Field Music | Mercury Lounge | 1.28.2006

"Draw yourself a nice, hot bath… it's Field Music!" — David Brewis

Fieldmusic2These were not the best circumstances for Field Music's Stateside debut. They flew in just for the gig and couldn't bring their own equipment (openers The Diggs kindly let them use their gear), and had almost no time to rehearse with the violinist and cellist who joined them onstage for their set. Yet, they pulled it off about as well as you could, though four seconds into the first song, Peter Brewis broke a string which led to some impromptu and nervous stage banter from his brother David who was playing drums (they traded positions a few times during the show). Keyboardist Andrew Moore was "the quiet one." Once that was behind them, it was a pretty magical set.

Seeing them live, I really think the apt comparison is Cardinal, though they are more poppy and not quite as baroque-sounding. The harmonies and playing were spot-on, and the string sections kept up as if they'd been playing with them for years, really filling out songs like "Pieces" and "Shorter Shorter." Highlights for me were "Tell Me Keep Me" the harmony-filled "You Can Decide," "Shorter Shorter" and a new song they played when instrument failure kept them from performing a planned number. Great show.

ThebigsleepI had never heard openers The Big Sleep before but was intrigued as they hauled out a bank of old keyboards onto the stage. The three members of the band look like Other Music employees (the ones that aren't already in Animal Collective), and it was pretty apparent we were in for some power-trio prog. That's exactly what we got, but none of us were prepared for how good they'd be. Lit starkly with industrial white lights from below and behind the drummer (shades of the Secret Machines) The Big Sleep kicked out the jams and what they lacked in melody, they made up with power and precision — very loud, very tight. At one point some dude jumped up on stage and started freak dancing. I thought he was just some fan but then he went offstage and grabbed a tambourine, it became obvious he was their Bez or Joel Gion. They pretty much won the whole crowd over by set's end. I'm not sure I'd listen to their records, but I'd go see them play again in a heartbeat.

The evening started with The Diggs. If I were a record label A&R person, I would sign this band in a second. The guy on CBS' retarded show Love Monkey would sign them — and they would be the coolest band on that fictional label. And here's why. They are competent musicians, fairly attractive and have attracted a large backwards-baseball-cap following who whooped and hollered after every song. If Dawson's Creek was still on, tonight's episode would have featured music by The Diggs (and Paula Cole). I'm sure they will make somebody a lot of money. But I am not a record label A&R person and will never actively watch a set of theirs again. But they were nice enough to let Field Music use their equipment.

Photos by kind permission of Dorrit

6 Comments

  1. Great review Bill and I agree with your sentiments about all 3 bands almost entirely. Unfortunately, I had the pleasure of standing next to the backwards baseball cap wearing Diggs fans during their set and as always, they were loud and annoying. I have to say, though, that I really wanted to like The Diggs since they're based in Queens (gotta represent my borough), but I just didn't.
    Oh and did you think that Field Music screwed up "You're So Pretty" (my favorite song on the album) a little. I'm just not that crazy about its live arrangement.

  2. I'm not sure where the people wearing backwards baseball caps were standing but I thought the Diggs were the most impressive act that night, regardless of fan base. If you don't like standing by people who get excited about music, don't go to live shows. I prefer to be surrounded by rowdy and passionate music fans as opposed to the disaffected hipster youth who do nothing but bitch and moan about daddy's trust fund checks not being big enough. Oh yeah, the band is signed to Sugarspun Records in the USA and also has distribution in Japan through Fabtone Records. I hope they make everyone involved tons of money.

  3. Brian,
    I don't think I was complaining about the whooping and hollering, just saying that's what they were doing. As far as trust funds go, I wish I had one — I work two jobs. But I was not impressed with the Diggs, that's for sure. To each his own.
    And I certainly hope you did find the Diggs to be the most impressive band of the night, as you co-own Sugarspun Records, their label. Hopefully they will make you lots of money, they certainly have that potential.

  4. Didn't mean to imply you were a trust-funder Bill…and I respect your opinion. It would be nice if the screamers and clappers were not a minority at nyc shows, that was my point. I work two jobs as well…wish I had a trust fund too.

  5. Am I the only one totally unimpressed with The Big Sleep? When I saw them open for Kinski, they struck me as unfocused and less-than-noteworthy. The bassist/keyboardist seemed so untalented I assumed she owned a van.
    Perhaps an off night?

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