The Raveonettes: From Denmark with Fuzz

The night’s openers, Melody’s Echo Chamber, are the result of a recent collaboration between Parisian front-woman Melody Prochet and Kevin Parker – best known for his Australian psych-rock groove group Tame Impala. Melody is a classically-trained vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who played a synthesizer and sang sonically pleasing parts in both English and French. Kevin was on guitar and they were joined by a bassist and another synth player who occasionally switched to guitar. The group didn’t have a drummer and played over pre-programmed beats and other sampled parts. Their music can likely be described as dream pop meets psychedelic rock, mixed with a minor bit of shoegaze. While the “wall of sound” reared its head only in several places, it was Melody’s ethereal, dreamy vocals that set us at ease. I was trying to decide if what we were hearing was more appropriate for a late-night-falling-asleep or make-out session… or both. Live, the band put on a reserved display that was neither super interesting nor boring, just somewhere in the middle. This young talented four-piece group will be interesting to follow over the next few years.

Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, headliners The Raveonettes came on around 10:15 to minimal lighting and smoke-machine haze. Performing with a touring drummer, Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo played songs from their six LPs and five EPs which have been released over their 11 or so years of existence. While I’m not sure if their partnership has been more than just professional in the past (he’s currently living in New York, she lives in L.A.), they certainly seem to feed off each other with their riffs and 1950s and 1960s pop harmonies. Recordings really capture the retro Everly Brothers and reverb-heavy girl group sound made famous by producer/crazy man Phil Spector. The Raveonettes can also pull it off live. Other evident influences are The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, The Velvet Underground, garage rock and maybe a bit of The Cure or Echo & The Bunnymen.

The band started with some cheery tracks off 2007’s Lust Lust Lust.  I remember hearing “Dead Sound”, which resembles a fuzzed-out Buddy Holly surf take, “Blush”, and “Hallucinationswith its sweet harmonies juxtaposed with dark lyrics.

Playing a set list heavy with many songs off Observator (which was just released on September 11th), the band looked comfortable with the new material, even if they had to restart song “The Enemy” – “That was a tuning problem… just talk amongst yourselves,” Sharin cheekily said to the crowd. It would be the only song that she would sing lead on.

Although it didn’t get a great review on Pitchfork for reasons unknown, this album has really grown on me over the last few days of listening. Tracks like “She Owns the Streets”, “Downtown”, “Sinking With the Sun”, “Curse the Night”, and Observations(which has some elements that remind me of the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”), are awesome live. According to the band’s biography on their website, Observator was intentionally recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in L.A., where many of the Doors’ albums were made.

Apparitions”, off last year’s Raven in the Grave had cold atmospheric brooding done right but several garage-style rockers off their debut EP Whip It On got the mood light and fun again.

With the exception of their first encore song, “Young and Cold”, in which he played bass, principle songwriter and guitarist Sune Rose Wagner played several electrics for the show. The gorgeous male-female happy/sad acoustics of this song got me feeling sentimental and questioning my own existence.  Looking like Nico (or other icy-cool Northern European-type models) with her striking white-blonde hair and dark eye shadow, Sharin Foo seemed not to mind swapping between electric guitars and bass between almost every song.

Some songs utilized simple white, red or blue light patterns while other distorted, noise-rock parts had the requisite harsh strobe. But no seizures were happening by the time the band exited around 11:15; after their last song, “Aly, Walk with Me”, we audience members were left appreciating the cascading noise effects and controlled chaos that sounded like it was coming from more than a three-piece Danish indie-rock band.