If nothing else you have to give it up for their ability to play their instruments while wearing giant teddybear heads. Anyone who has ever worn a paper mache head or other similar costume knows they are cumbersome and just because you turn your head doesn’t mean it will turn with you. But Sweden’s Teddybears played a full set with what must have been state-of-the-art prosthetics. They were jumping around the stage, pulling out all the rockstar moves and, you know, actually playing their instruments.
Three of them were at least. The bassist, guitarist and DJ (the three of whom I assume are the Teddybears) wore sharp suits with the big heads, while the two drummers did not. Nor did any of the three vocalists who took turns onstage filling in for the likes of Nena Cherry and Iggy Pop on "Yours to Keep" and "Punkrocker." It was quite a spectacle, what with the big heads, the two drummers, Studio B’s smoke machines and all.
Too bad Teddybears’ music isn’t very good. When I first heard that original version of "Yours to Keep" (downloaded from Jerry Yeti) I was enthused. But their album Soft Machine is not much more than a band approximation of Fatboy Slim big beat. I’m sure it sounds great during halftime at basketball games and in episodes of Entourage, but I personally don’t really have time for it in my life. I was glad I went, a fun show and all, but I will never listen to them (apart from that early "Yours to Keep," which is great).
Much better, I thought, was opener Radio 4 who I hadn’t seen since 2001 when they played at Don Hills back when Alan McGee was doing his (unrelated) Radio 4 Friday night parties. (I think they played with the Liars, I could be wrong.) My friend Dorrit and I had hightailed it from the Mercury Lounge, where we had seen The Bird and the Bee and then suffered through three songs of the crassly derivitive Foreign Islands. Radio 4 put FI to shame. While absolutely drinking from the same well of dancey post-punk, these Brooklynites were amongst the first to do so, and they have the chops and good songs to make it worthwhile. Plus, a secondary percussionist who went bongo crazy for most of the night.
The songs from Gotham! may have still been the highlights, but I appreciate the melodic turn the band has taken since then, and hope they stick it out for some time to come.