Wednesday, August 19, 2009
"If I saw you now
Could I look in your eyes?
Do you think of me
Like I dream of you?
Do you wish you were here
Like I wish I was with you?
Youve loved me before
Do you love me now?"
Visualizing those lyrics in my head as I watched The Breeders perform "Do You Love Me Now" in the middle of their absolutely rock-out set, it rushed me to a place that I haven't felt in a long time. It was before I started listening to frenzied punk and hardcore. I started listening to The Breeders when I was about 11 or 12; I felt like I got the music even though I was a bit young. There was something I connected with in the music, maybe it was the catchy and sometimes cutesy melodies, which appealed to me as a kid. But the noisy distortion, not only on The Breeders records and lead singer Kim Deal's side band, The Amps, and sometimes slow pace (on say, Pod) made me a more patient music listener at the time. There's something about The Breeders music that I always loved, most of all the down to earth nature of their production and guitar exchanges. They are a band that has made the most out of their sound, and seemingly without effort.
Taking the stage were Kim and her sister Kelley along with the newer faces (including the drum and bass tandem of Jose Meledes and Mando Lopez, and guitarist Cheryl "from Florida" Lyndsey). They started off with the trippy "Hoverin'", an Amps song (although first recorded with The Breeders lineup) and went newer with Title TK, and then backward with cuts off of Last Splash and Pod. I personally wanted to see them play "Hellbound" and "Fortunately Gone", which tops my favorite Breeders songs, but they did play "I Am Decided" which I love. All the bigger songs got their turn, "Saints", "Cannonball", their cover of "Happiness is a Warm Gun", "Divine Hammer", "Safari". The sheer thrill of songs like "New Year" with an intense, buzzing guitar section really makes for a powerful set.
The drumming really set the pace; the band was lined up in a row (reminded me of The Locust) which really gave the band great chemistry. The banter just made the sisters more appealing, and the added bonus for the night was guest violin Carrie Bradley, who performed with the band way way back when they first started.
Kim Deal's vocals have always been sharp; she has a wonderful range of expressions, most notably her raw, heavier, smoky delivery, and a more precocious, light tone. Her harmonies with Kelley are on point and sometimes purposely and wonderfully lazy. It reflects the little guitar ditties that Kelley is in charge of, which have a lo-fi, amateurish quality to them that makes the band's sound so unique and stripped and visceral. It's positively charming.
These guys really have a muscular sound that even tops their loudest recordings. There's just a great presence on stage, a sense of wonderment and playfulness from the sisters that is very infectious and combining that with some real groovy rock music makes for a great concert. In that way, The Breeders have some of the most accessible music I've had the pleasure of hearing.
But back to where the music took me. At the peak of when I was listening to them, like most of my favorite bands, I would never get sick of it. I would never get sick of hearing Kim's angelic voice whispering cryptic lyrics. This was a time when I thought this was the only music that mattered. It's an amazing feeling that I probably could have only felt when I was that young. To get to feel that again, live, is pretty awesome.
Not be a nostalgic person; I think the Breeders have so much relevance right now. They were indie before most working bands today were, and I think that gives their music a great perspective. It means they take their influences from a different era. They are on a whole different league than most bands of today (I would attribute it to their punk roots, pop leanings, and the fact that nobody has a voice quite like Kim), and that they are still around and playing to a great crowd at the Bowery is awesome to see because it makes them relevant. After all these years, even on the newer music ("Overglazed" from their most recent full length, Mountain Battles), there's something traditional and back to basics about them. There's no bullshit, and they started from a place unaffected by current music trends which makes everything so refreshing and genuine. It's like you're not just watching another indie band, or even a rock band from the 80s and 90s. You're watching the real deal (absolutely no pun intended). They seem unassuming and then when the music kicks in, they are as assured as you can get. They are still very exciting, and I wouldn't think twice about seeing them again.
Oh and two short encores (ending with "Drivin' On 9")? Yeah they can do that.
The Breeders are playing again tonight at the Bowery Ballroom, again a sold out show.