Friday, June 5, 2009

Clues disappoint @ The Rickshaw Stop

There are many blogs and music sites that take it upon themselves to write detailed reviews on albums and concerts, so you may notice that when I add my two cents, its usually to gush about a band who either achieved or exceeded my high expectations. I generally avoid writing a banal review of a band who doesn't dazzle and I rarely waste my time on negative reports. But for some reason, I am compelled to document on my humble blog that are crap.

When I first heard of the band and its members' roots in the Unicorns and Arcade Fire, I clearly had high expectations. I listened to the album the same week I heard new releases from Phoenix, Metric, and Passion Pit (all albums that brought me great joy). My first go-through with the album was lackluster, but since it had been muddled with several other stellar new releases, I thought I would give it another shot when the hype of the aforementioned albums wore off. After a few weeks, a friend of mine encouraged me to listen to it with headphones to accentuate the intricacies of the album, of which there are many. However, I couldn't help but wonder if the album was poorly produced or if the band just missed the mark with what it was shooting for. I would wait to see them live to make my final judgement. And last night it all became clear to me.

Clues headlined the with support from San Francisco local bands + . Though the show was not sold out, the floor filled quickly once the first opener Birds and Batteries began to play. Their unique style of rock-synth-pop was enough to get the crowd moving. Geographer then took the stage with an amazing display of talent and vibrant sound and filled the main floor with shifting bodies and bobbing heads.

The crowd was really energized as they waited for Clues to take the stage. However, a surprise duo called Jerusalem In My Heart (an extension of Clues) played a slow noisy interlude that killed the mood. The remaining band members shuffled on stage as the noisemakers exited and the anxious crowd waited in anticipation. What ensued was truly disappointing. Clues were neither entertaining, nor were they tight as a group. While there were moments of greatness and inspiration, they were few and far between. The majority of the performance was tedious and haughty, as if the members in the band were really only interested in playing for each other. Their self-involvement was probably the only thing keeping them from noticing that over half of the audience cleared out of the venue by the time they played their fourth song.

My judgement on the production of the album was clearly off target. This mess of talent was produced the best it could have been, and it is shame that they have to use the names of the Unicorns and Arcade Fire to sell themselves.

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  1. I just saw them yesterday and were really impressed by their performance. even more than i have been by the album which is one of my year's favorites.
    finally, your argument "it is shame that they have to use the names of the Unicorns and Arcade Fire to sell themselves" is completely wronged!
    They have signed up to Montreal's constellation records and this has limited the release of the album to a great extent. In Europe, you have to go to small local record stores if you want to purchase it... and there are no "with members of arcade fire" sticker on them to make people buy it.

  2. I've seen them quite a few times. Some good shows, some bad. You have to realize that this band isn't playing for you, they're playing for themselves(like most good bands do). That's first. And second, if there's any distraction of any sort, or any negativity like hecklers,or just loud people in general, they're off their game and the show is going to be horrible; They require full attention from everyone. Music is a very selfish indulgence. But Art is what you pay for.

    Or is it?

    Oh, and "it is shame that they have to use the names of the Unicorns and Arcade Fire to sell themselves" made me literally laugh out loud. they never bring up these facts. it's people that write blogs about them that bring it up. people like you. so... no... they don't try to capitalize on that fact. at all.

  3. Thanks for commenting. But the concert was billed as "former members of..." i'm not talking about the album. A near sold-out crowd dwindled to about 40-50 people by the fourth song. This is a pretty clear indication that a band is not putting on a good show. So, if The Clues want to play music for themselves... then they should fucking play in their own homes. good artists play for themselves is the stupidest thing i've ever heard... these people are 'entertainers' and they make their living that way... people pay good money to go see their music so, they should really consider entertaining their supporters.. and not themselves, else they'll find themselves with no one to support them.