Field Music | Mercury Lounge | 1.28.2006

"Draw yourself a nice, hot bath… it's Field Music!" — David Brewis

Fieldmusic2These were not the best circumstances for Field Music's Stateside debut. They flew in just for the gig and couldn't bring their own equipment (openers The Diggs kindly let them use their gear), and had almost no time to rehearse with the violinist and cellist who joined them onstage for their set. Yet, they pulled it off about as well as you could, though four seconds into the first song, Peter Brewis broke a string which led to some impromptu and nervous stage banter from his brother David who was playing drums (they traded positions a few times during the show). Keyboardist Andrew Moore was "the quiet one." Once that was behind them, it was a pretty magical set.

Seeing them live, I really think the apt comparison is Cardinal, though they are more poppy and not quite as baroque-sounding. The harmonies and playing were spot-on, and the string sections kept up as if they'd been playing with them for years, really filling out songs like "Pieces" and "Shorter Shorter." Highlights for me were "Tell Me Keep Me" the harmony-filled "You Can Decide," "Shorter Shorter" and a new song they played when instrument failure kept them from performing a planned number. Great show.

ThebigsleepI had never heard openers The Big Sleep before but was intrigued as they hauled out a bank of old keyboards onto the stage. The three members of the band look like Other Music employees (the ones that aren't already in Animal Collective), and it was pretty apparent we were in for some power-trio prog. That's exactly what we got, but none of us were prepared for how good they'd be. Lit starkly with industrial white lights from below and behind the drummer (shades of the Secret Machines) The Big Sleep kicked out the jams and what they lacked in melody, they made up with power and precision — very loud, very tight. At one point some dude jumped up on stage and started freak dancing. I thought he was just some fan but then he went offstage and grabbed a tambourine, it became obvious he was their Bez or Joel Gion. They pretty much won the whole crowd over by set's end. I'm not sure I'd listen to their records, but I'd go see them play again in a heartbeat.

The evening started with The Diggs. If I were a record label A&R person, I would sign this band in a second. The guy on CBS' retarded show Love Monkey would sign them — and they would be the coolest band on that fictional label. And here's why. They are competent musicians, fairly attractive and have attracted a large backwards-baseball-cap following who whooped and hollered after every song. If Dawson's Creek was still on, tonight's episode would have featured music by The Diggs (and Paula Cole). I'm sure they will make somebody a lot of money. But I am not a record label A&R person and will never actively watch a set of theirs again. But they were nice enough to let Field Music use their equipment.

Photos by kind permission of Dorrit