Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Live Review: Autolux at the Independent

Wed, Mar 7, 2007 at 5:05 PM

Live: Autolux Date: Friday, March 2 Opener: Death of a Party, Malajube, Snowden Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Los Angeles art-noise-pop band Autolux seemed to forget that the performance-as-art thing doesn't really work unless the creativity part is compelling. Not to say that its performance was that compelling, either. The trio began its set with a programmed ten-minute chiming intro, as if aliens were announcing its arrival. It was a lot to ask for the sold-out crowd to sit through, and while the anticipation built, the payoff never arrived. The rawness of "Turnstile Blues," which put them on the map to begin with, was one of the few moments where noise and pop collided effectively. But that was the second song they played after fifteen minutes. The rest of their songs were structurally similar to the point of predictability: periods of screeching feedback with bursts of cymbal smashing and lots of staccato guitar plucking like a digital heartbeat, organic and synthetic at once. The audience continued to wait for something to erupt, and it didn't help that the band acted more like mediums of transmission rather than employers of it. Overall, their set suffered from way too much brooding, and not nearly enough bloodletting.

Openers Snowden kept up with the brooding theme, but both its explosive performance and its immediate music was far more engaging. The Atlanta band's sexy, gothy dance rock is anchored by the singer's faux-British affectation, which somehow isn't annoying. Credit the band's energy onstage which, even if its songs began to sound similar, never slowed. Perhaps the bassist, who resembled a sultry elf-maiden princess rescued from the Matrix, gave the most exhilarated performance of the night. Still, you had to feel a little self-conscious for her after a while. A few of their diehard fans soaked up every single second.

French-Canadians Malajube were flat-out confusing. The band's songs are an odd mix of sappy, we-should-be-on-the-OC staccato pop, with hints of thick, heavy guitar rock. They should stick to the rocking and get rid of a few of the 600 keyboards. At one point, the lead singer had a monologue with his guitar that, as one observer noted, wasn't too unlike "Stairway to Heaven." Compadre Kara envisioned their music, "Like if Lindsay Lohan and Avril Lavigne were dry humping with Tahiti 80 in the background on speed." Eww...

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK: Previous Experience: Was a fan of Autolux's early, 4-song self-released EP, but never gave their actual long-player much listen. Personal Bias: Was a Failure fan. Sagely Advice of the Night: Prohibit beer bottles in the balcony.


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