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.
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.