Monday, December 10, 2012
Review: Black Moth Super Rainbow @ Union Transfer (Philadelphia, Dec. 7)
The birth of Philadelphia's Union Transfer, the city's newest and most-inviting venue, served as a fresh middle ground between the celebrated, but somewhat underused Electric Factory and the fun-filled heat coffin of First Unitarian Church. One, in that keeps the large crowd-friendly style of the former, but with the consistent and more money-friendly bookings of the latter. Renovated from an 1800s-era building on Spring Garden Street, the surprisingly massive venue is a stylistic carryover from New York's celebrated Terminal 5; packed with a sprawling balcony, back bars, and a large crowd floor. The distinctions shouldn't be surprising, considering Philly's R5 Productions created the venue in partnership with NY's The Bowery Presents.
Walking in the unassuming floor level, Philadelphia's own Creepoid provided what ended up being the better of the night's two lead-ins to Black Moth Super Rainbow. The cavernous lo-fi psychedelic guitar romps fit well for the early crowd, lifting the band from filler to curious with surprising ease. I can't say the same for Ryan Graveface (of BMSR) side-project Casket Girls.
Parlaying a dubious middle ground between Dum Dum Girls and any miscellaneous dream pop obsessed with VHS-era music videos, the Savannah, GA band found an easy identity. The only particular problem with it is that it's not really an identity. Maybe it was the need for the Greene sisters to always cover their eyes that made their performance seem somewhat passionless, but every stage gimmick that happened between the two of them never seemed to feel genuine. Just a routine of a band that fits in with the time, I suppose.
After ditching is face-covering hood, Ryan joined BMSR for an efficient, bass-heavy show that many of the kids rolling on acid in the crowd were waiting for. One group in particular did their best to recreate Halloween, covered in DIY patterns of black paint and a few dragonfly costumes. If the playlist were to dictate dress code, those kids seemed to follow it aptly.
Frontman Tobacco positioned himself behind his vocoder, and the most ill-placed shirt decoration possible (see in photo), and cruised through an hour-plus of droning, glittery, and atmospheric tracks. There were only a few moments teeming with tense rushes, but there were hardly any lulls either. For a band so transfixed on its artful nature, it's pleasing to see them perform without muddling any of the live process. The only problem seemed to be with the more unfamiliar fans that even the most ardent BMSR die-hards can recognize - it's pretty hard to tell when the band is going through its early discography and the most recent album Cobra Juicy (sans the "Windshield Smasher" opening). But again, maybe a for a group with such clear and distinct aesthetics, those differences aren't as important. Rather, performing the collection as one piece, serving as a more visual course helps deliver the point clearer.