Stereolab | The Filmore at Irving Plaza | 10.03.2008





Tim Gane's head is like a lawn sprinkler, constantly swinging back and forth. It doesn't stop. He takes a back seat, visually, to Laetitia Sadier and the two keyboardists, but Gane is the chugging force behind the band, lost in his own world of sound. And while Kevin Shields needs 17 different Fender Jaguars to get through a set, Gane makes it with one guitar and, more often than not, two chords… sometimes three.* It was Night Two of a three-day stint at Irving Plaza, touring for Chemical Chords, for their best album since 1997's Dots & Loops, and Stereolab seemed to be genuinely having fun. Sadier joked with the audience, dancing, and even throwing a couple John Travolta disco points into the air. Sean O'Hagan's string and horn arrangements, present on most albums but especially integral this time, were missed, but when the band locked into a two-chord jam (which was often), it was Teutonic boogie wonderland.

MP3: Stereolab – Self Portrait with "Economoic Brain"

MP3: Stereolab – Cybele's Reverie

SETLIST: Percolator | Neon Beanbag | Eye of the Volcano | Mountain | Chemical Chords | Valley Hi! | Ping Pong | Double Rocker | Ecstatic Static | Lo Boob Oscillator | Two Finger Symphony (New Song) | Three Women | French Disko | Cybele's Reverie | John Cage Bubblegum | ENCORE: Silver Sands | The Emergency Kisses | Stomach Worm

In case you were wondering, Sadier's copy of the setlist was written on a paper plate. Meanwhile, NYC Taper has the Thursday's Irving Plaza show available to download.

Additionally, Stereolab's merch table had the best — and most useful — item since British Sea Power offered the British Tea Power mug. I present to you the Stereolab Laundry Bag:


*yes, I realize Kevin Sheilds uses all sorts of crazy tunings, probably one per song. And that many Stereolab songs are more than three chords…but most aren't, certainly not the best ones. And Tim Gane did only use one guitar the whole time. Kinda makes other bands, in some ways, look like ninnys.


  1. I like Chemical Chords more than their last couple of records as well, but I'm disappointed that they've sort of settled into a mid-tempo groove for most of their material these days. Don't get me wrong. Sure they're samey-sounding, but always good. Still, I miss the mid to late '90s records when they'd occasionally rock out to go along with the more mid-tempo and occasionally very mellow material, so it's nice to see "Cybele's Reverie" in the setlist. I think they played it a few years ago at Town Hall, too. We missed them this time around, though. In any case, you should revisit their '99 album Cobra Phases… (sorry I forgot the exact title; it's almost as bad as that Fiona Apple album). We walked down the aisle to "Spiracles" and it's got some more upbeat stuff, too.

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