Pas/Cal | Mercury Lounge | 6.22.2006

What would’ve happened if Wes Anderson had taken all his influences — musical, visual, what have you — and decided to form a rock band instead of becoming a filmmaker?

The band would probably sound a lot like Pas/Cal. Musically, they are part Hunky Dory-era Bowie, the Kinks circa 1966, with some Love and Monochrome Set in there as well. Wes_cazAdd a love for tailored clothing, ascots, sweatbands, anything French, and a host of other affectations and it’s like The Royal Tennenbaums Band with Wes as lead singer. (Well, the singer’s name is actually Casimer but he actually looks a lot like Anderson.)

The foppy Detroit six-piece came all the way to New York just to play a show with pals Asobi Seksu at Mercury Lounge and judging from their performance, if the Wes Anderson analogy is going to continue (and it is), I’d say Pas/Cal are more like The Royal Tennenbaums and The Life Aquatic than Rushmore or Bottle Rocket. They’re actually probably better than Tennenbaums (definitely better than Aquatic) but suffer from the same malady Anderson does. A little artifice and whimsy goes a long way and sometimes Pas/Cal doesn’t know when to quit.

Mostly though it was an enjoyable show. Or record, they are tight, cute and bouncy — the epitome of twee pop. But live their Detroit home’s influence comes out a bit more. The songs stretch out, rock out, and Caz is prone to rock singer theatrics — swinging the mic stand, high kicks, "vocal gymnastics," and the like. I’ll give him this — he follows through on his shtick from the album covers through to his stage banter. But there’s no reason to extend a perfect pop song like "What Happened to the Sands?" past the five minute mark, complete with rock out noise ending.

It’s the second time I’d seen them (previously at Rothko opening for Trembling Blue Stars) and this definitely the better show, somewhat surprising as Pas/Cal were playing with borrowed equipment. Fans were in the house, yelling out requests — all of which were played. Which isn’t surprising as Pas/Cal don’t have that many songs. Output-wise they’re more like Terrence Malick, only releasing two EPs and a 7" single since forming in the late-’90s. (Seriously, guys, get on it. It’s not like your songs are that complicated.) Caz introduced a new number with a "this will be on our debut album" somebody heckled "When the hell’s that gonna be?" No response.

Their set was short — the night was running well over an hour behind — so maybe that reigned in some of their less-appealing qualities. I caught myself dancing a couple times. A Rushmore sort of night.

I actually brought my camera out with me… but forgot the memory card. Luckily, Spinachdip was there to take some photos, like the one at the top of this page.


  1. I don't much care for Twee, so I didn't much care for many of their tunes — but the Detroit swagger won me over, live. The more glam, the better their sound.
    And that female vocalist? Wow.

  2. I have been there to watch their live performance and it has been the most exciting show to see. It sure is a good idea to see someone making such a good performance on the stage.

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