Sunday night had a strange electricity to it anyways. It's October in New York City; fall is charged here, we're pitched from the strangeness of a city summer back into the grinding churn of event season. Mercury is in retrograde. It was Columbus Day weekend, a pseudo holiday not universally celebrated with a day off. Everyone was exhaling a different breath, and it makes for strange electricity.
The indie pop-rock concert I was walking into seemed like an obvious conductor of strange electric current. I just was not about it. I'm always one for getting lost in a strange and electric crowd, but Sunday's air just wasn't something I wanted to mix with bright indie pop. Occasionally luck is a lover. Music Hall of Williamsburg was particularly dark. The strangeness that was outside diffused into the darkness leading up to the dimly lit stage.
wasn't about spectacle. She has a pretty red guitar, and a tendency to fall into her songs with an involuntary Elvis Presley mashed potato leg. Other than that the low stage lights changed colors with each song. It isn't much to look at, and yet the audience was captivated. Her guitar driven soul rock had the crowd exhaling the same breath. She was the opener, but it's her home field. Rae live in Brooklyn when she's not on tour. The crowd seemed a half split between those who knew her entire cannon, and those who were astonished that they'd never heard of her.
The room remained in a low level trance as it swelled with those coming to see Generationals
. It's a rare moment that an opener, especially one whose gently rich sound is so different than the headliner, commands such silent attention from a crowd. Arum Rae was the show stealer. She drifted between the blues, rock n' roll, smokey vocals and ones of honey. As she closed her set she addressed the crowd for a moment to say she always closes her sets with the same song, "Heaven," for her brother.
When she spoke, the spell nobody realized they had been under lifted a bit, and as she paced unflinchingly through the delicate Billie Holiday style song the crowd began to find themselves again and suddenly the room was no longer silent but for Rae, until she came to the robust vocal ending and again the room just went silent. The song is beautiful, emotional, and clearly very personal and the crowd's momentary disengagement had no effect on her delivery, it wasn't for us, but we could have it. When she finished she just unplugged her guitar, thanked the crowd, and left the stage with the same understated arrest she performed with.
Generationals took the stillness that Rae had injected into the crowd and completely shattered it. It was what the crowd signed up for, and the change was quick and welcomed. Rae's commanding stillness made Generational's MGMT-like brand of upbeat pop-rock burst with color. Their set was dark save for the glow of the neon two fronted keyboards, and a single phosphorescent mannequin. Easing into their set with "Gold Silver Diamond
," they recharged the room with high voltages of electricity as they played through the hits.
The show was architected perfectly. Energy needed to settle at a buzz before it exploded into frenzy, and each act played their part brilliantly. Arum Rae and Generationals are on tour now, and I recommend catching them together. They each put on a very different show, that mounts in an experience impossible to be left cold by.
Arum Rae's EP Warranted Queen
is available now, get it on iTunes
, and see her full list of tour dates here
is out via Polyvinyl Records, get in on iTunes
, and catch them on tour here
Watch Generationals' video for "Gold Silver Diamond," in all its tragic silliness, below: