Last month Architecture in Helsinki
sent our hearts a racing with news of a massive month long tour of the states. Baeble’s Eric Silver
checked out these street jivin’ Australians last Thursday, as they made a stop at NY’s Blender Theater.
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Thursday night saw a visit from our friends from down under, Architecture in Helsinki, to the Blender Theater at Gramercy. With doors opening at 8, the first supporting act to grace the stage was drummer/singer duo Panthers
(my friend Josh's reaction to the band name pretty much summed up the band: "Not 'The Panthers'?? Just 'Panther'?"). Their set didn’t really go much beyond a lot of percussion, a little singing, and apparently a bass line laid down by an invisible bassist that was nowhere to be seen on stage.
Next came Swedish trio Lo Fi Fnk
, three youngsters who could have been Hanson minus the grooming, and didn't seem to come from the Stock-rock school. They sounded like a rehashing of Depeche Mode circa 1981. They managed to put together a sound that got people moving, though they had a few strikes against them. To start with, two out of three band members were wearing the shirt of the band. Obviously not honors students from Stock Rock U. By far more egregious was the synth player who wore short shorts and danced more than he played, and obnoxiously at that.
AIH took the stage at 11, after setting up their own instruments (that's grassroots), and began a set that pretty much started and ended as a party. They're a motley crew to look at collected together, lead singer Cameron Bird looking like he'd just come back from a late-running chem lab experiment, the guitarist/yeti who may have never had a haircut in his life, and Kellie Sutherland looking like an extra from the opening scenes of Muriel's Wedding (and that's not to play the Aussie card--that's just the first thing that came to mind).
The set was comprised of many songs from the new album, Places Like This, as well as from the previous two albums. Throughout the performance many band members would switch up, as seems to be the new trend for dynamic acts like this, usually with one musician playing what I like to call the "flex" position, moving around picking up whatever instrument is needed at the moment. For those who are familiar with the music, AIH delivered on the fun, fast-paced vocals, the tribal island chanting, and the steam engine pace that they infuse into many of their songs. The true gem, however, was the brass section, which came together with their crisp ska hook, completely edging out the competition for prime status in “Debbie”. It was so surprising and remarkable that even Bird felt the need to comment on how great it was to have a full brass section play on the song for the first time since recording it.
One of the other great elements was the band's general rapport with the audience. Too often we are forced to listen to our favorite bands chatter to fill up space, just because their mikes are on, and most of it is pretty forgettable, and a little tedious. AIH displayed the kind of wit and fun that comes across in their music, and they tended to be pretty funny, even though I couldn't understand half of it through their accents. Other highlights from the show include chill-inducing "Hold Music" and "Heart it Races" (mark my words, they will get VERY tired of playing this song at some point, so hear it live while you still can), as well as a cover of a song from the soundtrack to Crocodile Dundee (seriously), "Live it Up", which they notified us was a number 1 hit in Australia in 1985. How can you not like these guys? - Eric Silver
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MP3: Architecture in Helsinki:: “Heart It Races” – from Places Like This
Architecture in Helsinki on MySpace