28 November 2009

X: THC Live

I have not been to as many live shows as I am accustomed to going to this year, but when Michael Nova of X: THC invited me down to see the band perform at Monkeytown in Brooklyn, it was a no-brainer. I knew I was not going to pass up this opportunity.

Wednesday (25 November 2009) rolled around, and, at about seven in the evening, I started the journey to Brooklyn (I am not one of these Jersey-ites that think that a passport is required to go to Brooklyn – actually I more often than not skip Manhattan for Brooklyn). Carlos Aranzazu, Gray Door Studio photographer, was accompanying me. (It was nice not to have to worry about taking any pictures myself, and well having a professional along.) On our way there, we chatted about what to expect, other concert/show experiences, and the visual components of music and live shows. Never did we expect such a powerful experience as we pulled up in front of Monkeytown.

The backroom of Monkeytown is about thirty-by-thirty, with coaches and tables set around the perimeter. A film screen hangs from each wall, while the band played in the center of the room. If intimacy was the goal, the space alone would create it. But the actual experience, the synesthesia, was overwhelming. As the band easily followed through their set, you wanted to see each screen, you wanted to look at the band, you were overwhelmed trying to explain to yourself what was the genesis of your feelings – the music, the band, the visuals, the different combinations…. What was definitive was that you wanted more.

Now, let me say something for all the “purists” out there – it is time to step into the new millennium. The incredible thing about our contemporary world is that bands are no longer limited to creating the sound that they can on their own, but rather have the technology to augment their sounds. The question is whether or not a band solely relies on this technology or uses it wisely. X: THC struck the perfect balance. The individual musicianship of the band was always in the forefront. Tienne, on guitar and keyboards, has a soothing presence of her own on the stage; there is a magnetic attraction that makes it hard to take your eyes off her while she strums away. Drummers may be a dime dozen, but good drummers are very rare. John Bollinger is one of these good drummers: great technique, great timing, and great presence (something most drummers lack). Then there is Michael Nova. He is definitely the newest New York bard. He is not just there reciting lines, but rather singing with conviction and delivering the story. Even Aranzazu, behind his camera, concurs that Nova’s persona on stage is powerful, as he creates a rapport with his audience.

I have seen a few great artists this year – amazing performances. But I have to tell you, you are crazy if you do not jump on the opportunity of seeing X: THC live. This is a powerful experience, both sonically and visually. And the beauty of the visuals is that even if you do not know the music, they will draw you into the experience. Their original film, “X: The Human Condition,” is a powerful, abstract piece that will remind you of some of the great avant-garde silent films.

Set list:
1. Introduction/Hide
2. Monster
3. A Human Flood
4. Sleeping with One Eye Open
5. The Creature from the Blackened Room
6. Don’t Cry
7. Mr. Happy
8. Like Violins
9. Worth Fighting For
10. Tag You’re It!

Keep up with X: THC at their homepage and MySpace.

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