Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Live: Do Make Say Think: Seattle, WA 2/5/10

Do Make Say Think - Chop Suey, Seattle, WA 2/5/10
Plus guests: The Happiness Project, Years

Before this show, I got into a conversation with some co-workers about why Post-Rock may have fallen out of the vogue. I posited a theory. These being difficult, stressful times for so many people, I think a lot of us, myself included, have taken solace and escape in the predictability and instant gratification of pop music. It did seem people were more excited about this stuff midway through the last decade. We may have been just as broke and pissed-off during the Bush years, but at least we knew what we were up against. Nonetheless, Canadians like Do Make Say Think seem happily unfazed by this trend, and encouragingly, quite a few Seattleites are still willing to vibe out to large bands playing 20-minute-long, unpredictable, instrumental deconstructions of Rock itself (Any less than 8 members in your band, one member mused, and they don't let you across the Canada-U.S. border).

Even more impressive, considering how DMST is one of the least accessible bands of this genre. While not quite so dangerously flirting with free-form jazz odysseys as Tortoise, DMST tease with their rising crescendos, pulling back from them in places where Mogwai or Sigur Ros would have taken the opportunity to blow your head off. DMST's songs are not easy to follow, but if you can manage, you realize the song structures are quite deliberate.

The highlight for me, however, was the experimental "opener" featuring members of DMST, The Happiness Project. The music was built around recordings of interviews with several people, mostly on the concept of playing instruments to the melodies of their speech. A saxophone for an old woman talking about love and happiness. A violin for a 3-year-old girl having a minor tantrum. "It's like a reverse auto-tune," I overheard an audience member aptly describe it. Most moving was a song built around an interview with a woman who had been deaf her entire life and had a cochlear implant as an adult, describing what it was like to hear sound for the first time. "All of a sudden, I felt my body moving in sound," she says. Brilliant stuff. DMST guitarist/bassist/saxophonist/flutist Ohad Benchetrit followed with his solo project, Years, mostly comprised of beautiful solo acoustic instrumentals.

I do admire how jovial and chatty the band members were on stage. While so often I crave some rock-star mystique, Do Make Say Think were refreshingly accessible in their demeanor, letting their music and multi-instrumental prowess speak for themselves. They were having fun. Nothing wrong with that.

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