been something of a Bandcamp prodigy for the past several years, having already
dropped over 40 albums and EPs through the platform.
In the past year, she finally bucked up, gathered a
backing band and recorded a full studio album called Zentropy, which has helped bolster her growing reputation. It was
this incarnation of the project, with a full band setup, that visited Scripps.
They even had a lovely little Casio keyboard (albeit one that I couldn’t hear
at all given the semi-awful sound system).
I haven’t given any real descriptors of Kline’s sound yet,
but her prolificacy itself might have already brought to mind the rather
accurate image of quiet, emotional bedroom pop, the sort that takes advantage
of GarageBand and home recording. Her live set, despite the addition of bass
and drums, managed to stay firmly within that aesthetic: soft-spoken and
Almost every track lasted less than two minutes, and even the
“energetic” songs tended to work best through a dynamic of bathos, collapsing
into slower tempos just as a groove began to build. It’s a testament to her
relatively new band setup, though, that they could pull off such a trick so
well and so often.
The only criticism I had for this set is something that
I’ve been dwelling on for quite some time: Frankie and her
peers from the bedroom scene (Orchid Tapes, Quarterbacks, etc.) seem unable to come up with a real vision of what this music should be in a live
setting. The crucial content of the softly sung lyrics and the subtle
differences that really make these short pop songs are often lost
underneath bass and drums that don’t add much to the set. Perhaps
that’s why I thought Girlpool’s set last week was so damn brilliant; they didn’t have that problem because they didn’t care about delivering a placid,
Up next was Porches, headed,
funnily enough, by Kline’s boyfriend Aaron Maine (Kline also plays bass in
Porches). Fuller in both gear and sound, with an extra guitar and an actually
audible synthesizer, they exist on the same lo-fi spectrum as Cosmos, just
groovier and louder. Less bedroom, more rock.
Last year they released a rather great
full-length called Slow Dance in the
Cosmos, but the best part about this set was how much new material they
played and the hilariously off-kilter banter that accompanied it. Introducing a
new track called “Security,” Maine explained he wrote it in his moment of death
after jumping off an L.A. hotel rooftop following an acid-fueled conversation
with Jim Morrison. It’s hard to convey how deadpan he said this, but I’ll just
attest that his sense of humor is great.
It didn’t hurt that the new
material was great too. The new tracks all seemed anchored around Kline’s basic-but-effective
bass lines, practically reaching into the territory of house music. Despite the
crowd’s unwillingness to actually dance, the vibes were immense, a perfect fit
for the atmosphere provided by the cozy little garden.
Similar to Cosmos’ set, some of Porches’ best sections consisted not of where grooves came together, but where they
fell apart into nothingness. It’s almost the inverse of noodly math rock—instead of putting together complicated rhythms into a surprisingly effective whole,
they just rip apart simple ones into strange anti-climaxes. If this accurately
signals the direction they’re going to take, it seems that Porches has a long
and fruitful path ahead of them.
Gage Taylor PO ’16 is majoring in media studies and philosophy. He is the electronic music director for the 5C radio station KSPC, and his first concert was NSYNC.