This will probably be the only time I will say this in my lifetime: I wish they had saxophones. Guillemots‘ records are kitchen sink affairs — weird tape loops, strange noises, strings, horns, etc — that distract from the fact that the songwriting follows most of the standard pop rules.
Last night’s show at Mercury Lounge found the Guillemots stripped-down to a core of front man Fyfe Dangerfield on keyboards, super-cute stand-up bassist Aristazabal Hawkes, and drummer Rican Caol, which turned the songs a bit in the Keane direction, much as I’d rather not admit. Luckily there’s also guitarist “MC Lord Magrao” was solely responsible for keeping things weird. He didn’t so much play chords as make whale songs with his instrument… when he wasn’t using a power drill on it. Or playing a typewriter. He made things fun and weird.
But when the Guillemots played their single "Trains to Brazil" I really wanted to hear those horns, even though Fyfe and Hawkes did "Ba ba ba" versions of the parts. Also, Fyfe sitting down for most of the show while the rest of the band stood kept things from really taking off for me. I don’t know how you get around that when that’s his instrument. His sole standing moment was him singing, sans microphone, while playing a cheap old Casio. The audience was transfixed.
Before the Guillemots my friends and I didn’t even bother going into the main room to see Corine Bailey Rae, though she smiled at me when she showed up outside the club. She’s very pretty, looking like Diana Ross in The Wiz (with a bigger ‘fro, though), but I just knew I wouldn’t be interested in her music. If I’d bothered to do a little research before the show, I’d have known she recently had the Number One record on the UK album charts. And maybe I might’ve checked her out for at least a song. But I’m not really regretting my decision.
Most of the crowd left after the Guillemots, which meant Denmark’s EPO-555 played to an almost-empty Mercury Lounge for the second night in a row. Apparently they are quite big in Denmark (which is a bit like saying they’re huge in Rhode Island) so I think it’s probably a bit disheartening. They’re very nice, speak English extremely well, but something gets lost in the translation and I think they put people off a bit. Guitarist Mikkel Max Hansen also had a tendency to clap for the band after songs, which is a little weird. Maybe it’s a Danish thing. That aside, I really like the band’s slightly glitchy take on shoegaze and when they’re in the moment EPO-555 are a force. Heather has mp3s on her site.
I missed openers The Grates entirely, opting for a big-ass pastrami sandwich at Katz’s instead. If Heart on a Stick’s review is any indication, I made the right decision. You should read his account of the night, by the way, it’s right on the money — like all his posts.
Post Script…Even though I proclaimed after the Arctic Monkeys show at Mercury Lounge that I would never take pictures at a show again, I brought my camera along for this show. What I should really say is I won’t bring a camera again to a show until I learn how to use the thing properly. I am against using flash but don’t understand the manual settings well enough to compensate. Hence these really weird pictures which I turned B&W in PhotoShop because they looked like ass otherwise. Chris the Music Snob got some good ones, though, as did — of course — Brooklyn Vegan.
Nonetheless, more photos after the jump.